John 16:16-24

Sunday Morning Bible Study

January 30, 2011


Marriage Mini-retreat this Saturday…

Do people see Jesus? Is the gospel preached? Does it speak to the broken hearted? Does it build up the church? Milk – Meat – Manna Preach for a decision

16:16-24 From Sorrow to Joy

We are on the last night before Jesus’ death.  Jesus is giving some last instructions to His disciples.

:16 “A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me, because I go to the Father.”

:16 a little whilemikros – small, little; of time: short, brief, a little while

:16 you will not seetheoreo – to be a spectator, look at, behold; to see

:16 you will seehorao – to see with the eyes; to see with the mind, to perceive, know

Is there significance to the fact that Jesus uses two different words for “see”?

It seems that both can be used to describe physical sight.
The latter also carries the idea of “understand” or “know”, having a little more emphasis on the mental element.

It’s almost as if Jesus is describing a “peek-a-boo” game with a child.

“Now you see me, now you don’t”

:17 Then some of His disciples said among themselves, “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 go to the Father’?”

The disciples are baffled with Jesus’ words. When they quote Jesus, they use the same two words for “see”.

:18 They said therefore, “What is this that He says, ‘A little while’? We do not know what He is saying.”

They are stuck on the phrase “a little while”?

:19 Now Jesus knew that they desired to ask Him, and He said to them, “Are you inquiring among yourselves about what I said, ‘A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me’?

:19 to askerotao – to question; to request, entreat

:19 inquiringzeteo – to seek in order to find; to seek [in order to find out] by thinking, meditating, reasoning, to enquire into

:20 Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy.

:20 Most assuredlyamen amen – “truly, truly”, something important is going to be said

:20 will weepklaio – to mourn, weep, lament; to weep audibly

:20 lamentthreneo – a formal expression of grief like singing a song or reading a poem.

:20 will rejoicechairo – to rejoice, be glad

:20 sorrowlupe – sorrow, pain, grief, annoyance, affliction

:20 joychara – joy, gladness; from chairo

:20 will be turnedginomai – to become, to come into existence, begin to be; be made


Defining joy

I’m afraid that if you’ve listened to too many of us preachers, you may have heard one or two of us define joy something like this:
“It’s a deep feeling you feel deep down inside your heart.  You may not feel happy, your life may be miserable, but there’s this unexplainable thing that’s way down deep”.

It almost sounds sometimes like joy gets redefined so we can have an excuse for why we’re not happy.

Somehow I’m feeling miserable, but I still have “the joy of the Lord”.

To be honest, some of us don’t do so good with “joy”.  Here’s “Beaker” from the Muppet Show performing Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”
Play Beaker’s “Ode to Joy
Some of us would rather not try that “joy” stuff.  It hurts us sometimes.
The concept of “joy” is a common theme in the Scripture.
The verb and noun are used over 150 times in the New Testament.
In the Old Testament, the words “joy” and “rejoice” are used over 250 times.
One example in the Old Testament is in the book of Esther to describe how the Jews reacted when they were saved from the evil decree that would have wiped them out…
(Es 8:17 NKJV) And in every province and city, wherever the king’s command and decree came, the Jews had joy and gladness, a feast and a holiday.
Often the Bible uses a wedding to express what “joy” is all about (Jer. 16:9)
Play Laughing Bride clip
When the prodigal son returned and the father threw a party for him, he told the older brother:
(Lk 15:32 NKJV) It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’ ”

Joy throws a party.

