“Jesus Has Overcome”
Welcome to “Key to the Kingdom.” My name is Bret McCasland. Out of all of Jesus’ statements, which are recorded in the Bible, which one is your favorite? Oh, that's a hard question to answer, isn't it! If 20 people were asked that question, I might get 20 different answers, and that is okay. Each of us has a favorite. Each of us has one or two that perhaps mean more to us than all the rest; and yet, they all are worthy of our thought and consideration. Today, we turn our attention to what Jesus said about this world. This is one of my favorites. He says something that is encouraging and even comforting, and that is something all of us need in today's world. With so many problems and so much uncertainty, we need a message of hope. The time was approaching for Jesus to go back to His Father in heaven. His work on earth was just about done. And yet, He knew His closest followers were uncertain about their future. They were anxious about what would happen if He was no longer physically present with them. There were many problems they would face and they needed some help, and so Jesus offered a word of reassurance. From time to time, we all need a word like that, don’t we! We need some hope. We need some encouragement. We need some reassurance that everything will be okay. Well, in our lesson today, we will study about what Jesus had to say in regards to the problems we face. We will let His words offer us a much needed reassurance for life in today's world. I hope you will join us for this message, as we open up our Bibles and study together.
The more I read and study my Bible, the more I am thankful I did not live during what we call the Bible times. I'm glad I did not live in the Old Testament time period, in the midst of so many battles and wars. I am thankful I did not live during the New Testament time period, where there was so much political unrest and religious persecution. The people who did live during those times did not experience many of the conveniences and privileges we enjoy today, and oftentimes even take for granted. And in that way, this world seems to be much better. And yet, for many our world is not a better place. To a degree, we still have our share of battles and wars and religious and political unrest. In addition to that, we experience many things the people in the Bible times never did. And yet, no matter what time period we are talking about, the world has been and always will be full of problems. And that's just the way it is. Sin and rebellion and problems and difficulties are all a part of life, and they will be for a long time to come. And all of that goes back to the time there in the beginning with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. They were told to enjoy the garden, but they could not eat of the fruit that was on the forbidden tree. Yet Adam and Eve decided to do their own thing. They thought they knew better than God, and so they disobeyed and ate of that fruit. And as a result, they were expelled from the garden. And as a result, we have had to deal with the consequences of sin, from that time even until today. Well, in the Gospel of John, chapter 15 and 16, Jesus is approaching the end of His public ministry here upon this earth, which lasted the better part of three years. And He shares with His disciples some observations about the way things are in the world, on that particular occasion. He identified some of the problems they will experience, some of the trials and temptations and issues that will come about as He left and went back to His heavenly Father. Yes, He was preparing His disciples for their time here up on this earth without His physical presence. And so He reminds them how the world hated Him because of His claim of being God's Son; and, many would also hate them because they aligned themselves with Him. And these disciples would face some uncertain days and they would have some problems. They would have all kinds of, of difficulties. Some of them would be persecuted and some of them would even be put to death because of their faithful obedience and devotion to the Lord. And yet, as Jesus was going away, He promised that the Holy Spirit would come, that His presence would continually be with them through the Holy Spirit. And the Spirit would be at work in their lives. He would be that constant reminder they needed, that Jesus would never leave them. You might remember, in the very last part of Matthew chapter 28 we find what we call the Great Commission, as Jesus told His disciples, “As you are going to teach and baptize and disciple people, remember that I will be with you, even to the very end of the age.” Now, sometimes we might forget that, but the disciples did not. They knew that Jesus was with them in the form of the Holy Spirit, who was guiding and protecting and reminding them of the Lord's presence in their life. And no matter what kind of problems, what kind of temptations or trials they would experience in life, no matter how bad life got, their sorrow could be turned into joy. Their hearts could be at peace, and no one would be able to take away from them the presence of the Lord. Well, after sharing all of those things, we find at the end of chapter 16 a very important statement. Obviously all of Jesus’ statements are important and they are worthy of our study, but this one in-particular seems to grab our attention. It's a statement that these disciples needed to hear, and we need to hear as well, today. This is a statement that gives us a great deal of hope and encouragement as we face many challenges and problems in our life, just like these disciples did. Listen to what Jesus told them in John chapter 16, verse 33. “I have told you 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.” The disciples needed to hear that. They knew that they would have trouble. Jesus told them they would experience all kinds of problems and difficulties and