Berean Bible Study Notes

John 16:16-33



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How would you respond if someone told you that God didn't care about the little details in life? That He doesn't really care whether you buy this car or that car, take this job or that job? After all, isn't that why He gave you a brain, to make good decisions? As we grow up, aren't we expected to make choices, without someone right there telling us what to do?

I was recently told that God has bigger things to worry about than the little details of our lives. He has given us our brains and His Word, and that is sufficient to guide us. Do you agree? Why? Disagree? Why?

These last chapters in John are the last things that Jesus says directly to His disciples. He is preparing them to be without Him. He loves them, and even though in just a few hours He is going to suffer more than we have any capacity to imagine, He is taking the time to comfort them. In the next chapter, we will eavesdrop on Jesus' prayer to His Father, something that some commentators have called the "Holy of Holies" of the New Testament. What is He praying about? His disciples - and those that would come after, including us.

This is our Savior, who loves us so deeply, so fully, that He is willing to take the punishment we deserve - eternal separation from God. We've gone through this many times before, but let that really sink in. If our sins deserve eternal separation from God - if that is the punishment we face - then, somehow, in a way we will never understand, that is what Jesus paid. Somehow, Jesus suffered eternally - for us.

In these chapters, He KNOWS that is what lies just ahead, yet He tenderly, patiently comforts those He loves.

Jesus is our bridegroom, our future husband. We are His bride. Our earthly marriages are supposed to be a taste of that. And the two shall become one flesh. That's not really talking about sex, although, of course, that's part of earthly marriage. It's talking about full sharing, sacrificing for each other, communing with each other, being two halves of one whole that is greater than either alone.

That is what earthly marriage is meant to be - and even if it actually approaches that - it still pales in comparison with our heavenly marriage to come. And, yet, looking at an earthly marriage, what does it say about the couple if the wife buys a car without any input from her husband? Takes a job without discussing it with him at all? What does it say about their marriage and the level of sharing going on there?

Does God care about the little details of your life? If you can shop with your husband and ask, "Which one do you like best, the blue or the red?" doesn't the One who loves you even more want to hear about even the smallest things?

Do you remember this verse? 

Deut 10:14 Indeed heaven and the highest heavens belong to the LORD your God, also the earth with all that is in it.

Everything that there is ultimately belongs to God. Anything that is "ours" is really just in our care taking. The whole world belongs to God, and it is His to do with as He chooses, to give or not give.

Now, if you had something to give, how would you feel if someone just grabbed it without asking? You had every intention of giving it out, but before you even could, the person simply took it, as though it was hers by right? She didn't acknowledge that it was yours, didn't ask for it, didn't thank you after she took it. She completely ignored that you had anything to do with it. How would you feel?

If your husband had a gift for you, but you simply took it before he could even offer it, how would he feel? And, yet, is that what we do to God?

Does God care about the small things? Will it ultimately matter whether you buy that car or this car, take that job or this job? God can work all things out, no matter what you do. And, He's ready and willing to give you everything you need. Yet, I don't think He wants to be ignored in the process. If you'd talk something over with your husband, shouldn't you talk over things with the One who will be even closer to you?

You may disagree, but I believe how much we talk to God about the little things is directly proportional to the strength of our relationship with Him. Here on earth, we have a certain mental image of fathers who are addressed as "Father." We picture him as somehow distant - someone you approach rather formally, wearing your best clothes, perhaps by appointment only. Our heavenly Father is holy and deserves every respect, but He wants us to approach Him as here:

Gal 4:6 And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, "Abba, Father !"

Nelson's Bible Dictionary says this about the word, "abba":

Our heavenly Father wants us to trust, love and come to Him in the same way a little child goes to her beloved daddy. Can you imagine a little child going to her daddy with little things? I can. And can you picture him loving her all the more for it? I can. I think that's how God wants us to come to Him. Big things, little things, all things. Bring everything to your heavenly Abba. He loves you so very much.

 

John 16:16-33

As you look over these chapters, these last intimate words between Jesus and His disciples, remember how much He loves them - how much He loves YOU. These words have been recorded just as much for you as they were for them. You were among those Jesus thought of that night:

John 17:20 "I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word;

 

Sorrow Will Turn to Joy

John 16:16 "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."

