John 16:16-24 | Sorrow Into Joy | Andrew Gutierrez
Topic: Worship Gatherings Passage: John 16:16–16:24
John 16, verses 16-24 is our text for the morning. I’ve entitled the message “Sorrow Into Joy.” So, John 16:16-24:
“A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.” So some of his disciples said to one another, “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 am going to the Father’?” So they were saying, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We do not know what he is talking about.” Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, “Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me’? Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.
Well, as I’ve already highlighted a number of times this morning, we just returned from vacation and I want you to know about something that happened at the beginning of our vacation. Now, in order to know that you need to know what the last few months have been like in our home. We’ve been counting down the days to vacation. We’ve been excited. The boys are getting out of school. We’re going to go and see family. We’re going to have a time where we’re just together, just the six of us, and so we were looking forward to that.
We knew how many Sundays it was until vacation. We knew how many—we were ready. Well, early on in vacation something disappointing happened. Go figure. And really it caught one of our young family members by surprise and he was really disappointed in what had happened. And the sense was almost like, we’re on vacation, nothing bad is supposed to happen.
It was really a good time for us at the beginning of vacation to remember that vacations are not perfect. Modern medicine is a gift, a wonderful thing—not perfect. Marriage—wonderful thing to look forward to—not perfect. Great things in this life—vacation—are indeed great and enjoyable, but they’re not saviors. They’re not perfect. We still live in a cursed world.
And so one of the things that I got to kind of mention to my own heart and to some of my family’s heart was that we look forward to vacations. We look forward to things that are great, but nothing in this life is perfect. But Jesus is still gracious now to us, and things will be perfect, and there will be no curse in the future. So really vacation is a small glimpse of looking forward to heaven in that sense.
It’s a good reminder for us at the beginning, and I see a lot of connections between that story about what happened to us and this passage here. The Lord is telling the disciples they will have sorrow but joy also, and joy based on something that’s happening in the future. So yes, there’s going to be some joy mixed with sorrow and some things like that now, but ultimate joy comes in the future. And he’s just identifying to his disciples these realities.
He’s not trying to sugarcoat their following of him. If you follow me, you’ll never have a problem. He doesn’t tell them that. He actually tells them the opposite. If you follow me, you’ll have many problems, much tribulation, many trials. But he also tells them that their sorrow will turn into joy, and so we’ll learn why he tells them that, what we can base our sorrow turning into joy upon, how we know that’s going to happen.
Now before we dive into our outline that will start in verse 20, let’s look at verses 16-19 and just look at the disciples’ confusion. What Jesus is doing here, he’s telling sorrowful and confused disciples that their sorrow will turn into joy, and they don’t get it. They don’t understand it. They don’t understand timing. They don’t understand why he’s going to leave and then come back. How does that work? They’re confused and they’re sorrowful, and he will tell them a number of encouraging things a little bit later on.
Let’s look at their confusion first. Verse 16, Jesus says: “A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.” Now that’s confusing. Imagine being a disciple in the upper room, you have all these expectations of Messiah. If you knew your Bible—2 Chronicles 7, the covenant with David—you knew that one coming in the line of David, the king, coming in the line of David would reign forever, and the one who has said that, he is Messiah. The one who you’ve followed to be the Messiah, Jesus Christ, is now saying he’s going to die.
Well, when’s the forever coming? How does that work? You’re supposed to reign forever. You’re supposed to kick out Rome and reign and rule in Jerusalem forever, and you’re saying you’re going to die and you’re going to leave. That doesn’t fit our Old Testament understanding.
Well, they didn’t fully understand all the Old Testament had to say. So they’re confused when Jesus says “A little while, and you will see me no longer.” But then they’re confused when he says, and a little while after that, you’ll then see me again. Well, what? They don’t know what he’s talking about.
There’s a time when they won’t see him, and this is speaking immediately to his crucifixion, his being arrested, taken away, being crucified and then buried. They won’t see him any longer. And that’s what he’s referring to here. And there’s a time when they will see him. After the resurrection he appears to his disciples and many, many witnesses. So he’s saying there’s a time where you won’t see me, and there’s a time when you will see me.
