A. More on the work of the Holy Spirit.
1. (1-4) The reason for Jesus’ warning: certain persecution.
“These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble. They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me. But these things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them. And these things I did not say to you at the beginning, because I was with you.”
a. They will put you out of the synagogues: Jesus warned His disciples of coming opposition because He did not want them to be surprised and stumbled by it. He also did not expect that His disciples would immediately leave the synagogues, or leave them by their own choice. They would be forced out of the synagogues for Jesus’ sake.
i. Stumble: “A skandalethron was not a stumbling-block which might trip you up… It is used of the spring of a trap which might ‘go off’ when you were least expecting it.” (Tasker)
ii. “At the time when the Gospel was written these words had acquired a special relevance from the inclusion in the synagogue prayers of a curse on the Nazarenes, which was intended to ensure that the followers of Jesus could take no part in the service.” (Bruce)
b. The time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service: That time quickly came, as the life of Saul of Tarsus before his conversion showed (Acts 8:1-3, 22:3-5, 26:9-11). Since then there have been many who persecute and kill the true followers of Jesus because they think God is pleased.
i. Offers God service: “The word Jesus uses for service is lateria, which is the normal word for the service that a priest rendered at the altar in the Temple of God and is the standard word for religious service.” (Barclay)
ii. In the 20th Century most Christian martyrs were victims of the atheistic, communist state. Historically, this was unusual. Through most of history, most Christian martyrs were targets of those from other religions or even sects within Christendom.
c. When the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them: Jesus did well to forewarn, because it comes as a great shock that a gospel so glorious is hated so passionately. He did not tell His disciples these things at the beginning, but He certainly told them.
i. “During the earlier part of His ministry Jesus had spoken comparatively little to His disciples about the persecution which awaited them, because He had been in their company, and as long as He was with them the world’s hatred must inevitably be drawn to Himself.” (Tasker)
ii. “While He was with them they leant upon Him and could not apprehend a time of weakness and persecution.” (Dods)
2. (5-7) Jesus explains the benefits of His departure.
“But now I go away to Him who sent Me, and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.”
a. None of you asks Me, “Where are You going”: Peter had asked this question earlier (John 13:36) and Thomas asked a similar question (John 14:5). Therefore Jesus must mean not only the words of the question, but the heart of it. Their previous asking was in the sense, what will happen to us when You leave, not in the sense Jesus meant here – what will happen to You when You leave.
i. “A difficulty is posed by His statement that nobody asks, ‘Whither goest thou?’ in the light of Simon Peter’s earlier question, ‘Lord, wither goest thou?’ (John 13:36). But that question had not really indicated a serious inquiry as to Jesus’ destination. Peter was diverted immediately and he made no real attempt to find out where Jesus was going. He had been concerned with the thought of parting with Jesus, not with that of the Master’s destination. He had in mind only the consequences for himself and his fellows.” (Morris)
b. But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart: Jesus excused their lack of interest in His fate, knowing their great sorrow. They had sorrow at the moment, but their future was brighter. The disciples could only see the sorrow of Jesus leaving; but Jesus’ departure was an essential step in their growth as disciples.
c. It is to your advantage that I go away: This had to be difficult for the disciples to believe. When a loved one is near death we often think it is the best to let death take its course. We say, “It will be better for them to go, and to stop the suffering. It is to their advantage to go away.” But when someone we love is near death, we usually don’t think that it is to our advantage that they go. Yet Jesus here said that it wasn’t for His advantage, but to your advantage that I go away.
i. If the disciples really understood what was about to happen, it would be even more difficult for them to believe.
· To your advantage that Jesus is arrested?
· To your advantage that Jesus’ ministry of teaching and miracles is stopped?
· To your advantage that Jesus is beaten?
· To your advantage that Jesus is mocked?
· To your advantage that Jesus is sentenced for execution?
· To your advantage that Jesus is nailed to a cross?
· To your advantage that Jesus dies in the company of notorious criminals?
