A word for the heart

with Alan Bailey

John 16:16-33 - The Gospel of John

Bible study

happy verse


Welcome to this Bible Study. Read what I have written slowly. If you have a Bible look up the reference verses given, and allow the Holy Spirit to minister to your soul through them.

John 16:16-33

Jesus is having His final teaching session with His disciples in the Upper Room. He is preparing these men for the time of His own departure, though they seem slow to grasp what is about to happen. In these verses He gives His last words of encouragement and warning. Let us see what instruction He leaves with these His followers.

Verse 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.’

Jesus says that shortly He will be gone from their view. From the verses which follow, we can see that He means that He is going to die and be buried. But also shortly, He will be visible again because of His resurrection from the dead. The words, ‘because I go to the Father’ are added, showing that His rising will happen in order for Him to ascend to heaven.

Verses 17 & 18 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”?’
They said therefore, ‘What is this that He says, “A little while”? We do not know what He is saying.’

Right up to this point the disciples were rather slow to get a grip on Jesus’ warning about His departure. It was as though they did not want to believe that He would die as a young man. So His words were mysterious to them. It seems strange to us as readers because He had told them several times over what was going to take place.

Verses 19 & 20 Now Jesus knew that they desired to ask Him, and He said to them, ‘Are you enquiring 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”? ‘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.’

We can see that Jesus refers to His death which will cause them grief. He anticipates their great sense of loss. The ‘world’ is the unbelieving society which is glad to see Jesus crucified. But then, things will change when the disciples see Jesus alive again. It will bring about much rejoicing.

Verses 21 & 22 ‘A woman, when she is in labour, 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.
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.’

The birth of a child illustrates the experience of sorrow being followed by joy. At first, there is pain, but later, it is all worthwhile. It will be like this for the disciples and their joy will be a deep and lasting thing. Of course, Jesus was not just imagining this. He was able to see into the future and what He said was always borne out.

Verses 23 & 24 ‘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.
Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.’

The Lord now speaks about the new order when He will be with the Father. As He will be no longer with them, they will address their prayers to the Father. To this point they have not asked for anything ‘in Jesus’ name’ because He has been present with them. After His death, resurrection and ascension, they will present their requests to the Father in Jesus’ name; meaning that the worth and merit of Jesus as Saviour is the basis of their appeal to God. Because of what Jesus does through the cross, we are able to approach God in prayer with confidence. Like the disciples, we too can experience joyful answers to prayer, provided we are living in harmony with God.

Verse 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.

A good deal of what Jesus said was veiled to a degree and He was aware of the struggles His hearers had at times. But this was going to change. Direct and plain truth will be taught to them through the Holy Spirit in coming days. We are able to see this as we read our New Testaments. God and His great plan are set out for all to see. These disciples were used by the Lord to speak out the truth to the world.

Verses 26-28 ‘In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you; For the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God. ‘ I came forth from the Father and have come into the world. Again, I leave the world and go to the Father.’

This is the great privilege of believers to this moment. To come with simple faith to the Father in prayer, knowing that we have acceptance. There is nothing between us and God if we are forgiven sinners, now belonging to Jesus. He knows each one who trusts in Him and will listen to their prayers.

Verses 29 & 30 His disciples said to Him, ‘See, now you are speaking plainly, and using no figure of speech! Now we are sure that you know all things, and have no need that anyone should question you. By this we know that you came forth from God.’

At last His hearers can see the picture. Jesus came into the world from the Father; now He is going to leave the world and go back to the Father. They also see that Jesus has full grasp of the facts and has not left them doubting His assertions. It is a position of firm faith.

Verses 31 & 32 Jesus answered them, ‘Do you now believe? 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.’

The Lord saw that they had at last grasped what was coming. Also, that their confidence in Jesus was real. But this leads on to a warning. The time is very near for the dark and dangerous period they will all go through. He sees that they will not stand with Him in the trouble, but will go their separate ways. This, of course, happened as we will see later in the book. Most likely, John himself was the only disciple who stood at the cross when Jesus was crucified.

Verse 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.’

So concludes the teaching in the Upper Room. The men were now to firmly trust in Jesus no matter what comes. This brings peace. Strangely, trouble is around the corner even while peace reigns. It is a principle that Jesus spells out. In this life we will be unable to escape trouble in some shape or form. But how reassuring to know that we can be courageous through the power of Christ. Jesus did not give in to the standards or pressures of the unbelieving world right to the end. He was conqueror through His trial and His death.


Today, we have the same reassurances that the disciples were given. The Bible’s teaching is clear that the promises given to believers of old are just as real for us today.“

Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever” we read in Hebrews 13:8.

All of us will experience trouble, but God knows all about it and is able to bring us through. The Lord Jesus did not win a partial victory, it was a full victory.

Let us firmly trust Him every moment of every day. If we know Him as our Saviour we too will one day see Him. Our joy will indeed be full.

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