What We Learned Together Today July 23, 2023
So many passages of Scriptures which speak to joy in the lives of the people of God. Listen to Psalm 30.
“Weeping may last for the night, But a shout of joy comes in the morning” [verse five]. “Hear, Lord, and be gracious to me; Lord, be my helper.” [verse ten]. And then verses eleven and twelve, “You have turned my mourning into dancing for me; You have untied my sackcloth and encircled me with joy, That my soul may sing praise to You and not be silent. Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.” The palmist gives testimony of the work of the Lord God in his life in the matters of joy. The title of our message this morning is “A Promise of Joy for The Disciples of Jesus Because of His Resurrection.” In this world we will be hurt, have pain, experience grief, and endure suffering. Three questions we can ask others: How are things? How are you doing? How can I pray for you? Each of these are seen in this passage today through the words of Jesus. That we would pray that we would have joy no matter what is going on in our lives. In our experience we pursue so many other things like pleasure, happiness, delight to have our will be done, and have control. But here Jesus says there is something more wonderful for us to have from Jesus which is joy. A song that teaches about the role of Jesus in our lives as His disciples would be the Christian hymn “In Christ Alone.” The truth that we as His disciples believe Him, love Him, serve Him, and have Him. Here are a few more thoughts as we begin this morning. Life brings many challenges where difficulties darken our understanding. Such experiences bring the accompanying shadow of emotions in seasons of sorrow and grief. When an unexpected turn on the road of reality is where we find ourselves. On our backs and in our minds there is placed a heavy burden with the companion of a grieving heart. And we walk on the cobblestone uneven path of uncertainty before us. The Bible does not stay away from such matters. Here in the Gospel of John the words of Jesus speak to this matter for His disciples. In this Upper Room discourse given to us here in the Gospel of John the words of the Lord Jesus for His own disciples are filled with promises for faithful believing, blessings for fruitful abiding, and prophecies for hopeful living. READ John 16:1, 33 Jesus speaks about joy in these verses today. He already has mentioned joy back in John 15:11, “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” There we emphasized three parts for joy: confidence in the promise of God, assurance of the power of God, and reliance on the plan of God.
First, A Word By Jesus About Present Misunderstandings [16:16-18]. Here Jesus speaks about Not Seeing Him And Yet Seeing Him Again. This is An Announcement by Jesus of His Resurrection with The Absence Then Presence. In verse 16 Here The Prophecy by Jesus. “A little while, and you will no longer see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me.” A phrase Jesus uses throughout the Gospel of John [John 7:33; 12:35; 13:33; 14:18-19 cf. John 10:11, 17-18]. Jesus knew fully what was going to happen to Him stating personally these words describing both His death and His resurrection from the dead. The three days prophecy by Jesus in the Synoptic Gospels of His resurrection is only referenced once in the Gospel of John [cf. 2:19-20]. This also is the wording Jesus gave earlier in this chapter [cf. 16:5,7, 10]. In verses 17-18 There The Perplexity by His Disciples. Here in this section the conversation narrative returns [vv. 17-18, 29-30] Three levels of perplexity: 1) “What is this thing He is telling us . . .,“ 2) So they were saying, “What is this that He says . . .,” and 3) “We do not know what He is talking about.” Testimony to the honesty of the Gospel writer eyewitness account of revealing this about himself and the other disciples through a less than lens of presentation. Remember the words of Jesus in verse twelve, “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them at the present time.” Also see how these remembered what Jesus said, “and because I go to the Father.” Remembering again what Jesus has already said in previous chapters [14:12, 28; 16:5, 7, 10, 12].
Second, Some Promises By Jesus About Blessed Understandings [16:19-24]. Here there are two main sections: Having Joy & Praying to The Father. In these verses there is Some Encouragement by Jesus Because of His Resurrection. Here Jesus hands them the key of His words to the unlock their understanding. Two points in these words by Jesus. We will only look at verses 19-22 today and study verses 23-24 next week. This week Jesus words For His Disciples His Promise Grief Will Become Joy [16:19-22]. Next week For His Disciples His Promise of Answered Prayer [16:23-24] where Jesus says, “so that your joy may be made full.” The theme of joy in these words of Jesus as he repeats the word joy throughout this passage [v. 20, 21, 22, 24]. A focus and emphasis in the lives of His disciples. Do you see how important joy is for the disciples of Jesus? He wants us to have joy. I am chasing so many other things. We are so often trying to figure out what’s going on, and looking for a little more comfort and less pain instead of having joy. Strong Christian testimony to have joy in a world with such pain and suffering and grief.
