Today we reach the end of the teaching portion of Jesus’ great discourse that gave to his disciples in his last hours that he was with them. And in this last teaching portion of Jesus’ great discourse he finally tells his disciples in plain words what he has been hinting at over the last two chapters and throughout his entire earthly ministry, and that is he came from the Father and that he is going back to the Father, but those who have placed their faith and trust in him have nothing to worry about because just as Jesus overcame the world we too can overcome the world through faith in him.
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.”
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’?” They kept asking, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We don’t understand what he is saying.”
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’? Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. 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. 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. 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. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.—16:16-24
Jesus began the final section of the discourse by explaining that his separation from the disciples would be temporary. The disciples were completely perplexed as to what Jesus meant, which is evidenced by their repetition of his words. Jesus knew the disciples found his words confusing as he spoke to them concerning his death, resurrection and return to the Father. He went on to explain that the world would rejoice at his death and the disciples would grieve, but their sorrow would soon turn into joy. He compared what they were experiencing to a mother in childbirth. A mother experiences great sorrow and pain in labor, but great joy accompanies the birth of her child. The very thing that would cause the disciples’ sorrow (Jesus’ death) would be the thing that would bring them joy—that is, Jesus’ resurrection and forgiveness of sin. Their sorrow would be momentary, but their joy would never be taken away from them. “In that day” (v. 23) likely refers to the day of Jesus’ resurrection. After his resurrection, the disciples would not have to ask Jesus the kinds of questions they had been asking. The dawning of the new age would bring a new intimacy in prayer with the Father. Previously the disciples had not prayed to the Father “in Jesus’ name,” but that would change. Answered prayer would result in experiencing tremendous joy.
“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. In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.”—16:25-28
Jesus had been speaking enigmatically. A time was soon coming when he would speak more plainly. His teaching at that time would continue to focus on revealing the Father to his disciples. Following the resurrection, the disciples would pray to the Father in Jesus’ name because they would have a more personal relationship with the Father. The Father loved them because of their love and belief in Jesus. Now Jesus would be returning to the Father since the completion of his mission was drawing near.
Then Jesus’ disciples said, “Now you are speaking clearly and without figures of speech. Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. This makes us believe that you came from God.”
“Do you now believe?” Jesus replied. “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.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”—16:29-33
In contrast to the questions that had previously characterized the disciples’ contributions to the discussion, they responded with boldness and confidence in verses 29-30. The disciples rejoiced that Jesus was finally speaking clearly to them. They were confident that they now comprehended his teachings. While the disciples would soon abandon Jesus, the Father would not abandon him. Jesus told them all of this so that they would have peace. The world would do its worst to Jesus, but he would be victorious over it.
Now let’s answer that burning the question that you should have, by now, been asking yourselves. And that question is: How can we have peace while facing troubles? And the answer is very simply this: It may seem the more trials we face, the more chaotic and confused our lives will be. But Jesus offers a gift of peace that comes only through faith in him. Jesus’ peace is greater than the temporary problems and turmoil we experience in this world. Because what we must ultimately remember is this: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” And we will pick up from here tomorrow as move into Jesus’ great prayer that he prayed over his disciples then and over ever person who will ever be a follower of him.
Tomorrow’s Bible Readings:
1 Kings 19, Acts 12:1-23, Psalm 136:1-26 and Proverbs 17:14-15
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