Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves His child as well. This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out His commands. In fact, this is love for God: to keep His commands. And His commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith (1 John 5:1-4).
The teachings of Jesus filled John’s mind. One can feel his love for his Master pulsating through every word he wrote. He had taken Jesus’ instruction seriously about the Holy Spirit and His role in their lives. John had built his life on the foundation of Jesus’ words, and it was now his task to pass them on to his readers so that they would also have a solid base on which to build their lives.
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 (John 16:33).
Jesus spoke these final words to His disciples before they left the upper room and made their way to Gethsemane. He had taught them about the Holy Spirit and His role in their lives after His return to the Father. He had assured them that He had overcome the world and that they would have victory over sin and Satan through their faith in Him.
What did John mean? This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Without the background of Jesus’ teaching, John’s encouragement would make no sense to his readers. He must have taken for granted that they knew what he was saying because he had already inspired them with Jesus’ words.
But what did Jesus mean by His words, “I have overcome the world”? Jesus’ world at that moment was the world of God’s people, the Jews among whom He lived. Their religious leaders, who tried slavishly to obey the teachings of Moses, demanded that they also keep their unreasonable requirements. His people’s “world” was the burdensome system of religion as well as the oppression of their Roman overlords. The Roman government taxed so heavily that many of them lived in poverty. Their fellow-Jews who served Rome as unscrupulous tax collectors, added to their burden, demanding more tax than Rome required to enrich themselves.
The world had overcome them. Instead of responding, like their countrymen Jesus’ disciples reacted to the oppressive world system in sinful ways; with resentment, anger, rebellion, hatred, bitterness, adding to their burden of guilt.
Jesus modelled the response that would not permit the world to overcome Him. He did not resist arrest. He submitted to the soldiers’ torture without threat or complaint. He accepted injustice without accusation. Peter’s summary accurately describes Jesus’ attitude to the “world” which rejected Him and treated Him unjustly and cruelly despite His innocence.
When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered He made no threats. Instead, He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly. He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by His wounds you have been healed (1 Pet. 2:22-24).
How did Jesus overcome the world? He absorbed in Himself everything evil that people levelled against Him. The worst that human cruelty and hatred did to Him could not move Him to retaliate. He forgave and prayed for His tormentors. He proved both to the powers of darkness and to the world of sinners that it was possible to live in obedience to the Father and without sin in spite of what the world did to Him.
In His life, He demanded of His enemies, “Who of you accuses me of sin?” to which no one could reply. In His death, He remained unaffected by those who hated Him. He steadfastly trusted in His Father’s love. His resurrection proved that He had no sin because death could not hold Him.
Jesus provided both a model for us under unjust suffering, and he also provides the power to overcome the sin of others against us. What was His secret? He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly. By entrusting Himself to the Father, Jesus turned His attention away from His suffering to the one who sustained Him. The assurance of His Father’s love enabled Him to endure the cross.
Likewise for us who have given Jesus the right to reign over us, we are free to trust the Father to bring good out of the worst of circumstances. It is true that we will suffer in this life because human suffering is part of this fallen world, but God works for our good in all things for one reason – He is restoring in us the image of His Son.
Jesus loved the Father and trusted in His love to the extent that He submitted to the Father’s will and obeyed Him in everything. Submission and obedience are to be the hallmark of God’s children, based on confidence in His perfect love.
Scripture is taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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