I’ve watched Disney’s Beauty and the Beast countless times. The movie never gets old—a selfish man makes a grave mistake and suffers a punishment that affects not only him but those around him, only the outpouring of love without condition or pretext can reverse that punishment, and music perfectly narrates each moment of how that horrible punishment and perfect love intersect.
Watching it the first time was much different than watching it now. That moment when the last petal falls, the Beast dies, and the curse seems permanent just about tore my eleven year old heart to pieces. Now my thirty something heart might cringe as the petal falls, but that cringe is momentary, for I am confident and hopeful because I already know the ending: The Beast, Belle, and all those clocks and candlesticks have a joy-filled future free from the curse.
In John 16, Jesus’ disciples are facing the unthinkable. Jesus has spent much time telling them He is leaving them, and not just leaving them, but that He will have to die. Can you imagine your dearest friend—the person whom you rely most on, whom you feel most safe with—telling you ahead of time that he/she was going to die? I can imagine feelings of total denial (Peter embodied that), deep anger, overwhelming frustration, and sheer confusion. And of course, sorrow. Jesus knew their sorrow, and in response He says, “I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you” (vs. 7). Jesus leaving them is to their advantage? How can that be? Because Jesus already knows the ending of the story. He knows that in the interim between the cross and His return, that promised Helper, the Holy Spirit who has been with the Father and Jesus from the very beginning, would be exactly what His disciples and we would need to follow the Lord without hearing Jesus’ audible voice and seeing His physical footsteps. The Holy Spirit “will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment… will guide [us] into all truth” (vs. 8, 13). Yet again, we are freed from any kind of burden we would set on ourselves; only the Holy Spirit has the power to convict and lead hearts to truth. He has been pouring out this power for centuries and centuries, and your faith in Christ now is the result of that power. With great confidence, Jesus did the last thing the disciples wanted Him to do because He already knew the ending of the story.
We have this same confidence. Unlike the disciples at this point in John’s gospel, we know that the grave could not hold Jesus, that He is the conquering King prophets promised, that His victory is now our victory. Even still, life can have all kinds of sorrow, and I’m thankful that our Savior acknowledges exactly that:
“In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart: I have overcome the world.” (vs. 3
You know the ending of the story. No matter what you are facing, take heart in Jesus.