Here is my latest study on John’s gospel that our house groups are using tonight. It provides a encouraging reminder that even though we will face hard times in the days to come, in a little while we will finally see Him face to face, and that will make it all worthwhile.
John 16v16-33; Full On.
As Jesus closes in upon the cross he seeks to encourage his disciples that although painful, the trial that is coming will be short. A new day will dawn and their grief will one day turn to joy. But for now they must prepare themselves for his going away and the sorrow soon to arrive.
- Jesus’ approach of not holding back difficult teaching is in stark contrast to our own politicians – particular at this election time. They would rather be popular than transparent. What would happen if the political parties adopted this strategy? Why does Jesus not fear being unpopular?
- Jesus warns them that he is going away – where is he going and why can’t they see him? Do you think verse 16b refers to his death and resurrection or the second coming? Why?
- What is the event that will turn their grief to joy (v20)? Compare John 20.20, how does this sudden change in outlook support the historical truth of the resurrection?
- What is the connection between the birth pains of verse 22 and the prayer requests of verse 23? What has changed following the cross (Luke 23.45)?
- How does verse 22 and Romans 8.18 help us when we go through hard trials? What is our hope, which like the disciples, we have to wait for (1 John 3.2b)?
- Over and over again Jesus speaks of timing – “in a little while” (v16-19), “her time” (v21), “your time” (v22), “that day” (v23, 26), “time is coming” (v32). What does this emphasis teach us about the importance of waiting and timing to God? What can we learn from God’s Providence to encourage us in our waiting?
- In light of this passage, we could also say that “in a little while” we will see Jesus. How does what Jesus says to his disciples encourage us while we wait? According to Romans 8.23-25 what are we ultimately waiting for?
- Why did Jesus use figures of speech (v25 & 29) when his hearers so often failed to understand them? Compare Matthew 13.10-17, what purpose are the parables and figurative language serving?
Even though Jesus would be the one who would be betrayed, deserted, beaten, mocked and crucified, he focuses on the disciples’ forthcoming grief at his suffering, rather than their failure. His aim in giving them this stark warning is that when it arrives they will know it is part of his plan and be at peace (v33). In Jesus’ opinion peace comes from walking with him through life’s difficulties rather than naively offering false promises. God is ultimately in control through all of life’s dark days.