Comfort and hope in the midst of disaster
Translated by: Dr. Ping Wang
The Novel Coronavirus in Wuhan has just curbed its spread. However, the epidemic quickly spread to other parts of the world. Nowhere is able to be spared.
The oversea epidemic is out of control. The whole Europe has fallen! The number of confirmed cases in the United States has risen to the top in the world, followed by Italy, Spain, France and Iran.
The state of New York in the United States is almost completely out of control. Till now (March 27th), the number of infected cases in New York has soared to more than 86,000. According to the estimates of the Governor of New York, the peak will be reached in the next two to three weeks. It is estimated that New York State alone needs 140,000 beds and 40,000 artificial respirators. This is far beyond the current capability of the U.S., even though U.S. is considered to be abundant in medical resources compared to other countries.
The tragic scenes of the plagues in Italy and Spain are so miserable that one cannot bear seeing it.
On March 21, the number of deaths in Italy in a single day reached 793, equivalent to one person dying every two minutes from the coronavirus.
In a lot of places, coffins are stacked in churches. Government even used military vehicles to transport corpse to cremation.
Selective treatments have taken place in Italian and Spanish hospitals as the soaring number of infected cases has far exceeded the capacity of local hospitals. That is, doctors have voluntarily given up treatment for some critically ill patients, and Spain even stipulates that patients over 60 years of age cannot be admitted to the ICU. Such a cruel situation caused some medical staff to collapse and even caused some nurses to commit suicide.
With the convenience of Internet, everything that happens in every corner of the world has been brought to the whole world in real time. People have never been so closely and intensively exposed to the reality of death on a large scale.
The cases of infection and death are a series of cold statistics. But behind each death number is a loss of a live life, a broken family, and a burst of distressed crying.
In the memory of this generation, death has never been so brazen and unscrupulous as it is today!
Where is our comfort and hope? The Prime Minister of Italy said: The human method has been exhausted, only to ask for mercy from God.
It is said that an old Christian sister had her Bible crumpled on the page of John ’s Gospel 14th chapter, because the comforting words of the Lord Jesus always moved her to tears when she read here. Over time, that tear-stained Bible was wrinkled.
After the last supper, the Lord Jesus said to his disciples,
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
1． Shadow of Death --- Sadness
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.” (John 14:1)
At the last supper, the Lord Jesus told his disciples that he was leaving. “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.” (John 13:33)
The Lord Jesus told His disciples that He was going to leave them, and what Jesus said was to leave, and he had told his disciples many times before that "the time is now for the Son of Man to be glorified" (John 12:23) and that He would be "lifted from the earth"(John 12:32) and so on all mean the same, that is, pointing to His cross, pointing to His death.
“Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”
And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.
Therefore, Jesus explicitly told his disciples that He was about to leave them, and that departure meant His death, death on the cross.
What's more confusing to his disciples is that Jesus also said, " one of you is going to betray me.”" (John 13:21) And he said to his dear disciple Peter, "(Tonight) before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times! "(John 13:38)
Death not only refers to the cessation of heartbeat, breathing, and stress response. Death is also a kind of separation and separation from life. Common sense tells us that it is this separation that brings great grief and sorrow to the living relatives.
The disciples lived with the Lord Jesus for more than three years. They were kept under the care of the Lord, and they experienced many miracles.
They witnessed the Lord Jesus turning water into wine, so that the Canaan wedding banquet would not become an embarrassment.
They saw the Lord Jesus feed five thousand people with five loaves and two fishes, and the cheerful scene was still vivid.
They were astonished to see the Lord Jesus calmed waves of the sea, " “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” (Mark 4:41)
They had witnessed the Lord Jesus healed the demon-possessed, walked on the sea, raised the dead, and saw Lazarus walking out of the tomb after death for four days; on behalf of the disciples, Peter recognized Jesus as "the Christ and the Son of God."
They even argued with each other who would be great in the kingdom of Jesus in the future. James and John were still thinking about sitting on Jesus' left and right.
However, Jesus suddenly said that he would leave them, and such a departure is even the separation of death ... How can this not keep his disciples confused, sad, disappointed, painful, sad?
The Lord Jesus became flesh and deeply entered into human suffering. He experienced human suffering. The greatest suffering on earth is death, and the Lord Jesus experienced the worst death and suffering on earth in person.
The Lord Jesus has experienced everything that happened in Wuhan before, and now in Italy, Spain, and the United States. Those who lost their loved ones, their grief and sorrow, also was experienced by the disciples of Jesus.
end of life, then Jesus' disciples had good reasons and were destined to die in pain and despair.
However, death is not the end!
2． The eternal home---Hope
“My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”
This is the word of the Lord that comforted the old sister.
In this passage, the Lord Jesus used a series of five verbs: "Has" "Go," "Prepare" "Come back" "Take"
My Father’s house has many rooms.
“Rooms” was translated as “ Mansion” in the KJV bible, which means buildings, official residences, apartments, manor, etc. "
"Go," the context originally pointed to the death of the Lord Jesus, but here obviously means that he is going to the Father's place and returning to the glory that he "fall from heaven and is still in heaven".
“I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.” (John 17:4-5)
When the Lord Jesus prayed to share glory with the Father, it was clear that He was the Son of the living, and forever living God.
“Prepare, ”includes the great work of salvation on the cross that the Lord Jesus has accomplished through His death and resurrection, includes the saving faith given by the Holy Spirit Comforter in the hearts of the people, it also includes the prayer for the believers from the Lord Jesus sitting on the right side of God the Father!
The cross was a sign of sin, shame, death, and pain, but the Lord Jesus turned it into salvation, love, glory, eternal salvation!
