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John 16:16-33

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16 Jesus went on to say, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.’

We find it hard to understand why the Disciples were so slow to understand. But they still had no idea that probably within the next three hours Jesus would be arrested. The phrase ‘in a little while’ is repeated six times in three verses but for the disciples it was still a mystery. They had been with Jesus every day for so long now that they just could not contemplate anything different. Besides, they had learnt that Jesus was a miracle-worker, who was literally able to calm any storm, and simply walk away from those who intended him harm.

17 At this, some of his disciples said to one another, ‘What does he mean by saying, “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me,” and “Because I am going to the Father”?’ 18 They kept asking, ‘What does he mean by “a little while”? We don’t understand what he is saying.’

The phrase “Because I am going to the Father” in verse 17 was spoken by Jesus in verse 10, so it showed that the Disciples were listening, but it still made no sense to them.

19 Jesus saw that they wanted to ask him about this, so he said to them, ‘Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me”? 20 Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.

Why didn’t Jesus just tell the Disciples plainly what was going to happen?

What would have been the Disciples response if they actually understood the details?

Most likely they would have done everything in their power to protect Jesus; even to the extent of taking him away by force and attempting to hide him somewhere.

What seems an obvious human solution can sometimes be directly opposed to God’s plans.

21 A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. 22 So with you: now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.

Again Jesus prepares them for what is about to happen – if they could only remain firm during their coming confusion and grief, eventually they, like us, would be glad and would actually rejoice that Jesus was prepared to give himself to pay the penalty for our sins.

23 In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete. 25 Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father. 26 In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf.

Again, Jesus was looking forward to the time when the Holy Spirit had been given, and the distressed Disciples became rejoicing Apostles. Then the relationship will have changed. Instead of them having to ask Jesus to ask his Father, they will have direct access to the Father, through the Spirit of Jesus living in them. (Verses 23 and 24 were covered in the study in John 14:12-14).

27 No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.

Love is a two-way thing and can only really develop if there is a mutual response; although often one party has to take the initiative. 1 John 4:19 says ‘We love because he first loved us ’ and John 15:9 ‘As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you’. Only when we respond to God’s love can we fully appreciate it for ourselves. As our love develops, so our belief – faith and trust also grows.

28 I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.’

29 Then Jesus’ disciples said, ‘Now you are speaking clearly and without figures of speech.

Jesus had to speak plainly. Even now, Jesus knew that not all of the Disciples had fully understood what he was saying (v18,19).

30 Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions.

But now they at least understand that he has the power to see into their very thoughts, and can answer their concerns without them voicing them.

This makes us believe that you came from God.’

31 ‘Do you now believe?’ Jesus replied.

What is the difference between believing with your head and believing with your heart?

Some things we believe are true because they have been proved scientifically – until the next scientist disproves it! Some things we know to be true and that certainty cannot be shaken.

Jesus asked ‘Do you believe?’ to force the Disciples to question themselves about exactly what they did believe about Jesus, and exactly who he was. Because: ‘A time is coming and in fact has come’. It is urgent – they must know what they believe now because shortly they will run, quite naturally in fear for their lives, and they will then need to know that their faith is real.

32 ‘A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.

Jesus was realistic because he knew the strength of the Disciples’ self-preservation in the face of imminent death. As Creator he had built that into every living creature! He himself knew that he would soon have to fight against it, but he would not have to face his trial and death alone, his Father was at his side.

33 ‘I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.

What is the opposite of peace?

Noise, agitation, conflict, hatred, distress, frustration, worry, discord

Jesus was simply reminding them that as they felt all those emotions, they could, through faith in him, have peace.

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.’

This is the last Jesus spoke to the Disciples (as recorded in John) and is a triumphant acclamation that he has the victory!

John 16a John 17a NIV Copyright