LIFE OF CHRIST
In our last lesson on the Life of Christ, we examined John 15. Remember, Jesus and His disciples had partaken of the Passover meal, Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper, and Judas leaves the room to betray Jesus. Everything that Jesus teaches His disciples in John 15 through 17 was either done in that same room or on the way to the Garden of Gethsemane. Whenever, they did leave the room, Matthew and Mark tells us that they sung a hymn (Mt. 26:30; Mk. 14:26). So, with all this in mind, let’s examine John 16.
John 16:1 "These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble. 2 "They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. 3 "And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me. 4 "But these things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them. And these things I did not say to you at the beginning, because I was with you.
Jesus was preparing His disciples for what would take place. When they witnessed these things unfold, they would know that Jesus was telling the truth, and it would prove that He was Deity. Knowing Jesus was the Son of God and His promises were true would give them the strength they needed to keep from stumbling into sin.
In verse 2, Jesus gives them two warnings of what they may have to endure for following Him.
First, they will be put out of the synagogues, which means they will excommunicated by all faithful Jews. For a Jew, this was devastating, but the disciples would have to live with this if they wanted to follow Christ.
Second, some of them would be put to death for being a Christian, and when their fellow Jews killed them, they would think they were doing it for the cause of God. Paul is great example of this because he thought he was doing God a great service by imprisoning and casting his vote against those called Christians (Acts 26:9-11).
Following Jesus would take a serious commitment because there would be many hardships they would have to face, but God would be with them. Just as Jesus predicted, many of the apostles were subjected to persecutions and some were killed for the cause of Christ, Since Jesus warned them beforehand of these hardships, they were able to keep their faith and press on even in the face of death.
The apostles are great examples of what a faithful Christian is all about. If we want to make sure we do not stumble into sin, then we need to prepare ourselves for the trials we will have in our lives. Now we may never face death for our belief, but there are many other forms of persecutions we will have to endure in our lifetime. When those trials come, we must remind ourselves that God is with us and He is going to help us.
The reason some Christians fall back into a life of sin is because they did not prepare themselves for the trials they would face. They were naïve, and they did not count the cost of following Jesus as Jesus said we must do in:
Lk. 14:28 "For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it-- 29 "lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 "saying,`This man began to build and was O not able to finish?' 31 "Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 "Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. 33 "So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.
Back in our text, we learn in verse 3 the reason Jesus’ disciples will be persecuted this way is because their oppressors do not know the Father or the Son. If they had known the Father and His will, they would have accepted Jesus instead of rejecting Him.
In verse 4, Jesus assures them their faith will be strengthened when these things come to pass and they recall that He said these things would happen. If Jesus had been wrong, then their faith would have wavered, but Jesus is never wrong, which is why we can have a strong conviction in serving God. We have a great advantage over the people during the Old Testament and the New Testament times because we have the fully revealed Word of God. We can study our Bibles and see how God has worked throughout the history of mankind, and how He has always kept His promises. Every time God made a prediction, it always came to pass. Knowing this should give every Christian the same kind of faith the apostles had when they witnessed Jesus’ words coming to pass.
From the first time Jesus called His apostles to Him, He began to train them and prepare them. However, He was only able to teach them certain things as they were ready to learn them. He already taught them that it would not be easy being His disciple, but now He is giving them more details of what they will have to face when He is gone from the earth.
John 16:5 " But now I go away to Him who sent Me, and none of you asks Me, 'Where are You going?' 6 "But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. 7 "Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.
Jesus is not saying they had never asked where He was going because Peter and Thomas had asked this earlier (Jn. 13:36; 14:5). Instead, He was saying that they were no longer asking where He was going because their hearts were filled with sorrow. The apostles would have a hard time accepting what Jesus was saying because they still had a vision of an earthly kingdom with Jesus being its head, but Jesus said He must go away. Many are just as confused as the apostles were before their eyes were opened to the truth because many are looking for an earthly kingdom in the future in which Jesus will reign for a 1,000 years.