17 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'?" 18 They said therefore, "What is this that He says, 'A little while'? We do not know what He is saying."

19 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'? 20 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. 21 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. 22 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.

23 "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. 24 Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

 

John 16:16 "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."

17 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'?" 18 They said therefore, "What is this that He says, 'A little while'? We do not know what He is saying."

The thing that immediately comes to mind here is Jesus' death and resurrection, which of course, at this point, the disciples are still very confused about. And, yet, is that all this means?

Chuck Smith, in his text notes about these two verses explains it this way: "I don't know what He is saying."

I don't, either. Does He mean just His death and resurrection? Is He also referring to the time between His ascension and return? Is there even more going on here? I don't know. Here is what Jesus says next:

John 16:19 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'? 20 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. 21 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. 22 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.

Now, again, He's obviously at least referring to His death and resurrection. The disciples wept and lamented when Jesus died, while the Jewish leadership rejoiced, thinking they had ended their problem. Later, when they saw Him alive, they rejoiced, forgetting all their sorrow.

When your children were born, you likely had great pain and suffering, but when your baby was in your arms, didn't you forget it all? It's interesting to look at the very first time the word "sorrow" is used in the Bible:

Gen 3:16 To the woman He said: "I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you."

Isn't it kind of funny, how it also pertains to childbirth? And, what was the context of the Genesis passage? This is what God says to Eve after her sin. Why will the disciples have sorrow? They're going to watch Jesus die, and later will understand that it was for our sin. Isn't it amazing how the Bible all fits together?

And, with that in mind, is there even more being said here? I encourage you to go through and read the passages in the Bible about a woman in labor. Now, consider verse 20 more closely:

John 16:20 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.

That statement seems to be not just about that particular instance, but a general truth. God does not prevent the sorrow. We will have sorrow, but through the sorrow, we will have joy. When we trust God to use all things for our good, the sorrow itself will lead to joy.

Now, if you go to your concordance and look for places where sorrow and joy are used together, you'll find that most of the time, there is a bigger context. This world has sorrow, but joy awaits.

Isa 35:10 the ransomed of the LORD will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.

Jer 31:12 They will come and shout for joy on the heights of Zion; they will rejoice in the bounty of the LORD — the grain, the new wine and the oil, the young of the flocks and herds. They will be like a well-watered garden, and they will sorrow no more. 13 Then maidens will dance and be glad, young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.

Isa 25:8 he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth. The LORD has spoken.

Rev 7:17 For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."

 

John 16:23 "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. 24 Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. 25 "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. 26 In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you; 27 for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God. 28 I came forth from the Father and have come into the world. Again, I leave the world and go to the Father."

And in that day you will ask Me nothing. What in the world does that mean? In what day? We need to go back a bit to see what He is referring to.

John 16:22 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.

So, this refers to the day they will see Jesus again - or possibly to the day when their hearts rejoice and no one can take their joy. Is that the same day? Probably. You can't separate any of these statements and understand them. You need to keep them together. If you look at the end of the verse, it says, Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you.

So, this isn't saying that the disciples can't ask Jesus anything. As a matter of fact, the Book of Acts records at least one question the disciples asked after Jesus' resurrection. This is just saying that the disciples will have direct access to the Father. Remember, that wasn't possible before. Under the law, the people had access to God only through the priests - and even the High Priest couldn't come before God without the proper sacrifices. Plus, Jesus Himself is not going to be bodily with them after His ascension, so they will not be able to ask Him things as they have been.

What else is Jesus saying? Verse 25 says, These things I have spoken to you in figurative language. In other words, Jesus is intentionally not speaking completely plainly. There is more here than the surface words.

John 16:23 "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. 24 Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full 25 "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. 26 In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you; 27 for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God.

What is Jesus saying here? He is saying that the disciples (and us!) can pray directly to the Father, in Jesus' name. He's not saying that He will not speak to the Father on our behalf, because He always lives to make intercession. (Heb 7:25) He's saying that He doesn't HAVE to have that role. The Father Himself loves us because we have loved Jesus. In other words, that heavy curtain that separates us from the Holy of Holies is forever torn. The way is open.