Some say that this speaks to the coming of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2. You won’t see me, and then the Spirit’s going to come and you will see me. I don’t take that view. Some people do. A lot of other people take my view as well. It’s kind of split.
I believe this is talking about that you won’t see me—crucifixion, burial—and you will see me—resurrection. But I also believe that this has consequences for even the time period now. So there’s a certain joy in our heart and there’s a certain sorrow in our heart now because right now we don’t see him. But one day in the second coming we will see him.
So you can see in the disciples sorrow when they do not see him, when he’s buried, and then you’ll see, once he appears to them, you’ll see joy. And we’ll go through that in a little bit. But even in our day and age there’s a certain sorrow, right, because our Lord’s not physically with us yet. We’re not physically with him yet. That’s the beauty of heaven. We get to be with him physically. But there’s also a joy that he gives us, and you can see that in the writings of the New Testament authors in the epistles.
So there are ramifications. It’s not just that there’s a sorrow because he’s gone, and then a joy after his resurrection. We still can experience that sorrow and joy today. But I believe this is most immediately talking about the fact that they won’t see him when he’s buried, and they will see him when he’s resurrected. We’ll talk about why in a little bit.
Verse 17: “So some of his disciples said to one another, ‘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 then they bring up something that he said earlier in his discourse, “because I am going to the Father.” So they were saying, what does he mean by a little while? What’s the timing of all this? We do not know what he’s talking about.
So they don’t understand the idea that he’s leaving and then they’re going to see him later, and then he’s going to go back to the Father. They don’t understand how this all fits together. What does he mean by a little while? How long is that? They’re confused.
Verse 19—surprise, surprise—Jesus knows. “Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, ‘Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, “A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me?” Is this what you’re confused by? Jesus is about to address disciples who don’t understand what he’s saying and disciples who are starting to become sorrowful because he keeps saying he’s going to leave.
We experience sorrow and difficulty and trial and tragedy and cancer and broken homes. We experience all of that. Sometimes we are the sorrowful and confused disciples. Have you ever asked the Lord why? So Jesus isn’t just talking to his disciples then—sorrowful and confused. The things he’s saying now are huge encouragements to those who are sorrowful and confused. So there’s a lot we can learn here.
1. Temporary Sorrow Turns Into Lasting Joy
I want, in verses 20 and following, to notice two encouragements given by Jesus to the confused and sorrowful. Two encouragements given by Jesus to the confused and sorrowful. First, Jesus shows them that temporary sorrow turns into lasting joy, and this is really different from the world, right? The world can experience some joy right now, but it’s not lasting joy. It will become eternal sorrow apart from repentance and faith. But for believers, temporary sorrow turns into lasting joy.
Jesus acknowledges that sorrow is a reality in the life of a disciple, in the life of one of his followers. But it’s a temporary reality. Sorrow is a temporary reality. Jesus promised his disciples that their sorrow will turn into lasting joy that cannot be taken awa
Verse 20: “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy.” Now, he uses three synonyms for sadness, doesn’t he? He’s making a point here. You are going to be down. You are going to be sad, sorrowful. You are going to lament. You are going to weep and lament and be sorrowful. The idea is that you feel deep sadness and you express that sadness loudly and publicly. That’s what he’s saying.
What’s going to happen when you’re doing that? The world’s going to love it. The world is going to love it. See, he wasn’t the Messiah. See, you can’t count on him. See, you went around preaching to us and telling us how to live and who to trust, and now he’s dead. Ha, ha, ha. That’s what Jesus is saying is going to happen to his disciples. And we can understand that, can’t we?
Pain, tribulation, trial, difficulty in our lives, and people who think that we’re self-righteous and follow the wrong God for the wrong reasons and trust the wrong word make a mockery of Christians. You will weep and lament and be sorrowful, and the world will rejoice. But your sorrow will turn into joy.
