25 “Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father. 26 In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. 27 No, 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 entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.”
29 Then Jesus’ disciples said, “Now you are speaking clearly and without figures of speech. 30 Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. This makes us believe that you came from God.”
31 “Do you now believe?” Jesus replied. 32 “A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.
33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
(John 16:25-33 NIV)
In yesterday’s passage (verses 16 – 24), Jesus told His disciples that He was with them now, would be gone shortly, and would then return again. Jesus’ disciples were confused and perplexed. What was Jesus saying? They didn’t understand.
Jesus sensed their question, repeated it verbally, then proceeded to ignore it. Jesus talked instead about how the disciples would feel intense anguish and pain because of His leaving, followed by indescribable joy when He returned. Jesus used the analogy of a woman giving birth to help His disciples understand their upcoming emotions.
In today’s passage, Jesus circles back to His disciples’ question in verses 17 – 18. Jesus tells His disciples that He has been using figures of speech but will speak plainly about the Father shortly. Jesus again reminds His disciples that they will be able to ask in His name, and the Father will hear their prayers.
In verse 28, Jesus clearly answers the unasked question from verse 5 as well as the confused disciples’ questions from verses 17-18: “I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.”
In verses 29 – 30, Jesus’ disciples think Jesus has just fulfilled His promise to speak without using figures of speech. Jesus was referring to His teaching after His death, burial, and resurrection, but the disciples thought He was referencing His last statement just moments ago.
Notice the disciples’ conclusion in verse 30 – “Now we know that You know all things… Now we believe that You came from God.”
Jesus’ reply (verse 31) is a bit perplexing for us: Is this a question, a clarification, a statement, a celebration, a challenge, or a rebuke? Or some combination of all the above?
No matter how you choose to understand Jesus’ reply, Jesus makes it clear that the disciples will soon be tested and will fail miserably, even to the point of abandoning Him.
Despite Jesus’ foreknowledge of His disciples’ actions, He does not verbally blast them or disassociate Himself from them. Instead, Jesus lets His disciples know that the Father is there with Him even if they do temporarily abandon Him.
In verse 33, John records Jesus’ final statement to His disciples. Jesus warns His disciples that there will be trouble in their world as He previously stated in Chapter 15 verses 18 – 25 as well as Chapter 16 verses 1 – 4. Jesus tells His disciples to look to Him for peace, and not to their circumstances or even each other.
Jesus ends on a prophetic and comforting note: “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Jesus had not endured the cross and its suffering, nor had He died, been buried, and resurrected bodily from the dead. And yet, Jesus was claiming victory over death, the grave, and sin on behalf of all humanity for the past, present, and future. Only an insane person or God Himself could make that claim. And Jesus was not insane.
We continue to live in a broken world, and Jesus’ words in verse 33 apply to His disciples in their day as well as to us today. Jesus’ promise of victory in verse 33 is now a reality.
May we live daily in the power of Jesus’ victory over sin and death and humbly serve Him out of a grateful heart.