they needed to know that the Father's presence would be with them through the comfort of the Holy Spirit. They needed to know that as they face those challenging days, they could take heart. They could be encouraged knowing that things were going to be okay and they could be at peace. And then there are perhaps no greater words than what Jesus ended with, there in verse 33, “I have overcome the world.” Now that's some good news, isn't it! In the midst of what was about to happen to them, Jesus wanted these disciples to know that He was in the process of defeating Satan and overcoming his influence in this world. And that took place when Jesus went to the cross. Many aligned themselves with Jesus throughout His public ministry. They followed Him. They listened to His teaching. They believed in Him and they recognized Him as the Savior, the One who would bring about great change for their lives. Yet, when Jesus was arrested and falsely accused for doing wrong, and then put to death, many of His followers wondered what had just happened. They believed in Jesus, and now He was gone. He was dead. He was put into a tomb. He was not unlike any of the other false teachers or prophets who had come through. “Have we wasted our time,” perhaps they asked themselves. They wondered, “What do we do next?” And it appeared for the moment that the Satan had won the victory, with the death of Jesus Christ. They believed that, perhaps, for three days. But then, Jesus rose victoriously from the tomb. He came up from the grave. And with His resurrection, He defeated Satan and He overcame the world. He overcame Satan and his influence in this world. Oh, how that must have inspired those early followers of Jesus Christ. Well, the early church needed words of comfort, just like Jesus had given His disciples; and the apostle John offered words of encouragement and comfort to the next group of believers, some 60 years later. He wrote this, in 1st John chapter 5, verses 4 and 5: “Everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” Three times in these two verses, John writes that we, too, can overcome the world through our faith and belief in Jesus Christ. We, too, can experience the victory over sin and Satan and the influence of this world through our relationship with God's one and only Son. Well, as both the disciples and the early church needed help to make it in this world, we do too. We need the comfort of the Holy Spirit. We need the peace that comes from the Father. We need Jesus’ victory over the world. Now, some of the problems the early disciples experienced are similar to us today, while some of them obviously are not. But no matter what kind of difficulties or problems we face in our world, we, too, can find peace and comfort in knowing that Jesus has already dealt with it. The challenges we face today and the problems which seem to be so insurmountable have already been overcome by the Lord. In another statement from John, he reminds us how that happens. Again, going to 1st John, this time chapter 4 and verse 4, we find these words: “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” Now, the “them” John is referring to are the false teachers and false prophets that were prevalent in that day. But John reminds his readers that God has overcome them through Jesus Christ. And the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world; and, no doubt he is referring to Jesus, God's one and only Son. And yes, the One who is in them, Jesus, is greater than the false prophets and the false teachers and Satan himself, the one who is in the world. In fact, the apostle Paul even identified him as the prince of this world. But Jesus Christ, who was living in these early believers and who lives in you and me today, is greater than any influence this world has to offer. And so, through Jesus these believers could overcome Satan and they could overcome his evil influence. Today we might ask ourselves some questions, in light of that. Who is it that is in me? Is it the influence of Satan? Is it the influence of this world? Is it the influence of Jesus Christ? Well, when Jesus lives within us, there’s absolutely no one and no thing in this world that can defeat us. On occasion we might give in to the influence of this world. John writes about that in 1st John 2, verse 15, the lust of the eye and the lust of the flesh and the pride of life. We might give in to some of that from time to time, but that does not describe who we are because it is Jesus Christ who lives within us and we can overcome that negative influence. Here are some more questions to consider. What is our greatest obstacle? Who is our greatest enemy? When do we feel our greatest temptation? Oh, however we choose to answer those questions, we need to remember Jesus is greater than every obstacle and every enemy and every temptation. And yes, again, we might stumble and fall and be disobedient or rebellious for a time. We might sin. And yet again, that does not describe who we are if Jesus Christ is living within us, for He is greater than he who is in this world. Before Jesus made this powerful statement, here in John 16, verse 33, He referred to himself as the vine and to those who followed Him as the branches. And that makes sense to us, in agriculture terms. The vine, or the root that grows, provides the nourishment for the branches that go out from that vine. Then Jesus takes that image and He applies it spiritually, in John 15, beginning with verse 4: “Remain in Me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing.” If we are separated from Jesus Christ, according to Jesus, we are on our own. We can do nothing outside of the Lord. And yet, on the other hand, when we are connected to Jesus Christ we receive that spiritual nourishment and strength we need, because as one of the branches we are connected to the vine, and we can go and bear much fruit. The apostle Paul found that strength