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HG150pt3 John 16:16-33

Harmony of the Gospels  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  24:47
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John 16:16–33 NIV
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.”
We come to the end of the end of what Jesus was saying to the disciples before His ultimate betrayal. And you can understand the disciples not understanding? A little while you will not see me and again a little while and you will see Me. It is difficult to know what Jesus is talking about before it actually happens. It seems that Jesus is speaking in riddles. Of course, it is a riddle and it cannot be understood until these things take place. Imagine being there on that day - your brain would hurt. And you can hear the frustration they have during the disciples’ discussion: “We do not understand what He is saying”. It is like hearing something in a foreign language without having an idea of what is being said but you know it is important.
But Jesus speaks of things beforehand so that when it does happen there can be no mistaking it. And it was not the first time that Jesus had said it but twice before surely confirming what is true:
John 7:33 NKJV
33 Then Jesus said to them, “I shall be with you a little while longer, and then I go to Him who sent Me.
John 13:33a NKJV
33 Little children, I shall be with you a little while longer. You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come,’ so now I say to you.
There are things spoken of in the bible that are still future. Some things can be understood and some things are like grasping for shadows. Some people seem so sure about how things will work out but I think that is like the disciples here who in verse 29 go: “Now I get what you’re saying” when, in reality, they still have no idea.
For example, how do you think you would explain a smart phone to someone a hundred years ago?Somehow you had a vision of the future and you then have to describe what you saw. Even if you spent the next 50 years explaining it they would not be able to envision what you saw for you have to describe something that has no relevant words or experience - they would not know what a TV was, a computer, or any of our tech.
Now, Jesus predicts His immediate future and that is not understood properly so when the bible describes something that is at least 2000 years away it is going to describe things in the language of the day that we still struggle to apply and understand today. And that may be because there are things yet to be invented…who really knows. We really only understand once it has happened and we go, ah, now I understand. Perhaps, though we can see some things, that when it says the whole world will see the two witnesses in Jerusalem we know it is possible with TV and internet, something that would have baffled people before WWII but still would have trusted God’s word to be true. The bible is to be understood but it will be nearer the time of fulfilment that we shall see all these prophecies finally falling into place. In the meantime we take by faith, and understand what has already been revealed.
And the purpose of telling of all these things beforehand is to know that God is in control, that history is a forgone conclusion with Jesus as victor, and when things happen, we can see that God knew and planned all these things and let us know so we could have His peace in the midst of turmoil. Hence why Jesus concludes this passage with ‘I have overcome the world’.
Jesus, being Jesus, knew what the disciples were thinking and discussing among themselves but did Jesus explain any further what He was talking about? No, it was still going to be a mystery until it was fulfilled.
For we see that even in their immediate context sorrow will be turned to joy. They will be devastated by Jesus’ arrest, and their desertion, and His trials and His crucifixion. Jesus says they will weep and lament in the way they still do on the occasion of a death in the Middle East. I’m sure you’ve seen the women on TV with their loud wailing they do with their tongues. But it will be short lived for about 36 hours later their grief was turned to rejoicing. When all was black it all became bright. Hindsight is great, isn’t it?!
Indeed we are given the picture of what it will be like with a woman, who even before the birth pangs develop, has an anxiety about the future, before giving birth to a child.
[A banner was displayed over a door at a Christian University called Wheaton College —“Welcome Sarah Linnea”—in celebration of the arrival of a baby girl, born to Ed and Marsha Meyer. When Marsha was three months pregnant, she fractured her spine and consequently spent six and a half weeks in a Stryker frame and nine weeks in a body cast. That was an extremely difficult time for Marsha because of her discomfort and her concern for her family and the unborn baby. You can imagine some of the thoughts that ran through her mind. A great amount of prayer from her church and college family rose on her behalf. But after the baby was born, they said, “The joy of our new baby girl makes it all worth it. The memory of the past misery is a small thing in comparison to our great joy.” Their sorrow was transformed to joy, and that is precisely what happened to the disciples on Resurrection Day!]
Indeed it was not only the disciples who experienced a transformation from sorrow to joy, Jesus did too when His deepest sorrow became the source of great joy.
Isaiah 53:3 NKJV
3 He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
Hebrews 12:2 NKJV
2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Afterwards, the disciples get it - a little while they will not see Him..because He has been arrested, crucified and buried, and a little later they saw Him…when He rose again…and then He went to the Father…in His ascension. And we know that this story does not end there but He will return and the sorrows of life will be overcome from having joy forevermore, a gladness that cannot be taken away from them or us. But for the disciples they gained that joy that Jesus prophesied after the resurrection as it says in this same gospel:
John 20:20 NKJV
20 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.
[After the resurrection the disciples had the joy of understanding; no longer would they be baffled by seeming riddles…but it could only come afterwards. This is true for us at times too. We do not understand the reason why things happen but we know God has a plan and though our troubles and their reason is not presently revealed to us in its fullness, there will be a time when we will comprehend. Much, though, of our answers can be found in the pages of Scripture where the Spirit leads us into all truth and to The Truth, Jesus Himself.]
Jesus then reintroduces the concept of prayer as God, our Father, will now hear us because of the work of Jesus in His suffering and victory. Let us grasp what an amazing thing this is:
John for Everyone, Part 2: Chapters 11–21 Ask, and You Will Receive (John 16:23–33)

The ancient world was often like that as well. If you came from the country and hoped to see the king or queen, you wouldn’t just walk straight in to the royal palace. You would meet a sentry at the gate. Then, if you were allowed past, you would be handed over to a junior official. Then to a gentleman-in-waiting, or near equivalent. Then to a senior official. And so on. Again, you might go through four or five stages, if you were lucky, and still not get near royalty.

