Summary: Jesus speaks to His disciples about the trials they will face as they fulfill The Great Commission to take the Gospel to the world. But they would not be alone because He would send them another Helper. The Spirit would give them reasons to rejoice and the power to overcome their foes.
HARMONY OF THE GOSPELS
(23-3) LAST SPEECH TO THE APOSTLES AND INTERCESSORY PRAYER
Date: Thursday P.M.—The last week of His life
Jesus speaks to His disciples about the trials they will face as they fulfill the Great Commission to take the Gospel to the world. But they would not be alone because He would send them another Helper. The Spirit would give them reasons to rejoice and the power to overcome their foes.
Three divisions of JOHN 16:
The world’s opposition (1–15). The Lord warned them about the opposition that would come. Do not be surprised when you are persecuted by religious people (v. 2); for this has been going on ever since Cain killed Abel. The Spirit helps us witness to the world and glorify Christ before the world ( Acts 4:8), so depend on Him.
The world’s joy (16–24). When Jesus was arrested, crucified, and buried, the world system rejoiced because their Enemy was out of the way. But today He is alive, and we have every reason to rejoice! The Lord does not replace our sorrow with joy; He transforms our sorrow into joy. The same baby that gives the mother pain also gives her joy. The world’s joy does not last, but the believer’s joy is forever ( Ps. 16:11).
The world’s defeat (25–33). In the next few hours, the disciples would watch their world fall apart; and yet Jesus assured them that He was the winner. “I have overcome the world” is a fact, not a promise, and it applies to us today. We are overcomers through Him ( 1 John 5:1–5).
Part 1: The World’s Opposition (1–15).
1 These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended.
The disciples probably cherished the hope of the Jewish people generally—that the Messiah would set up His kingdom and that the power of Rome would be broken. Instead of that, the Lord told them that He was going to die, rise again, and go back to heaven. The Holy Spirit would come, and the disciples would go out as witnesses for Christ. They would be hated and persecuted. The Lord told them all this in advance so that they would not be disillusioned, made to stumble, or shocked.
The very fact that they would be witnessing for Him in the midst of fierce hostility creates the reminder that He was about to leave them, and that this was necessary if they were to experience the provision He was about to make for them so that they might be both delivered and empowered. If they were to have the help they needed, they must be alert to the danger.
Jesus warned them before (i.e., especially vv. 18–27 of chap. 15) so that they would not be offended (The meaning here is “taken by surprise” or “caught unawares”.), but He had not continued to warn them, since He was with them, and what they needed was His person and His teachings concerning Himself.
Here the Lord has a warning, not against being tripped up as they minister the Gospel, but against a sorrowful reaction of disappointment at not seeing the kingdom set up in the world through the conversion of Israel. Their faith must not be shaken by the hostile fanaticism of Jewish leaders in excommunicating them, and even killing them as an act of service to God. It is crucial that they bear in mind the reason for it all, namely, ignorance of the Father and Himself. When antagonism erupts upon them, it is simply fulfilling what He had foretold, and in that way their adversities will be reminders of His ministry of love that very evening.
These things. This is what Jesus had said in 4 John 15:18-25.
2 They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.
3 And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me.
Excommunication from the synagogues was considered by most Jews to be one of the worst things that could happen. It meant isolation from the social life of Israel. It meant the loss of employment and rejection by their own families. They would also be killed in the name of God (Acts 26:9–11). This would happen to these Jews who were disciples of Jesus. The Christian faith would be so hated that those who sought to stamp it out would think they were pleasing God. This shows how a person may be very sincere, very zealous, and yet very wrong.
The root cause of this persecution is the world’s rejection of both the Father and the Son.
He doeth God service. Paul, before he was saved, personified this attitude as he persecuted the church, thinking that he was doing a service for God (Philippians 3:6). After Paul’s conversion, the persecutor became the persecuted because of the hatred of the world.