· To your advantage that His lifeless body is laid in a cold grave?
d. Nevertheless: This word meant a challenge to their sorrow and even their unbelief. Nevertheless is one of the great words of the Bible, meaning despite all of that. Jesus knew they were filled with sorrow because of what He told them. But, despite all of that He wanted them to know that it was to their advantage.
i. “It is expedient for you, implies that the dispensation of the Spirit is a more blessed manifestation of God than was even the bodily presence of the risen Saviour.” (Alford)
e. I tell you the truth: Jesus didn’t say this because He lied most of the time. He said this because He wanted them to make a concerted effort to trust Him at this point. Jesus knew this was difficult to believe.
f. For if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you: Jesus had a plan, but they couldn’t understand it. With 2,000 years of hindsight we see that when Jesus went away He then sent the Spirit of God, which had and has a broader and more effective ministry in the entire world.
i. “The withdrawal of the bodily presence of Christ was the essential condition of His universal spiritual presence.” (Dods)
g. I will send Him to you: Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to His disciples when He departed. This is what would make it to their advantage that He departed from them. Jesus meant that the presence and work of the Holy Spirit would actually be better for believers than the physical, bodily presence of Jesus.
i. It was better because Jesus could be with every believer all the time. Jesus promised, For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them (Matthew 18:20). That was not a promise He could keep after flesh, but only after the Spirit. He had to go away for that promise to be made true. If Jesus were present bodily on this earth, there would be some Christians who would be overjoyed – those in His immediate presence. But for most Christians, they would have the overwhelming sense that Jesus was not with them. Truly, it was all to your advantage.
ii. It was better because now we can understand Jesus better. If Jesus were present bodily on this earth, there would be no end to His words for us. We wouldn’t have a Bible; we would have the library of congress. Secretaries would follow Him constantly to record His every word. It would all be written down and preserved. We would have all of it, and the mass of it would be just plain unmanageable. Truly, it was all to your advantage.
iii. It was better because now we can have a more trusting relationship with God. If Jesus were present bodily on this earth, there would be a great challenge to our walk of faith. Paul said, Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. (2 Corinthians 5:16) God wants us to walk by faith, and not by sight, and if Jesus were here bodily, there would be great temptation to walk by sight, and not by faith. Truly, it was all to your advantage.
iv. It was better because Jesus’ work is better understood as He is enthroned in the heavens. If Jesus were present bodily on this earth, it would be confusing to us. Jesus does not continue to suffer; He finished His work on the cross. Yet it might be difficult for us to see a Savior who never suffered when we are in distress; it might make us think that Jesus was unsympathetic. God didn’t want us to struggle with this dilemma, so Jesus is no longer bodily on this earth. He is enthroned in the heavens. Truly, it was all to your advantage.
v. Before Jesus left the disciples were confused, thick headed, afraid, selfish and self-centered. After Jesus left and after the Helper had come they were wise, surrendered, bold, and giving. Truly, it was to your advantage that Jesus left.
3. (8-11) The work of the Holy Spirit in the world.
“And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.”
a. He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Sin is the truth about man, righteousness is the truth about God, judgment is the inevitable combination of these two truths.
i. “Each man’s conscience has some glimmering of light on each of these; some consciousness of guilt, some sense of right, some power of judgment of what is transitory and worthless; but all these are unreal and unpractical, till the convicting work of the Spirit has wrought in him.” (Alford)
b. He will convict: The ancient Greek word translated convict has a broader range of meaning than simply our word convict, especially as it is understood in a legal sense. It also carries the ideas to expose, to refute, and to convince (Bruce). This is the work of the Holy Spirit in the world and in individual hearts; to convince and convict of these truths.
i. He will convict: “Or undeceive the world, by refuting those odd conceits and erroneous opinions, that men had before drunk in, and were possessed of.” (Trapp)
ii. It is a serious thing to resist and reject this work of the Holy Spirit, which is especially prominent and powerful in seasons of great spiritual advance (sometimes called revival or spiritual awakening).
iii. Before the convicting work of the Holy Spirit one may say, I make a lot of mistakes. Nobody’s perfect. After the convicting work of the Holy Spirit one may say, I’m a lost rebel, fighting against God and His law – I must rely on Jesus to get right with God.
iv. “The Spirit does not merely accuse men of sin, he brings to them an inescapable sense of guilt so that they realize their shame and helplessness before God.” (Tenney)
v. “The Spirit is the ‘advocate’ or helper of those who believe in Jesus, their counsel for the defence. But in relation to unbelievers, to the godless world, he acts as counsel for the prosecution.” (Bruce) It’s important to have the Spirit of God to defend rather than to convict.