A time of joy that’s been built into Judaism takes place at the beginning of each Sabbath, on Friday evening.
Steve Marques is a Calvary Chapel pastor in Fort Smith, Arkansas. He writes about a time visiting Israel when he was at the Western Wall at the Temple Mount, Friday night, at the beginning of the Jewish Sabbath:

Play “Dancing at the Wall” video with clips from: Traditional Dance and Israeli Soldiers Dancing

“As the time drew near for the Sabbath to start, the various sects of Judaism were all represented. When one of the three stars appeared in the night sky, the place erupted in emotion. The Russians were leaping and jumping in front of us in full dress, their fur hats sticking closely to their heads as they were singing at the top of their lungs and laughing and thanking God for the opportunity to be at the Wall in Jerusalem. Ultra orthodox from all over the world joined arms and began to dance and recite their prayers and sing loudly enough for the Russians to take notice and smile. The more "relaxed" non-full dress sects were in the back, dancing in circles arm in arm with Israeli soldiers that momentarily came down from their duties and sang and danced to enjoy the Sabbath. They would scream out their prayers in joy and in agony, tears streaming down their cheeks. We could still hear them singing as we went back to our bus, unable to stay until the third star was visible. The whole thing was an incredible experience that looked very much like a Pentecostal church. It was an exciting, emotional time that I will not soon forget.”

I think there’s a sense in which we may experience “joy” a little differently depending on our personalities.
Some of us have a personality like Ben Stein.

Play Ben Stein Clear Eyes commercial.

He is real excited when he says, “wow”…

Some of us may be a little more exuberant like:

Play Laughing Baby clip

But no matter what our personality, God wants us to experience “joy”.

For some of you, God wants you to know that He wants to turn your “sorrow” into “joy”

(Ps 30:11 NKJV) You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,

:21 A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world.

:21 labor … birth

:21 sorrowlupe – sorrow, pain, grief, annoyance, affliction

:21 anguishthlipsis – pressing together, pressure; metaph. oppression, affliction, tribulation

I understand on good authority that giving birth is not a “fun” thing.

Play clip from Bill Cosby, Natural Childbirth


The painful thing brings joy

The mother is caused great pain by her baby as she gives birth to it.
But after the birth, the very thing that brought so much pain, now brings so much joy.
I’ve seen it up close.  Just prior and during the delivery, a mom says, “never again”.  Yet that baby turns around and brings so much joy.
The answer is not to get rid of the thing that causes the pain, but to wait and receive the joy that will come later.

With the disciples, the death of Jesus brought so much pain and sorrow to them.

But after the resurrection, they saw that His death was necessary to pay for their sins, and His death became a source of joy.

When we're in hard times, we want to get rid of the thing that is causing so much trouble.
But that is the very thing that God wants to use, to turn our sorrow into joy.

Don’t throw out the kids.

Don’t throw out the husband.

Don’t throw out the job.

Just learn to wait for the joy.


A little while = patience

It was that phrase “a little while” that got the disciples confused.  The same phrase confuses us as well.
It’s after a “little while” that our sorrow turns to joy.
That’s the hard part, waiting for the “little while” to be up.
Paul wrote,
(2 Co 4:16–18 NKJV) —16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

In the light of eternity, all of our “affliction” is “momentary”.

There once was an oyster whose story I tell,
Who found that sand had got under his shell;
Just one little grain, but it gave him much pain,
For oysters have feelings although they’re so plain.
Now, did he berate the working of Fate
Which had led him to such a deplorable state?
Did he curse out the Government, call for an election?
No; as he lay on the shelf, he said to himself,
“If I cannot remove it, I’ll try to improve it.”
So the years rolled by as the years always do,
And he came to his ultimate destiny—stew.
And this small grain of sand which had bothered him so,
Was a beautiful pearl, all richly aglow.
Now this tale has a moral—for isn’t it grand
What an oyster can do with a morsel of sand;
What couldn’t we do if we’d only begin
With all of the things that get under our skin.
Give it some time, beloved.
The “little while” is only a problem if you don’t have eternity in your eyes.

:22 Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.

:22 you now have sorrow

The disciples will have sorrow when Jesus is arrested, tried, beaten, and crucified.

In Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, the character Gandalf reminds me a little of Jesus.

Gandalf gives up his life for his friends.  Jesus died on the cross to pay for our sins. 
Gandalf beat the dragon.  Jesus conquered Satan. 
Gandalf comes back to life.  Jesus comes back to life.

