John 16: 33b In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
Statistics are often boring, but at times they can be very revealing. I’m going to take the risk of losing the reader even in this first paragraph; but, please stick with me…. The word “world” occurs 241 times in the New Testament. Eighty of those occurrences are in the gospel of John. Of the 80, 45 occur in chapters 12 through 17, and of the 45, 41 are spoken by Jesus, Himself. What is particularly interesting to this author is that these six chapters cover the short time period near the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry between the “triumphal entry” to the time just preceding His visit to the Garden of Gethsemane.
So, what is the point? Simply this – the “world” was a prominent theme during Jesus’ last week before His crucifixion. Indeed, it was the major theme of Jesus’ “high priestly prayer” contained in John, chapter 17. He, knowing this to be the last week preceding His death, focused on what His disciples (and us) would be facing, the “world”. His words were so simple, yet so profound. A small sampling follows:
“And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.” (vs 11)
“I have given them Thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from evil.” (vs 14 & 15)
“As Thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.” (vs 18)
“Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word.” (vs 19)
Friend, aren’t you glad Jesus did not pray for His disciples only? He prayed for us too! And aren’t you glad that in John 16: 33 Jesus said “These things I have written unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer: I have overcome the world.”
Yes, as expressed in the first verse of our poem, the world is all around us and it is relentless in its desire to confound us. The tears will flow at times, and we may feel like we’re in our last hour. What is the remedy? As Jesus prayed to the Father, we also must simply stop and enter into our chamber for sweet communion with our Lord. We will find peace beyond our understanding, even to the point of, once again, being of good cheer.