John 16

1 The life of a Christian is filled with many tests and trials. Jesus' words are to give us the proper perspective so that we are not caught off guard when bad things happen to us.
2 Jesus' disciples were all Jewish, but Jesus foretells the day when Jews will reject them. Christianity is really the post-Messianic form of Judaism, but traditional Jews would not see it that way. Since the Messiah fulfilled the sacrificial and dietary laws, post-Messianic Jews were no longer required to follow them (in fact, to continue to follow animal sacrificial laws is now considered sacrilege). Traditional Jews see this as a threat because it appears to negate large sections of the Mosaic Law. They do not understand that the Law is not negated, but instead has been perfectly fulfilled in the Messiah. Another stumbling block would be the opening of Christianity to the Gentiles. The Law of Moses is very strict on not partnering with Gentiles in business or marriage because of the pagan influences they would encounter. However, since Gentile believers believe in the same God as the Jewish believers, this is not a problem. In fact, God has always desired that all people follow Him. Judaism was itself intended to absorb Gentile converts, but the Jews focused more on separation than evangelization. The most important problem is that the traditional Jews reject Jesus as their Messiah. The first believers were all Jews, but most of the Jewish authorities of Jesus' day did not believe Him to be the Messiah. Since these authorities retained control of the synagogues (the Jewish places of worship), they were able to oust the Jewish Christians. Since then, the dividing line between Jews and Christians has clearly been defined as Jesus. It should be the Christian's hope that the traditional Jews today will someday recognize Jesus as their Messiah.

Jesus also foretells the day when Christians would be persecuted and killed. The first pressure would come from the traditional Jews. They saw Christianity as a heresy. God commanded them to avoid and destroy heresy, but they erred in this because they did not understand that Jesus was the New Covenant. He did not replace the Law of Moses, but He fulfilled large portions of it which called for a change of focus away from physical rituals to spiritual worship. At the time, though, they confused their zeal for the Law with zeal for God. They thought they were doing God a favor and keeping their religion pure by rejecting and killing Christians. Another source of persecution has been governmental systems. In this respect, both Jews and Christians have suffered. For some reason, governments feel threatened by those who believe in God, even if they are upright citizens in every respect. We do answer to a higher authority, God, but He also desires that we live at peace within our communities as much as we can. We are also called to confront governing authorities when they go against God's laws. The governing authorities are generally secular, so it is often difficult to convince them to do the right thing, especially if they do not believe they are accountable to God. The problem is that they might see such confrontations as questions to their authority and they may react severely to put down what they might consider a rebellion. In society, both Christians and Jews are seen as different, and it makes us easy targets and scapegoats.

It is interesting to note that Jesus indicates that persecution will take place. In fact, in other places He indicates that we should expect it, not be surprised by it. Does this mean that God does not care or can not protect us? No. In fact, there are many instances of God's protection displayed in the Bible. However, there are also many cases where believers are killed because of their faith. In fact, ten of the eleven faithful disciples of Jesus were martyred. Only John died of old age. Jesus does not explain why many of His followers are martyred. We can only be assured that all things work for good for those of us who believe. We all must die sometime, somehow (unless Jesus comes back first). For some, it will be martyrdom for the glory of God.

3 Whether persecution comes from religious or secular authorities, the same root problem exists: they do not know or understand God. The religious authorities would be offended at that statement, but it is true nonetheless. Secular authorities would ignore that statement if they did not believe either that God exists or that His principles should be applied to society as a whole.
4 Jesus did not tell the disciples these things throughout His ministry. His focus then was on preparing them for His crucifixion. Now the time had come and He was preparing them for His Second Coming. Jesus acknowledged that they would not understand what He was talking about until a later time, specifically His resurrection and ascension. After He was gone, their hope for the future would be in the promised return. Only then would He fulfill the prophecies concerning the Messiah-King.
5 Jesus told His disciples in several ways that He was going away. They had some brief questions about why they could not follow now and how they might know the way if they did not know where He was going, but they never directly asked where Jesus was going. It appears from Luke 24:21 that the disciples did not really understand that Jesus was going to be killed. Even despite this rather clear conversation, the disciples expected that Jesus would immediately establish an earthly kingdom.
6 The disciples did not fully understand what Jesus meant by "going away," but they knew this meant that they would be separated from Him for a while. They were saddened by this thought.
7 We do not know why the Spirit could only be given after Jesus' resurrection. Perhaps it is because the cleansing of sins by faith in the crucifixion is the requirement for the indwelling of the Spirit.

The coming of the Holy Spirit would be advantageous because He would indwell the believer and communicate directly with the believer's spirit. Jesus, being in a physical body, could not indwell people this way. In addition, Jesus' physical body was confined to a single location. The Spirit does not have this limitation.

