transitions | John 16.1-6
“I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me. But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you. I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. John 16:1-6 | ESV
So why these hard words about hatred of the world and dark days? Because I don’t want them to trip you up. O yes, they will ostracize you – they’ll run you right out of the synagogue on a rail! Unless they beat you to death with it first – and they’ll do that too! – every one of them patting himself on the back for the fine service he just performed for the Almighty.
Why would they do this?
Because they don’t know my Abba, and they don’t know me. Why these hard words about darker days? So that when it comes you’ll remember that we had this conversation ahead of time, and you won’t be thrown by them. I didn’t have to go here so much until now because, well, because I was still here with you. But that’s changing now. It’s time to return to Sender. And what’s funny is none of you are asking for the address because you’re consumed with sorrow at the prospect of losing me. MAV
If John 15 is all about connection as Jesus and his disciples pass, perhaps quite literally, through a vineyard, John 16 is all about transition as they approach the garden of Gethsemane.
How we hate transitions.
We cling to the sameness, the comfort, the reassurance of the way things are, the way they have been. We can’t imagine them being any other way – and we sure can’t imagine us living any other way. We know how to do routine, even when it sucks! No training classes or motivational seminars are necessary to help us maintain the status quo more rigidly and effectively. We’ve got this one down, thank you. “How many evangelicals does it take to change a light bulb?” I’ve heard asked. It doesn’t matter. They all just stand around saying, “Change!?? Change?!?”
Actually, we can just insert “human being” and that works for most of us, most of the time.
It’s why the world system is about to crush Jesus at Golgotha. It’s why the world will turn around and do the same thing to his disciples as they stand there, mouths wide open in shock because “we’re such nice people.” It’s why historically disciples of Jesus have often done the same to other people groups that threatened their status quo.
Just leave us be.
Don’t move my cheese.
I like it right where it is.
As they walked that darkened path through back alleys that night, the disciples no doubt thought they were headed towards the same routine of resting outside the city and then back at it in the morning to see what Jesus would do next. But their whole world was about to change, leading them into a potent mix of loss and gain, of sorrow and joy.
Be prepared, Jesus is warning them in this chapter.
Your world is about to change.
Turning ever so slightly, he speaks the same words to us.
What recent significant changes have you had to weather? How well do you handle change in general? Why?
Lord, lead me deeper into the grace of holding the status quo with open hands of gratitude before you, being prepared, with gratitude, for what you would take away, and what new things you would bring – be they opportune or ominous. Yes, lead me deeper into that grace. Through Christ.