vi. In the great awakening of 1860-61 in Great Britain, a high-ranking army officer described the conviction of sin in his Scottish town: “Those of you who are ease have little conception of how terrifying a sight it is when the Holy Spirit is pleased to open a man’s eyes to see the real state of heart. Men who were thought to be, and who thought themselves to be good, religious people… have been led to search into the foundation upon which they were resting, and have found all rotten, that they were self-satisfied, resting on their own goodness, and not upon Christ. Many turned from open sin to lives of holiness, some weeping for joy for sins forgiven.” (J. Edwin Orr, The Second Evangelical Awakening in Britain)
c. Of sin, because they do not believe in Me: It is unbelief, the rejection of Jesus, which ultimately proves one to be guilty. The Holy Spirit will tell the world of the importance of trusting in, relying on, and clinging to Jesus to avoid this sin.
i. “The essence of sin is unbelief, which is not simply a casual incredulity nor a difference of opinion; rather, it is a total rejection of God’s messenger and message.” (Tenney)
ii. “The basic sin is the sin which puts self at the centre of things and consequently refused to believe in Him.” (Morris)
iii. “A sinner is a sacred thing: the Holy Ghost hath made him so. Your sham sinner is a horrid creature; but a man truly convinced of sin by the Spirit of God is a being to be sought after as a jewel that will adorn the crown of the Redeemer.” (Spurgeon)
d. Of righteousness, because I go to My Father: The ascension of Jesus to heaven demonstrated that He had perfectly fulfilled the Father’s will and had proven Himself righteous – and exposed the lack of righteousness in the world that rejected Him. The Holy Spirit shows the world the righteousness of Jesus and its own unrighteousness.
i. Many people today – even secular people – take the righteousness of Jesus as a given. Yet during His life Jesus was reviled as an imposter, as demon-possessed, as a wicked destroyer of the law, as a glutton, a drunk, and as illegitimate. The Holy Spirit persuades the work of the righteousness of Jesus.
ii. “Whereas righteousness had previously been defined by precepts, it now has been revealed in the incarnate Son, who exemplified it perfectly in all his relationships.” (Tenney)
e. Of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged: The judgment of Satan himself means that there will be a final reckoning between God and His rebellious creature. The Holy Spirit warns the world of this coming judgment.
i. Normally conviction is followed by judgment. When the Holy Spirit works, there is an in-between step: the revelation of the righteousness of Jesus Christ, which can satisfy the judgment for the convicted person.
ii. “The world, the prince of it, is ‘judged’. To adhere to it rather than to Christ is to cling to a doomed cause, a sinking ship.” (Dods)
4. (12-15) The work of the Holy Spirit among the disciples.
“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.”
a. I still have many things to say to you: Jesus frankly admitted that His own teaching was incomplete, and anticipated the further instruction of the church by the Holy Spirit. This statement of Jesus leads us to anticipate the formation of the New Testament.
i. Here Jesus answered those who say, “I’ll take what Jesus taught, but not what Paul or the others taught.” Paul and the other New Testament writers taught us the many things that Jesus spoke of.
· For example, they didn’t know that some of the customs and commands among the Jews would be fulfilled by the person and work of Jesus, and no longer be binding under the New Covenant.
· For example, they didn’t know that God would bring Gentiles into the New Covenant community as equal partners, without having to first become Jews.
b. He will guide you into all truth: In one sense, this was fulfilled when the New Testament writings, divinely inspired by God, were completed. In another sense the Holy Spirit continues today to personally lead us into truth, but never in opposition to the Scripture, because God’s supremely authoritative revelation is closed with the New Testament.
i. Into all truth: “The Greek means ‘all the truth’, i.e. the specific truth about the Person of Jesus and the significance of what He said and did. The New Testament is permanent evidence that the apostles were guided into truth about this.” (Tasker)
ii. He will tell you things to come: “The promise must therefore refer to the main features of the new Christian dispensation. The Spirit would guide them in that new economy in which they would no longer have the visible example and help and counsel of their Master.” (Dods)
c. He will not speak on His own authority… He will glorify Me… He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you: The Holy Spirit’s ministry is revealing Jesus to us, to bear testimony of Jesus (John 15:26). He uses many different ways and many different gifts to accomplish this, but the purpose is always the same: to reveal Jesus.
i. One may speak of dream, visions, experiences, revelations and say they came from the Holy Spirit, but many of those supposed revelations of the Spirit say nothing or almost nothing about Jesus Himself.
ii. “This verse is decisive against all additions and pretended revelations subsequent to and besides Christ; it is being the work of the Spirit to testify and to declare the THINGS OF CHRIST; not any thing new and beyond Him.” (Alford)
iii. All things that the Father has are Mine: “If Christ had not been equal to God, could he have said this without blasphemy?” (Clarke)
B. Jesus prepares the disciples for His coming challenge on the cross.
1. (16-18) Jesus tells them of His immediate, brief departure.
