I have said these things to you to keep you from falling away. (John 16:1)
Jesus predicts the future for His disciples and tells them what to expect. As the God-man, He is the man that can rightly predict the future and tell us what to expect. Though Christians know this, that doesn’t stop them from having some unrealistic expectations for this life.
Part of the reason you face disappointments right now is because of your unrealistic expectations.
Part of the reason you have to deal with doubt is because of your unrealistic expectations.
Part of the reason you have wearisome worries is because of your unrealistic expectations.
Where do they pop up? All over the place!
Young couples have them when they marry – old ones too.
Workers have them when they take a new job and when they retire.
Students have them when they enter college and when they graduate. Oftentimes graduation speeches unwittingly inflame such false perspectives. “Seize the day and transform the world!” only to come to realize much of the world doesn’t want transformed and if they’re not careful, the world will transform into something other than a Christian who lives outsides themselves in faith toward God and love toward neighbor.
“Believe in yourself and follow your heart.” only to realize their own hearts are rather confused and dark. The world is often dark because it is full of hearts that are dark.
Unrealistic expectations – they can come with every new year, every new week, every new day and every new person, place, or thing.
Listen to what our Jesus tells His apostles what they should expect after His ascension.
I have said 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. (John 16:1-2)
Listen to what our Lord told us last week what we should expect:
33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16)
Listen to what Peter in our Epistle tells us what we should expect:
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. (1 Peter 4:12)
The apostles had with Jesus from the beginning of His public ministry:
And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning. (John 15:27).
But simply knowing what Jesus said, or being eyewitness of His crucifixion, resurrection and ascension would not be enough for them to face fiery trials and even being put to death by those who thought they were offering to God a service.
Remember how James died as the mouths of Jews were calling him a liar. Remember how Stephen died as those who stoned him were calling him a blasphemer. Remember how Saul was zealously hunting Christians thinking he was vindicating God’s holy name.
The knowledge of Jesus’ teachings and the eyewitness testimony they bore regarding his death, resurrection, and ascension – though powerful – would not be enough to keep them from falling away. They would not be strong enough to face these realistic expectations. They would need a help the comes from the outside:
But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness about me (John 15:26).
Dear Christians that is the bedrock expectation that Jesus tells you to holdfast concerning the presence and the work of the Holy Spirit – he will bear witness about me.
The help given by the Holy Spirit as we expect to face trouble is not help looking within our heart – not finding strength to face this life on our own – not controlling the troubles we face as some are falsely preaching now (“In the name of Jesus, I claim this sickness to be gone! I claim healing in Jesus’ name) – it’s not even in physical safety!
Jesus who entreated His disciples to ask, ask, ask in His Name here entreats them to hear – to listen – to receive the word of the Holy Spirit. He will bear witness about me.
The Holy Spirit will not stop others from making life difficult for Jesus’ apostles or even taking their earthly life. He will comfort them by bringing the words and work of the Word made flesh to them. In addition He will comfort you by the speaking of God’s Word through the apostles’ witness to Christ.
And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.
I have said all these things to keep you from falling away. Beloved that’s the help we need in this world of trouble!
We need help with temptation in this fleeting life – help against not believing Christ’s Word of promise! Help against despair as we face trouble.
I have said all these things to keep you from falling away.
Our greatest need is peace of conscience and sure and certain hope in God’s love for us in Christ. That’s the help the Holy Spirit brings.
The Christian confesses their sinful hearts and the unrealistic expectations it tempts us toward. But God has also done something inside of us:
I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my just decrees. (Ezekiel 36:26-27)
With a new heart and cleansed heart, we expect God to battle our sinful hearts and help us:
be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. (1 Peter 4:7)
We should expect that God help us:
above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8)
Though there is trouble and our Lord tells us to expect it, He even more wonderfully tells us what we can expect of Him.
Expect Him to give you the Helper through His Word and Supper today!
Expect that His love covers the multitude of your sins.
Expect that He will never leave you or forsake you.
Expect Him to be the stronghold of your life, your light and salvation.
Expect God’s Word received constantly in faith to keep you from falling away.
Expect that to live is Christ and to die is gain – that to depart and be with Christ is far better.
Expect Him to come again and to rejoice when His glory is revealed.
Expect a day in which there will be only kindness and truth and love flowing to you from all and from you to all – a new day – a new beginning – new heavens and a new earth in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Those are God’s realistic expectations of Himself for you!