Read John 16
1 “All this I have told you so that you will not fall away. 2 They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God. 3 They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. 4 I have told you this, so that when their time comes you will remember that I warned you about them. I did not tell you this from the beginning because I was with you, 5 but now I am going to him who sent me. None of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 Rather, you are filled with grief because I have said these things. 7 But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 about sin, because people do not believe in me;10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.
12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”
The Disciples’ Grief Will Turn to Joy
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.”
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.”
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. 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. 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. 27 No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. 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. 30 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.”
31 “Do you now believe?” Jesus replied. 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.
33 “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.”
When we love someone dearly, it makes no sense to think that his departure is to our advantage. Perhaps we might believe it is for his advantage, if our loved one is suffering and death could mean the end of that pain. But, to love someone with your whole heart, mind, and soul and believe that it would be better if he was gone?
This is exactly what Jesus is trying to explain to His disciples in His final teaching to them in John 16. In verse 7, He tells them that it is to their advantage for Him to go away, because only in His departure would they gain the Holy Spirit.
Keep in mind, this was a completely foreign concept for the disciples. They are filled with sorrow because of what Jesus is telling them—that He will suffer, that His ministry on Earth is ending, that He is leaving them. But, despite all of that, Jesus wanted them to understand it was better for them and to their advantage for Him to go. It wasn’t something that they could quite wrap their minds around at the time.
We tend to have the same problem: we can’t fully appreciate why it was better for Jesus to leave us. Imagine for a second if Jesus still walked the face of this Earth. How awesome does it sound to be able to be physically in His presence on a daily basis? To be eye-witnesses to His miracles. To have a first-hand account of His teaching. Sounds amazing, right? The truth is, the presence and work of the Holy Spirit is actually better for us as believers than Jesus’s physical presence. As Henry Alford described it, “…the dispensation of the Spirit is a more blessed manifestation of God than was even the bodily presence of the risen Savior.”
Jesus knew that while His physical presence was limited on Earth, His spiritual presence could be with every believer all the time. Do we fully appreciate that the Holy Spirit–the very one who Paul tells us in Romans 8 can intercede for us at the throne–is better than the crucified, physical presence of Jesus and lives within each of us? Romans 8 also tells us that all believers in Jesus Christ are immediately filled with the Holy Spirit who works in and through us to accomplish His will. If we truly believe that to our core, we have daily reason to celebrate and marvel in God’s plan of the Trinity–a plan that man did his best to mess up in the garden, but God made perfect again in the manger over 2000 years ago. Let’s not forget to thank God for the gift of His very Spirit that was another result of the birth, death, and resurrection of our Savior.
What do you learn from John 16?
How do you allow the Holy Spirit to work in your life—how does He lead you, teach you, convict you, and equip you?
How are you allowing the Holy Spirit to work through you to accomplish His will?
Did You Know?
At the end of His discourse, Jesus closes with a word of encouragement. “Take courage” or “take heart” is from the Greek word thareso. Jesus is the only one to have used that word in the New Testament (see also Matt. 9:2, 22; 14:27; Mark 6:50; 10:49; John 16:33; Acts 23:11). Jesus was the great encourager.