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JOHN - The Light Shines in the Darkness
A Bible Study Course on the Gospel of Christ according to John
PART 3 - Light Shines in the Circle of the Apostles (John 11:55 - 17:26)
D - The Farewell on the way to Gethsemane (John 15:1 - 16:33)

5. Christ predicts the joy of the disciples in the resurrection feast (John 16:16-24)

JOHN 16:16-19
16 A little while, and you will not see me. Again a little while, and you will see me.” 17 Some of his disciples therefore said to one another, “What is this that he says to us, ‘A little while, and you won’t 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 don’t know what he is saying.” 19 Therefore Jesus perceived that they wanted to ask him, and he said to them, “Do you inquire among yourselves concerning this, that I said, ‘A little while, and you won’t see me, and again a little while, and you will see me?’

During this evening Jesus spoke three times of his departure. This reiteration was a shock to his disciples; they did not grasp his intent. But he also promised his return, referring initially to his resurrection from the tomb which soon after took place at the Passover Feast. Then, he appeared to the disciples penetrating the walls; that was to be a farewell, after a brief visit on his way to his Father.

When Jesus made these predictions as they climbed at evening to the Mount of Olives, they failed to understand him. Previously, he had spoken to them about the plan of his departure. Now he tells them of the actual separation about to occur. They confessed that these plans and purposes were a puzzle to them. They were troubled and confused, and were grieved at his homegoing to heaven.

JOHN 16:20-23
20 Most certainly I tell you, that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy. 21 A woman, when she gives birth, has sorrow, because her time has come. But when she has delivered the child, she doesn’t remember the anguish any more, for the joy that a human being is born into the world. 22 Therefore you now have sorrow, but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you. 23 In that day you will ask me no questions. Most certainly I tell you, whatever you may ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.

Jesus read the disciples thoughts and understood what they were saying, though he had not heard them speak. In answer to their misgivings, he did not calm their fears or lighten their sorrows, but he stressed that much pain, tears and laments would soon shake their lives. It was like the death of a good king; the people grieved and lost hope. While the disciples sorrowed, their enemies would gloat. By enemies Jesus meant the world at large, not just Jewish rulers. All outside the Church of Christ belong to the lost world, far from God and who rebels against the Holy Spirit.

Further, Jesus promised his disciples that they would find great joy. The hours of tears and mourning would be brief as the birth pangs of a mother. Mothers regard these birth pangs bearable compared to the joy of holding their infants in their arms.

At the resurrection, all questionings of the disciples were silenced. The issues of guilt were settled for them, and the problem of death overcome; Satan’s dominion was shattered, and God’s wrath no longer pressed open them. Their denials, fears and unbelief would not deter Christ’s return and their forgiveness. The Jews were unable to trap them because the Lord would keep them. So all the questionings and dilemmas that troubled them found an answer and a cure in the Resurrection in the Person of the Risen One.

JOHN 16:24
24 Until now, you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be made full.

At the start of his farewell discourse, Jesus urged his disciples to ask what they wanted, and it would be given, that the Father might be glorified (John 14:13). These petitions would cover the building up of the Church and evangelistic activities, because Jesus wants many to enter the fellowship of Trinitarian love. So he exhorted us, "Seek God’s Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you". Jesus promises that God answers prayers for heavenly as well as earthly goods, yet the heavenlies have priority over earthly matters.

What are your questions and the requests of your heart? Do you need money, health and success? Do you ask for a link between you and others? Do doubts regarding God’s existence and mercy assail you? Do you feel an emptiness by the Spirit’s absence from your life? Do you feel the burden of guilt and are you suffering because of trials, disasters and afflictions? Do you tremble because of evil spirits? Do you await Christ’s coming and the spread of his Reign of peace? What questions trouble your soul, spirit and body? Are you superficial or profound? An optimist or a pessimist? Are your feelings quickly hurt? Do you ask your Lord for the filling of the Holy Spirit?

Make each of your problems a matter for prayer. Open your heart to your heavenly Father. But do not babble in prayer, but think carefully about what you are to say. Think first of the gifts and talents Jesus has already granted you, and thank him for them. Thanksgiving befits us. Then confess your sins, because lack of faith, love grown cold and slender hope are failings before God. Ask for pardon for sins confessed, and ask him to show you what he desires from you, so that you may not ask for harmful things. Ask for his grace and trust him to hear you. Never forget that God is love, and wishes to bless others too. Intercede for your friends and enemies that God may bless them with the selfsame grace. You are not the only needy sufferer. All people share in this fate. Offer your questions boldly and in full directly to Christ, and weave a garland of thanksgiving and confession round your problems and your request on behalf of others. You will then learn the secret of true prayer in Jesus’ name.

Genuine prayer is to converse with God in supplication, thanksgiving and worship. Do not be elaborate in such converse, using ringing expressions. Say what you think in all simplicity as you would address a parent. The publican in the temple was justified when he whispered, "Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner". The heavenly Father raised Lazarus from death when Christ prayed simply to revive Lazarus. It is faith that gains salvation, help and success. Be bold and pray to God by grace, boldness and thanksgiving. You are called His child, speak joyfully as a child, hide nothing from Him.

Christ desires to bestow joy on you, not primarily as response to your prayer, but for the privilege of your audience with God and His Son. What is more important to you, the gift or the Giver? The Lord gives you fullness, but remember that He is fullness. Jesus wants our joy to be full. Joy increased in us when we realized that Jesus answers our prayers, we who are deficient. He has blessed others and saved them through our prayers. Our joy will become exultation when we see Jesus coming in the clouds of heaven. Then our joy will be unutterable. Will Christ’s spectacular coming be the most important theme of your prayers?

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts because you have sent your Son to us as Savior. Forgive our worldly cares, and help us to be aware of the importance of the cross. Free us to pray responsivel, that we may speak to you as children to their parent in all simplicity. Redeem our foes also, who are weary under the load of sins, who agonize with hearts full of folly and hate. Free them from their bonds, that they may share the joy of your presence with us.


  1. How does God the Father answer our prayers in Jesus’ name?


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