In this clip from the first movie, the group of friends are making their way to take the ring of power to the fires of Mount Doom.  Along the way they find themselves in a battle with a huge dragon.  Gandalf fights the dragon, but ends up being pulled into the pit with it.

Play LOTR clip (Fellowship of the Rings; pt.2, 42:00)
Did you catch the “sorrow”?

:22 your heart will rejoice

Remember that “joy” stuff.

Jesus will not stay dead.  He will rise from the dead.

They won’t just see Him, but He will see them.  There will be a resumption of a relationship.

This will bring them “joy”

:22 your joy no one will take from you


Joy in God’s work

Can your “joy” be taken?
Perhaps it depends on what causes you to be joyful.

Your new car

All it takes is an accident, car repairs, payments, or a scratch in the parking lot

Your job

Some folks find joy in what they do at work.

But they can also find great grief as well.

Your spouse

Your joy might be depending on what they cook you for dinner.

Your joy might be depending on whether they agree that it’s time to buy a new spring wardrobe

It’s not wrong to find “joy” in these kinds of times, but if these are the only sources of your joy, then God has something more for you.

The joy that Jesus is describing to the disciples is what they will find when He has risen from the dead.
If your “joy” is in what Jesus has done and who He is to you, it’s a joy that no one can touch.

“Rejoice in the Lord”

:23 “And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you.

:23 will ask Meerotao – to question; to request, entreat

This was the word used in verse 19,

(Jn 16:19 NKJV) Now Jesus knew that they desired to ask Him

:23 whatever you askaiteo – to ask, call for, crave, desire; A request of the will

Jesus uses two different words for “ask” in this verse, close but different.

Thayer, as opposed to Trench and others, would make the distinction between these two words to be this: “αιτεω signifies to ask for something to be given, not done, giving prominence to the thing asked for rather than the person, and hence is rarely used in exhortation. ερωταω, on the other hand, is to request a person to do (rarely to give) something; referring more directly to the person, it is naturally used in exhortation,

:23 in that day you will ask Me nothing

It could be that Jesus is saying that they will no longer have questions to ask Jesus like they were asking in verse 19.  Jesus uses the same Greek word in the first “you will ask Me nothing” as He did in verse 19.

It could be that Jesus is saying that after the resurrection, the disciples will be asking God the Father directly for their prayer requests instead of asking Jesus.

:24 Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

:24 may be fullpleroo – to make full, to fill up; i.e. to complete

Jesus talked about the disciples experiencing “joy” in vss. 20-22, having sorrow turned into joy, having a joy that no one can take.

Now He talks as if He wants their joy to move up to the next level, as if there is even more “joy” ahead.


Greater Joy

Jesus says that we will have an even greater joy through prayer and its answers.
I have been trying to learn about prayer for a long time.

To be honest, prayer does not always bring me “joy”

Sometimes prayer just seems like hard work.

Sometimes prayer seems like a difficult obligation.

Some keys to “joyful” prayer.

God’s Love
Knowing He cares

(1 Pe 5:6–7 NKJV) —6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, 7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

I don’t come to my Papa and pray because I’m afraid He’ll beat me with a stick.  I come because I remember how much He cares about me.
Peter connects finding joy with trusting in Jesus, even in our trials:

(1 Pe 1:6–9 NKJV) —6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 8 whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.

When I get to the point where I lay the problem down in Papa’s lap and believe that He will do what’s best, I find peace, I find joy.

David talked about a “full” joy that comes from God’s presence

(Ps 16:11 NKJV) You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Joy is found in God’s presence, by intimacy with God.

I have to confess that sometimes my prayers are more like sending an email or text message to God than they are intimate conversations.

I have a list of things I “have” to work through, and one by one I send out those messages.

But every once in a while I stop to think about what I’m doing and who I am talking with.

Because of what Jesus did on the cross for us, we are no longer “far” from God, but able to approach God directly.

(Heb 4:16 NKJV) Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.