Jesus can say this because he’s going to overcome the greatest enemy of all of his disciples. The greatest enemy to all of us is death, and Jesus overcame death. That’s why he can say that even though you weep and are sorrowful and you lament, your sorrow will be turned into joy because he overcomes anything that saddens.
In his purposes, in his timing he can right all wrongs. He will right all wrongs. So because of the empty tomb, because of the resurrection of Jesus, Jesus can say your sorrow, which is based most immediately on his death, will turn into joy because he lives again.
So there’s going to be a sorrow because of the cross, joy because of the resurrection, and these realities are also true for believers because of Christ’s second coming. We have sorrow now, but also we will rejoice one day when he comes again.
Now, Jesus tells the disciples immediately you will weep and lament. When would they weep and lament? Well, when he was taken captive, when he was grabbed and taken into custody and then executed, they wept and lamented. Luke 22:45, Jesus is about to be captured. He’s in the Garden of Gethsemane, and he’s told the disciples that he’s leaving. They’re sad. He’s asked them to pray. They fall asleep, and Luke 22:45: “And when he arose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow.”
They’re sad because he keeps saying he’s going to be gone. And it’s not that the disciples just had a long day and they fell asleep while praying. It’s that sleep you have after lots of crying. You’re in pain. You’re an emotional wreck. You’re in your bed and you’re worried and you’re frustrated and you’re concerned. And maybe there’s tears and the next thing you know you’re asleep. You cried yourself to sleep. That’s the idea here.
His disciples are sorrowful that he’s going to be gone. Mark 14:72, Peter after his third denial is sorrowful and sad. It says this: “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times. And [Peter] broke down and wept.” Peter being told that he’s going to deny Christ three times, hearing that broke down and wept. These hours of Jesus in the upper room up until his death and being put in the tomb, these are sad days for his disciples, and he prophesied this would happen. You will be sad, you’ll lament, you’ll weep.
Mark 16:10, when Mary Magdalene is told by the angel that Jesus was alive, the disciples don’t know that yet. And so she goes to where they are to find them and tell them that he’s alive, and what does she find them doing? What state are they in? She found them, Mark 16:10 says, weeping and mourning. This is what Jesus is talking about. This is the time he’s talking about. You will weep and lament because you don’t see me anymore.
And the world rejoices, by the way. Mark 15:29-32—those four verses tell us there were four groups of people mocking Jesus, rejoicing in his execution. The people passing by, the chief priests and the scribes, and the thieves on the cross. Mocking Jesus, celebrating his death. We told you, you couldn’t do it. We told people you weren’t the Messiah. That’s the idea.
So they’re weeping and lamenting. The world is rejoicing. But their sorrow will be turned into joy. And like I said, I believe this is because of the resurrection. Why do I believe that? Because they realize that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead. John 20, verse 20, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. You see what happened? Sorrow turned into joy because he conquered the grave.
Matthew 28:8, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were told by the angel that he is risen, so they departed quickly from the tomb. How would you depart from the tomb? If you were Mary Magdalene and the other Mary (How’s that for a name? I’m the other Mary.), and the angel said he’s risen, that’s why the tomb’s empty, what would be your emotional state? What was their emotional state?
They departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy. Imagine those two emotions. What in the world happened? He’s really alive. Fear and great joy. The resurrection brought the disciples of Jesus Christ great joy when just a few hours before they were weeping and loudly lamenting that he was gone.
How can our sorrow turn into joy? How can their sorrow turn into joy? Because Jesus promises that although death is a great enemy, the resurrection is a great victor, and that’s where they find their joy, their trust in him.
Jesus uses an illustration for the disciples. “When a woman is giving birth,” verse 21, “she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world.” So Jesus is saying to his disciples, men who wouldn’t understand this by experience, guys, trust me, when a woman is—when her hour has come—she is in anguish.
Some of you know that experience. I don’t but I’ve heard. A woman is in anguish when her time has come. But then he says, notice, but when she delivered a baby she no longer remembers the anguish. Now, if we just go with the English word “remember,” we think, seriously? She no longer remembers? Hey, did that hurt? Was that painful? I don’t even know what you’re talking about. Of course, she remembers.