Now, this has come up a number of times. Any guess how many? You're right - seven. So, what He's saying about asking in His name is complete. That also means that you can't take any one of these mentions without the others. Yes, ask anything, but there are certain things that go with that:

1. John 14:13 And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

2. John 14:14 If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. (very next verse after above)

3. John 15:7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.

4. John 15:16 You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.

5. John 16:23 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.

6. John 16:24 Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

7. John 16:26 In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you; 27 for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God.

Ask - that the Father may be glorified. Ask - when you remain in Jesus and His words remain in you. Ask - so that you can bear fruit that remains. Ask - that your joy may be full. Ask - because you have loved Jesus and believe that He came from God.

Matt 7:7 "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!

Luke 11:9 "So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 11 If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 13 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!"

John 16:26 In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you; 27 for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God.

Let's not leave that thought too quickly. The Father Himself loves us. We talked about this a little earlier, with the verse in Galatians. Here's a similar one:

Rom 8:15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out,"Abba, Father ."

In Nelson's Bible Dictionary earlier, we saw how the word "Abba" is like saying "papa" or "daddy." Here is what the Vine's Expository Dictionary says (with my underlining and bolding):

John 6:28 I came forth from the Father and have come into the world. Again, I leave the world and go to the Father."

29 His disciples said to Him, "See, now You are speaking plainly, and using no figure of speech! 30 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 had said that the day would come when He would speak plainly of the Father, without using figurative language. The disciples are jumping ahead, as though that day had already arrived.

Verse 30 is a little odd, but you have to remember how Rabbis taught their students. They would ask questions until the student came up with the answer. Here's a silly little example:

Question - How many months have 30 days? Answer - they all do, except February. OK, for real. Question - How many months have exactly 30 days? Answer - April, June and November. Question - How many days does September have?

John 16:30 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."

So, the disciples are declaring their belief in Him. But, Jesus knows just how deep that belief is:

John 16:31 Jesus answered them, "Do you now believe? 32 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.

In a very short time after stating their belief, they will all abandon Him - and later, they will remember what they said, and how He had replied. They will mourn that they left him alone, and yet they hadn't, not really. And, that's why Jesus says this about the Father - not to remind Himself - but to comfort the disciples. They didn't truly leave Jesus alone. The Father was with Him.

John 16:33 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."

These things - what things? Everything that He has said in these last few chapters, this whole discourse. This whole section is so that in Jesus, we may have peace. In the world, we will not have peace, but Jesus has overcome the world.

This whole section is to help Christians remain in Jesus, because only IN Jesus will we have peace. It's kind of like the Old Testament tabernacle, that we've gone through several times. You remember that there was an outer wall that encircled an inner courtyard. Within the courtyard was the tabernacle, and within the tabernacle was the Most Holy Place. To get into the courtyard at all, you needed to pass through the tribe of Judah, which formed the "foot" of the cross-shaped camp of the Israelites. Once at the outer wall, which had only one gate, you needed to get past the huge altar in order to enter the courtyard. Entering the courtyard of the tabernacle by going past the altar is a picture of salvation. You cannot be saved without going through the cross.

However, that's not the end of the story. Once in the courtyard (saved), you see only the ugly outer covering of the tabernacle. You remember how it had layer upon layer of coverings. The outermost layer was heavy and waterproof, not meant for beauty. In fact, it was probably pretty ugly, representing the fact that there was nothing about Jesus' appearance to attract us to Him. Under that was a layer of ram skins died red, representing Jesus' blood. Under the ram skins were eleven layers of goatskin curtains. Biblically, eleven represents judgment. Finally, the innermost layer was beautifully embroidered linen, with pictures of angels. The symbolism of the layers is very rich, and perhaps you'd like to read about that again.

To see any beauty, you had to fully enter the tabernacle. You can wander around Jesus' courtyard your whole life, but to truly have peace, you need to enter in fully. If you don't, it doesn't mean you're not saved. However, you will never see the beauty, never have the joy, never experience the peace, until you fully enter in.

Jesus has overcome the world. That "overcome" means to have full victory over. We also, through Him, have overcome the world:

1 John 5:4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world — our faith. 5 Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

These are the last words that Jesus speaks directly to the disciples. Next, in chapter 17, Jesus speaks to His Father, mostly about His disciples.