8 The Spirit will minister to believers through teaching, comfort, and intercession. However, the spirit also has the threefold ministry to the world mentioned here. This ministry is carried out through believers as the Spirit leads them to speak. The Spirit also has the ability to "nudge" the unbeliever's mind, although a person's final choice to accept Jesus is his responsibility.
9 The Spirit can reveal the innermost sins of a person and contrast them with the expectations of God. This conviction can lead to either repentance from sin, or stubborn refusal of the Good News.
10 The world no longer sees the righteousness of Jesus directly. Instead, Christians are now the righteous example to the world. It is so important that we seek the Spirit's help in this matter since we want to represent Jesus' character accurately.
11 The indwelling of the Spirit proves that God has thwarted Satan's plan to separate people from God forever. Satan's weapons of sin and death were ineffective against Jesus, and He promises that believers will also be saved from their eternal consequences.
12 Jesus would like His followers to understand all things at once, but, alas, our weak minds can not handle it.
13 However, the Holy Spirit will continue Jesus' teaching in our hearts. The writings found in the New Testament contain records of these teachings by the Spirit. The Spirit continues to teach Christians to this very day.
14 Here again is another brief glimpse at the authority structure within the Godhead. The Holy Spirit is given authority by Jesus and Jesus is given authority by the Father. The Spirit teaches Jesus' words, and Jesus hears these words from the Father (John 14:24). The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit remain in constant communication within the Godhead.
15 Yet, within this authority structure it is said here that Jesus and the Father share all things. As corroborated elsewhere, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are of one essence and are combined into one God. Thus, the authority structure within the Godhead does not make any of the members less important or any less God.
17 Jesus had already told the disciples about His upcoming death, but they still did not understand exactly what He meant. It is true that Jesus' words could be cryptic at times, but there were other occasions where He had spoken more plainly about these things.
18 Even today we ask what Jesus meant when He said "A little while." Christians have waited almost 2000 years for the Second Coming to occur. We should be patient and continue to wait on God's timing. He has promised to rescue people from every people group in the world, but that has not yet happened. He also said the time was not right until the "full number" of people were saved. We may consider God "slow" by our standards, but He considers this interval "a little while." For us today, we can be glad that God waited and gave us a chance to put our faith in Him.
20 Jesus does not answer their questions directly, but assures them that they will experience a time of grief followed by a time of great joy. He is speaking of the sorrow connected to His crucifixion followed by the joy of His resurrection.
21 Birthing a baby can be immeasurably painful. Yet, the pain is hidden by happiness when the mother sees and holds her newborn child.
23 In our sorrows and hardships, we often ask many questions of God. The disciples were already troubled by Jesus' words, but they would become even more afraid and confused when Jesus was crucified and buried. However, their questions would end when they were finally convinced that Jesus was alive again after His resurrection. The two questions that were asked of Jesus after His resurrection did not concern these matters here, but questions about the future (John 21:21, Acts 1:6).
24 The disciples had cast out demons by the authority of Jesus' name, but this is not the same as asking Him for something (Luke 10:17). One problem they had that still continues today is that we do not understand what we should be asking for. We are inclined to ask things of God that satisfy our own greed or pride when we should be asking for things that increase our knowledge of God or help spread the Good News.
25 Jesus knows that the disciples are still struggling to understand His illustrations, but He assures them that it will all become clear soon. Once the disciples see the evidence of the resurrection, they will finally be able to grasp the meaning of what Jesus would continue to teach through the Holy Spirit.
26 After the resurrection, the disciples (and all Christians) pray to Jesus. Upon receiving a prayer, Jesus will not need to turn to the Father and repeat the request. Jesus is of the same essence as the Father, and what is said to Jesus is said to the entire Godhead.
27 There is also no division of love within the Godhead. The Father loves people just as much as Jesus does. Thus, when we believe in Jesus it pleases the Father who can then extend His love to us through His Son.
28 In His clearest statement, Jesus confirms that He came from the Father's essence, the Father sent Him, and He would soon return to the Father.
30 For the moment, the disciples seem to be clear on at least a few topics. They can tell from Jesus' words and actions that He shares the divine nature of God. As such, Jesus knows all things and no one can question His authority to answer.
31 This is not meant to crush what faith they had, but it is supposed to draw attention to their incomplete faith. At the moment, it was "easy" for them to be convinced that Jesus was divine in nature. However, the crucifixion would severely test their faith.
32 The disciples would see their Messiah die, and they would be afraid because they did not yet understand why this was to happen. They would all run away. Jesus knew they would later feel guilty about this, but He assures them that He was not really alone after they left Him.
33 Life would not be easy for the disciples, either in the next three days, or after the resurrection. Referring back to His previous description of the world's reaction to Christianity, He assures them that they can have peace no matter how bad their situations may become. Our hope as Christians is twofold: Jesus overcame death, and He would come again to destroy all evil. The world is enslaved to death and evil, but Jesus has victory over these things. Therefore, we can be comforted when the world threatens us with evil and death.