About Jesus  -  Steve Sweetman

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The Discipleís Grief Will Turn To Joy (ch. 16:17-33)


In verses 17 and 18 John tells us that some of the disciples were questioning among themselves what Jesus meant by His words concerning Him going away in a little while and then in a little while returning.  They also were wondering what He meant by saying "because I am going to the Father."  Once again, as we have seen throughout the gospel of John, there is a major disconnect, not only between Jesus and the general population to whom He spoke, but between Him and His eleven chosen men.  Jesus and the eleven men were just not on the same page concerning most issues.  This issue is no different.  They were simply confused.  The fact that they were questioning among themselves even furthers this point.    


In verse 19 Jesus saw that these men were asking these questions among themselves.  It's almost seems that the disciples had asked so many questions of Jesus that they were afraid to ask any more. 


In verse 20 Jesus explained that these men would "weep and morn while the world rejoices."  This is clearly in reference to His death on the cross.  They would surely mourn while the world, both Jewish and Gentile world, would rejoice because they finally got rid of Jesus who was giving them all sorts of grief.   


Then Jesus says, "you will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy."  This is clearly in reference to the joy these men would experience when they saw Jesus raised from the dead.  I can't begin to imagine that that must have been like.  Jesus was dead and now He is alive.  That would be simply mind blowing.


In verse 21 Jesus compares what they are now going through to a woman who is ready to give birth to a child.  She experiences great pain, as they are and will experience, but when the baby is born, the woman forgets about the pain and is full of joy because of her new born baby.  These men will experience such joy when Jesus is raised from the dead.


In verse 22 Jesus acknowledges that now is their time of grief, but soon joy would come and no one would be able to take that joy away from them.  The joy that comes from Jesus is with us forever.  The only way we can lose this joy is by giving it away, or laying it aside.  Remember, this joy is not some kind of shallow bubbly happiness.  It is a deep rooted, down in your heart, joy that can only come from Jesus Himself.  This is the kind of joy that can stand the stress of trials and tribulations, and is even strengthened through those hard times.


Jesus said their joy would never go away.  We must take Jesus at His word.  So, this means that when Peter was crucified upside down, he would have still had that joy in his heart.  That is totally amazing.     


In verse 23 Jesus says that "in that day," meaning after they receive the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, they wouldnít have to ask Him for anything because the Father would give them anything they needed.  This is not the first time Jesus has said this in the last few chapters.  Again, we can't take this statement out of the context of all the things Jesus said about asking things from His Father.  All that was to be asked for was to be in the name of Jesus.  This means that whatever these men needed to fulfill Jesus' commission they would receive from the Father.  This was not some kind of blanket promise that meant these men could ask for any little thing their hearts desired.   


In verse 24 Jesus noted that up to this time these men had not asked for anything in His name.  That's because they haven't needed to ask for anything to accomplish God's will in their lives.  They had not received what we have called the Great Commission.  They had not yet gone into the world to fulfill God's will.  Only then would they need to ask for whatever was necessary for them to serve God.  


In verse 25 Jesus admits that He has been speaking figuratively.  This means that He has been using analogies as a teaching tool.  The vine in chapter 15 is one such figurative example.  Jesus isn't really a vine.  Jesus then says that the day will come when He will speak plainly and wonít be using these types of analogies.  Most people believe that the day Jesus was talking about was Pentecost.  Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, would clearly teach these men and guide them in the plain truth.


What Jesus will tell these men plainly on that day will be about the Father.  Furthermore, in verses 26 and 27 Jesus says that He wonít have to ask the Father for their requests on their behalf, but because they love Him.  The Father loves them and will hear and answer them directly. This tells me that we can pray to the Father and ask Him concerning our needs as we serve Him.  Again, we must ask in Jesus name because it is Jesus and His name that we represent.  Jesus is our boss.  We go to the Father and ask for things we need to do Jesus' will on earth.   


