We can tend to think that Jesus only ever came to give encouragement. He would always leave his people with gladness and joy. Many churches have turned the church service into a pep talk. The implication would be that if we have connected with God and Jesus we would surely leave with good feelings.
But this week, I am preaching a text of Scripture that concludes with the disciples of Jesus feeling “greatly distressed”. In Matthew 17:22-23 Jesus is predicting his death. And what I find interesting is that he equally predicts his resurrection. But what grabs the disciples’ attention and leaves them with discouragement from this revelation? It is apparent that they did not hear or take comfort in the GOOD. Instead, the bad news resonated so loudly, that it appears to have drowned out amazing news that the grave would not hold Him.
This can be a metaphor for our lives. How often do I allow the bad to drown out the good? At any given time in my life, there is a mixture of good circumstances and bad circumstances. I confess that I personally trend toward the negative. I experienced the hardest things of my life at a young age . . . And they have certainly served to buffer my expectations.
So if you are anything like me, take this text to heart in Matthew 17:22-23! Jesus doesn’t leave us to wallow in self-pity, fear, or hopelessness. He always leaves us a reason to rejoice if we will only listen. He doesn’t shy away from the bad news, for the bad news is REALLY bad. Both of my parents have truly died. But the good news is incomparably better than the bad. They will be raised again to new life.
In the text this bad news, “I will be delivered over to the hands of men, they will kill me . . .” is super bad news. But what comes next is arresting and undoes all the bad . . . “but I will be raised to life on the third day”. Good doesn’t just win over bad. Good has eternity, and bad is a mere blip on the radar. The scope of good is astounding for anyone with ears to hear. The good news is amazing. And the bad news doesn’t hold a candle to it.
This holiday season, I am seeking to listen to the good. There is genuine sorrow. There is genuine pain. But the good news is coming in like a freight train, for anyone who has ears to hear!