And so it is all the more astounding that we can come direct to the King of kings. And how is this possible? We find the answer to this in verse 27: because the Father loves you. Why does He love us? Because we love Jesus and trust in Him. No longer do we have to go through a priest, no longer do we have to jump through hoops, no longer do we have to wait for a particular time on a particular day, no longer does someone have to pray on our behalf, no! We can come direct to the Father. No longer does Jesus need to petition Him on our behalf for we can come to Him on our own because He loves you and me. Of course, we are told that Jesus is still interceding for us in
Romans 8:34 NKJV
34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.
Hebrews 7:25 NKJV
25 Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.
1 John 2:1 NKJV
1 My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.
And we will see some of this intercession in chapter 17, the High Priestly Prayer, that we will spend, God willing, the next 3 weeks looking at, and hopefully pick up tips about how we are to pray too.
Here, back in this passage, we are told to pray in the name of Jesus. Now, plainly, we do not get everything we ask for, as the name it and claim it crowd seem to think we can do:
“I want a Bentley, a countryside estate with an indoor swimming pool, and a seafront property in the Mumbles, and a house in Chelsea and New York. It says here to pray in Jesus’ name and the Father will give whatever you ask. So, now I’m asking. Lord, give it to me now!”
Asking in Jesus’ name does not give us that kind of freedom but actually it brings constraints.
Preaching the Word: John—That You May Believe Victorious Joy for the Asking (vv. 23–24)

Dr. James Boice has said:

Much modern prayer, even by serious Christian people, is useless and ineffective because the people involved approach God thinking that he is obliged to grant their requests because of something they have themselves done for him.

It is, rather, expected that we come with humility, to pray in line with Jesus character and purpose. Prayer is not the means to get God to do what we want but conversely for God to do through us what He wants. It is more than this it is about being one with God, that our hearts and minds are aligned and in tune with God’s so much that we pray for those things He desires for us. We pray as the Spirit prays:
Romans 8:26–27 NKJV
26 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
And lastly, we need to truly be yielded to His will.
The result would be answers to prayer and fullness of joy for Jesus will not need to persuade the Father to hear our prayers for it will be His joy to answer them. Where it says in verse 24 that your joy may be full is another way of saying that you may be completely happy.
Jesus now summarises His ministry in:
John 16:28 NKJV
28 I came forth from the Father and have come into the world. Again, I leave the world and go to the Father.”
He came into the world to save us and now He goes back out of the world for He has accomplished His mission. As Vernon McGee puts it:
Thru the Bible Vol. 39: The Gospels (John 11–21) Jesus Will Send Holy Spirit During His Absence

This verse is bigger than Bethlehem; it is wider than space. It reaches back into eternity, beyond the boundaries of space to the throne of God. Then it speaks of those few moments He spent on this earth. He came in out of eternity; He went back into eternity.

Why did Jesus mention it to conclude His teaching? Because His work in coming was about establishing fellowship with people, and through His resurrection and ascension bringing us into fellowship with God. And that is also what prayer is about - fellowship with God.
Then, in verse 29, it seems the disciples have understood but they have no idea how little they actually know but they have learned one thing: Jesus knows and understands. But their trust in Him is shallow at best for the darkest hour of all time looms ahead and their faith, such as it is, frail and weak will be revealed. Jesus tells them plainly that they will all fail Him and leave Him alone in fulfilment of:
Zechariah 13:7b Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.
Jesus concludes in verse 33 with these things I have spoken to you so that you may have peace in Me. He knows all things beforehand. Nothing was unplanned. Evil people do what they do not realising that God takes what they do and turns it around. Frail and weak people do what they do, such as the disciples, and God knowing all things, turns them around for their good. Only God is good.
We have much to rejoice about for though trouble and sorrow will come either at the hands of evil or frail and weak people or simply because of circumstance but Jesus has overcome the world system through the cross and resurrection and ascension. Now we can pray and receive answers in Jesus’ name. But above all it is about truly knowing God the Father and His love for us. The victory is the Lord’s…and it’s ours too for:
Romans 8:37 NKJV
37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.


Romans 8:37–39 NKJV
37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.


Beasley-Murray, G. R. (1999). John (Vol. 36). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.
Hughes, R. K. (1999). John: that you may believe. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
McGee, J. V. (1991). Thru the Bible commentary: The Gospels (John 11-21) (electronic ed., Vol. 39). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
Newman, B. M., & Nida, E. A. (1993). A handbook on the Gospel of John. New York: United Bible Societies.
Osborne, G. R. (2018). John: Verse by Verse. (J. Reimer, E. Ritzema, D. Thevenaz, & R. Brant, Eds.). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
Walvoord, J. F., & Zuck, R. B., Dallas Theological Seminary. (1985). The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
Wright, T. (2004). John for Everyone, Part 2: Chapters 11-21. London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.
Exported from Logos Bible Software, 12:45 25 January 2020.
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