John Chapter 16: The Holy Spirit and Overcomers

JN 16:1-4 "All this I have told you so that you will not go astray. They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God.  They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me.  I have told you this, so that when the time comes you will remember that I warned you. I did not tell you this at first because I was with you.”

I would guess that the disciples might have been disheartened and frightened at hearing how the Jews would be treating them. I can think of one prominent figure that zealously pursued Christians to their deaths, thinking he was serving God and keeping the Law by
doing so. That man was Saul who, as we all know, became a mighty advocate for Christ. Jesus wanted his disciples to realize that serving Him would bring trouble to them, but that it was because those about them did not know God, even if they professed God.

JN 16:5-15 "Now I am going to him who sent me, yet none of you asks me, `Where are you going?'  Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief.  But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not
come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.  When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment:  in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.  I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear.  But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.  He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you.  All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.”

Jesus flabbergasted the disciples by telling them it was good for them that He was going away. I can see them looking at each other in horror. "How could it be good for us that our Master is leaving us to face the Jews alone?" they must have asked. Being human and tuned only to the moment and the physical, I can imagine their sorrow. It must have been eating at their hearts. But Jesus promised them a Counselor, One who could not come unless He left them. And He gave the role of the counselor in the world, that of convicting the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment. Here was
where He defined the one sin that separates us from the finished work of Christ, the sin of unbelief. The Holy Spirit's job was to convict all men of their unbelief and bring them into belief that would give them righteousness and to show that Satan had been judged and condemned and all who choose not to believe stand already in condemnation with him.

Jesus promised that the Spirit would guide the disciples, and consequently us who follow, into all truth. The Spirit would take all that Jesus had said, and all that Jesus yet had to reveal, and would express it to those who believe. This was where the role of the priest being the one to disseminate knowledge was dissolved. No longer would a man tell another, "Know the Lord," but all would be able to know through the giving of the Holy Spirit individually. What a wonderful promise that we can go directly to the Source ourselves and that we can understand as the Holy Spirit reveals the things of Jesus to us!

JN 16:16-24 "In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me." Some of his disciples said to one another, "What does he mean by saying, `In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me,' and `Because I am going to the Father'?" They kept asking, "What does he mean by `a little while'? We don't understand what he is saying." Jesus saw that they wanted to ask him about this, so he said to them, "Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, `In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me'?  I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world.  So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.  In that day you will no longer ask me anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.  Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.”

The disciples apparently couldn't understand yet the significance of Jesus' death and subsequent resurrection. When they saw someone die, except for Lazarus, that person stayed dead and didn't get back up after a few days to walk around again. In fact, if that had happened, the superstitious Jews would have probably killed the person again because of the potential for spirits and evil. Jesus couldn't explain to them because they couldn't understand. It took the actual events of His death and resurrection and the giving of the Holy Spirit to bring true understanding to their hearts. So Jesus chose to tell them that they would be in sorrow because of His death, but the sorrow wouldn't last for long. And then they would have joy that would never be taken away. They would understand and no longer have need for questions. Jesus told them that they could ask for whatever in His name and the Father would give it to them, but He was not meaning health and wealth as some today have interpreted that verse. He meant wisdom, knowledge, joy, the fruit of the Spirit, or as Peter says in 2nd Peter, "Everything we need for life and godliness." We have all that in Jesus when we believe.

JN 16:25-33 "Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father.  In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf.  No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.  I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father." Then Jesus' disciples said, "Now you are speaking clearly and without figures of speech.  Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. This makes us believe that you came from God." "You believe at last!" Jesus answered. "But a time is coming, and has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me. I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

Through Jesus we can know the Father. This is what He promised the disciples and His promise holds true today. We are loved by God, and treasured as children, friends of God, because we have believed in Jesus. The disciples seemed finally to "get it", but Jesus told them that they wouldn't even be able to stick around when the going got tough. They would leave Jesus alone, yet He wouldn't be alone because His Father was with Him. But Jesus did not despair, knowing the failings of His closest friends. Instead He encouraged them. He had overcome and although they would encounter trouble, because He had overcome they would have peace. And so do we.


Thought Questions:

  1. What does it mean to you to know that the Holy Spirit will convict the world in regards to sin, that men do not believe in Jesus?
  2. Is it heartening to know that though a teacher can explain the Scriptures to you, it is promised that you can know the truth and its meaning through the Holy Spirit?
  3. In 1 John 5:5 John asks, "Who is he that overcomes the world?" Can you see that anyone who is in Jesus, who overcame this world, is also an overcomer?

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