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November 7, 2023

John Part 46

We’re going to pick up where we left off two weeks ago in our study of John.




John 16:23-33

We’re going to pick up where we left off two weeks ago in our study of John. Chapter 16, where we’re at in our study, gives us Jesus’ final words to His disciples before He goes to the cross. By the time we come to Ch 16 it’s either late Thursday night or very early Friday morning. It’s now only a matter of hours now until the events of the cross. Jesus’ time is at hand, it’s very short. His mission of redemption is almost complete.

Jesus is alone with his remaining 11 disciples on the western slope of the Mount of Olives, just outside Jerusalem. Jesus is well aware that His disciples are troubled in their spirit. He says to them, “Let not your hearts be troubled…” So why are His disciples troubled?

[For starters their hopes and expectations have been shattered. They all believed Jesus to be the Messiah and based on their understanding of the O.T. scriptures and what Jesus has told them they believe that Jesus is going to establish an earthly kingdom and defeat the enemies of God. And so that was what they’d been expecting of Jesus – that He would set up His kingdom right there in Jerusalem – right now. They’re ready! But that’s not what happened. Instead Jesus told them that He is going to die. And then on top of that earlier this same evening Jesus told them that He’s going away and where He is going they cannot come. So, for sure, they have plenty of reason to be troubled.]

But Jesus, out of His deep love and concern for His disciples spends 4 chapters in John’s gospel, several hours, leaving these faithful 11 followers with some final words of hope and encouragement.

On one hand (the bad news)…        Jesus is going to die, He’s going back to heaven, He’s going away, they can’t come

But on the other hand (here is some good news)…   

He’s going to be resurrected, He’s going to prepare a place, He’s sending the Helper (HS)               

But let’s face it. The disciples are human and so they fear the worst. The truth is that they don’t fully understand everything Jesus has been telling them up to this point. A lot of the things Jesus has said will become clearer when the Holy Spirit comes and teaches the truth to them. So that sets the stage for Chapter 16. And last time we discussed the first 24 verses so this morning we will finish the chapter. Literally, these are Jesus’ final words to His disciples as a group before He goes to the cross.

I want to read v 23 to 33, but before I do let me just give a quick recap of the first 22 verses: v 1-4, Jesus has already told His disciples that they will face persecution (Ch 15). Have they faced persecution yet? No. But when Jesus goes away they will. So now Jesus gives them more detail. He reveals that some of them will be killed for their faith – full disclosure. And history bears this out. Tradition tells us that, beginning with James, all the disciples except for John died as martyrs. V 5-7, He reminds them that when He goes away He will send the Holy Spirit. Again, Jesus has mentioned this before (Ch 14 and 15). V 8-11, Jesus explains that one of the things the Holy Spirit will do when He comes is convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment. He’s the one who works in the hearts of lost people to convict them of their need to be saved and point them to Jesus. Have you ever heard the expression, “I was under conviction.” That’s the Holy Spirit at work. Now, we are the messengers. We have the Great Commission given to us by our Lord to “go… make disciples of all nations, baptizing them… teaching them to observe all that [Jesus] commanded [us].” We teach and preach. We give the message. The Holy Spirit then takes that message and works in people’s hearts. V 12, Jesus knows that the disciples are not ready for everything He would like to tell them. That leads to v 13-14 and another important role of the Holy Spirit. He will guide us into truth. He’s the one who will inspire the writing of the N.T. Some of these very same disciples will be the instruments the Holy Spirit uses to write the words of the N.T. And as believers today we read these words and the Holy Spirit helps to show us what they mean. V 15, Jesus underscores the fact when He sends the Holy Spirit that He will “glorify Me for He will take what is Mine and declare it to you.” So when will this happen, V 16-19. “You will see Me no longer,” He’s going to ascend back to heaven. “You will see me,” I believe is a reference to Pentecost. How will we see Jesus? Not physically. Not with our physical eyes. The Holy Spirit will reveal Jesus clearly to us. Like I said before, a lot of things Jesus teaches will become clearer to the disciples when the Holy Spirit comes.

We left off with Jesus’ promise to His disciples, v 20-22 that their sorrow would be turned to joy. The events of the cross later that day will cause the disciples to lament. They will experience fear and deep sorrow. But later, in retrospect, after the resurrection, after Jesus’ ascension, after Pentecost, the disciples will be able to look back at the cross, as we do today, as a source of joy. And why is the cross a source of joy for us Christians? Why is it the very symbol of our faith? Because of what Jesus accomplished there for us… our salvation.

Questions? Comments?

READ John 16: 23-33

V 23-26 Jesus provides some insight into the place of prayer in a believer’s life. V 23 “In that day,” remember the context for this passage is Jesus going away and sending the Holy Spirit. So in that day, the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit comes “you will ask nothing of Me.” Jesus isn’t here anymore to ask like the disciples had been used to. So later at Pentecost, now for us, as believers, we have direct access to God. We can go directly to God the Father, in the name of Jesus, the Son, thru the help of the Holy Spirit. This direct access thru prayer is made available to us so that our joy may be full. Jesus wants His followers – these 11 disciples and us – to experience joy, inner peace and contentment, no matter the circumstances. V 24, Jesus tells His 11 disciples “Until now you have asked nothing in my name.” The reason was Jesus had been there with them physically so they could just go directly to Him. Now that He’s gone away things have changed. Now we access God directly thru prayer.