We need to understand that Jesus is reigning over His spiritual kingdom right now (1 Cor. 15:25). The church and the kingdom are one in the same (Mt. 16:18-19). Those who obey the gospel are said to be conveyed or transferred into the kingdom of the Son (Col. 1:13), which happens at the point of baptism (Jn. 3:5; 1 Cor. 12:13). So, Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords (1 Tim. 6:15), and He has been reigning over His kingdom since He was raised from the dead and was seated at the right hand of God (Acts 2:33-36).
Jesus understood that His words made them sorrowful, but He lets them know that He must go so the Holy Spirit can be sent to them. Every member of the Godhead has His function in the scheme of redemption for mankind. The Father made the plan, Jesus carried out the plan, and the Holy Spirit revealed and proved the plan with signs and miracles. If Jesus had remained on the earth, the plan would have been broken, and the Holy Spirit would not be sent. Thankfully, Jesus finished the work that was given to Him.
John 16:8 "And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 "of sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 "of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; 11 "of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
Notice how the Holy Spirit is called “He.” Jesus is saying that the Holy Spirit is a person. Some claim the Holy Spirit is just an influence like the wind, but this Gospel teaches otherwise because it talks about how He teaches, hears and guides. For example:
Jn. 14:26 "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.
Jn. 16:13 "However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth;
When the Holy Spirit is sent, He will convict the world of three things: sin, righteousness, and judgment. He will not do this directly because the world cannot receive the Holy Spirit (Jn. 14:17). Instead, the Holy Spirit would work through the apostles to convict the world of the following three things.
First, their sins would be exposed by the truth being taught. When people heard that they were lost without Christ, they would be convicted of their sin. If they choose not to believe in Jesus, they would remain in their sins.
Second, they would be taught about Jesus’ righteousness and how He is the Son of God. To prove His righteousness, the Holy Spirit was poured on the Day of Pentecost just as Jesus promised (Acts 2).
Third, since Jesus overcame the power of death, He proved that He had power over the devil, and everyone including the devil will be judged by Jesus as Paul said:
2 Cor. 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
A great example of this conviction through the apostles can be read in Acts 2. In that chapter, the Holy Spirit caused the apostles to speak in different languages as they proclaimed Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, which caused around 3000 souls to be convicted and converted to Christ.
John 16:12 "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 "However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. 14 "He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. 15 "All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.
Jesus had more for His disciples to learn, but they were not ready. Even when the Holy Spirit was poured out on them, they still received their revelations in part. Paul pointed this out when He wrote: “For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away” (1 Cor. 13:9-10). Paul is talking about how they received their revelations in part, but once they received all the parts, then the revelations would stop. Once God’s Word was fully revealed, which we have in the New Testament, there would no longer be a need for further revelations. So, no one can claim the Holy Spirit is giving them new revelations today because we already have the completed Word of God, and we are warned not to listen to those claiming to have a different message (Gal. 1:8).
While the Holy Spirit guided the apostles directly, and those they laid their hands on, He guides us indirectly through the Word of God. One thing I like to point out is that the apostles did not always fully understand everything the Holy Spirit spoke through them. For instance, on the Day of Pentecost Peter said that salvation was for the Jews and for all those who are afar off in:
Acts 2:39 "For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call."
Those who are called the afar off were the Gentiles, which can be seen in:
Eph. 2:11 Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh-- who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands-- 12 that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, 16 and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.
We find out that Peter did not understand this until He was sent to Cornelius’ household in Acts 10 because before that happened, he thought God’s plan of redemption was just for the Jews. This fact offers more proof that the apostles were not speaking from their own understanding, but by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit as Paul said:
1 Cor. 2:13 These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
When the Holy Spirit came in the first century, He did not speak by His own authority just as Jesus did not speak by His own authority. Instead, He would say those things that He heard, and these words would glorify Jesus. Verse 16 shows the triune nature of the Godhead because Jesus mentions how the things of the Father are His and that Holy Spirit will be declaring these things, which shows how the three members of the Godhead are in perfect unity, and how each of them are unique individuals.