The Greek word speaks of not thinking about it any longer. So she remembers what it’s like, but she doesn’t think about it any longer. Why? She’s got the baby. And that’s what he’s saying here. You’ll go through times of anguish and sorrow, but that’s going to be so far removed from your mind because I’m with you.
Have you ever been through a trial as a believer wishing to be out of the trial, and the Lord doesn’t take you out of the trial? And years later you look back and you say something as weird and strange as, “Lord, thank you for not taking me out of that trial because I see the end.” Jesus is highlighting this for the disciples. You’re going to go through anguish, but you’re going to have great joy that doesn’t even compare with the anguish.
“So also,” verse 22, “you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.” You know why Peter denied Christ? Because he was scared of persecution. These men and women were scared of threats. Their Savior now is gone and they still are under the threat of persecution. He’s gone, they’re his followers, and because they believe the things that he said, they’re viewed as heretics. That’s where they find themselves.
But what happens after they meet the resurrected Christ and he ascends back to heaven? They go out with boldness because they know he conquered the grave. You know the most dangerous person in the world? The most dangerous person in the world is the person who’s not afraid to die. The disciples just go and preach. Peter, who denied Christ because he was scared, goes and preaches on the day of Pentecost and says, you killed the Messiah.
Where’d he get that? Two places: the indwelling Holy Spirit and the fact that he’d seen the resurrected Messiah. Kill me. I’m gonna live again. That’s his attitude. Acts 5:41, they left the council together, so the council told the disciples, don’t preach in his name any longer. Get out of here. “Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.” These men have been changed, and Jesus in our text this morning prophesies about this.
Jesus is right. Sorrow is temporary. Joy is lasting because Jesus conquered our greatest enemy—death. So we may experience sorrow for a time, but God’s purposes are being worked out for a lasting joy.
This last week or so marked the 50th anniversary of Joni Eareckson Tada’s being paralyzed. Joni Eareckson Tada is a writer, Christian speaker. Many of you know of her ministry. Fifty years ago, she dove into the ocean, broke her neck and was paralyzed. And you should read Joni Eareckson Tada. If you go through a trial and you’re concerned and you want another believer to come alongside you and point you to Christ and point you to his overall plan, read Joni Eareckson Tada.
One of the things she says that got her through that trial was something someone said to her early on. They said this: “God will often permit what he hates to accomplish what he loves.” That is the exact truth. You know how we know that? Because his Son was executed on a cross. God permitted what he hates to accomplish what he loves.
Because his Son was executed on a cross, he drew all men, which means people from all nations, to himself and made a great name for himself so that right now he’s not in a tomb. He’s in heaven and people from the nations are exalting his great name. God permitted what he hated—this cross—for what he loves—the glory of his Son.
That’s the way our lives are. God often permits what he hates, when we receive abuse, in order to accomplish something that he loves, a refining of us. Maybe in the future we’ll see just how just God is because of what we went through and he righted those wrongs. He permits what he hates in order to accomplish what he loves. And he did that first and foremost in the cross. We know that.
He’s trying to prepare his disciples for that. You’re going to be going through hard times, but trust me, your sorrow will turn into joy. I love the idea that it doesn’t say your sorrow will be replaced by joy. It’s almost like your sorrow will be morphed into joy. It seems kind of strange. You almost expect sorrow to be erased and then joy to come. No, the sorrow turns into joy.
How’s that make sense? Well, think of how the disciples would have viewed the cross before the resurrection. I hate that cross. I hate what they did. I hate that my Savior died. What would they say just days later? I love that my Savior died on a cross. What made them sorrowful was the exact same thing that made them joyful. The cross. Your sorrow will turn into joy. That’s the idea.
That’s why the apostle Andrew, if you read church history, his martyrdom when he died. They brought him to a cross to die, and he started talking to the cross. He started acknowledging the fact that he loved the cross because he loved the one who died on the cross. That’s the apostle Andrew’s sorrow turning into joy because of what Jesus did.
