John 16: 16 – 33 The disciples’ grief will turn to joy

John 16: 16 – 33 The disciples’ grief will turn to joy

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.’

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”?’ They kept asking, ‘What does he mean by “a little while”? We don’t understand what he is saying.’

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”? Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time is come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. 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. 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. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.

‘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. In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.’

Then Jesus’ disciples said, ‘Now you are speaking clearly and without figures of speech. 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.’

‘Do you now believe?’ Jesus replied. ‘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.

‘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.’

*       *       *

I started this passage by asking myself why St John had included it. While it seems very relevant to Jesus’ disciples, how is it relevant to me?

St Luke tells us in Luke 22: 24 – 26 tells us that even at the last supper, the disciples had argued about who was going to be the greatest in the coming kingdom. They were thinking of an earthly kingdom. They were confused.

Here, as he teaches them about the Holy Spirit, Jesus tries to make it clearer. Or does he? He continues to speak figuratively and the disciples inevitably misunderstand. Jesus is speaking about a spiritual kingdom; the disciples are still thinking of an earthly one.

At this point, I was suddenly faced with a question.

Does the temporal world matter?

Well, yes it does.

It has been the witness of countless Christians in the temporal world that has drawn people to follow Jesus.

It has been the experience of the human love of my wife, in the temporal world, that has taught me that love was of primary importance.

But, at the same time, the temporal world doesn’t matter. Obedience to Jesus is likely to lead to persecution. If that ends in martyrdom, then the temporal world can be seen to matter not at all.

In the light of what we have seen over nearly 2,000 years of Christianity, we can see that disciples of every generation have needed to take action in the world, while simultaneously knowing that it is the spiritual world that is truly important.

Indeed, God is still working out his plan in the temporal world. It’s got to matter.

That is the message that this passage has brought me today. If I am to follow Jesus, I must be aware of the Holy Spirit’s presence. The Spirit will lead me into truth. I will know what I need to do in this world.

And there is a wonderful promise at the end

‘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.’

Prayer

Heavenly Father

Thank you for sending your Holy Spirit to guide us into the truth. Please help me to be obedient to his guidance.

In Jesus’ name, Amen

Published by pennygadd51

I write. I've written many pieces of flash fiction, dozens of short stories and two novels, with a third in progress.

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