(Retrieved from http://gods411.blogspot.com/2013/11/god-always-wins.html on 3/13/18.)
Please read John 16:17-33 in your preferred Bible. I used the NIV (1984) to prepare this message.
Don’t be discouraged by the world’s opposition.
I read a post by Jason Cole, pastor of Fellowship Christian/
Church of Christ in Knoxville, TN. You need to understand the folks in that denomination take Communion at every worship service. He wrote; “Baptists don’t take Lord’s Supper every Sunday so they can have room for there [sic] big meals Sunday afternoon.”
This post is several years old, but I feel I need to say, “Hey Jason. Those are fightin’ words. Come join us here at Emmanuel any Sunday. We’ll have the Lord’s Supper AND a big meal afterward! Every Baptist I know can do BOTH! We’ll show you how it’s DONE, son!”
I mention this in part because it’s funny and in part to say we don’t take the Lord’s Supper any less seriously because we observe it once a month. In these Sundays of Lent we’ve focused our attention on the Last Supper, the occasion on which everybody’s celebration of Communion is based.
We’re learning a great deal about how Jesus used this final time with His disciples to prepare them for the next few days and for life and ministry beyond them.
- The disciples’ confusion. (16:17-18)
To put this in context, we need to go back and read v. 16. <Read it.> We can assume Jesus is predicting His death (“YOU WILL SEE ME NO MORE”) and His Resurrection (“THEN AFTER A LITTLE WHILE YOU WILL SEE ME”). However, we have the benefit of history and Scripture. The disciples had neither and this sentence on its own is rather obscure and difficult to understand.
They didn’t understand His timing. THEY KEPT ASKING, “WHAT DOES HE MEAN BY ‘A LITTLE WHILE?’” Verses 17+18 show that this supper was not a lecture by Jesus, but an evening’s worth of conversation. I think the fact that the disciples kept on discussing this implies that they were more than a little puzzled, maybe even perturbed, by these mysterious statements.
They were pondering 14:28 & 16:5+10 where Jesus said He was GOING to the FATHER. They must’ve wonder how and why this was going to happen, as well as when it would take place.
They didn’t comprehend His mission. Though it seems to us Jesus spoke plainly, the disciples were involved in the moment and, typical to human nature, did not grasp the scope of Jesus’ mission. Their expectations also got in the way of seeing the whole truth. They expected Jesus to inaugurate the worldly kind of kingdom for which they’d hoped.
- Jesus’ explanation. (16:19-28)
He promised their GRIEF would turn to JOY. Their grief and joy would be the opposite of the world’s (v. 20) because the source of their JOY is Jesus, not the WORLD. Jesus illustrated their change of heart by referring to the change in the way a new mother feels when giving birth (v. 21). It can be a dramatic change from pain to joy. Similarly, the disciples would be filled with GRIEF at Jesus’ death and then filled with a greater JOY when He was resurrected.
He promised them power in prayer. Part of the disciple’s JOY on THAT DAY would be the exercise of greater authority and power in prayer (vs. 23-24). From His Resurrection forward, Jesus’ followers would be marked by “Yes” answers to prayer because they would pray in His NAME. In the Bible a person’s NAME summarizes their character, purpose, nature, and power. This means that praying in Jesus’ name is going to involve more than the rote addition of his name to a prayer. The outcome of a Holy Spirit-powered prayer life is COMPLETE JOY. Another augmentation of prayer is our direct connection to God via prayer (vs. 26-27).
It means to pray for the things Jesus would ask of the Father, to pray in the Holy Spirit as He did, to express in our prayers a complete dependence on God. Jesus devoted Himself to private times of prayer and once prayed so intently that drops of blood rolled like sweat off His brow.
Powerful prayer is not a matter of words, gesture, or posture, but depends wholly on our relationship with Jesus Christ (v. 28). The Bible describes Jesus as our Mediator (see 1 Timothy 2:5) and as being seated on the right hand of God the Father (see Luke 22:69), making intercession for us (see Romans 8:34). Our relationship with God is based on LOVE. God the Father loved us first and showed it by sending Jesus to us, to obtain salvation. Having done that, Jesus went BACK TO THE FATHER to mediate for us. Without His mediation, living a godly life would be completely impossible.
