The Farewell discourse (13:1–17:26) - continue

I will turn your grief into joy (16:16–24)

The provision of Christ is direct access to and participation in God the Father and permanent joy in place of temporary grief.

  1. Confusion regarding seeing God (16:16–18);
  2. The coming transition from grief to joy (16:19–24);

16:16 - 14:19

The first “In a little while” refers to his death on the cross, but the second “a little while” can refer either to his resurrection, the second coming of Jesus or even the spiritual vision of Christ obtained by the coming of the Spirit. Thus, “seeing” would refer to the seeing in faith through the eyes of faith - namely seeing the Father through the Son and in the Spirit.

But, perhaps, like the disciples we simply also do not know what Jesus means here (16:17).

16:17 - 16:10

The disciples are confused by what Jesus just said. And so are we.


In the previous verse, they disciples also included Jesus’ statement about his departure to the Father - apparently they still could not comprehend the entire mystery of the Cross.

But, here they focus on “the little while”. This will give Jesus a reason to talk about grief and joy.


The same statement is being repeated for the third time. It is a note to the reader to pause and also think about the deep meaning of Jesus’ statement. At the same time, we see again Jesus’ deep insight into the hearts of men.


Jesus indicates that something is going to happen “in a little while” that will make them weep and mourn - Jesus’ death. Shockingly, the world will “rejoice” at Jesus’ death - another indication of the blindness and judgement of the world.

Then Jesus immediately adds that their grief over Jesus’ death on the cross will turn into joy. The scandal of the cross is that it is the opposite of what at first it might appear.

It is not only the resurrection of Christ that will bring joy to them, but the entire life in the Spirit made possible by his death, resurrection, and ascension (departure).

Thus, what the disciples first received as death and loss, in “weeping and mourning”, has itself become the source of their joy. His death was the necessary precondition for our life (12:24).

Moreover, what “the world” first received as victory and “joy” has become itself the source of its defeat.


Jesus uses a short illustration to make his point clear. Jesus compares the disciples’ coming experience of moving from grief to joy to the experience of a mother who gives birth to a child.

The grief is real - it is called “affliction”. The term “hour” is also symbolic, because in John’s Gospel indicates the hour of Jesus’ death.

But the mother’s memory of the affliction is short-lived once the child arrives, then joy takes the place of grief.

Just as the gift of a child requires labour, so also does the gift of “true/ spiritual birth” provided by the death of Christ. But as with the birth of a child, the afflictions are about to be absorbed into the larger blessing of the baby.

Thus, the day of the crucifixion can be called “Good Friday” because of the Resurrection Sunday.


This is the final comment of Jesus concerning disciples’ impending grief and joy. Whereas grief is short, joy will be permanent.

The grief has apparently begun - perhaps with the announcements of his impending departure.

“But I will see you again” - the resurrection experience and later his continual presence with them in the Spirit (cf. 14:19–20).


On “that day” they will have no longer need for questions or ask for anything because they will have direct access to the Father in Jesus’ name (cf. 14:13–14).

A note: in 14:13–14, it is Jesus who answers their prayer whereas here it is the Father.

If “that day” refers to the crucifixion so it ends the life and ministry of Jesus. What follows after it is the ministry of the Spirit - the direct access to the Father in Jesus’ name through the Spirit.


Jesus concludes with a statement that the kind of prayer mentioned in 16:23 - a prayer to the Father in Jesus’ name - had not yet occurred. Only Christ can make such “asking” possible. To pray in Jesus’ name was a privilege belonging to the new order which they were about to enter with Jesus’ departure and His return to the Father.

Through this kind of prayer they will not only receive what they need but be filled with complete joy as well.

Jesus ends with a theme that is present across the entire farewell discourse: the blessings of those who participate in God. This includes joy (15:11), peace (14:27), love (15:10) - all of these coming from the kind of life that God provides.

Epilogue: speaking plainly, departure and peace (16:25–33)

In spite of humanity’s sinful ignorance and religious pride, Jesus Christ has defeated all sin and evil so that the Father may extend his love to us.

  1. The Christian faith and the coming “hour” (16:25–28);
  2. The misbelief of the disciples (16:29–30);
  3. A final exhortation: “I have overcome the world” (16:31–33).


“These things” were already mentioned in 14:25; 16:1. What Jesus is going to say now offers a summarising commentary and final exhortation to the disciples.

According to Mark 4:33–34, Jesus spoke to the people in parables but privately explained everything to his disciples. Here, the situation is somewhat different: he has been speaking to his disciples in “illustrations” (10:6; cf. 12:24; 15:1–8; 16:21) but then he will speak to them “plainly” - without hiding anything (10:24).

