You Cannot Bear Them Now
July 17, 2022
I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now (John 16:12).
Joseph Scriven (1834-1918) wrote the lyrics to a once popular hymn, “Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere? We should never be discouraged, take it to the Lord in prayer. Can we find a friend so faithful Who will all our sorrows share? Jesus knows our every weakness, Take it to the Lord in prayer.”
The Apostle Paul wrote (1 Corinthians 10:13) No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. Jesus said, I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.
It is a blessing to know Jesus is fully aware of our abilities and inabilities, what we can and cannot bear. The word ‘bear’ is hupophero. It means ‘to hold up from underneath’ or ‘patiently endure’. Jesus said there were many things left for the disciples to know and understand that He did not tell them. It wasn’t that He didn’t have the time or the opportunity, but they would not have been able to ‘bear’ or ‘patiently endure’ it. At that moment they were suffering emotional sorrow over the thought of Jesus leaving them, that He was going to be crucified, but more importantly, because He was not going to be their political and military savior. For Jesus to try to explain to them the significance of these things again would have been mental and emotional overload.
The Christian life is like that. We are saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ. We are spiritually alive, excited, hungry to hear, know, and do things for Jesus. But the Holy Spirit understands us and tempers our fervor with patience so that we won’t overload and burn out. How many times have we tried to engage in a specific ministry or church activity only to have it fizzle or fall flat? Or to witness to a friend or neighbor only to be rebuffed or rejected? Then, after patiently enduring, things begin to turn around, ministry activity begins to click, witnessing becomes less frustrating and more fruitful, passages of Scripture become clearly understood. It is the work of the Holy Spirit teaching us and leading us when we are able to ‘bear’ it.
Initially, and even up to the time of the crucifixion, the disciples thought of Jesus as a political and military Messiah, not a spiritual Messiah. They, along with the majority of believing Jews, thought Jesus would rid the land of the Roman occupation, overthrow the Roman government, and restore the Hebrew monarchy like the days of old under kings David and Solomon. Jesus would be King, the disciples would be His cabinet, and the people would live in freedom and prosperity - materially. A crucified Messiah, with the continuation of Roman occupation, didn’t fit into their scheme of things. Later on, under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, they would understand God’s plan for that time and for the ages to come.
Lord give us patience to wait upon the Holy Spirit to lead us to serve You in Your time. Amen.