"Come back." When the Lord Jesus prepared a place for all the saved in Heaven's house, when the time was fulfilled, and when the number of people saved was full, the Lord Jesus would return.
"Take" refers to the rapture of believers. The Lord Jesus didn't just show the world a way to heaven. He wanted to come back in person to meet those who belong to Him and take them back to the glorious home--the eternal and beautiful hometown.
You wouldn’t see even a slice of the darkness and terrible death there.
Therefore, the Lord Jesus persuaded his disciples to look away from the sorrows and sadness, but to the future, to the eternity, and the glorious hometown prepared by the Lord.
Chapter 21 of Revelation described in details the beauty of heaven: Golden Street, Jasper City, Pearl Gate, Crystal Lights! Have you ever seen such a luxurious, beautiful, glorious, majestic, magnificent palace?
Most importantly, the Lord Jesus is there, because that is His home--
“I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:3)
“Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
In there, there are no need for hospitals, doctors, nurses, masks, protective clothing, ventilators; because there is no virus, no pneumonia, no disease, no death, no crying, no sadness ... Focusing on the future, focusing on eternity, and focusing on the glorious hometown of paradise, this is the comfort and hope of people in this global disaster today!
When John Todd, a nineteenth-century famous clergyman, was six years old, both his parents died. A kind-hearted aunt raised him until he left home to study for the ministry. Later, this aunt became seriously ill, and in distress she wrote Todd a letter. John Todd wrote a reply to her because he was too busy and could not return to visit her aunt.
“It is now thirty-five years since I, as a boy of six, was left quite alone in the world. You sent me word you would give me a home and be a kind mother to me. I have never forgotten the day I made the long journey to your house. I can still recall my disappointment when, instead of coming for me yourself, you sent your servant, Caesar, to fetch me.
“I remember my tears and anxiety as, perched high on your horse and clinging tight to Caesar, I rode off to my new home. Night fell before we finished the journey, and I became lonely and afraid. ‘Do you think she’ll go to bed before we get there?’ I asked Caesar.
‘Oh no!’ he said reassuringly, ‘She’ll stay up for you. When we get out o’ these here woods, you’ll see her candle shinin’ in the window.’
“Presently we did ride out into the clearing, and there, sure enough, was your candle. I remember you were waiting at the door, that you put your arms close about me—a tired and bewildered little boy. You had a fire burning on the hearth, a hot supper waiting on the stove. After supper you took me to my new room, heard me say my prayers, and then sat beside me till I fell asleep.
“Some day soon God will send for you, to take you to a new home. Don’t fear the summons, the strange journey, or the messenger of death. God can be trusted to do as much for you as you were kind enough to do for me so many years ago. At the end of the road you will find love and a welcome awaiting, and you will be safe in God’s care.”
3． The only way---Jesus
“You know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Thanks for the questioning of doubtful Thomas. It leads to the sixth great declaration of "I am" from the famous seven "I am" declaration in the Gospel of John: " I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
A. Jesus is the way
Heaven is a beautiful home, and Jesus Christ is the only way to that glorious land. The claim of Jesus Christ is completely opposite with the secular saying "all roads lead to Rome," "all religions share the same path".
The Bible says, " We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way." (Isaiah 53: 6) The result of this deviation is that our self-righteous path eventually becomes the path of death. Only Jesus Christ takes us to the road towards eternal life.
I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body.
Jesus Christ is the only way because ---
No religious leader is flawlessly morally perfect;
No religious leader was crucified for sinners;
No religious leader sheds his blood for sinners;
No religious leader has died and resurrected from the grave!
Jesus Christ is the only way because ---
He was the Word in the beginning and came to earth in flesh,
He is the only begotten Son in the Father ’s arms,
He is the Lamb of the Holy Immaculate God,
He is the Savior who rose from death,
He is the mediator between God and man,
He is the High Priest above the sky!
B. Jesus is the truth
Jesus is the only way, because He is the truth, and He is the absolute truth.
Pilate had asked Jesus two famous questions, one of which was: "What is the truth?" (John 18:38) Unfortunately, Pilate turned away without waiting for Jesus to answer. In fact, he didn’t intend to know the truth or knowledge.
What is the truth?
Truth is not a theory, a concept, a thought, or a science.
Truth is a person--Jesus Christ!
"I am ... the truth!"
First, truth is absolutely true without the slightest lie.
The Lord Jesus condemned the Pharisees and said, “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”
Only the Lord Jesus can speak like this, " Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? " Even Jesus's enemies cannot prove him guilty. Jesus's only charge is to claim as the Son of God, and this is precisely His true identity.
Secondly, truth is consistent with facts and the original state of things.
“You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am.”
The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being.”
Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
Third, truth must be absolute, immutable, and eternal.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
Because Jesus is the absolute truth, He is the only way to save sinners, "I am the way." (John 14: 6)
C. Jesus is the Life
Jesus is the only way, because He is the source of life. " In him was life." (John 1: 4)
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life.
I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
Jesus is the Lord of life, so death cannot hold him in custody. He was crucified on the cross, buried in the grave, but raised from the dead on the third day. He is the Lord of life, through his resurrection, he destroyed the power of death!
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die”
He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.
Because Jesus is the source of life, He is the only way for salvation and eternal life!
Finally, let us return to the first sentence of John 14: Jesus said to his disciples, " Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me." (John 14: 1)
You believe in God; believe also in me."
The two words "believe" can be translated into a statement or a command in terms of grammar: Trust in God, Trust in Me! As Jesus Christ is the absolute truth, His Word is absolutely true and trustworthy. There are many dwellings in the heavenly Father's house. Jesus is preparing a place for us. He will come back to pick us up. He is there, and he will let us be there with him. It is through trust/faith that the heaven's glorious and beautiful hometown can become your true hope and comfort!
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.