So let me ask you, you weren’t there in the upper room 2,000 years ago, but you’re here now, and you may be experiencing sorrow for a number of reasons: conflict, sickness, loss of a loved one, broken relationship, whatever it may be. You experience sorrow, and Jesus says your sorrow will turn into joy. Let me ask you, do you actually believe him today? Do you believe him? I want you to believe him. He wants you to believe him.
If by some chance that joy seems to be so far from you, and there’s only sorrow and you don’t know that you believe that right now, ask yourself why. Why is there no presence of joy? Why is it only sorrow? And let me say this, pastorally speaking, I believe that sometimes when believers are experiencing sorrow and cannot even come close to seeing joy, oftentimes it’s because they’re hoping in a false savior to bring them joy. Not necessarily an evil thing but just something that’s not meant to be a savior.
Some of you may be experiencing sorrow but no joy because you’re expecting something to happen that’s not happening, and therefore you have no joy. Health, health. Many are in poor health, and there are lots of good gifts for those in poor health. Medicine, diet, doctors, nurses, journals. There are a lot of things that can help health. All of those things are good but horrible saviors.
We say this kind of jokingly sometimes around here, nobody lives to be 137. So follow the diet, take all the medicine, read all the journals, do all the exercise plans—at some point they’re not going to work. They’re great gifts—bad saviors. Sometimes I think that Christians are so sorrowful because of their trials because they don’t see ultimate joy in God’s purposes. They try to find joy in medicine, but the medicine didn’t get approved by the FDA. They try to find joy in the diagnosis, but the diagnosis was not what they were hoping for. They try to find perfect health in their diet but, guess what, that didn’t work.
So, lasting sorrow because we don’t have an eternal perspective. We’re placing things, good gifts, we’re placing saviorhood on them, and they were never meant to bear up that burden. They’re not meant to be saviors. You know what is? Our Lord’s promise that one day these bodies will be new, imperishable bodies. That’s what we hold onto. That’s what the Bible calls us to hold onto. The future promises of Jesus.
1 Corinthians 15:54-57, here’s what you hold onto if you’re in poor health. “When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality [so when you die, but you put on an imperishable body, a new body], then shall come to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’” We say that a lot at funerals, don’t we, as believers? “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”
Well, in reality the sting of death is right now because we’re looking at the one we love in the casket. It stings. But this is saying in the future when he rises and receives a new body, an imperishable body that cannot ever die again, that’s when we say, death—ha, ha, ha. You couldn’t do anything to keep him in the grave. That’s what we hope in.
So in health be careful not to have a false savior or else your sorrow in a sense will not turn into joy. See the joy in the promises of Jesus.
Another example of this, in conflict—you find yourself in conflict with another brother or sister. Oftentimes the false savior is them admitting they’re wrong. When they admit they’re wrong, we will be at peace. False savior. You know what the Bible would say is your peace? You being like Christ. What did Christ do in conflict? Bore with other people, forgave other people, endured. He loved them in a way that was patient, kind, enduring, lasting.
See Colossians 3. See 1 Corinthians 13. See Philippians 4. The way to experience joy even in a sorrowful conflict is to trust in what Christ says. Trust in who he is. Trust in how he lived. And be like him.
Some of you have been in conflicts with other believers, and you’ve determined, I’m going to be Christ to them. I’m going to forgive them even though I don’t think they deserve it because Christ forgave me, and I know I didn’t deserve it. And you’ve resolved to be Christ, and that relationship is reconciled. Even if they didn’t always admit that they were 100% wrong, you can still have reconciliation.
Do you experience sorrow because of poor health, because of conflict? Maybe in the future you may experience conflict because of imprisonment for persecution or the taking away of your property. Our brothers and sisters around the world are going through that now in different places. How do they endure?
