Reading: John 15-17
Before prayer meeting last night a group of us were commiserating each other on our aches and pains. You see, we are in this difficult transition period between crisp, dry fall and cold, dry winter. It’s rainy and damp and cold. And everything in our bodies is stiff and achy; hands, hips, legs, ankles and even toes.
Transitions can be tough.
The Apostle John is recording the last mini-series Jesus will share with His disciples before He goes to the cross. While they might not fully understand, they know that somehow they are about to enter into that nether world of transition—Jesus gone and the Holy Spirit not yet come.
The Lord has a lot to share with them. Their foggy minds can’t capture all that He is saying now, but later they will remember and be glad that He took the time to patiently explain what they needed to do, and then to pray for them.
Chapter 15 tells us that the disciples needed to endure the pruning, abide in Him, obey Him, bear fruit and love each other. They would be misunderstood and hated for all those things, but they were to do them anyway.
In chapter 16, Jesus reminded them that though they would have to go through this transition period without His physical presence, the Holy Spirit would come and accompany them. He would give them direction and teach them all they needed to know. They would grieve and they would have trouble. But He would still be with them. He would give them peace. They could also be assured that they would overcome whatever obstacles were placed in their path.
Then comes the wonderful prayer that Jesus offered in chapter 17. He prayed for unity, that, “they may be one as we [God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit] are one” (17:11, NIV). They would need each other just as every member of the physical body is dependent for its health on the other members. He asked for their protection because transitions can be discouraging and the temptation would be to walk away, give up as the pressure increased, or give in to sin without the eagle eye of their mentor on them. ”My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one” (17:15, NIV). He prayed “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth” (17:17, NIV). The Lord’s desire was that these disciples be even more grounded than ever so that their spiritual growth would continue.
Transitions are scary—just ask the disciples. But they can also be times of pruning away the dead and encouraging new growth. Successfully getting through the transitions depends on how successful we are at following the instructions Jesus gave for their passage.