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!
What We Learned Together Sunday March 26, 2023
INTRODUCTION Hymns About Heaven
We return to John Chapter Fourteen seeing Jesus Helping His Disciples. These words by Jesus are unique to the Gospel of John in this Upper Room discourse. Here is the teaching by Jesus for His disciples. For each of us who are His disciples to help us in our journey home to heaven. The words from Jesus for His disciples because of His departure in this section of the Upper Room discourse in John 13:31-14:31. Jesus speaks departing words of comfort and care. Jesus gives His words of instruction and direction. Let us remember John 13:19 and see John 14:29 and know John 20:30-31. We are to be believers in Jesus hearing His words. In this context there is a series of questions from His disciples [Peter 13:37, Thomas 14:5, Philip 14:8, Judas 14:22]. These questions reveal to us the stirring of their hearts and confusion in their minds over what was happening and what Jesus was saying to them. In this chapter Jesus teaches three important truths for His disciples: 1) A Place Where He Goes & Prepares for Them To Be With Him, 2) The Promise Which He Gives & Proclaims to Them To Be About Him, and 3) The Person Who He Sends & Describes To Them To Be From Him. These words of Jesus present a heart of faith, hope of heaven, and help of the Spirit. Lord give us ears to hear and eyes to see what you have promised!
First, In Jesus’ Words There Is Help for Our Hearts on Earth [14:1]. The emphasis is the obedience to the Words of Jesus in the present. In verse one we see this point that Presently Not Be Troubled Any Longer Personally [14:1a]. Here the words of Jesus are commands for His disciples. Jesus also spoke these words later in this chapter, “Do not let your hearts be troubled, nor fearful” [John 14:27]. The heart being a fulcrum of emotions and desires and a spring of words and actions--the weight of all that was happening and they were hearing. All the uncertainty, changes, failures, and darkness on that night with a betrayal and denial. Dear friend is your heart troubled here today? Do you see how the Lord Jesus knows and cares for His disciples in our time of trouble? Jesus also experienced such distress and troubled heart [11:33; 12:27; 13;21] As one commentator wrote, “the hearts of the disciples were filled with a medley of emotions.” In the second part of verse one we see this point that Presently Believe in God & Also in Me Personally Believe [14:1b]. The word believe is an important truth in the Gospel of John. This words means “to believe to the extent of complete trust and reliance—‘to believe in, to have confidence in, to have faith in, to trust, faith, trust.’ Jesus would emphasize this again later in chapter fourteen [14:11-12]. This parallel thought and emphasis mean “faith in Jesus is inseparable from faith in God.” The remedy for the troubled heart is belief in God and the Lord Jesus—why we would we be tempted to look anywhere else for confidence, strength and hope? We could summarize these words of Jesus stating He is personally worthy, completely trustworthy, and fully reliable. “Faith in the Lord Jesus is the only sure medicine for troubled hearts. To believe more thoroughly, trust more entirely, rest more unreservedly, may hold more firmly, lean back more completely—this is the prescription which our Master urges on the attention of all His disciples” [J. C. Ryle Expository Thoughts on the Gospels]. Jesus work for these men does not cease as He departs from them—O the great difference in the hearts of these men from the darkness of that night to the bright shining of the resurrection morning.
Second, In The Father’s House There Is Hope of Our Home in Heaven [14:2-6]. The emphasis is the confidence in the promises of Jesus for the future. Beginning in verse two This Hope in His Promise of The Father’s House [14:2a]. “In My Father’s house many dwelling places are; If it were not, I would have told you, because I go to prepare a place for you.” These words of Jesus “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places” explains one house with many rooms. So The Father’s House is “a building or place where one dwells—‘home, dwelling, residence.” And the rooms are “a place where one may remain or dwell—‘place, dwelling place.” [Cf. 14:24] How contrary that place will be to any dwelling place for us now! No updates, repairs, improvements, maintenance, upgrades, or work by us in that room in the Father’s House in heaven! Important is to hear the specific words of Jesus, “If it were not, I would have told you.” For Jesus is plainly stating that He is only telling them this because it is true, sure, and guaranteed! “In the NT mone occurs only twice in John’s Gospel (14:2, 23). Probably intentionally, the two statements correspond. In 14:2 the heavenly dwellings . . . are called abiding places which are fully prepared for them in the Father’s house. The word seems to be deliberately chosen to express the fact that our earthly state is transitory and provisional compared with eternal and blessed being with God” [NIDNT 4:580]. Some historical background about this imagery used by Jesus. “In Jesus’ day many dwelling units were combined to form an extended household, it was customary for sons to add to their father’s house once married, so that the entire estate grew into a large compound centered around a communal courtyard. The image used by Jesus may also have conjured up notions of luxurious Greco-Roman villas, replete with numerous terraces and buildings situated among shady gardens with an abundance of trees and flowing water. Jesus’ listeners may have been familiar with this kind of setting from the Herodian palaces in Jerusalem, Tiberias, and Jericho.” [Kosteberger , “John” in Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament] Another commentator said, “But consider further that this great and tender name for heaven has its deepest meaning in the conception of which the essential elements are the loving manifestation and presence of God as Father.” [MacClaren] What a thought and understanding being presented and taught by the Lord Jesus speaking about “In My Father’s House” as the Son of God! Continuing in verse two This Hope in His Promise of Preparing