Wednesday - Day 3
By: Lars and Kellie Ljungholm
As we continue in this week of prayer, I find myself reflecting on John 16. John, who was the youngest of Jesus' 12 apostles, gives us his account of how Jesus warns the apostles not to lose faith because of the events that will soon occur. In reading this passage, I’m left with two things that I hope and pray might encourage you too:
First: You just get the news! There is a special event coming up and you would drop everything and spend all you have been saving to go. As an added bonus, you learn that the one person you would love to meet and have a conversation with is hosting a backstage VIP meet-and-greet. This is your “once in a lifetime” chance. It would be a dream come true. The problem is that you can’t just buy a ticket to get in… it is by invitation only and you need to know the right “someone” to get in. As the day of the special event arrives and the start time of the event grows near your disappointment deepens knowing that your chance of going diminishes to zero. Just as all hope is lost you get a call and the person on the other line simply says “I paid for it, use my name and you’ll get in”. That’s it! You’re in and beyond excited. You’re going and not based on anything you’ve done or even could do to earn it. It was a gift from a person you’ve never seen and never met. It was a gift that you didn’t deserve and it was paid for at great expense. And it was given by the only person who could give it knowing that it would be the greatest gift and experience you could have ever hoped for.
While this is a clear over simplification of the gospel message, I hope this illustration conjures up the feelings of joy and thankfulness. Joy because of the experience and relationship made available and thankfulness because someone took it upon themselves to step in and provide a way.
Second: Jesus, by humbling himself and paying a great price, has provided a way for us to enter into a relationship and an experience far greater than anything we could even hope to experience here on earth. Better than anything! As we look at John 16 we see that the disciples are struggling to understand what Jesus is telling them just hours before he is handed over to those who would arrest and hang him on a cross. This account tells us that Jesus is explaining in simple terms what he meant when He said “In a little while you won’t see me, but then you will see me.” The men and women who lived at the time of Jesus and knew him personally, simply could not understand what he was describing and could not comprehend what Jesus would face in the days that would soon follow. Jesus knew he would suffer, and suffer beyond anything we can imagine. Jesus knew he would die and come back to life. But those closest to him could not foresee the future as Jesus could so he tells them simply that their grief will be for a short time, but it will suddenly turn to wonderful joy.
What a simple but hopeful message that is. At some time in our lives we all experience some type of tragedy, sorrow, suffering, anxiety, grief, despair and more, but this is only temporary and what good news it is to know that it is in fact temporary. In this same passage, Jesus shares even more good news. In verses 23 and 24 He says “At that time you won’t need to ask me for anything. I tell you the truth, you will ask the Father directly, and he will grant your request because you use my name. You haven’t done this before, Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy.
So back to the VIP event. You’re in and now on a first name basis with the VIP and as we change this from an earthly example to a heavenly one, let’s change VIP to MIP (Most Important Person). If we pause and reflect on the weight of this for a moment, this is AMAZING! We have direct access to our creator because of Jesus’ sacrifice and the introduction he made for us. Again, the end of John 16:23 says “He will grant your request because you use my name”. Really? We are given permission to use His name as we put our requests before God? Yes! Not only are we given permission, we are being encouraged and told to do so by Jesus!
As Christians who have just reflected on Jesus’ death and resurrection, let us first remember that the abundant joy available to us and what we experienced on Easter Sunday morning is available to us everyday. What would our lives look like if we started each day with the same anticipation and joy that we have on Easter Sunday? And let us remember that we have an invitation to receive His joy and ask for other breakthroughs in our lives by asking for them in Jesus name.