December 23rd, 2006
One of the mysteries of life is that we often have to experience sadness before we can fully appreciate joy. In sport the sweetest victories come after a defeat, or when the team has a miraculous win after it looked like it was almost certainly going to lose. But no-one voluntarily loses a match in order to enhance the pleasure of winning the next. On the other hand, becoming a Christian involves voluntarily dying in order to experience new life. Jesus was about to leave his friends and die on the cross, and so there was sadness and grief. But these were a necessary prelude to the overwhelming joy which would accompany the resurrection and the new life which is available for everyone who believes.
John’s Account of the Good News — Chapter 16
16:1 Jesus continued, “I have told you these things, so that you wouldn’t be caused to stumble. 16:2 People will throw you out of synagogues. The time is coming when those who kill you will think that they are doing a favour to God. 16:3 They will do these things because they have not known the Father or me. 16:4 But I have told you these things so that when the time comes, you can remember that I told you about them. I didn’t tell you these things from the beginning, because I was with you. 16:5 But now I am going to the one who sent me, yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 16:6 Sorrow has filled your heart because I have told you these things. 16:7 Nevertheless it is definitely best for you that I go away, because the Counsellor won’t come to you if I don’t go away. When I go, I will send him to you. 16:8 When he comes, he will convince the world about sin, about righteousness, and about judgment; 16:9 about sin, because they don’t believe in me; 16:10 about righteousness, because I am going to my Father, and you won’t see me any more; 16:11 about judgment, because the prince of this world has been judged.
16:12 “I still have many things to tell you, but you can’t bear them now. 16:13 When he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth, because he will not speak on his own behalf. He will speak whatever he hears from God. He will tell you about things that are coming. 16:14 He will glorify me, because he will take things of mine and will tell them to you. 16:15 Everything which the Father has is mine. That’s why I said that he takes things of mine and will tell them to you. 16:16 In a little while you will not see me. Then a little while later you will see me again.”
16:17 Some of his disciples asked each other, “What does he mean when he says, ‘In a little while you won’t see me, but a little while later you will see me again,’ and, ‘Because I go to the Father?'” 16:18 They asked, “What does he mean when he says, ‘A little while?’ We don’t know what he is saying.”
16:19 Jesus could see that they wanted to ask him, so he said, “Do you ask amongst yourselves what I meant when I said, ‘In a little while you won’t see me, but a little while you will see me again?’ 16:20 I can guarantee that you will weep and mourn, but the world will rejoice. You will be sad, but your sadness will be turned into joy. 16:21 A woman has pain when she gives birth, because her time has come. But when she has delivered the child, she doesn’t remember the pain any more, because of the joy that a human being is born into the world. 16:22 So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.
16:23 “On that day you won’t ask me any questions. I can guarantee that the Father will give to you anything you ask from him in my name. 16:24 Until now, you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask, and you will receive, so that you can be filled with joy. 16:25 I have told you these things in figures of speech. But the time is coming when I will stop talking to you in figures of speech, and will tell you plainly about the Father. 16:26 Then you will ask in my name. I’m not saying that I will pray to the Father on your behalf, 16:27 because the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me, and have believed that I came from God. 16:28 I came from the Father, and have come into the world. Now I leave the world, and go to the Father.”
16:29 His disciples said, “Now you are speaking plainly, without using figures of speech. 16:30 Now we know that you know everything, and don’t need anyone to question you. From this we believe that you came from God.” 16:31 Jesus responded, “Do you now believe? 16:32 The time is coming, and has now arrived, that you will be scattered, everyone to your own place, and you will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me. 16:33 I have told you these things, so that you can have peace in me. In this world you have trouble, but be encouraged, I have overcome the world.”