In verse 28 Jesus repeats Himself again by saying that He came to the world from the Father and now is getting ready to leave and return to the Father.  John more than the other gospel writers has picked up on this fact.  The underlying truth to this is that Jesus is more than a mere man.  He is God in human flesh.  Once He returns to His Father He leaves His humanity on earth.  As a matter of fact, I believe when Jesus died, His humanity died.  When He rose He was without this humanity.


As I've said before, John wrote his account around 90 to 95 AD and at that time the doctrine of the divine nature of Jesus was being challenged.  This is why we see John repeating himself over and over again on the divinity of Jesus.    


In verses 29 and 30 the disciples finally seemed to understand what Jesus has been saying.  They say that Jesus is no longer speaking in figures of speech.  Jesus is speaking plainly.  I donít believe that this moment was the day Jesus was just talking about.  Iím not even convinced that these eleven men totally understood Jesus even though they said they did.  We will see later, on a number of occasions, these same men had a hard time believing Jesus was really alive after His crucifixion.  That being said, in verse 30 they did confess that Jesus had come from God, but, did they understand that Jesus was God or that He just came from God as some kind of special human being?  The answer may be debatable.       


In verse 31 Jesus acknowledges that they do finally believe.  He says, "you believe at last."  He is saying, "yes, you finally believe.  You finally trust me and what I have been telling you."  It is almost like there was a break in the clouds of confusion and misunderstanding.  The proverbial light bulb lit up their understanding.  I could be wrong, but I think that when Jesus says, "you finally understand," this was a moment of relief for Him. 


The response of Jesus must have put a little spark of joy in these menís hearts, but it would not have lasted long.  In verse 32, after saying these words of affirmation Jesus says that the time "will come and now is" when they would leave Him alone and go back to their homes.  This was what these men did when Jesus died on the cross. They left and went home in sorrow.  So the brief joy that might have come to these eleven men probably departed as fast as it came.  Jesus said that they would leave Him alone but not to make them feel too bad, Jesus told them that He wasnít really alone.  His Father was with Him.


The question at this point might be raised.  Was Jesus ever alone while on the cross?  When He said, "Father, why have you forsaken me," was He really all alone at that precise moment?  I don't think so.  Some may say for those brief short moments He was all alone, while the sin of the world was on His back.  I donít believe that His Father was too far away from Him.  It is quite possible that God simply turned His back on Jesus, refusing to rescue Him from the cross.  I think we should understand the word "forsake" not in the sense that God left Jesus but in the sense the God forsook delivering Jesus from His misery. 


Some people believe that Jesus did not only die physically but He also died spiritually.  I don't believe that to be true.  If Jesus died spiritually, that means for that period of spiritual death He was no longer God.  There is no logic in that thinking.  If God and Jesus are one, then how can that oneness be separated.  There is no logic in that either. 


Jesus said that the hour is coming and now is.  We've seen this before and I have commented on it before.  How can something in the future be with us in the present.  There might be two answers to this question.  One is that the divine nature of Jesus exists outside of space and time, in eternity.  So, in that sense of the word, there is no distinction between past, present, and future.  The other answer might be more simple.  If Jesus says He will do something in the future, it is as good as done.  If He predicts something in the future, it is as good as done.      


This chapter ends in verse 33 by Jesus saying that the reason why He was saying these things to them is so they would have peace.  Before Jesus was talking about joy and now He is talking about peace.  Joy and peace go hand in hand.  If we are willing to receive it, Jesus is capable of giving us peace in the worst of circumstances, like the circumstances these eleven men would soon be faced to endure. 


The disciples, and us too, desperately need this peace because Jesus plainly tells them men that they will be persecuted by the world around them.  He says that "in the world you will have trouble."   That was an understatement.  This trouble led to their death. 


We can expect to have trouble and trials, especially as our world becomes more anti-Christ in nature.  That's just a simple fact.  A life free of troubles was never promised by Jesus.  It's not come to Jesus and live happily ever-after.  Our consolation is that Jesus, by His Holy Spirit will be with us.  He will give us the needed joy, peace, and whatever else we need to keep our sanity.   


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