Now we look at verses 19-22 For His Disciples His Promise Grief Will Become Joy. In verses 19-20 His promise declared with a prediction. Jesus directing His disciples to His words “Jesus knew . . . and He said to them . . . that I said . . .” Jesus repeating His words plainly & personally to His disciples. And then Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you . . .” He uses this phrase for attention and affirmation calling upon His disciples listen, hear, certainty, reliability [cf. 16:23]. And then in verse 20 “ . . . that you will weep and lament . . . you will grieve, but your grief will be turned into joy.” Such weeping and lamenting always connected with death. Such references are recorded in John 11:31, 33 over Lazarus and John 20:11,13, 15 with Mary near the tomb. These disciples would have joy as recorded in John 20:20. Remember back in John 15:11 “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” See forward Jesus prayer to the Father praying for our joy in John 17:13. There Jesus prayed to the Father, “But now I am coming to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves.” In verse 21 His promise described with an illustration. The woman in pain but “ . . . because of the joy . . .” Reality of the pain and the reality of the joy! In verse 22 His promise detailed with an explanation. “Therefore you too have grief now . . .” Then Jesus says, “ . . . but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice . . .” Remembering how Jesus ministered to the hearts of these men [cf. 14:1, 27]. He wants us to have hearts that rejoice! Not going to happen if I get my way, seeking comfort only, and trying to get away from pain. And then He told them “ . . . and no one will take your joy away from you.” Here again three levels. One definition of joy is a deep, abiding inner thankfulness and gratitude to God which is not interrupted when undesirable life circumstances intrude. One unknown author represented joy as the royal banner flying from the flagstaff of the heart, signaling that the King is in residence. A large cold stone of overwhelming grief becomes a deep fresh spring of abounding joy. Would people say I have this kind of joy from Jesus as His disciple? The very event which caused grief and sadness would become the source of joy and gladness. Everywhere the disciples write about the cross there is joy in the resurrected Lord Jesus. Notice the phrase Jesus used, “and I will see you again . . .” Here His words mean looking you in the face. The great truth for everyone who has put their faith in the Lord Jesus that we also will see Him face to face in heaven one day. First Peter 1:3-9 teaches us about these future matters of seeing Jesus and Him seeing us. We need to learn more about this work of God in giving us joy! Such a wonderful statement to understand and the joy Jesus wants us to have as His disciples. This joy is not conditioned upon how people treat us, and everything going the way I want it to go, or whether or not I get my way, and feeling the way I want to feel.
In the epic conclusion to the Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis attempts to express the absolute joy that will come as our earthly lives come to an end and we are reunited with our God for all of eternity: The things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before. C. S. Lewis, The Last Battle p.165.
As we give some application from these words of Jesus let us read these words again and again. There would the great expression of confidence, assurance, and reliance in our joy as disciples of Jesus. That we would see the blessed understandings giving to us in the words of Jesus. First, Having joy in your experience as a disciple of Jesus because of His Promises in His Words. He is the resurrected Lord and the exalted Savior. Second, Seeing the Lord turn your grief into joy that your heart would rejoice because of His resurrection. He Is able, He is reliable, He is dependable. Oh Lord you want to turn this grief into joy! What a glorious testimony of His power in our lives as disciples of Jesus. What do I really want the Lord to give me in His joy? Do I want my testimony to show He does this? Third, Understanding the ministry of the Good Shepherd to you as His disciple when you are in the misery of grief and sorrow. Our Testimony of Joy as His disciple. There is the joy only Jesus can give that others would see what He can do and the joy He does give His own. Fourth, This experience of joy needs to be my testimony as a disciple of Jesus. Do not underestimate what God wants to do in taking our grief and turning it into your joy as your testimony as His disciple. What a great message to the world of joy from Jesus!
Pastor Timothy J. Atkins
Husband, Father, Grandfather, Pastor, Teacher, Discipler, and Follower of Jesus.