He promised to teach them PLAINLY (v. 25). Much of Jesus’ teaching was in the form of parables. These were stories with meaning was hidden to those who refused to have faith but apparent to those who did. Superficially, they were stories about common enough events, but the particulars of the stories were “figurative;” they were symbols of other things.
Often enough, Jesus’ own disciples didn’t always understand the parables. They sometimes asked for an explanation. On one such occasion, Jesus said, “THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE SECRETS OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD HAS BEEN GIVEN TO YOU, BUT TO OTHERS I SPEAK IN PARABLES, SO THAT, ‘THOUGH SEEING, THEY MAY NOT SEE; THOUGH HEARING THEY DO NOT UNDERSTAND.’” (Luke 8:10)
It may sound like Jesus was being evasive, but He taught in parables precisely because they had that quality of separating believers and unbelievers. After His Resurrection, Jesus would not use figurative teaching like the parables, but He promised instead, to teach them PLAINLY ABOUT GOD THE FATHER.
- The disciples’ understanding. (16:29-30)
They praised His plain speaking: “NOW YOU ARE SPEAKING CLEARLY AND WITHOUT FIGURES OF SPEECH.” We can appreciate how they might’ve gotten heartily sick of NOT understanding, of being unable to appreciate the symbolism Jesus used to present truth to them. In any event, they seem pretty happy to hear things stated in obvious ways. It worked, because they made a bold statement of faith.
Encouraged by Jesus’ promise, they declared a bold faith, making three statements in v. 30. “YOU KNOW ALL THINGS” = That is something that is only true of God; this is evidence that the eleven believed Jesus to, in some sense, BE God. “YOU DO NOT NEED TO HAVE TO ANYONE ASK YOU QUESTIONS” = They anticipated a time when Jesus’ divine nature
would be obvious to all; no one would need to ask if He was the Messiah or not. “THIS MAKES US BELIEVE YOU CAME FROM GOD.” That is, the He is the Messiah.
- Jesus’ prediction. (16:31-33)
Jesus rejoiced in their belief. There are two ways to translate v. 31, as the NIV relates in a footnote. One is as a question; “Do you now believe?” or as a statement, “YOU BELIEVE AT LAST!”
I prefer the statement version because it applauds and affirms what the disciples have just declared by faith. The faith they had was not highly developed but, to be fair, we all start at an elementary level and then develops as we learn about and experience God.
He warned of a scattering, but promised His presence (v. 32). “A TIME IS COMING, AND HAS COME WHEN YOU WILL BE SCATTERED, EACH TO HIS OWN HOME. YOU WILL LEAVE ME ALL ALONE” predicts their abandoning Jesus at His arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane.” Interestingly, in John’s account of Jesus’ arrest there is no mention of the disciples running away. In 21:1-2, after His Resurrection, Jesus appeared to Peter, James, and John, who had returned to their homes in Galilee.
“YET I AM NOT ALONE, MY FATHER IS WITH ME.” One of the repeated themes of this section is Jesus’ warning the disciples, another is Jesus’ close relationship to the Father. It is a great comfort to know Jesus is our Advocate before the Father. We have strength to endure trials and persecution.
He warned them of TROUBLE, but promised He overcame the WORLD. As we saw Him do in 13:19, 14:29, and 16:1-4, in v. 33 Jesus explained that His purpose was to warn His disciples, preparing them for what was coming next. Everybody desires PEACE but too few recognize where PEACE is found: in Jesus (“IN ME YOU MAY HAVE PEACE”). This is one of the most comforting verses in all the Gospels, isn’t it?
Jesus acknowledged while we live IN THIS WORLD we will have TROUBLE. BUT – we don’t need to be overcome by these troubles because Jesus has OVERCOME THE WORLD!
Don’t be discouraged by the world’s opposition.