Well, we can have a false savior or two. Legislation. Legislation will fix it. I’ll hire the right lawyers. They will appeal my case and that’ll fix it. No more imprisonment, no more plundering of my property. Now, again, I don’t knock legislation. I don’t knock Christian lawyers. Those are a great blessing from the Lord that we get to experience here in America. What a gift. Notice I said gift, not savior. Those things, those avenues are gifts, not saviors.
You know how to have an eternal perspective if there’s imprisonment of you or those you love because of the gospel? Or if there’s taking away of your property? Hebrews 10:34 tells us. “For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property.” Whoa, whoa. You joyfully accepted the plundering of your property?
If the government comes and takes the things that you prize the most, will your first response be anger and to call a lawyer, or will you joyfully accept the plundering of your property, “since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one”?
Don’t get mad at me. That’s what Hebrews 10 says. Take it; I’ve got something better. Take it; I’ve got something better. Again, I’m not saying there’s never a time to appeal a decision or to do something like that. I’m not saying that, but what I am saying is don’t put your hope in that. Your hope is in heaven, and your citizenship under a perfect government in heaven. That’s where our hope is.
So I think sometimes people don’t feel like there’s joy coming from sorrow because they’re putting their hope in false saviors. We put our hope in the future promises of Christ. This passage in John 16 is an example of that.
Guys, you’re going to be sorrowful, and they might have put their hope in, well, maybe he won’t die. And then when they saw him on the cross—John saw him on the cross because they all scattered—maybe for a second John thought, well, maybe he won’t die. Maybe he can still get off. False saviors.
The true savior is trusting in the promises of God when he says that he’ll come back, and he’ll see them again. We put our hope in the promises of God and that’s what gives us joy.
I love when I see a believer going through a trial, tears in their eyes—and there’s nothing wrong with being sorrowful. The curse is horrible. The curse stinks. We’re all affected by it. We lament and we weep and believers should be doing that. But there’s nothing more precious than seeing a believer weeping, and then being reminded of a promise of God and seeing a little smile come on their face.
If there was no trust in Christ, no smile. Only weeping. But we trust in the promises of Christ. “I trace the rainbow through the rain, and feel the promise is not vain, that morn shall tearless be.” We sing that, don’t we. That’s how we go through suffering. Trace the rainbow through the rain, and we trust. We trust in the future. That’s what Jesus is calling his disciples to do.
Now Jesus encourages the disciples about some other resources they have in order to possess the fullness of joy until he returns. First, he’s told them temporary sorrow turns into lasting joy, but the second thing he tells his disciples is that answered prayer leads to a fullness of joy.
2. Answered Prayer Leads to a Fullness of Joy
Get the picture. Jesus is leaving his disciples saying, you’re going to be sorrowful, but then your sorrow will turn into joy. And he doesn’t leave them alone. We know earlier from John he’s going to give them the Holy Spirit, and then he keeps telling them—doesn’t he keep telling his disciples to ask anything in his name, and he’ll give it to them? We’ve already covered that a number of times in John. He says that five times in his upper room discourse.
Pray and it will be given to you. Pray and it will be given to you. Ask anything and it will be given to you. It’s as if he wants us to know something about prayer. Answered prayer leads to a fullness of joy. Verse 23: “In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.”
Now, verse 24 says, “Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” You might think that that’s two ways of saying the same thing. He’s actually saying two different things here. See the word “ask” in verse 22 the very first time it’s mentioned. “In that day you will ask nothing of me.” That’s a different word than verse 24. “Until now you’ve asked nothing in my name.”
Here’s the idea. He’s saying first to them, in that day you will ask of no more information from me. This wasn’t the asking like a petition, like Lord, will you give me something? Will you meet my need? This is like asking a question for information. It’s not asking because you have a need of a good. It’s asking to know something. This is their asking of information.
He’s saying in the future you won’t ask me physically how everything works out. My Father will tell you these things. In that day you’ll ask nothing of me. Truly, truly I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name, he’ll give it to you. This is asking a question, not asking for a favor. Asking a question about how something’s going to work, not asking for a favor.
