Bookends

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As the Lord came to the end of His last Passover meal with His disciples, He offered them this word of encouragement: “I have told you all these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

In a way He has come full circle during this last teaching time with the men who had followed Him over the last three years. He began by giving them another look at their future hope (John 14) and promising them that they wouldn’t be alone even after His departure. His message was tucked, like a row of books, between two bookends. The first was the promise: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27). The other bookend is the similar promise from John 16:33, quoted above.

Jesus then reminded them of the importance of abiding in Him (John 15). They would face the same difficulties as He was facing. They would be hated and hounded to death. They needed to understand that the world would give them trouble, that they would be tempted to allow that trouble to bring fear and anxiety into their hearts.

Jesus encouraged His followers not to allow the trouble the world gave them to rob them of the peace they would find in their abiding in Him, in their intimate relationship with Him.

It is interesting to note that Jesus did not say that He would overcome the world. He said that he already had overcome the world. He confirmed this to the disciples in John 16:11 when He said: “...the prince of this world now stands condemned.” The promise was not even a future hope; it was a present reality in which His followers were to live no matter what trouble came their way.

It’s easy to focus on the trouble. But that’s when all the “books” that represent the different events of our lives begin to fall off the shelves. Anxiety and fear takes hold. Each event needs to be firmly held within the bookends that the Lord has provided. He gives His peace to us based on the fact that He has overcome the obstacles for us. As we remain close to Him, He, like that vine described in John 15, feeds us the resources that we need to flourish no matter what the conditions.

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