John 16.16-33 (ESV)
16 “A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.” 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, ‘because I am going to the Father’?” 18 So they were saying, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We do not know what he is talking about.” 19 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’? 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. 21 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. 22 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. 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. 24 Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. 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.”
I really enjoy listening to Christmas songs. Some of them are just fun like Frank Sinatra’s performance of Marshmallow World with Dean Martin, Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow by Harry Connick, Jr., Santa Claus Is Coming To Town by Johnny Mercer and the Pied Pipers, just to name a few.
And then there are other songs which at times really stir my heart; I’ll Be Home for Christmas by Bing Crosby Silent Night, by Jewel, Joy to the World by Pentatonix, and of course, many more. Those songs can evoke in me great joy, longing, comfort, and peace in very unexpected ways.
That’s what is happening in this passage. As Jesus speaks we read of sorrow, weeping, and of Jesus’ departure, but we also read of promised joy and peace.
In the first nine verses, Jesus speaks once again to His disciples about His departure from them. They will struggle and be filled with sorrow when Jesus leaves, but the world, which has constantly been in conflict with Jesus as we’ve seen in the prior chapters, will rejoice.
However, Jesus promises His disciples that their sorrow won’t last for long, they will be filled with joy because, in a little while, they will see Him again. The joy that Jesus is hinting at is the birth of something new coming into the world through His resurrection, and perhaps even further out to future disciples as we think about the second coming of Jesus. Sadness, sorrow, and depression are present, but there is the promise of great joy.
In the second nine verses, the disciples are troubled again when Jesus tells them that they will all be scattered, that they will all abandon Him when the hour comes (speaking of His arrest and all that follows leading to the cross). But Jesus also promises His disciples that they will be filled with peace. This promised peace comes from a clearer knowledge of God the Father, of God’s love, and even though the disciples will all abandon Him, Jesus affirms His love for them.
The thing that strikes me so much this morning is that the promise of peace comes despite their failures.
Jesus told the disciples about their failures before they happened. The same is true for us. Jesus knows our failures, yet He promises that in me you may have peace.
What lifts my soul this morning is that my failures don’t have to define my future (or yours!). Our failures can shape us, but they don’t have to define us. Jesus defines our future, and as long as you and I pursue Him and keep Him at the center of our hearts and lives we will always have His joy and His peace with us always.
There is only one place in all the world where we can have peace: “in me,” in Jesus’ faithful, undying friendship with us, in his infallible love for us, and in his not seeing our fallibility as tragic. Dale Bruner.
Joy and Peace are promises from Jesus that belong to everyone who believes in Him.
God bless you and know that you are constantly in my prayers.