Strengthening Your Spirit for a Season of Shaking and Pruning

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Hold on to this truth Jesus comforted His disciples with before His horrific death.
Hold on to this truth Jesus comforted His disciples with before His horrific death. (Vassilis)

The Christian life has many seasons, and some are more easily embraced than others. In John 14-17 Jesus was preparing His disciples for a change in the season. Up to this point, the disciples had operated under an open heaven, where Jesus stated in Luke 10:18-19:

"I saw Satan as lightning fall from heaven. Look, I give you authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy. And nothing shall by any means hurt you" (Luke 10:18-19).

The disciples had experienced unprecedented fruitfulness in healing the sick, raising the dead, casting out demons and preaching the Good News of God's kingdom to the multitudes. They ministered in an environment of unusual growth and favor.

However, since Peter's confession of His messianic identity and the Mount of Transfiguration, Jesus started proclaiming His soon-coming rejection, beating, scourging and crucifixion. Jesus referred to this period in Luke 22:53 as "the hour of the power of darkness" when Satan would enter Judas and initiate the tragic events. During His final meal with the disciples, Jesus was working to emotionally prepare them for a coming shift. Crucifixion was only hours away, and the disciples were soon to have a different experience in the grace of God. In John 15, Jesus describes this season as one of pruning, when the disciples would experience unprecedented loss and disillusionment, revealing many of the fault lines just below the surface.

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Shaking was coming, and Jesus had His hands full with His leadership team. The future of the movement was in the hands of a team filled with betrayal, pride and competition. Peter had allowed Satan to speak through him, bringing the open rebuke of the Master. He had in mind the things of man and not of God. James and John had a murderous spirit in wanting to call down fire and destroy a Samaritan village and, afterward, asked to sit at Jesus' right and left hand ruling over humanity for all eternity. The other disciples, bothered that James and John had asked first, picked back up an argument that began six months prior over who was the greatest. In fact, Luke's Gospel informs us that the disciples were still arguing over this during the Passover meal. The disciples were confident enough in the fruitful season to argue over who is the greatest, yet would their confidence remain in the coming trouble?

Over the next three days, the disciples would face an Earth-shaking crisis. Since the temptation in the wilderness, Satan had been waiting for a more opportune time. Now, the hour of darkness had come. Jesus would be crucified. The ones who left everything to follow Jesus would become confused and disoriented. Peter would deny Him. Thomas would become cynical. And John would be given the responsibility of walking Mary through the trauma of witnessing her son's death. Others would become disillusioned and go back to their previous occupations.

Jesus had to prepare His team for the coming trouble. Many things would be revealed in the storm of the crucifixion.

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