Our lesson this week will continue our unit of lessons for this month on Teaching on Truth and Trials.  We have so far seen the medicine for when we are going through trials, and how the Lord removes obstacles that can be burdensome to us.  In our lesson this week, we are going to see Christ speak plainly to the fact that we are all going to have trials and tribulation in the world and these things can come from those that hate us.  This week’s lesson is being taught from John 16:19-33.

Sorrow Turned to Joy

This week’s lesson opens with Jesus speaking to the disciples’ sorrow.  Again, let us remember that Jesus has been telling the disciples that He would be leaving them.  They, again, did not truly understand what Jesus meant at that time by the fact that He would be leaving them as we have seen in a recent lesson.

In the couple of verses prior to the verses of our lesson, Jesus tells the disciples, “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 (John 16:16).”  In the follow up verses, we will see that the disciples, again, did not understand what Jesus was saying as they asked questions amongst each other (John 16:17-18).

There will be times of weeping

In the opening verse of our lesson, we will see that Jesus was fully aware that the disciples did not understand what He had said to them.  Jesus asked the disciples, “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 (v.19)’?”  Again, He was fully aware of what the disciples were both thinking and saying.  After all, Jesus has already told the disciples to not let their hearts be troubled but to have faith in Him (John 14:1).

So, we will see Jesus say very plainly to the disciples that they are going to have times and days where they weep and lament (v.20).  Jesus also points out that in those times, the things that would cause the disciples to weep and lament, there are going to be others of the world that rejoice.  Now, those that are of the world are all of those that are not of the Lord and are not in fellowship with Him.

Now, let us notice that Jesus says to the disciples, that their sorrow will be turned into joy.  Again, because we genuinely are followers of Christ, that makes us disciples of Christ as well.  So, for us, this same thing holds true.  The Lord will turn our sorrow into joy.  This reminds me of what the psalmist said, “weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning (Ps. 30:5).”  Where does that joy come from?  That joy will come from God.

Joy given by God

I am certain that all of you who have watched, listened to, or read my commentaries know that I speak about our soul often.  The world can only provide temporary happiness to the soul, whereas, the Lord will always bring happiness and joy to the soul that has been wounded.

We will see Jesus likening the sorrow of the believer to a woman giving birth.  I will never know the pain of childbirth, but the pain is very much obvious.  Yet, Jesus points out that though childbirth can be painful, once the child is born, the mother forgets the anguish because it has instantly been replaced by joy (v.21).

Again, Jesus was very upfront about the fact that all who believe in Him, will experience sorrow.  One of the biggest misconceptions about having faith in God is that the believer will never experience days of sorrow – this is simply not true.  For the disciples, in this passage of scripture, their sorrow would come from Jesus’ physical death.  For us, yes there is death, but there are certainly other things that cause us grief in our soul – there is absolutely no avoiding this in life.

Now, we know this from personal experience as believers, but for those that are not of the faith and may think the believer’s life is always going to be happy days in this world, scripture repeatedly shows us that the days of the believer will often be difficult.  Personally, I often believe that we, the genuine believers, actually catch it harder than those that do not believe because we find ourselves under attack by the devil and his agents.  Where others often ignore what is going on spiritually (in their souls), we are more attuned to our soul and can feel its sorrow.

Though we may be under attack and experience sorrow, the Lord loves us and brings joy back to our soul.  Now, because this joy has been given to our soul by God, we will see that Jesus tells the disciples that this joy cannot be taken away by anything or anybody (vss.22-24).  For someone to take away the Lord’s joy, they would have to be able to defeat God but who can defeat the Lord?  Nobody.  God, as we know, is omnipotent – all powerful – He is the sovereign over all things.

Peace through Christ

After saying these things, Jesus tells the disciples, “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 (v.25).”

I often try to explain to others, especially when it comes to Jesus’ teachings and scripture, that Jesus used a lot of figurative speech to explain things of the spiritual.  Jesus often did this in His parables so that those He taught could understand things of the spirit a bit more easily.  For example, in last week’s lesson, Jesus taught of Himself as the True Vine and the Father as a gardener (vinedresser) tending to His garden to show how the Lord takes care of us, His children.  

