I have some good news and I have some bad news. Which would you like to hear first? Good news and bad news. Don’t you love it when someone says that?
A look at the text here in John 16 reveals that Jesus has some good news and some bad news. Let’s look and see what it is. I think we’ll start with the bad news first.
Title: No One Can Steal Your Joy
Scripture: John 16:16-24
Speaker: Kevin A. Pierpont, Higgins Lake Baptist Church
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.
So there’s good news and there’s bad news. The bad news is this, says Jesus to the disciples. In just a little while you’ll see me no longer.
But I did tell you there was good news too, right? The good news is that then again you will see me in a little while.
So we’re done here right? Bad news, good news. Not so fast. The disciples seem to have a little problem. They don’t get it. So they start to whisper among themselves. “What’s he talking about? Why won’t we see him for a little while and then we will?” And their main difficulty here is with this little while of which Jesus speaks. So they’re discussing this among themselves.
And certainly Jesus knows they’re struggling with this, so he says, “Are you puzzled? Are you trying to understand what I mean by a little while and you won’t see me and again in a little while you will see me? Let me help you with that.”
“Unfortunately I’ve got some more bad news, but then, I also have some more good news“, says Jesus.
“The bad news is that you’re going to be sad, but the good news is after a little while then you’ll be glad.“
Bad news, verse 20: you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice
Good news: You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy.
And that is the most encouraging news possible for those who experience sorrow and grief — it is that it’s only temporary. And that’s what Jesus is telling the disciples here. Your sorrow will only be temporary.
What a sweet promise from Jesus we hear in verse 20.
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.
So Jesus tells them, “I’m going away. You know that. I’ve been telling you that and you are worried about that because I won’t be here with you. So I’m giving you this warning, that you’re going to grieve and be sorrowful. And that’s the bad news. But the good news that’s coming far out-weighs the bad news.
Yes, in a little while you won’t see me because I won’t be with you, and what happens will be very difficult for you. And while you are grieving, the world will be rejoicing.
Of course, we understand, because we have a clearer picture than they did, that Jesus is talking about His crucifixion, his death and burial. It will only be a little longer and he would be taken from them and they, in turn, would be deeply grieved.
And at the same time they were grieved and sorrowful over Jesus’ death the world would be rejoicing. The world would be proclaiming victory and rejoicing that they had finally gotten rid of this Jesus. That’s the bad news.
But I did tell you the good news would far out-weigh the bad news. The good news in verse 20 is that their sorrow will turn into joy. And that’s true for all who trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. So Jesus says in verse 21 your sorrow will turn into joy like that of a woman after just giving birth.
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.
Childbirth is a difficult and painful experience — that’s what I’m told. I’ve also witnessed it a couple of times — eight to be exact. One of the most remarkable experiences I’ve had during the birth of each of our eight children is the shift I’ve seen in my wife’s emotions from pain and suffering to happiness and joy. One moment in my wife is in excruciating pain and the next the pain is secondary to the joy of having a newborn baby to finally hold in her arms.
And that’s the picture Jesus chose to use to illustrate how the sorrow of His followers would turn into joy.
But how does this work? How can the sorrow of losing Jesus be turned into joy? And how can the sorrow and grief believers experience in this life be turned to joy? Note verse 22.
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.
I think we can easily make the connection here to the resurrection of Jesus. They would certainly see Jesus again because soon after his death he would rise from the dead and he would walk with them and eat with them and they would rejoice that indeed Jesus was victorious.
But there’s also a pointer here to another reason for their joy. It’s one we’ve already spoken of at great length in our studies in previous weeks.
How is it that their hearts will rejoice and no one will take their joy from them? Yes Jesus will physically be with them for a time after his resurrection, but won’t He leave them again? Won’t they stand and watch him ascend into heaven and won’t there be just a little sorrow on their part again at his departure. Yes, that’s true.
But earlier here in chapter 16 we heard these words.
7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.
13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth…
14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
So how can it be true that even after Jesus ascends into heaven they will have joy in their hearts and they will rejoice like a mother whose just given birth?
It’s true because they will have the indwelling presences of Christ, the Holy Spirit. He will leave them, but then he will send the Helper who will guide them into all the truth. And that’s the joy of every believer today. The indwelling presence of Christ by way of the Holy Spirit who has taken up permanent residence and brings light and life and joy to the heart of the believer.
I think that’s why Jesus says in verse 23,
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.
So after Jesus is physically gone they would no longer be asking him anything in person, that’s true. But even more so they would have the indwelling, wisdom giving, joy imparting presence of the Holy Spirit to guide them. And what would the outcome be? Note verse 24.
24 Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.
Until then they had asked Jesus directly if they had a question or a problem or a need. But after His departure the Holy Spirit would guide them to pray in Jesus name.
They would pray, as all believers now pray, to the Father, in the name of Jesus. And it is only by the authority of Christ that believers have the privilege of asking and receiving in prayer.
And the result of prayer prayed in the name of Jesus — and that is to say, prayer that is prayed according to God’s will — the result is that you will receive, that your joy may be full. You will rejoice over answered prayer!
And this is still true for the believer today. It’s just as we’ve heard Jesus here in John 16 warning the disciples. Yes there will be persecution of faithful followers of Christ, and with that persecution will be sorrow and suffering.
But for the one who rests in the promises of Christ, and prays in Jesus name, according to the will of God, something incredible takes place. Sorrow will turn into joy. And this will be joy which no one can take from you.
You can give this joy away. You can give up this joy by doubting God’s promises, by refusing to pray according to God’s will, and by refusing to find your greatest satisfaction in living for Christ. You can give your joy away.
But it can’t be taken from you, because God will answer the prayers of his people when prayed according to his will.
So the good news is really good, isn’t it?
Photo by: DaveBleasdale (Creative Commons)