in the Lord. You might remember, over in 2nd Corinthians chapter 12, he had the opportunity to experience the third heaven. He saw, he experienced it, and that excited him a great deal. But to keep him from becoming too prideful he was given a thorn in the flesh. We don't know exactly what that thorn entailed, but whatever it was, Paul did not like it and he prayed on at least three occasions for that thorn to be removed. And yet, it was never removed. And this was the answer he received from God, concerning that, “My grace is sufficient for you for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Well, when Paul heard those words, he had this response, “Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so that Christ's power may rest in me.” Paul says it's okay if I'm weak. I don't mind being weak at all, because I know that God's power is found in me. God's power and God's grace was sufficient for Paul. It supplied his needs in a time of weakness. God's power took over when he could not handle the problem of that thorn in the flesh. And now Paul could be at peace. He stated it like this, in Ephesians 3, verses 20 and 21, “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all we could ever ask for or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in His son, Christ Jesus, both now and forevermore.” Yes, God's power is in those who are connected to Jesus Christ and who remain in Him; and His grace and His power is sufficient, as we seek to overcome this world. Since that is the case, there is no need to live with fear. There's no need to live with any kind of anxiousness or anxiety, but we can overcome and we don't need to be afraid. One of Paul's greatest statements about Jesus’ victory is in Romans chapter 8. Listen to these words, beginning with verse 36: As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered. No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The apostle Paul knew, without a doubt, Jesus had overcome the world and Satan and his influence in this world. And whatever he and other believers experienced, there is a victory in Jesus. And we are not to be governed by the things of this world. We are not to be consumed by that which destroys so many lives, but rather we are to find our significance in Jesus Christ. In Him we experience the peace that comes from knowing He is in control. And just as He has overcome the world, we can, too! The words of Psalm 27 verse 1 remind us from where we received that victory and strength. The Psalmist writes, “The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?” As we remain in Jesus and receive our strength from Him, there is no reason to be afraid, but there is every reason to live with joy and with peace. In His words to the church in Laodicea, Jesus told them there was a reward waiting for them. And He stated this, according to Revelation 3:21, “To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.” Well, those words are for us as well. When we overcome Satan’s influence, along with the challenges and problems of life, we too will receive a reward. And that will be to be with Jesus Christ at the right hand of the Father, where we can enjoy that heavenly kingdom for all eternity. And Jesus Christ, himself, will be there and He will be the host at that banquet feast in heaven. When we overcome Satan's influence, we are able to overcome anything in this world, because Jesus reminds us He has already provided that victory. And as we remain in Him, we too can experience that victory and overcome whatever confronts us, today. The people and the things which appear to be so strong and so invincible are nothing compared to the power and the peace that we find in the Lord. It's all temporary and it will not last forever. Jesus offers something this world cannot touch, He offers that victory over sin and Satan. And for the One who loves us more than we will ever know, there is no match for what is in this world. That gives us every reason to live with joy and peace. Here's one final question to consider. Are you living with a peace that can only come from a relationship with Jesus Christ? I hope and I trust that you are. But if not, I would encourage you to recognize Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and begin to experience the victory that He has already made available for you, and to overcome whatever happens with the power of God, that resides in those who have a relationship with Him.
This globe is a good representation of the world in which we live. When we look at this globe, we can identify a number of things, the continents, the nations, the major bodies of water. We see the North Pole, the equator, the South Pole. And if we look closely we can even identify the general area in which we live. As I think about the world today, no matter where we live throughout this world, we are facing all kinds of uncertainty and problems. Nations are going to battle and war against other nations. There is political and social unrest. There is injustice and there are crimes and there are issues and problems that affect us no matter where we might live. And that's a problem. We're concerned about that. It causes a great deal of uncertainty and anxiety and worry. One time during Jesus’ ministry, He told His disciples, “In this world, you will have trouble, but take heart or be of good cheer for, I have overcome the world.” Well, that still applies today. Yes, we have trouble and tribulation and hardship in our world, but we can take heart and be encouraged to know that Jesus has already overcome. He has already gained the victory and defeated death and conquered Satan. And as a result of that, we can live an abundant life full of cheer and joy because we know Jesus is victorious. He has overcome. And no matter what happens, wherever we might live in the world today, we too can be victorious in Jesus Christ.
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