So what Jesus is saying here is, so far he’d been telling them everywhere they’re going to go. Remember back in John 4. Guys, we’re going through Samaria. They weren’t really used to going through Samaria. Jews went around Samaria. But Jesus was calling the shots. Jesus says we’re going to go and heal a man on the Sabbath in John 9. So that’s what they do. They’re following Jesus. Jesus tells them in the upper room, a little while and you won’t see me any longer, and then a little while and you will.
Jesus is telling them about the timing of everything, when it’s going to happen, where they’re going to go, and they don’t get it. We learned that earlier on in our passage. And Jesus is now telling them, I’m not going to be telling you when everything’s going to happen. That’s what he’s saying here. The Father will. The Father will.
How will the Father do that? Remember John 14:26? “[T]he Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I’ve said to you.” Jesus is saying this: guys, right now you might not get all that I’m saying and the timing of everything, but there’ll be a time when you won’t ask me anymore. The Father will bring to remembrance, and we know that’s by the Holy Spirit, all that you need to know.
That’s why John, the apostle John, this same apostle, writes Revelation; and he knows the timing of the future, doesn’t he? That’s why the apostles write to us and we read the New Testament epistles, and when you read the New Testament epistles and you think of what the apostles know, it’s almost as if they’re different people than here in John 16.
What does he mean by a little while? I don’t know what he means by a little while. What does he mean he’s going back to the Father? When you read Romans, 1st and 2nd Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1st and 2nd Peter, 1st, 2nd and 3rd John, when you read those things, the apostles know stuff, don’t they? They know. That’s a fulfillment of this prophecy right here.
In that day you’ll ask nothing of me. Truly, truly I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. The Father gave the disciples all the information they needed to live their life in a cursed world holding onto the promises that the resurrected Christ had given them. They know all they need. And guess what, the good news for us, they wrote it down.
And we have all we need because the Father gave the disciples all the information about timing and how and when and who’s involved. He gave them all the information they need to live in a cursed world and to trust in his hope, to trust in his promises which bring hope, and we have the same thing. We have, in that sense, the mind of Christ. What a blessing.
Then verse 24. He not only gives them the information they need, but he gives them the resources they need. “Until now you have asked nothing in my name.” And this is asking for a favor, the asking that’s asking a favor. “Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.”
So what Jesus is saying—he’s not saying, until now you guys have never prayed. He’s not saying that. He’s saying until now you never asked the Father for what you need; you’ve just asked me for what you need. But I’m going away, so ask him. Ask the Father. “Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.”
I love—and I’m skipping ahead to next week. Look at verse 26. “In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; for the Father himself loves you, because you loved me and believed that I came from God.” So Jesus is saying, guys, I’m physically out of the picture, but you have access to the Father based on what I’ve done and your belief in me. And guess what, ask him anything and he’ll do it.
Why? He loves you. He loves you. What an encouragement from Jesus to people who are sorrowful and confused. Ask the Father. You have access to him. He loves you. Are you ostracized from your family because you presented the gospel with a family member, and they all thought you crossed the line, and they don’t want to talk to you anymore. And your sorrow is deep.
You have access to the Father. Go to him and ask him for joy. Go to him and ask him for love to them. Go to him and ask him for endurance for the next time there’s a gospel opportunity so that you don’t waver. Go to him and ask the Father. Why? Because he will answer you and he loves you. Go to your Father. What a promise from Jesus. What a promise.
Now we’re getting a little inkling about why Jesus said I’m going to leave and it’s better for you that I go. It’s starting to make sense a little bit more.
Jesus is teaching us that while he’s in heaven, we have access to his Father, who is our Father, and that we have all the information and resources that we need. Second Peter 1:3, you have everything that you need for life and godliness. Everything.
I remember a time early on in seminary when it appeared that one of the jobs that I had might be taken away. I might lose a particular job that I had. And I remember that day very well when I found that out. And because I was anxious and sinful and not trusting the Lord, I went and tried to fix it all. I’ll never forget.