The “hour” is the new order of Christian existence under the guidance of the Paraclete (16:13–14). Jesus will speak “plainly” through the Holy Spirit.


Jesus clarifies further for the disciples the new state of existence. The Christians can access the Father directly “in Jesus’ name” (cf. 14:12–14; 15:7–8, 16; 16:23).


They can do that - ask the Father anything in Jesus’ name - “for the Father loves” them. This statement personalises the love of God for the world (3:16). And why does the Father love them? Two reasons: (1) they came to love Jesus and (2) they have believed that Jesus came from God!

  1. Love for love. The Father loves us first (1 John 4:10) and sent his only Son to the world (John 3:16). We respond to that love with love that is directed specifically at the Son, because he fully represents God (Col 1:15–20) and makes the Father known (1:18). And this love is evident in our obedience to Jesus (14:21, 23). The disciple loves God by the submission of his life to God.

  2. Access to the Father is based upon belief in the mission of God, namely the Father’s sending of the Son. So, faith has as its object the person of Jesus and his mission as well. An appropriate faith should ultimately come to understand that Christ’s mission sprang from the Father’s initial love.

Thus, we have an interesting circle: (1) God’s love for us; (2) our love for one another; (3) our love for God (cf. 15:9–16).


Here we have the summary of the great movement of salvation. The verse also summarises what Jesus wants his disciples to understand and believe.


The disciples declare that “behold” now they understand. The disciples repeated the phrases used by Jesus in 16:25 - “plainly” and “illustration”. But, do they really understand?

In 16:4b–7, when Jesus spoke about his departure “sorrow” filled their hearts. They could not imagine their lives without him at their side, and thus could not grasp the new (and better) life “in the Spirit” that Jesus promises. So, has something change in them since then?


Here, the disciples proclaim their creed, which includes their knowledge that Jesus knows all and so there is no need for anyone to ask Jesus any questions. This knowledge apparently makes them believe that Jesus came forth from God.


This question of Jesus indicates that the disciples actually do not know what they claimed to know.

God has been known to ask questions that probe into the blind ignorance of humanity (cf Gen 3:9; John 5:6; 9:35). God did not ask Adam’s location for his own sake, but to offer Adam a moment of self-reflection. That is Jesus’ intention here. With this question Jesus addresses their present ignorance and wrong belief.


Jesus’ present statement reveals that they were right about one thing: Jesus did “know all things” (16:30; 2:25). Jesus offers them prophetic insight into the reality of their self-declared “belief” in him.

The “hour” - the crucifixion - will reveal how weak is their faith in him. At that “hour” their “knowledge” that Jesus knows everything will fail. Jesus promised that he would not abandon them (14:18), but they will abandon him.

But although abandoned by them, Jesus is never alone - the Father is with him. It signifies that Jesus is where he supposed to be, even though no other person would join him.

The work of Jesus is not dependent upon humanity but it is performed for its benefit, with the Father authorising the work of the Son and supporting his mission.

When the whole world including his disciples, think that Jesus had been conquered, the presence of the Father declares the exact opposite.

16:33 - 14:27; 15:18–21; 16:1–4

There are two spheres of existence: “in me” and “in the world”. That those who are in Christ inevitably suffer tribulation in the world is consistent witness of the NT writers (cf. Rom 8:17–18). With this assurance they may well enjoy inward peace.

Christ commands them (us) to be firm in the face of danger or adverse circumstances. The source of this courage is not found in the world nor within the disciples themselves but beyond themselves and beyond the world - in Christ.

What can give the disciples real peace and the courage they need to face world’s afflictions? It is the finished work of Christ, which Jesus announces to his disciples: “I have overcome the world”.

This final exhortation is an assertion of Christ’s power - the darkness cannot overcome the light 1:5.

As the Gospel has made clear, the cross is the victory of Christ and the defeat of the world, including “the ruler of this world” (cf. 12:31; 14:30–31; 16:8–11).

This victory of Christ is also the victory of his disciples - they share in this victory. The “victory that overcomes the world’ is ”our faith", the faith that ‘believes that Jesus is the Son of God’ (1 John 5:4–5).

The cross of Christ is his exultation (3:14; 8:28; 12:34; Acts 2:33) and the disciples will come to “know” and “believe”, in spite of their forthcoming response to the contrary, that Christ became at the moment of apparent defeat and death the victor and the giver of life.

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