“A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me, because I go to the Father.” Then some of His disciples said among themselves, “What is this that He says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me’; and, ‘because I go to the Father’?” They said therefore, “What is this that He says, ‘A little while’? We do not know what He is saying.”
a. A little while, and you will not see Me: The disciples didn’t understand that the arrest of Jesus was only an hour or two away, and then His crucifixion would follow. Yet because He must go to the Father, they would see Him again as He rose from the dead.
i. You will not see Me: “During the interval between His death and resurrection the disciples lost their faith and spiritual vision, and no more beheld Him than did the world.” (Trench)
ii. You will see Me: “‘And again a little while shall elapse, and then ye-shall-see-Me (ὄψεσθέμε), i.e. with bodily eyes.’ When the short interval between His death and resurrection had elapsed, then they should see Him with their bodily eyes.” (Trench)
b. We do not know what He is saying: The disciples were both troubled and confused. They probably thought Jesus spoke with unnecessary mystery about where He was going and what He would do. They didn’t understand what He meant about not seeing Him and then seeing Him.
i. We do not know what He is saying: “A different word is used here in the Greek for saith from that used in the first part of the verse. Hence, RSV, rightly, ‘we do not know what he means’.” (Tasker)
ii. “The use of the imperfect tense in ‘kept asking’ [they said] (elegon) shows that they must have held a consultation among themselves about it and that the discourse did not proceed as an uninterrupted lecture.” (Tenney)
iii. “Where for us, all is clear, for them all was mysterious. If Jesus wishes to found the Messianic kingdom, why go away? If He does not wish it, why return?” (Godet, cited in Morris)
2. (19-22) Jesus explains of coming sorrow being turned into joy.
Now Jesus knew that they desired to ask Him, and He said to them, “Are you inquiring among yourselves about what I said, ‘A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me’? Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy. A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.”
a. Jesus knew that they desired to ask Him: Jesus understood that the disciples wanted more clarity; but He also knew that they needed more than information. They needed their hearts and minds prepared to endure the coming crisis.
i. “Jesus, perceiving their embarrassment, and that they wished to interrogate Him, said to them: ‘Are you inquiring among yourselves?’” (Dods)
b. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy: Jesus knew they would be plunged into deep and dark sorrow in the next few hours. He also knew that God would, by His power and grace, turn their sorrow into joy.
i. The words, you will be sorrowful were certainly true.
· Sorrowful at the loss of relationship.
· Sorrowful at the humiliation of their Master and Messiah.
· Sorrowful at the seeming victory of His enemies.
· Sorrowful because all they hoped for was taken away.
ii. The crucifixion and all that went with it was not a bump in the road on the way to fulfilling God’s plan, as if it were an obstacle to overcome. It was the way the plan would be fulfilled. That sorrow would turn into joy.
iii. God’s work was not to replace their sorrow with joy, but to turn sorrow into joy, as He often does in our lives. The sorrow would be directly connected to their coming joy, even as the sorrow of a woman in childbirth is directly connected to her joy that her child has been born into the world.
iv. “It is most remarkable and instructive that the apostles do not appear in their sermons or epistles to have spoken of the death of our Lord with any kind of regret. The gospels mention their distress during the actual occurrence of the crucifixion, but after the resurrection, and especially after Pentecost, we hear of no such grief.” (Spurgeon)
c. I will see you again and your heart will rejoice: They didn’t fully understand the separation, so they could not fully understand the joy of the coming reunion. Yet when it happened, no one could deny their joy-filled testimony of the resurrection. It was testimony so sure that they endured death because of it. It was joy no one will take from you.
i. Your joy no one will take from you: “Our Lord’s meaning appears to have been this: that his resurrection should be so completely demonstrated to them, that they should never have a doubt concerning it; and consequently that their joy should be great and permanent.” (Clarke)
ii. “That he should suffer was cause for grief, but that he has now suffered all is equal cause for joy. When a champion returns from the wars bearing the scars of conflict by which he gained his honors, does anyone lament over his campaigns?” (Spurgeon)
3. (23-27) Jesus promises greater joy regarding their coming access to God after Jesus’ departure.