John 16:16 " 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." 17 Then some of His disciples said among themselves, "What is this that He says to us, 'A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me'; and, 'because I go to the Father'?" 18 They said therefore, "What is this that He says, 'A little while'? We do not know what He is saying." 19 Now Jesus knew that they desired to ask Him, and He said to them, "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'? 20 "Most assuredly, 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 into joy. 21 "A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. 22 "Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.
Jesus is trying to teach them that He will die and be taken away from them, but they will see Him again. Since the disciples were still having a hard time understanding this idea, they wondered what He was talking about. Even though they did not ask this question out loud, Jesus read their minds and explains it to them again.
In verse 20, He wants them to understand that when He dies, they will weep at His passing, but when He is raised from the dead, they will see Him again and their sorrow will turn into rejoicing because He is alive and will be alive for eternity. Once they see this, their joy can never be taken from them because His resurrection proves that we will be resurrected as well.
Jesus gives a perfect example of how they will feel at Jesus death and resurrection by comparing their emotions to a mother giving birth. When a mother goes into labor, it comes on suddenly. Since they did not have epidurals back then, the pain would be intense. So, the labor process was a time of dread and anguish. After the child is born and the mother is able to see her baby and hold it, her pain and anguish turns into joy.
John 16:23 "And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. 24 "Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.
In that day when Jesus is resurrected and is with the Father, He said “you will ask Me nothing.” Instead, they will ask the Father in His name. Jesus is teaching us that we do not pray to Him directly because we are to pray to the Father in the name of Jesus. Jesus is our mediator and our prayers go through Him.”
Verse 24 reemphasizes this by saying that His disciples had not asked the Father anything in His name, but now He wants them to start asking the Father for the things they need in His name.
John 16:25 " These things 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. 26 "In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you; 27 "for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God. 28 "I came forth from the Father and have come into the world. Again, I leave the world and go to the Father."
Jesus spoke a lot in parables and illustrations, but when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the apostles, Jesus’ teachings about the Father would be clear. We have a great advantage over those in the first century because we can read the whole counsel of God and understand things the apostles did not understand in the beginning.
In verse 26, Jesus stresses that we are to pray to the Father in the name of Jesus, and that Jesus does not pray to Father for us. Now think about that. If we are not to pray to Jesus so He can in turn pray to the Father for us, then why do some think we should pray to Mary or some other supposed saint so they might pray to the Father for us? It does not make sense to do that when we have direct access to the Father thanks to Jesus. Besides, there is nothing in the Scriptures that teach us to pray through others that have passed on.
In verse 28 we learn that Jesus came from the Father, which means that He existed before He became flesh. While He was on the earth, He was both man and God, and He was about to die and be raised from the dead. Afterwards, He would return to the Father and sit at His right hand.
John 16:29 His disciples said to Him, "See, now You are speaking plainly, and using no figure of speech! 30 "Now we are sure that You know all things, and have no need that anyone should question You. By this we believe that You came forth from God."
Jesus’ disciples claim to understand what He is talking about, but they only state they believe that Jesus came forth from God. While they may have understood that, they still did not understand about Jesus’ death, resurrection, or the things concerning His spiritual kingdom. For example, after Jesus was in the tomb and Mary told them that He was no longer in the tomb we read this:
Jn. 20:9 For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.
Also, in Acts 1:6, we can see they were still clueless to what the kingdom of God was really supposed be:
Acts 1:6 Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, "Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?"
It would not be until they received the outpouring the Holy Spirit that they would understand these things that Jesus had taught them all along.
John 16:31 Jesus answered them, "Do you now believe? 32 "Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. 33 "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."
Jesus questioned their faith because He knew that every one of them would scatter and leave Him alone. As Jesus said, He was not alone because the Father was with Him. In a similar way, we always have the Father with us even if we are all alone. Knowing what Jesus did for us and knowing the Father is always with us should bring peace and comfort to us no matter how much chaos is going on our lives.
Jesus wants them to be of good cheer because He has overcome the world. When we become Christians, we can overcome the sinfulness of the world through Jesus as John wrote:
1 Jn. 5:4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world-- our1 faith.
Jesus tells us:
Rev. 3:21 "To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.
So, let us learn from the apostles to remain faithful to God and be of good cheer knowing that our God will never forsake us.