“Do You Now Believe?”

“I came forth from the Father, and have come into the world; I am leaving the world again, and going to the Father.”  His disciples said, “Now you are speaking plainly, and are not using a figure of speech.  Now we know that you know all things, and have not need for anyone to question you; by this we believe that you came from God.”  Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe?  Behold, an hour is coming, and has already come, for you to be scattered, each to his own home, and to leave Me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me” (Jn 16:28-32).

Jesus is nearing the end of His upper room message to His disciples; a message of preview as to what is coming, a message of hope, a message of assurance, a message of promise, a message of comfort, and, as we see here based on the reaction of the disciples, a message of identity.  Jesus identifies Himself as the One who “came forth from the Father”.

This identification fits the theme of the entire book of John as Jesus said many times that the only requirement to attain eternal life, the only requirement to become God’s child, is “to believe in Him who God has sent” (Jn 6:29).  So Jesus comes back to this narrative here, describing Himself as the One whom God has sent.  And the disciples are “getting” the message.

Jesus simply starts off this passage with four facts.  “I came from the Father.  I came into the world.  I am leaving the world.  I am going back to the Father.”  Based on this testimony and three years of living it, the disciples respond with, “By this we believe that you came from God.  We believe what you have said is true.  We are ‘all in’ “.

Jesus then prophesies that even with this assurance that the disciples are “all in” as His followers, they are about to be scattered like sheep without a shepherd.  In predicting the circumstances around His arrest, trial, and execution, Jesus assures His disciples that even though they will leave Him, He will not be left alone.  The Father is with Him.

Now unlike the disciples at the time, we do know what came next.  The disciples were scattered.  And in Christ’s final prayer before His arrest, it is just the Father and the Son in the Garden of Gethsemane where we see a complete trust between the Father and the Son.  As Christ faced His darkest hour, He asked for the cup of death to be removed from His path.  But in praying to the Father, “Not My will, but yours be done” (Lk 22:42), Christ gave us a living breathing picture of what He had said from the beginning, “I have come to do the will of the Father” (Heb 10:7).

A Direct Line to the Father

“Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything, He will give it to you in My name.  Until now, you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you shall receive, that your joy may be made full.  These things I have spoken to you in figurative language; an hour is coming, when I will speak no more to you in figurative language, but will tell you plainly of the Father.  In that day you will ask in My name; and I do not say to you that I will request the Father on your behalf; for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from the Father” (Jn 16:23-27).

Throughout the gospel of John, Jesus presents Himself as the revealer of the Father.  “If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father” (Jn 14:9).  “I and the Father are one” (Jn 10:30).  “The Father abiding in Me does His works” (Jn 14:10).  “I can do nothing on My own initiative … but only the will of Him who sent Me” (Jn 5:30).

Now Jesus is revealing to His disciples that His direct line to the Father is passing to them.  “In that day” (vs 23) – that is, “when I have come back from the dead and you know the promise of My indwelling Spirit is coming – you will have direct access to the Father.”  To understand why they have this access, we jump to the end of the passage and another “in that day” (vs 26).

Here in verse 26, Jesus says that He will not be making the request on their behalf, but they will go directly to the Father with their petitions.  Why?  Because they will now have a special love relationship with the Father.  And because they have loved and believed in the One whom the Father has sent, they “received the right to become children of God” (Jn 1:12).  And as children, they have direct access to the Father with the confidence that He welcomes and gladly attends to their requests.

All of this flows from the Father’s love for His children.  When Jesus says, “the Father Himself loves you” (vs 27), the disciples are not just sharing in God’s general love for the world (Jn 3:16).  They will experience a new and special Father-child love that comes from the heart of God.

But Jesus is not out of the picture.  In this passage alone, we see … “ask in My name” … “He will give it to you in My name” … “previously, you have asked nothing in My name”.

I believe asking in Jesus’ name is asking based upon Christ’s abiding presence in you.  Jesus had taught His disciples to pray to the Father (the Lord’s prayer of Matthew 6:9-13).  But praying in Jesus’ name is a new concept because the abiding and indwelling presence of Jesus, to come in the form of the Holy Spirit after Christ’s departure, is a new arrangement; a new avenue of connection to God.  And a new basis of their prayers to the Father.

And finally, tucked in the middle of this passage is “you shall receive, that your joy may be made full” (vs 24).  As F.F. Bruce summarizes in his commentary on John 16, “Access to the Father in Jesus’ name was part of the joy which was promised in place of their present sorrow; it would, indeed, bring that joy to completion.”

