Jesus is telling His disciples that soon they will no longer see Him. But they will see Him again. Then they will have Joy.
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16-19. “It is an encouragement to me to know that the disciples were real men with real problems, yet the Lord was able to use them.” (Wiersbe, Warren W, The Bible Exposition Commentary New Testament Volume 1 Matthew-Galatians. [Colorado Springs: David C Cook, 2004], 363)
The disciples are puzzled! I would be too. Where are you going? They were confused. Speak plainly!!
“Jesus was referring to His Ascension (‘you will not see Me’) and the coming of the Holy Spirit (‘you will see me’), emphatically claiming the Spirt and He are one (Romans 8:9; Philippians 1:19; 1 Peter 1:11; Revelation 19:10). Christ dwells in believers through the Holy Spirit. In that sense they see Him.” (MacArthur, John, The MacArthur Bible Commentary. [Nashville, Thomas Nelson Inc., 2005], 1410)
“One must not overlook the fact that the phrase a ‘little while’ was used by the prophets with respect to both the coming judgment on Israel (cf. Hosea 1:4) and its deliverance (cf. Isaiah 10:25; Jeremiah 51:33). (Borchert, Gerald L., The New American Commentary Volume 25B, John 12-21. [Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2002], 173)
20. “The disciples would soon realize the marvelous nature of God’s gift of salvation and the Spirit through what He accomplished and the blessing of answered prayer (v24). (MacArthur, 1411)
21. “To the mother experiencing birth pains, every minute may seem an hour. Our concept of time changes with our feelings…The mother feels as though the birth is taking a long time, when really it may be only ‘a little while.’ When the baby has been born, pain is forgotten as joy fills her heart.” (Wiersbe, 365)
22. “After the Resurrection, Jesus did see His disciples (20:19-29; 21:1-23; cf. 1 Corinthians 15:1-8). Beyond that brief time of personal fellowship (Acts 1:1-3), He would be with them permanently in His Spirit.” (MacArthur, 1411)
Their grief would also turn to joy because they would see him again…The grief turning to joy was not like a sorrow followed by joy—for example, illness. In that case, the absence of the cause of the grief brings about the joy. [Max Anders and Kenneth O. Gangel (2012). HNTC Vol. 04: John. B&H Publishing Group. Retrieved from https://read.lifeway.com]
23-24. “You cannot simply tag His name on to the end of a request and expect to get what you ask. That is not what He is saying.” (McGee, J. Vernon, Thru the Bible: Volume IV: [Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1983], 475)
“You and I are to pray to God the Father in Jesus’ name…Jesus is up there at God’s right hand for you, praying for you. That is the reason we should pray to the Father in the name of Jesus.” (McGee, 475)
The disciple’s “grief would also turn to joy because they would see him again.” [Max Anders and Kenneth O. Gangel (2012). HNTC Vol. 04: John. B&H Publishing Group. Retrieved from https://read.lifeway.com]
Speaking in Proverbs
25-26 “Ahead for these eleven men lay forty days of serious teaching that would take place between the resurrection and the ascension. During that time their doubt turned to faith—a faith that turned into zeal at Pentecost. In the life of any believer, doubt turns to faith because the Father loves us.” [Max Anders and Kenneth O. Gangel (2012). HNTC Vol. 04: John. B&H Publishing Group. Retrieved from https://read.lifeway.com]
“Because of the coming of the Holy Spirit He [Jesus] would no longer speak to them in terms that demanded spiritual insight for this understanding. He would speak to them plainly and reveal the Father to them.” (Wiersbe, 365)
“If we adopt a communication model for this passage, it appears that the Lord spoke as clearly as he could at this point. Now he promised that he would speak plainly about the Father— probably a reference to those forty days of teaching.” [Max Anders and Kenneth O. Gangel (2012). HNTC Vol. 04: John. B&H Publishing Group. Retrieved from https://read.lifeway.com]
27. “The Father isn’t hard to get along with. He loves you and that is the reason He will answer your prayer that you pray in My Name.” (McGee, 475)
28. “The eternal Son came into the world for one purpose: to redeem man. When the mission was accomplished, He returned to the Father…He came in out of eternity; He went back to eternity.” (McGee, 475)
29. The disciples told Jesus that He was speaking plainly to them; not using proverbs.
30. The disciples “claimed to understand everything, to recognize his omniscience. They said they believed he came from God. This was the last week Jesus would spend with these disciples before the crucifixion. They had been listening to him teach and watching him work for three and one-half years. Now suddenly they claimed they had reached the conclusion that he came from God.” [Max Anders and Kenneth O. Gangel (2012). HNTC Vol. 04: John. B&H Publishing Group. Retrieved from https://read.lifeway.com]
31. It seems to me that Jesus was saying, “Wow, you now believe.”
32. “This is a mystery that the human mind cannot understand. Friends, we do not have enough brain to comprehend the redemption that He wrought on the cross.” (McGee, 476)
“But it is possible to have faith, understanding, and assurance and still fail the Lord. Unless we practice that faith, apply that understanding, and rest on the assurance, we will fail when the time of testing comes.” (Wiersbe, 366)
33. “Peace. He closes with peace. The child of God can have peace in this life because peace is found in Christ and in no other place.” (McGee, 476)
This “is the summary and climax of the Upper Room message. Why did he Give this message? So that the disciples might have peace in a world of tribulation…In Christ there is peace; in the world there is tribulation. This is the position we need to claim: we are in Christ, and therefore we can overcome the world and all of its hatred. (Wiersbe, 366)
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In this article Scripture quotations taken from KJV.
Borchert, Gerald L., The New American Commentary Volume 25B, John 12-21. Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2002
Max Anders and Kenneth O. Gangel (2012). HNTC Vol. 04: John. B&H Publishing Group. Retrieved from https://read.lifeway.com
McGee, J. Vernon, Thru the Bible: Volume IV: Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1983
MacArthur, John, The MacArthur Bible Commentary. Nashville, Thomas Nelson Inc., 2005
Wiersbe, Warren W, The Bible Exposition Commentary New Testament Volume 1 Matthew-Galatians. Colorado Springs: David C Cook, 2004