Prior to His arrest and crucifixion, Jesus takes the time to comfort His disciples with the words we find in John 14-16. Knowing that He would soon leave them and knowing that the world not only is harsh and unforgiving but also hateful of Him, His message, and His followers, Jesus tells His beloved disciples to not allow their hearts to be troubled (Jn. 14:1). He adds, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (Jn. 14:27). He stresses that He is “the way, the truth, and the life” (Jn. 14:6). He reminds them that because they have believed He is the Messiah, the Son of God, they would live eternally with Him in the future, and, in the meantime on this earth, they could abide in fellowship with Him as He would send the Holy Spirit to indwell them—a fact true of all who trust in Him.
Now, at the very end of this encouragement, He says, “These things I have spoken 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” (Jn. 16:33). How could Jesus say that He had “overcome the world”? As God, He knew what was about to befall Him; He knew that He would die for the sins of the world and that He would rise again, conquering death and making reconciliation possible between God the Father and men, women, and children. Later in the Scriptures we read that Jesus alone is the one “Mediator between God and men” (2 Tim. 2:5) and that His death and resurrection made salvation possible for all who would believe on Him for their eternal life. We read that salvation comes not through works or effort on our part but by simply receiving the free gift of eternal life through faith—belief, trust—in Jesus Christ and His work on our behalf. Because of the substitutionary death of Jesus and because of His resurrection from the dead, He could confidently declare that He had “overcome the world.”
Despite this glorious truth, we are still living in a disconcerting and chaotic world—a world marked by sin, wickedness, discouragement, death, and confusion. How is the world situation right now? The news is filled with horrible atrocities and tragedies that occur every single day—a situation that will not change until Christ returns to rule and reign. How is your personal situation right now? Is your heart “troubled” or “afraid” today? People let us down or mistreat us. Loved ones die. Life is unjust. We often experience relationship problems, financial problems, physical problems, emotional problems. Jesus warns us that we will face trials and hardship in this life; and yet, He tells us that even in the midst of all this, we can possess His peace because of what He has done—He has overcome the world!
This peace Jesus offers is more than just a feeling of rest or contentment amid trials and tribulations (although God’s peace does entail this). This peace comes to us as we realize that we, too, are “overcomers” and as we recognize and acknowledge who we are and what we possess “in/through Christ.” All who have a personal relationship with God through faith in Jesus’ substitutionary death and subsequent resurrection are overcomers, and this knowledge passes all understanding! It provides us with comfort, hope, confidence, and peace.
One of the disciples who was listening to Jesus—the apostle John—understood this truth and later wrote, “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.… For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 Jn. 5:1, 4-5). Those who have not believed are still enslaved to sin and the world and have no power to overcome them. They have no rest, no confidence, no assurance, no peace, no hope. But if you have trusted in the person and work of Jesus Christ for eternal spiritual life, then you have overcome! John tell us, “Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 Jn. 4:4). Therefore, you can have peace in the midst of trials; you can have strength in the midst of hardship; you can have assurance in the midst of uncertainty; you can have stability in the midst of confusion—all of this because Jesus has overcome the world by His death and resurrection, and, by your relationship with Him through faith, you also have overcome!
With the way this world is headed, now is not the time to be uncertain or unsettled concerning your spiritual state. Trust in Jesus Christ and what He has done for you. And, if you have trusted Him and are a child of God, then make it your aim to grow closer to Him. Do not let anything stand in your way. Do not allow your successes, your failures, or other people keep you from personally moving forward in your spiritual life and walk. Today, despite what is happening in the world around us and no matter what may be going on in our own personal life and relationships with others, let us rejoice that peace, certainty, and hope are our present possession all because Jesus has overcome the world through His death and resurrection. Today is a day of rejoicing, a day of hope! Always remember the words of Jesus: “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33).