“And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. These things I have spoken to you in figurative language; but the time is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figurative language, but I will tell you plainly about the Father. In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you; for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God.”
a. In that day you will ask Me nothing: Jesus probably meant that they would be so overcome with joy and relief at the resurrection that they would be speechless when it came to making requests of Jesus. Yet the pathway to audience with God and answered prayer was more open, not more closed.
i. Until now you have asked nothing in My name: “Ye have not as yet considered me the great Mediator between God and man; but this is one of the truths which shall be more fully revealed to you by the Holy Spirit.” (Clarke)
b. Whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you: Because of Jesus’ great work, disciples have unlimited, undeniable access to God through Him. The disciples had yet to really pray in the name of Jesus, but He would teach them.
i. “The meaning is that the atoning death of Jesus will revolutionize the whole situation. On the basis of the Son’s atoning work men will approach God and know the answers to their prayers.” (Morris)
c. But I will tell you plainly about the Father: The disciples should trust that in this time of restored joy and open access to Jesus, they would know the Father Himself, and know about Him more than ever.
i. Figurative language: “Used here to cover the cryptic expression ‘a little while’ and the metaphor of childbirth used in verse 21.” (Tasker)
d. For the Father Himself loves you: Jesus makes it clear that the Son did not need to persuade an angry Father to be gracious; but His work would provide a righteous basis for God’s graciousness.
i. “Here Jesus is saying: ‘You can go to God, because he loves you,’ and he is saying that before the Cross. He did not die to change God into love; he died to tell us that God is love. He came, not because God so hated the world, but because he so loved the world. Jesus brought to men the love of God.” (Barclay)
ii. “The reason that Christ will not intercede for them is now given. There will be no need. The Father Himself loves them. He does not need to be persuaded to be gracious. In this case the ground of acceptance is the relationship in which they stand to Jesus.” (Morris)
e. Because you have loved Me: The Father did not love the disciples on the basis of their love for Jesus, but their love for Jesus was evidence of the Father’s love for them.
i. A pulse doesn’t make the heart pump, but it is evidence of it. Our love for God doesn’t make Him love us, but it is evidence that He loves us.
4. (28-32) The disciples proclaim their faith; Jesus places it in perspective.
“I came forth from the Father and have come into the world. Again, I leave the world and go to the Father.” His disciples said to Him, “See, now You are speaking plainly, and using no figure of speech! Now we are sure that You know all things, and have no need that anyone should question You. By this we believe that You came forth from God.” Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me.”
a. I came forth from the Father: Jesus repeated themes from previously in this great talk with His disciples, telling them again about His departure from this world and unto His Father. John 16:28 is a remarkable summary of the work of Jesus.
· I have come forth from the Father: Jesus is God, having existed in heaven’s glory and goodness before He ever came to the earth.
· And have come into the world: Jesus was born as a man, having added humanity to deity.
· Again I leave the world: Jesus would die.
· And go to My Father: Jesus would rise from the dead and ascend to heaven.
i. “In those sentences we have a declaration of the whole redemptive progress of the Son of God. From the Father into the world; from the world unto the Father.” (Morgan)
ii. “Here is the sum of the Christian Faith in four fundamental propositions, which, with their several why and how and result, form the whole body of Christian verity.” (Trench)
b. Now we are sure that You know all things: The summary statement in the previous sentence made the disciples feel that now they understood. They seem to have been sincere, but more confident in their faith than they should have been.
i. “They declared that their belief in the Divinity of His mission was confirmed. They were perfectly sincere. They felt that they had at last passed beyond the region where it would be possible to doubt. How much better He knew them than they knew themselves!” (Morgan)
c. Do you now believe… You will be scattered: Jesus did not doubt the belief of the disciples, but warned them that their faith would be shaken before it was finally settled upon Him. They would find it much easier to believe on Him in the upper room than in the Garden of Gethsemane, where they would all flee each to his own, and would leave Jesus alone.
i. This wasn’t to make an I told you so moment. “The very fact that He had known and had foretold the course of events, would be something to hold on to, and the memory of it would help them back again to faith.” (Morgan)
ii. “The words Do you now believe? can also be taken as a statement. This is preferable, as it brings out better the emphasis laid upon now in the original. ‘You do now believe, but your belief will soon be shaken.’” (Tasker)
iii. “Jesus read their hearts better than they knew. Not only could he answer their unspoken questions: he could assess the strength of their belief in him. It was sincere and genuine, bound up with their love for him, but it was about to be exposed to a test such as they had not imagined.” (Bruce)
d. You will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone: The crisis would come soon, and when it did the disciples would think, every man for himself and abandon Jesus alone.