V 23, “Whatever you ask of the Father in my name, He will give it to you.” V 24, “Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” V 26, “You will ask in my name.” So what does it mean to ask something in Jesus’ name?  We say it all the time at the close of our prayers, “In Jesus’ name, Amen.” But what does that really mean? [Something like this: “Father, I am here because your Son Jesus sent me. He told me to come.”]

Last week we discussed parables, specifically two parables. Jesus often taught in parables. But another teaching tool Jesus used was figures of speech – physical expressions of a spiritual truth. And that’s what He’s talking about in v 25-26. Example of a figure of speech Jesus used often were: sheep, shepherd, light, bread – all of the I AM statements were figures of speech. In this discourse to His disciples Jesus has used several figures of speech: “little children,” “the way, the truth and the life,” “vine and branches,” and “bearing fruit.” So as Jesus has been teaching up to this point what Jesus has said was often in figurative language, not completely clear to the disciples. One can argue that maybe the message Jesus was giving should have been clear to the disciples, but the fact is that Jesus very often had to explain what He meant to them. “The hour is coming” is a reference to sending the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth who will reveal clearly to the disciples what Jesus had been telling them. The veil over their eyes, so to speak, will be lifted. The writing of the NT – the completion of the four gospels, the letters of Paul, Peter, John and others take what Jesus taught and expound on them further in light of the cross and the resurrection. This is the Holy Spirit’s revelation of God’s truth.

From v 27 to the end of the chapter, Jesus leaves His disciples with some wonderful, encouraging words of love, and faith and hope –


27 “For the Father Himself loves you.” Jesus is talking to His disciples, to His followers. Yes, God loves the world generally. He sent His Son to die for them, John 3:16. But He has a special love for His own. And why is this? Why this special love? “Because you have loved Me [Jesus] and have believed that I [Jesus] came from God. Why is it that we Christians have been given all these promises that Jesus has mentioned in Ch 13 -16? Because God loves us! What is unique about this passage in speaking of God’s love is that the word “love,” v 27, is not the normal love that we associate with God, the “agape” love, Greek word agapeo. Here it is a “phileo” love, family love, brotherly love. God loves us Christians, those who name the name of Jesus with a personal affection. And do you want to here something fantastic? He loves you and me even though He knows everything all about us – everything, the good, the bad and the ugly. He loves us with an unconditional, eternal, perfect love. And God loves us this way as believers, this special personal intimate love, because we have loved Jesus. If you love the Son whom God loves, then He loves you this way. And how do we know if we love Jesus? John 14:21, we keep His commandments. The definition of a Christian is one who loves the Lord Jesus Christ.


27b–28, “have believed that I came from God.” Believing that Jesus was sent by God, that He came from heaven, is fundamental to being a believer in Jesus Christ. Believing that Jesus came from God and took on human flesh. That is a tenet of our faith.

Did the disciples believe this? Oh most certainly they did. V 30, “We believe that You [Jesus] came from God.” “We understand what You’re saying, what You are claiming and we believe!”

V 31, Jesus responds to the disciples statement of faith: “Do you now believe?” The Greek structure of this verse literally says, “You are believing now. You understand.” So it is really not a question. It is a statement that Jesus recognizes they truly do believe this about Him.

Don’t you wish that’s where we could end our lesson right there on a high note, sing our song and go home? The disciples who had been so obtuse for 3 ½ years now finally seem to get it. But look at what Jesus says in the next verse – the harsh reality, back to earth…

V 32, “Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave Me alone.” Jesus knew they were true believers. He knew they were loved by the Father. But He also knew their faith was weak – that very soon they were going to scatter and run away. Even the sword-wielding, trash talking, brazen Peter, the rock, would run away and hide in the shadows and deny Jesus before a little servant girl. A word of warning here to all of us: If it could happen to them, it could happen to us. Do not overestimate your faith. Live humbly and be diligent in strengthening your faith. There’s a maturing process that takes place in the Christian life and part of that maturing includes failure. It doesn’t have to be that way but often it is. Look back at your own life. Paul says, and this is the great Apostle Paul, arguably one of the strongest Christians who ever lived, He says, “when we are faithless He remains faithful.” So be careful, be diligent in your Christian walk, pray, study, be on the alert for the enemy. Don’t become complacent.


V 33, a closing word of hope by our Lord just before He leaves His disciples and heads into the Garden to pray – “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” The disciples looked with fear and uncertainty on what was about to take place. And sometimes we look around at our circumstances and we wonder if things could get any worse. Jesus says, “Take courage.” He has overcome the world. His victory is our victory. 1 Jn 5:4-5: “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world--our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

What a powerful statement, what a wonderful promise, what hope!

Questions? Comments? Let’s sing, “Faith is the Victory!”

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John 16:23-33

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