For a few weeks now we’ve been examining the teaching of Christ to the disciples and we’ve noted often their confusion and failure to understand all that Christ taught them.
We arrive at the closing verses of chapter 16 today and with them we find encouraging promises from Christ given to His disciples and given to all who believe in Him.
Title: No One Can Steal Your Peace
Scripture: John 16:25-33
Speaker: Kevin A. Pierpont, Higgins Lake Baptist Church
25 “I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father. 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; 27 for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. 28 I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.”
29 His disciples said, “Ah, now you are speaking plainly and not using figurative speech! 30 Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you; this is why we believe that you came from God.” 31 Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? 32 Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. 33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Up to this point with Jesus the disciples had not fully grasped all that He had taught them. We can see why in verse 25 when Jesus tells them that the reason for this was that he’d been using figures of speech.
But why would Jesus not speak plainly with them? Why figures of speech that they would not quickly grasp? We see the reason I think also in verse 25 and the first promise given here to encourage them and us. As he’s about to be taken from them they would need these encouraging promises even more so later than they did when he was with them. And we still need these promises today.
So here’s the first promise in our passage.
Jesus promises revealing of truth and understanding to those who believe in Him.
So, yes, Jesus says to the disciples, you’ve had a hard time understanding my teaching because I’ve been using figures of speech. But the reason for this is that when you fully understand you will find greater encouragement. And you will more fully understand when I speak to you more plainly.
But when will He speak to them more plainly? Isn’t He going to be taken from them and crucified very shortly?
Yes He is, but we’ve heard here the teaching of Christ clearly in chapter 16 that he’s going to be sending the Helper, the Holy Spirit. And we heard specifically that the Helper, the Spirit of truth will guide them into all the truth — back in verse 13 — When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.
This is why Jesus says in verse 25, The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father.
This is Jesus’ promise that they would have a fuller understanding and revelation of truth — because He would bring understanding to their minds by the revealing work of the Helper, the Spirit of truth. And the Spirit of truth would not teach them something new and unheard of. No, the Spirit would bring a fuller understanding to them of the things they had already been told by Christ.
That, in fact, is still the work of the Holy Spirit today. And this is a promise of fuller understanding of God’s revealed truth, not only for the disciples then but also for Jesus’ disciples now.
And it’s even more clear that this is what Jesus means, that He’s speaking of the work of the Holy Spirit when he says in verse 26 that, 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.
So it is just as we noted last week when in verses 24 and 25 Jesus said that after he was gone they would be praying to God the Father through Christ, in His name — which properly understood means, according to God’s will, because only prayers offered according to God’s will and for His glory are those which can be prayed “in Jesus name”. And Jesus told them in verse 24 that when they prayed this way, God would answer — they would ask and they would receive.
And why is it they would receive? Because they know God through Christ.
Now the world around us without Christ thinks they know God. But they don’t have this same understanding of revealed truth and they don’t have this promise of answered prayer in the name of Christ. Why? Because they don’t really know God.
There are those without Christ who think they know God because they can see around them what He has done. But the truth is, if you don’t believe in the One whom He sent to die for your sins, then you don’t know that One, God’s Son and you don’t really know God.
But if you do know him, you have this promise which we hear Jesus giving the disciples, as He says, I will make plain to you the truth. I will give you understanding and revelation of truth because you will have the Helper, the Holy Spirit, and this understanding will be for all who believe in the Son of God.
And this is true because those who believe in the son, those who love the son, have a loving heavenly Father, as Jesus says,
27 for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. 28 I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.”
You have a loving friend, a loving father in God — and that’s made no clearer than in Jesus Christ — because He sent the Son, and the Son would fulfill his work and would return to the Father. So all who know Christ know God and those who do, though on your own you may not fully comprehend all the teachings of God, you can rest assured that if you seek God’s truth, if you read God’s Word, He will bring understanding when you most need it.
This is why faithfully reading God’s Word is so important for every believer. We ought not be discouraged that we don’t grasp it all when first read it. Read it anyway. And rest in the promise of a fuller understanding when you need it most just as Jesus promised the disciples as he prepared them for His crucifixion.
Now Jesus gives another promise.
There’s the promise of God’s blessing on those of even a small faith.
Note how the disciples quickly indicate they finally and fully understand in verses 29 and 30.
29 His disciples said, “Ah, now you are speaking plainly and not using figurative speech! 30 Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you; this is why we believe that you came from God.”
It’s almost a little humorous here to think that after all their questioning of Christ and all his explaining that they now think they fully understand — and Jesus sees the humor in their naive statement because he answers them in verse 31
31 “Do you now believe?
“Oh, so now you understand, now you believe?” But Jesus knows better. So he has a warning for them.
32 Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me.
Now it’s not as if they had no faith, it’s not as if they didn’t believe and had no understanding. But what Jesus is saying here is that they need to be more cautious about declaring their full allegiance and understanding. Why? Because very shortly their faith and understanding will be greatly challenged — and they will fail miserably as they all run for fear in different directions.
But even though they’ve confidently overstepped as they declare their full understanding and even though Jesus knows they will show their weakness of faith as soon as this serious trial comes, He does not leave them without this promise. God blesses even those who have a small faith, just a little faith. Look at verse 33.
33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
So Jesus says here, you can have hope and confidence that you will understand more fully the things which I have taught you when you need to understand them — but I’m warning you there’s trouble in this world for all who follow me. You will have trouble. But I tell you this so that when it comes you will not loose heart.
I’ve said all this, says Jesus, that as you trust in me, you will have peace. I’ve said all these things to give you hope, because for a little while the world will rejoice when I’m gone, but I have overcome the world. So rest assured and don’t lose hope.
What a precious promise for all who believe. Yes the disciples had faith, but it was weak faith.
Maybe you can identify with that. I know I can. How often I am frustrated that my faith isn’t stronger when I face trials. But what a precious promise is yours and mine when we understand that God is gracious and merciful to even those whose faith isn’t as mature as it should be.
Jesus promises peace to those who believe in him — even those who don’t know themselves as well as they think they do. Even those who faith is weak at times. And Jesus promises victory to all who are his, because He has overcome the world. And Jesus promises wisdom and understanding to all who seek His truth. And we will need it, because we still live in this world where there will be tribulation for all who faithfully follow Christ.
But these promises are for you and me today, to encourage and strengthen us in our walk with Christ.
This unfailing promise we all need to hear from Jesus today, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace“.
Photo by: DaveBleasdale (Creative Commons)