i. “When he did not need their friendship, they were his very good friends. When they could do nothing for him if they tried, they were his faithful followers. But the pinch has come; now might they watch with him one hour, now might they go with him amid the rabble throng, and interpose at least the vote of the minority against the masses; but they are gone.” (Spurgeon)
ii. “There he stands. They have left him alone; but there he is, still standing to his purpose. He has come to save, and he will save. He has come to redeem, and he will redeem. He has come to overcome the world, and he will overcome it.” (Spurgeon)
e. Yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me: Jesus relied upon His close relationship with God all the way to the cross, and even upon it. In the loneliest moments imaginable, He understood that the Father was with Him.
i. “I remember that passage about Abraham going with Isaac to mount Moriah, where Isaac was to be offered up. It is written, ‘So they went both of them together.’ So did the Eternal Father and his Well- beloved Son when God was about to give up his own Son to death. There was no divided purpose; they went both of them together.” (Spurgeon)
5. (33) The triumphant conclusion to Jesus’ farewell discourse to His disciples and to all of Jesus’ teaching before the cross.
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
a. These things I have spoken to you: In a moment Jesus would pray for His disciples. Before He did, He summarized the purpose of the long talk He had with those disciples: to bring them peace and the settled assurance of overcomers.
b. That in Me you may have peace: Jesus offered His disciples peace. He made the offer in the most unlikely circumstances. At that very minute, Judas met with Jesus’ enemies to plot His arrest. Jesus knew that He would be arrested, forsaken, rejected, mocked, humiliated, tortured and executed before the next day was over. We think that the disciples should have comforted Him – yet Jesus had peace, and enough to give to others.
i. Jesus did not promise peace; He offered it. He said, “you may have peace.” People may follow Jesus yet deny themselves this peace. We gain the peace Jesus offered by finding it in Him. Jesus said, “that in Me you may have peace.” We won’t find real peace anywhere else other than in Jesus.
ii. Jesus made the way to peace with God: Having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1)
iii. Jesus made the way to peace with others: For Jesus is our peace, who has made the both one and broken down the middle wall of division between us. (Ephesians 2:14)
iv. This word of peace is especially meaningful set in the context of conflict – tribulation and overcome both speak of battles to fight. “He promises a peace which co-exists with tribulation and disturbances, a peace which is realized in and through conflict and struggle.” (Maclaren)
v. This promise was especially powerful for those eleven disciples. “He predicted their desertion in the very saying in which He assured them of the peace He would give them. He loved them for who they were and despite their shortcomings.” (Morris)
c. In the world you will have tribulation: Jesus also made the promise of tribulation. Peace is offered to us, but tribulation is promised. When we become Christians we may bring fewer problems upon ourselves, but we definitely still have them.
i. Understanding this removes a false hope. Struggling Christians often hope for the day when they will laugh at temptation and there will be one effortless victory after another. We are promised struggle as long as we are in this world; yet there is peace in Jesus.
ii. “There is no avoiding it; it is not a paradise, but a purgatory to the saints. It may be compared to the Straits of Magellan, which is said to be a place of that nature, that which way soever a man set his course, he shall be sure to have the wind against him.” (Trapp)
d. Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world: Jesus proclaimed the truth of His victory. This was an amazing statement from a man about to be arrested, forsaken, rejected, mocked, tortured and executed. Judas, the religious authorities, Pilate, the crowd, the soldiers or even death and the grave could not overcome Him. Instead, Jesus could truly say, “I have overcome the world.” If it was true then, it’s even truer now.
i. When Jesus wanted to comfort and strengthen His disciples, He spoke of His victory, not directly their victory. This wasn’t “cheer up” or “try harder.” Jesus knew that His victory would be theirs.
ii. “He overcame the world in three areas: in His life, in His death, and in His resurrection.” (Boice)
iii. “This statement, spoken as it is in the shadow of the cross, is audacious… He goes to the cross not in fear or in gloom, but as a conqueror.” (Morris)
iv. “He overcame the world when nobody else had overcome it.” (Spurgeon)
v. The thought that Jesus has overcome became precious to John. “Nikeo occurs only here in the Gospel, but twenty-two times in the Johannine Epistles and Apocalypse.” (Dods)
vi. “The world conquers me when it comes between me and God, when it fills my desires, when it absorbs my energies, when it blinds my eyes to the things unseen and eternal.” (Maclaren)
vii. Knowing that Jesus has overcome the world brings us good cheer. It is the foundation for our peace in Him. We see that Jesus is in control, we see that although He leaves He does not abandon, we see that He loves, and we see that the victory is His. We can be of good cheer indeed.
©2018 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission