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THEY HAVE NOT KNOWN THE FATHER
"'All this I have told you so that you will not fall away. They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God. They will do such things because they have not known the Father.
"'I have told you this so that, when their time comes you will remember that I warned you about them. I did not tell you this from the beginning because I was with you, but now I am going to Him who sent me. None of you asks me, 'Where are you going?' Rather, you are filled with grief because I have said these things.'" John 16:1-6 NIV.
"Because they have not known the Father..." This is a very powerful statement.
Jesus was not talking about the pagans outside in the world. He was referring to the religious leaders who were in charge of the spiritual wellbeing of God's people, the priests and teachers of the law. In their zeal for God they side-lined or exterminated those who did not believe or do things their way.
Unlike Satan who paints rebellion and disobedience as exciting, enjoyable, rosy and without consequences and does not expose the small print, Jesus warned His disciples what would happen to them because they faithfully followed and obeyed Him. He told them the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. They were not to be surprised or put off when they met hostility from "spiritual" people who would stop at nothing, not even murder, to keep people in bondage to their way.
Why would they do that? "Because they have not known the Father." It's as simple as that! Why do people do any of the terrible things they do? Because they have not known the Father. It doesn't only have to refer to religious people. Why do husbands abuse their wives and children? Why do abused wives drink until alcohol destroys their minds? Why do unscrupulous thugs rape and steal and kill? Why do civil servants plunder government coffers? Why do people destroy family relationships through jealousy, anger, bitterness or unforgiveness? Because they have not known the Father!
Not only does this help us to understand why people do what they do; it also enables us to view their behaviour through the eyes of compassion because, as Jesus cried out forgiveness to the Father for His murderers, "they do not know what they are doing."
All of this was too much for His disciples to take in. They were stunned and overwhelmed with grief, too broken even to ask where He was going. Nevertheless, He kept speaking, faithfully teaching them about the Holy Spirit and warning them of the pitfalls that lay ahead on their journey with Him. Though they might not have understood then, or even remembered His words at this crucial time, the seeds of truth had been sown in their minds and the Holy Spirit would bring them to remembrance when they were needed.
How comforting and encouraging it is for us to know that we have the same Holy Spirit to whom Jesus introduced his disciples and who filled them on the day of Pentecost. He equipped them and He equips us with insight, understanding and power, and accompanies us through the tortuous ways of submission and obedience to Jesus until we know Him.
Unlike those who follow the ways of sin because they do not know the Father, when we follow Jesus, He takes us to the Father. We are adopted into His family as beloved sons and daughters; we live in the Father's presence and we get to know Him as our Father.
This was the journey that lay ahead for the disciples -- in their calling to be witnesses for Jesus, they could only understand and fulfill that calling as they got to know the Father. To be a witness for Jesus is to become like Him, to love and obey Him as He loved and obeyed the Father.
"Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them." John 17:25, 26 NIV.
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