A Few Thoughts on John 16.

In this chapter we have further divine communications from the Son in relation to the path of the disciples through this world. Like the man who confessed Jesus in chapter 9 they would be put out of the synagogues; and in their blind, religious zeal, and hatred of the Name of Jesus, the Jews would even put them to death. This was fulfilled in the martyrdom of Stephen and James the brother of John; and also in the activities of Saul of Tarsus, who breathed out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord until, in mercy, the Lord intervened to secure him as a vessel to bring the light of the knowledge of God to the Gentiles. It was ignorance of the Father and the Son that caused the Jews so to act, even as Paul confessed, "I did it ignorantly, in unbelief" (1 Tim. 1:13).

Thus forewarned, the disciples would remember when the time came, that the Lord knew all about what they were passing through. He had not told them these things when first they came to Him, but on account of His impending departure it was necessary to tell them what lay ahead. From the beginning He had sheltered them from the hatred of the world: every assault being against His own Person. As the Master of every situation He met and overthrew every form of opposition; the open attacks with the wiles and seductions of the enemy. The path marked out in love for His own was the path that He Himself had trodden; and now He tells them, when sorrow was filling their hearts, that it was expedient for Him to go away in order to send them the Comforter, whose gracious support they would have during His absence.

As regards the world, the Spirit would bring demonstration to it of sin, righteousness and judgment. The refusal of the Son of God in unbelief marks the world in which the Son of God was, and in which the Spirit now dwells in believers. Righteousness is connected with the Son in the presence of the Father: righteousness fully demonstrated, yea accomplished in His work on the cross, and vindicated in His entering the presence of His Father, where, alone, and hidden from every eye (saving as seen by faith) His Father finds the deepest satisfaction in Him and in all that He has wrought for His glory and pleasure. If the prince of this world is judged, the world of which he is prince is judged with him. How can the world escape the divine judgment when it has followed Satan to cast out the Son of God?

The Lord had many things to communicate to His loved ones, but they were as yet unable to bear them: the Spirit however would guide them into all the truth as being fully conversant with all the mind of God. He would not speak as the source of His communications, but as telling out what He heard, thus witnessing to all connected with the Son in the Father's presence, and showing the wide range of the glories that shall shine out in undimmed lustre in Him Who is Head over all things, the glorified Son of Man. How the Spirit delights to present the glory of Jesus, to receive of His and show it unto us. In that day He will not be seen as the lowly Nazarene, but having all authority and power He shall command the homage of every creature in the wide universe. Exulting in these wonderful communications of the Spirit of God, the disciples would gladly suffer the persecution foretold by the Lord, counting it all joy, and conscious too that it worked for them in surpassing measure an eternal weight of glory. But there is also the present glory of the Son as centre of all the Father's counsels, His headship of the body; His headship too of every principality and authority. Then there are the things of the Father, which are brought out for us in John's epistle; and brought out that we might be in communion with the Father and the Son, enjoying the eternal life that is ours in the Son, and knowing the blessedness of being children of God.

In a little while they would not behold Him, for He was to enter into death; but it would only be for a little while, for in resurrection He would be with them again. While explaining this to them the Lord evidently dwells on what was immediately before the disciples; but it may be that the words used by the disciples, and recorded by the Spirit carry the thought somewhat further. Might there not be included the time of His session at the right hand of God? During this little while of His absence from us He is with the Father, but soon. He will come again to take us to be for ever with Him, and then we shall see Him as He is.

Having come out of death the Lord gives to His own a joy that the world cannot take from them (see John 15:11); and in the day of their joy, though He was absent from them, they would receive from the Father whatever they asked in the Name of the Son. This divine certainty of receiving what they asked would give them fulness of joy. While with them He had spoken to them in proverbs, but in resurrection He would declare unto them the Father's Name, bringing them into relationship and intimacy with the Father; meanwhile assuring them of the Father's love for them, because they loved Him, the Son, and because they believed that He came forth from God. The word for love here is stronger than the usual word: it is used in John 5:20, and in John 20:2. It gave the Father joy and delight that the disciples were attached to Jesus and had faith in His Son, having received His testimony, while the world refused the fact that He came from God.

At the close of the chapter the Lord indicates that in the moment of His final rejection His own would be severely tested and they would be scattered, each to his own. Left alone, so far as the disciples were concerned, He would not be alone, because He would still have the companionship of the Father. Nothing could interrupt the communion that ever existed between the Son and the Father whom He came to reveal, whose grace he had made known in its wondrous depths, and whose counsels He had richly brought to light.

In the final word the Lord exhorts His own, for the moment of His absence from them, to be of good cheer. Tribulation would be theirs from the world: in Him, Who overcame the world, they would have peace. What a triumph for our hearts to contemplate. He knows no defeat; He has vanquished every foe, and has entered victoriously into the Father's House.
R. Duncanson.

The Lord is Himself gone before
He has marked out the path that we tread:
It's as sure as the love we adore,
We have nothing to fear nor to dread.