Michelle was going to a friend’s house and I was supposed to meet her there for dinner. I’ll never forget driving around their block on the phone with someone who could change the decision. Someone else who might be able to give me a job if this one fell through. And I was just anxious. Anxious. And I called, and I was trying to call the man who discipled me, my pastor, and I finally got a hold of him.
You know what he told me? In a quiet, gracious way, he said, “Andrew, you need to repent of your anxiety and talk to your Father.” Whew, I needed that lesson. What a lesson. And that’s this: don’t be anxious, talk to your Father. Talk to your Father. And guess what, that job did go away. Another one came. And if that wouldn’t have happened, I might not have been here. I mean, our Father knows what’s best, does he not? He knows.
So lose the job, lose the health, lose the house. Our Father knows and he loves, and we have access to him.
I want to encourage you as we close, understand that the Father has given us all the information we need to live, even though we suffer. He’s given us all the information that we need. He told his disciples that he would tell them all that they needed, and they wrote it down for us. We’ve said this before in this series in the upper room.
I’ve given you the exhortation—know your New Testament epistles because the New Testament epistles are these men, confused and sad in the room who, all of a sudden, are changed by the Holy Spirit and write for the rest of the church throughout the rest of history to the church all they need to know while living in a time where there’s tribulation and trial and while they’re hoping in the future.
God has given us Romans through Revelation as a gift to the New Testament church. Even in times of sorrow waiting for the final reconciliation of all things. Know what these men wrote because they’re writing what God communicated to them when they were in our shoes. Know what they wrote.
I would say this also: Go to him for help. And you might be thinking, okay, one of the applications is pray. Okay, I got that. Got it. No, no, no, no, hold on. If you’re like me there are times when you find out some information, and you do ten other things before you pray. Well, I’m going to call him. I’m going to write a letter to them. I’m going to send this email. I’m going to send this text.
And by God’s grace sometimes all ten of those things don’t work. And then you kind of ashamedly say to yourself, maybe I should pray. That’s the first resort. Go to your Father. Go to your Father. Know your Bible. Go to your Father.
Let me combine those two. Know your New Testament epistles and pray them. Pray through what the disciples exhort us to do. Lord, let me obey that. Lord, in times of conflict, I’m going to read through Colossians 3. Lord, change my heart to make me respond to conflict like you say in Colossians 3. Pray the New Testament epistles. Know them, pray them.
I believe this is proper application for these last two verses in our section. He’s saying he’ll tell the disciples what they need to know. They wrote it down for us so that we can know it. And he said you have access to the Father. Let’s combine those two. Read and understand what they write and pray what they write that it would be true of us.
3. Let Your Heart Rest in That Joy
Finally, not only understand what the Father’s communicated to the apostles, not only go to him for help, final application: Let your heart rest in that joy. God doesn’t always end our trials in the time that we want, but he always ends our trials in the time that’s best. Always, always, always. Let your heart rest in that.
One day there was a Salvation Army officer who was preaching to a group of people out in public, and one man yelled out to him. “You can talk about how Christ is dear to you, but if your wife were dead as my wife is and you had babies crying for their mother, you couldn’t say what you are saying.”
In just a matter of days that preacher’s wife died in a train accident. Standing by the casket he said this to the people in the congregation:
The other day when I was preaching in this city a man said that if my wife were dead and my children were crying for their mother, I couldn’t say that Christ was sufficient. If that man is here, I tell him that Christ is sufficient. My heart is crushed, bleeding, and broken, but there is also a song in my heart, and Christ put it there. The Savior speaks comfort to me today.
My prayer is that no matter who you are and what situation you’re in today, on this Sunday, you would hear the Savior speaking comfort to you. Let’s pray.
Lord Jesus Christ, we’ve seen you promise things in human history and fulfill those promises. You promised in this passage that you would not be seen for a time and that you’d be seen again. You promised that you would die and rise again. What an audacious promise, and you kept it. How can we not trust you with our whole lives.
Father, let us be a people who trust you. Not just say that we trust you, not just act like we trust you, but have a daily, daily, moment-by-moment trust in you. And may the joy come from our sorrow. We pray this in your name. Amen.
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