John 16-17
(In a Little While You Will See Me No Longer)
November 8th

Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

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Please refer to one or more Bible versions of your choice to read this section. We recommend that you read at least two versions for added understanding. For your convenience, we have provided six links below, each of which takes you directly to today's chapters in a specific version:

Key Verse

"I still have many things to tell you, but you can’t handle them now. But when the Friend comes, the Spirit of the Truth, he will take you by the hand and guide you into all the truth there is. He won’t draw attention to himself, but will make sense out of what is about to happen and, indeed, out of all that I have done and said."

John 16:12-13 (MSG)

Summary of Chapters

In chapter 16, Jesus concludes his talk with the disciples and then begins a long night of prayer in chapter 17.

Before heading off to pray he summarized their earlier discussions by saying that he has told them these things so that they will be prepared for upcoming events. He explained that there was more for them to learn, but they would receive that knowledge from the Spirit, because his time was becoming short.

    “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.”

    - John 16:16 (NIV)

This was a heavy statement for the disciples to grasp, so Jesus explained it further and was glad that they declared their belief. He told them to take heart because he has overcome the world. He then separated himself from the group in order to pray.

The entirety of chapter 17 is devoted to a recording of Jesus’ prayers. First he prays for himself, then for the disciples, and finally for the broader group of people who will believe in him. While praying for the disciples he refers to them as the ones that his Father has given him and asks for their protection from the evil one. As for the broader group, he prays that they may be one, just as Jesus is one with the Father.

Reflection and Application

This section includes another one of those complex sentences that may baffle us before it enlightens us. The disciples had trouble with it, so Jesus explained it for his friends:

    That stirred up a hornet’s nest of questions among the disciples: “What’s he talking about: ‘In a day or so you’re not going to see me, but then in another day or so you will see me’? And, ‘Because I’m on my way to the Father’? What is this ‘day or so’? We don’t know what he’s talking about.”

    Jesus knew they were dying to ask him what he meant, so he said, “Are you trying to figure out among yourselves what I meant when I said, ‘In a day or so you’re not going to see me, but then in another day or so you will see me’? Then fix this firmly in your minds: You’re going to be in deep mourning while the godless world throws a party. You’ll be sad, very sad, but your sadness will develop into gladness

    “When a woman gives birth, she has a hard time, there’s no getting around it. But when the baby is born, there is joy in the birth. This new life in the world wipes out memory of the pain. The sadness you have right now is similar to that pain, but the coming joy is also similar. When I see you again, you’ll be full of joy, and it will be a joy no one can rob from you. You’ll no longer be so full of questions.

    - John 16:17-23 (MSG)

When we have trouble understanding the Word we ought to also ask and listen for an explanation. When we read the prayers of Jesus we might want to notice how much respect and praise he offers to the Father, recognizing that all comes from him, even when he knew he was about to face a tough trial.

Notice also that although Jesus is about to offer the ultimate sacrifice, he spends 2/3rds of his prayer time focused on other people, including his disciples and "those who will believe," which includes us. His prayer for all of is that we may be one with God as Jesus is one with God, which also makes us one with the Holy Trinity of Father, Son and Spirit(1):

    “I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world."

    - John 17:20-24 (NRSV)

When we know we are on trial it would serve us well to be like Jesus by taking some of our time to pray for others. One benefit is that it removes our own worries from our mind for that moment, but it also reflects our faith that our lives are in God’s hands and fulfills Jesus’ commandment to love one another the way he loved us – praying for us even in his darkest hour.

"My Life Is In Your Hands," Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

    Related Questions
    1. Where is your favorite or most frequently used place to pray?
    2. How much of your prayer is typically focused on God and other people? How does that compare to Jesus’ benchmark of 1/3 or less on himself?
    3. In what ways can you praise God when you pray today?

    Recommended Prayer
    Father in heaven, thank you for sending your Son as a role model for us. Help us to follow his examples of love, faith, and prayer.

    Prayer Concern
    People preparing to leave on a journey


    (1) Drake, Rev. Brandy, "Prayer and Community," a sermon delivered at the Noroton Presbyterian Church, Darien, CT; November 9th, 2014

    Looking Ahead

    Tomorrow's reading: John 18-19 (Adjudication)

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