Take Courage – Monday, 7th Week of Easter – Acts 19:1-8/ John 16:29-33
The farewell discourse comes to an end with these verses. In Chapter 17 Jesus will make a prayer to the Father for his disciples and in Chapter 18 he will be delivered into the hands of evil men. For now, he draws this discourse to an end.
The discourse seemed to have ended when the disciples seemed to have finally understood what Jesus was saying. “Now you are speaking plainly not in any figure of speech. Now we know that you know all things and do not need to have anyone question you.” (John 16:29&30). The farewell discourse was peppered with questions from Peter, Thomas, Phillip and Thaddeus. They were really spokespersons of the apostles. Then finally, when the reality of Jesus’ passion and death dawned on them, they were numbed in silence and sorrow. It is now that they truly think they believe.
But Jesus knew his apostles better. They who finally claimed that they believed in him would abandon him one chapter later. He knew the ‘hour’ is coming. This is the hour he spoke of when he was first asked in chapter two by his mother to work that sign in canna. He told her his hour (to glorify the Father) had not yet come and now that hour had come. It would be a lonely several hours, abandoned by the ones whom he had nourished a few hours ago with his own body.
Yet Christ professes that though abandoned, though alone, he is not lonely; the Father is with him. The unshakable, the unbreakable bond that Jesus had with his Father can never be described in written form. Jesus who would be abandoned by his own would eventually cry out several times on the cross to his Father. “Forgive them Father” and then again, “Father into your hands I commend my spirit.” And yes, there is that moment on the cross when he will say, “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me.” In that one moment of apparent abandonment; like a creature abandoned by his creator, he calls out to his God not to his Father. Yet even in his agony he says, My God, my God and not Oh God!
Look at the sensitivity of the heart of our Lord; he is consoling the apostles when he should have been consoled. He knows the apostles will be scattered and run to their homes, that they will leave him alone. He does not speak of their abandonment in order to rub salt into their failing wounds but he says this to them so that when this happens, they “may have peace.” He wants them to understand that he understands their frailty and when, as we now know, he rose again, he told Mary to tell his BROTHERS to go to Galilee. He loved them and forgave them through it all.
His last words as he taught them were words of strength. His words to them are also his words to us, “take courage, I have conquered the world.” (John16:33b)
As you read this reflection be blessed and be assured that Jesus loves you. Take Courage!