A Place for Us [14:2b]. The focus Jesus places on Himself for His disciples “I . . . I go . . . I will come again . . . where I am . . .I am the way.” Each phrase is emphatic by Jesus in His words to His disciples “if that were not so, I would have told you, And if I go and prepare a place for you, I am coming again and will take you to Myself, so that where I am, there you also will be.” [cf. John 3:11-13; 17:11-13] The word of prophecy given by Jesus in the context of other words of prophecy about His betrayal by Judas and the denial by Peter. Then in verse three This Hope in His Promise of Being With Him in That Place [14:3]. Present tense verbs used by Jesus stating a prophetic present as that which was said with certainty. Jesus is emphatic in this verse “that where I Myself am there you yourselves be also.” Another commentator states, “The emphasis in this prediction is on the comfort that reunion with the departed Savior guarantees. Jesus will personally come for His own, and He will receive them to Himself. They will also be with Him where He has been. His return would be as certain as His departure. The greatest blessing of heaven will be our ceaseless personal fellowship with the Lord Jesus there, not the splendor of the place.” [Constable Expository Notes] Jesus uses the proposition “to” describing proximity and intimacy with Himself in heaven which He has with the Father in Heaven [cf. 13:1,3, 6; 14:6, 12]. Other New Testament references in these matters would include teachings present by the Apostle Paul [I Thessalonians 4:16-18; 2 Corinthians 5:8; Philippians 1:23]. In His prayer in John 17 Jesus prays, “Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me.” [John 17:24] And finally in verses four to six This Hope in His Promise of Knowing He Is The Way to The Father [14:4-6] The repeated phrase “the way . . . the way . . . the way . . .” points us to the main point of the words of Jesus here in this section. Jesus emphatically says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father but through Me.” There is one way. He is the only way. There is no other way. Why is He exclusive in the way to the Father? Because of His personal sacrifice for sins, His perfect obedience to the will of the Father, and His grace for all who will believe in Him as their Savior. As one man said several centuries ago, “Without the way there is no going; without the truth there is no knowing; without the life there is no living. I am the way which thou must follow; the truth in which thou must believe; the life for which thou must hope.” (Thomas Kempis, cited by Bruce)
In conclusion we again are presented words by Jesus for His disciples so that we would believe Him. Are you believing Jesus in these days in your life? In the broader context of both chapters thirteen and fourteen the three Christian virtues of love, faith, and hope are valued for the disciples of Jesus. The need for the words of Jesus in our lives as His disciples because of His counsel and His comfort here---greater measure with increased emotions, struggles, and troubles. As the Apostle Paul wrote, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and pleading with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” [Philippians 4:6-7] We as disciples of Jesus are called to obedience to the words of Jesus in the present. We as disciples of Jesus are called to confidence in the promises of Jesus for the future. These matters brought to us by Jesus Himself at this time placing great importance being foremost among His many words in these chapters. Have you believed in Jesus and is He the way you are taking to the Father in heaven? Is Jesus preparing a place for you in the Father’s House? Are you believing these words of Jesus in the present and for the future?
Jesus, I my cross have taken, all to leave and follow Thee.
Destitute, despised, forsaken, Thou from hence my all shall be.
Perish every fond ambition, all I’ve sought or hoped or known.
Yet how rich is my condition! God and heaven are still mine own.
Let the world despise and leave me, they have left my Savior, too.
Human hearts and looks deceive me; Thou art not, like them, untrue.
And while Thou shalt smile upon me, God of wisdom, love and might,
Foes may hate and friends disown me, show Thy face and all is bright.
Go, then, earthly fame and treasure! Come, disaster, scorn and pain!
In Thy service, pain is pleasure; with Thy favor, loss is gain.
I have called Thee, “Abba, Father”; I have set my heart on Thee:
Storms may howl, and clouds may gather, all must work for good to me.
Man may trouble and distress me, ’twill but drive me to Thy breast.
Life with trials hard may press me; heaven will bring me sweeter rest.
Oh, ’tis not in grief to harm me while Thy love is left to me;
Oh, ’twere not in joy to charm me, were that joy unmixed with Thee.
Take, my soul, thy full salvation; rise o’er sin, and fear, and care;
Joy to find in every station something still to do or bear:
Think what Spirit dwells within thee; what a Father’s smile is thine;
What a Savior died to win thee, child of heaven, shouldst thou repine?
Haste then on from grace to glory, armed by faith, and winged by prayer,
Heaven’s eternal day’s before thee, God’s own hand shall guide thee there.
Soon shall close thy earthly mission, swift shall pass thy pilgrim days;
Hope soon change to glad fruition, faith to sight, and prayer to praise.
O the deep, deep love of Jesus!
Vast, unmeasured, boundless, free
Rolling as a mighty ocean In its fullness over me.
Underneath me, all around me, Is the current of Thy love
Leading onward, leading homeward,
To my glorious rest above.
O the deep, deep love of Jesus!
Spread His praise from shore to shore
How He loveth, ever loveth,
Changeth never, nevermore
How He watches o'er His loved ones,
Died to call them all His own
How for them He intercedeth,
Watcheth o'er them from the throne.
O the deep, deep love of Jesus! Love of every love the best
'Tis an ocean vast of blessing, 'Tis a haven sweet of rest.
O the deep, deep love of Jesus! 'Tis a heaven of heavens to me
And it lifts me up to glory, for it lifts me up to Thee.
Words: Samuel Trevor Francis Music: Thomas Williams
Pastor Timothy J. Atkins
Husband, Father, Grandfather, Pastor, Teacher, Discipler, and Follower of Jesus.