Sorrow Turned to Joy

“A little while, and you will no longer behold Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me.”  Some of His disciples therefore said to one another, “What is this thing He is telling us, ‘A little while, and you will not behold Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me’: and, ‘Because I go to the Father’?”  And so they were saying, “What is this that He says, ‘A little while’?  We do not know what He is talking about.”  Jesus knew that they wished to question Him, and He said to them, “Are you deliberating together about this, that I said, ‘A little while, and you will not behold Me, and again a little while, and you will see Me’?  Truly, truly, 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 to joy.  Whenever a woman is in labor she has sorrow, because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she remembers the anguish no more, for joy that a child has been born into the world.  Therefore you, too, now have sorrow; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice , and no one takes your joy away from you” (Jn 16:16-22).

Jesus’ last words to His disciples in the upper room were packed with new information, new insights, new revelation.  But this message from Jesus was not intended to just impart some new knowledge to His followers.  No, Jesus’ instruction to his friends carried much much more.

Jesus is seeking to bring peace to the hearts of His disciples.  Later in chapter 16, Jesus says, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace.  In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (Jn 16:33).

Earlier in these chapters, Jesus is seeking to bring His disciples comfort in the promise of the coming of the Holy Spirit, and all that the Spirit will do in the lives of the disciples.  Jesus also plants comfort in His disciples by laying out what will happen next, to Him and them, so that what befalls them will not be a total surprise.  They are to be comforted by knowing that this is all part of the Father’s plan.

Here, Jesus is bringing the promise of resurrection to His disciples.  “In a little while, you will not see Me, and then you will see Me” is the promise that Jesus’ death will not be the last act in the play.  Jesus is coming back.  Jesus will rise from the dead.  “I will see you again” (vs 22).

And finally, Jesus is sharing all that He has said to ultimately bring them joy.  “After all is said and done, your sorrow will be temporary.  When you see me again, you will rejoice.  And NO ONE can take your joy away!”

Is this joy always accompanied by rosy circumstances?  No, it is a deep joy that finds hope and peace in Jesus’ presence in the middle of the challenges life sends our way.  It is a joy reflected by Jesus Himself in the most terrible of times; His death on a cross.  “Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb 12:2).

“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full” (Jn 15:11).  Christ’s joy IN YOU is Christ’s promise TO YOU.  May your joy be made full.  And may you let NO ONE steal your joy!

The Helper – Part Five

“I have many more things to say to you, but you can not bear them now.  But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.  He shall glorify Me; for He shall take of Mine, and shall disclose it to you.  All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said, that He takes of Mine, and will disclose it to you” (Jn 16:12-15).

Jesus came to earth to reveal many things to His disciples.  He revealed the Father.  He identified Himself as the Messiah, the Son of God.  He ushered in the kingdom of God.  He explained what life in the kingdom of God looks like.  But here in John chapter 16, we have been learning that Christ’s direct speaking and revelation to His disciples is coming to an end.

Enter the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit that Christ is sending, here described as the “Spirit of truth” (see Jn 14:17), will continue Jesus’ ministry of revelation.  The Spirit will guide the disciples, and us, “into all the truth”.

Jesus is the embodiment of truth.  It is part of His three-fold identity; the way, the truth, and the life.  The Spirit’s guidance “into all the truth” will be a further unfolding of all the truth that is found in Jesus.  We learned in John 14:26 that the Spirit will illuminate all that Jesus taught.

Jesus insisted more than once that he did not speak or act on His own initiative.  His words were those that the Father gave Him (Jn 5:19, 30; 8:28; 12:49).  So when the Spirit of truth comes, “He will not speak on His own initiative.”  He will follow the pattern of Jesus, disclosing what He has heard from the Father.

The message the Spirit discloses never changes.  But by virtue of the Spirit being in us and speaking through us, the message is being proclaimed by the Spirit in the exact way that the Father prescribes for each generation.  The Spirit and His message are moving in time and space upon the earth, illuminating the hearts and minds of Christ’s faithful.

The Spirit will glorify the Son by taking all that the Son has, which in itself has come from the Father, and will disclose it to us.  The Trinity, God in three persons, is clearly on display in this passage.  The Son has appeared and lived into all that the Father had for Him.  The Spirit will carry on the work.

The Spirit glorifies the Son by unfolding clearly the meaning of Jesus’ person and work.  Hear the Spirit.  As you read, worship, and contemplate all that God is revealing to you, you are listening to the Spirit’s voice.