Jesus’ Life and Ministry
Further Departing Admonition
JESUS and the apostles are poised to leave the upper room. “I have spoken these things to you that you may not be stumbled,” he continues. Then he gives the solemn warning: “Men will expel you from the synagogue. In fact, the hour is coming when everyone that kills you will imagine he has rendered a sacred service to God.”
The apostles are evidently deeply disturbed by this warning. Although Jesus earlier had said that the world would hate them, he had not revealed so directly that they would be killed. “I did not tell you [this] at first,” Jesus explains, “because I was with you.” Yet, how fine it is to forearm them with this information before he departs!
“But now,” Jesus continues, “I am going to him that sent me, and yet not one of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’” Earlier in the evening, they had inquired about where he was going, but now they are so shaken by what he has told them that they fail to ask further about this. As Jesus says: “Because I have spoken these things to you grief has filled your hearts.” The apostles are grieved not only because they have learned that they will suffer terrible persecution and be killed but because their Master is leaving them.
So Jesus explains: “It is for your benefit I am going away. For if I do not go away, the helper will by no means come to you; but if I do go my way, I will send him to you.” Jesus can only be in one place at a time, but when he is in heaven, he can send the helper, God’s holy spirit, to his followers wherever they may be on earth. So Jesus’ leaving will be beneficial.
The holy spirit, Jesus says, “will give the world convincing evidence concerning sin and concerning righteousness and concerning judgment.” The world’s sin, its failure to exercise faith in God’s Son, will be exposed. In addition, convincing evidence of the righteousness of Jesus will be demonstrated by his ascension to the Father. And the failure of Satan and his wicked world to break Jesus’ integrity is convincing evidence that the ruler of the world has been adversely judged.
“I have many things yet to say to you,” Jesus continues, “but you are not able to bear them at present.” Therefore Jesus promises that when he pours out the holy spirit, which is God’s active force, it will guide them into an understanding of these things in accordance with their ability to grasp them.
The apostles fail particularly to understand that Jesus will die and then appear to them after he is resurrected. So they ask one another: “What does this mean that he says to us, ‘In a little while you will not behold me, and, again, in a little while you will see me,’ and, ‘because I am going to the Father’?”
Jesus realizes that they want to question him, so he explains: “Most truly I say to you, You will weep and wail, but the world will rejoice; you will be grieved, but your grief will be turned into joy.” The next afternoon, when Jesus is killed, the worldly religious leaders rejoice, but the disciples grieve. Their grief is changed to joy, however, when Jesus is resurrected! And their joy continues when he empowers them at Pentecost to be his witnesses by pouring out upon them God’s holy spirit!
Comparing the apostles’ situation to that of a woman during her birth pangs, Jesus says: “A woman, when she is giving birth, has grief, because her hour has arrived.” But just as she no longer remembers her tribulation once her child is born, Jesus observes: “You also, therefore, are now, indeed, having grief; but I shall see you again [when I am resurrected] and your hearts will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.”
Up to this time, the apostles have never made requests in Jesus’ name. But he now says: “If you ask the Father for anything he will give it to you in my name. . . . For the Father himself has affection for you, because you have had affection for me and have believed that I came out as the Father’s representative. I came out from the Father and have come into the world. Further, I am leaving the world and am going my way to the Father.”
Jesus’ words are a great encouragement to the apostles. “By this we believe that you came out from God,” they say.
“Do you believe at present?” Jesus asks. “Look! The hour is coming, indeed, it has come, when you will be scattered each one to his own house and you will leave me alone.” Unbelievable as it may seem, this occurs before the night is finished!
“I have said these things to you that by means of me you may have peace,” Jesus concludes. “In the world you are having tribulation, but take courage! I have conquered the world.” Jesus conquered the world by faithfully accomplishing God’s will despite everything that Satan and his world tried to do to break Jesus’ integrity. John 16:1-33; 13:36.
▪ What warning of Jesus disturbs his apostles?
▪ Why have the apostles failed to question Jesus about where he was going?
▪ What do the apostles particularly fail to understand?
▪ How does Jesus illustrate that the situation of the apostles will change from grief to joy?
▪ What does Jesus say the apostles will soon do?
▪ How does Jesus conquer the world?