Though the idea of figurative speech being more easier to understand, we often find that the parables often led to a bit of confusion and more questions being asked.  So, Jesus is now going to speak more plainly to the disciples about Him and the Father.  I feel like figurative speech is actually good practice for believers when they minister the gospel.  In sermons, you will often hear me speak figuratively when I explain this about scripture before I speak more plainly about scripture.  Doing both, I find, helps with believers fully understanding whatever message I am trying to share. 

The Father and Son’s connection

So, Jesus tells the disciples, “ In that day you will ask (pray) in My name, and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you (v.26).”  Now, this almost sounds like Jesus would not care about their prayers, but in actuality, Jesus is saying to the disciples that it would not be necessary for Him to pray to the Father on their behalf.  Now, the question is, why would Jesus say that He would not pray for them?  And because we are His disciples as well, why would Jesus say that He will not need to pray for us?

Jesus answers this question for us by saying, “the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God (v.27).”  What this means for us points back to being in fellowship with the Lord.  Because the Lord loves us, we are able to go directly to Him through the death and resurrection of His only begotten Son.

Prior to the death and resurrection of Christ,  I want you to understand that it was certainly possible for them to pray to the Lord.  In the Old Testament, we see that the Israelites would offer up their prayers to the Lord through their offering of sacrifice that they would bring to the priests at the temple.  So, for the common Israelite, they would essentially have to go through others to pray to God.

After Jesus’ death and resurrection, the day came where the disciples, all of us who follow after Christ, no longer lived under the law but lived under His grace.  Through His grace, instead of having to go through a priest or offer up a sacrifice for prayer, we now go directly to the Lord to ask of Him.  What we ask, the Lord will do because He loves us.  He loves that you and I have put our faith in His only begotten Son and have been washed clean of our sins.

When we love His only begotten Son, we have loved the Father.  Let us remember that the Father and the Son are one, to which we essentially see Jesus say.  The disciples, it seems, are happy that Jesus was no longer speaking figuratively to them but was being more plain and direct to them.  They then acknowledged that Jesus truly did come from the Lord and believed (vss.29-30).

Believing in the Son

This is very interesting because we know that the disciples have been following Jesus for the entirety of His ministry.  So, one could ask why are they just now saying that they believe?  In fact, Jesus even asks them, “Do you now believe (v.31)?”

What I take from this is that there are certainly levels of faith, right?  There are those who are of no faith.  It is possible for people in this group to become a follower of Christ, but also at the same time, there are people in this group who are fully convicted in not believing in the Lord.

On the next level, there are those who are of little faith.  Now, within this group, we should understand that people can grow and mature in their faith.  At the same time, there will be some within this group whose faith will either remain stagnant or they will lose faith.  Those that lose faith will fall back into the group of those who have no faith.  Potentially, those who are in this group will become fully convicted in having no faith at all.

Lastly, there are those who become strong in their faith.  Those who are strong in their faith in God are fully convicted in their faith in Him.  The goal for all of us should be one of those who are strong in their faith.  I believe the disciples were in the group of having little faith at first but their faith began to grow and mature as they followed Jesus.  Now, after hearing from Jesus plainly, I would suggest that the disciples were now reaching the point of becoming strong in the faith.

Faith in Christ leads to peace

Now, Jesus does mention how the disciples would scatter and leave Him (v.32); this happened immediately after Jesus was arrested in the garden (Matt. 26:55-56; Mark 14:48-50).  Jesus’ arrest, His death on the cross, and seeing Him after His resurrection truly strengthened the disciples’ faith to the point that they were strong in their faith.

To those of us who did not see Jesus with our own eyes, we can still see the work that the Lord does in our life and the lives of those around us.  Jesus said of us who believe without seeing Him, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed (John 20:29).”

We are blessed because through Christ, we have His assurance to be able to overcome all that grieves us and causes sorrow.  Jesus said to the disciples, “in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world (v.31).”

Again, take note that Jesus does not try to hide the fact that we are going to have tribulation while we are in the world.  Yet, I want you to also notice that Jesus tells us plainly that we can and will overcome our griefs.  All of us who are of genuine faith in Christ, will overcome our griefs and sorrows because Jesus overcame the world.


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