19th July 2019
Gemma Willis reflects on John 16
Read: John 16
My parents tell me that I was one of those children who continually asked ‘Are we nearly there yet?’ on every car journey that lasted for more than ten minutes… I’m sure they’re exaggerating – but apparently it was very annoying. I do remember often being told ‘It’s just around the next bend’, waiting eagerly for the next bend to pass and then finding that we really weren’t ‘there yet’!
I feel a little bit as though the disciples were thinking ‘Are we nearly there yet?’ as Jesus was speaking in John 16. Jesus seems to be describing a beautiful future, but also a painting a picture of a very uncomfortable present day. He seems to imply that it won’t be long before the wonderful future arrives, but at the same time he’s very vague. ‘It’s just around the next bend…’ seems like an apt phrase.
Of course, those who have chosen to follow Jesus are all too familiar with the paradox that this passage relates to. It’s often called ‘the now and the not yet’, or ‘the in-between times’. Today’s Christians, just like the disciples in this passage, find themselves living in ‘an uncomfortable present day’ – marked by war, poverty, illness, and greed, to name but a few.
But those who follow Jesus today also believe that the promises Jesus made when he was here on earth are not only true for the future, but that what Jesus promises has in fact already come to pass.
Now if that’s not confusing – I’m not sure what is.
For me, the best analogy for the ‘now and the not yet’ is that of the seasons – in particular, winter, spring and summer.
In many ways those alive today find themselves living in winter – amongst so much pain, suffering and seeming darkness. But I believe that we see glimmers of spring – glimmers of God’s kingdom breaking through in the efforts of the church and Christians who seek to live their lives for Jesus. Of course, in full summer the sun can break through in its entirety (as we’ve been all too aware of these past few weeks!) – God is here in his fullness, and all is as he intended.
My favourite part of this analogy though is that whilst I am experiencing winter, it is also summer on a different part of the planet. Whilst I am living in a time where I don’t see the fulfilment of all of God’s promises, I also know that they are already fulfilled.
I believe God invites each and every one of us to join in with his restoration of the earth and all people - in line with his perfect kingdom. And so, I suppose the question is ‘Will you be a bringer of spring today?’
Are we nearly there yet? Now and not yet.
Gemma Willis has over 14 years of experience in working with children and young people. She is passionate about communicating the good news of Jesus in relevant, exciting and engaging ways. She also likes pies, mountains and cats.