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Christ comforteth his disciples against tribulation, by the promise of the Holy Ghost, and by his resurrection and ascension; assureth them that their prayers made in his name will be acceptable to his Father. Peace in Christ, and in the world affliction.
Anno Domini 33.
John 16:1. These things have I spoken, &c.— "The things which I have now told you, concerning the hatred of the world, the reason of that hatred, the dishonour done by it to God, the punishment wherewith it shall be followed, and the supernatural assistance which you shall receive,—I have spoken to keep you from taking offence at the further discoveries, that I am going to make of the evils to which you will be exposed, and to prevent your being overcome by those evils when they befal you." See the next note.
John 16:2. They shall put you out of the synagogue:— That is, "They shall excommunicate you." See Ch. Joh 9:22 and 1 Corinthians 16:22. Instead of, He doth God service, we may render the original, offereth a sacrifice to God. The word λατρεια, signifiesallthedifferentpartsof divine worship, and so must be determined to particulars by the circumstances. Here it signifies sacrifice, because it is joined with προσφερειν, a word which constantly denotes the offering up of sacrifice. See Romans 12:1. This gives a beautiful turn to our Lord's sentiment. "The time shall come, when the killing of you shall be thought a part of the worship of God, and equally acceptable with the offering of sacrifices." This passage intimates, as Archbishop Leighton observes on the text, that the servants of Christ should be considered, not only as sheep for the slaughter, but as sheep for the altar too. See Acts 8:1; Acts 9:1; Acts 23:14; Acts 23:35.
John 16:3. And these things will they do, &c.— "And these immoral and pernicious principles and practices will they embrace and execute against you as my disciples, because through the wilful blindness and hardness of their hearts, they do not know, so as to believe and love, either my Father or me."
John 16:4. These things I said not, &c.— The original signifies, "I did not inculcate these things upon you from the beginning;—I did not insist upon them, because the lesson would come time enough before my departure." These things may be understood of the Jews' ignorance of God's designs, and their wilful ignorance of Jesus as the Messiah; particulars, which he had just now mentioned as the causes why the Jews would persecute his apostles, and which, no doubt, were more afflicting to the latter than the persecutions themselves; because these persecutions they supposed would end in the enjoyment of the kingdom; whereas the rejection of their Master cut off their hopes all at once.
John 16:5. But now I go my way— "But now that my ministry is drawing towards a conclusion, and I am going to him that sent me, I could no longer defer speaking of these things to you. In the mean time I cannotbut take notice, that though I mentioned to you my departure once before, (Ch. John 13:33.) none of you has inquired of me the reasons of my departure, nor the effects of it." That this is the true meaning of the passage, may be gathered from Ch. Joh 13:36 where we find St. Peter expressly asking our Lord whither he was going. But it seems neither Peter nor the rest had thought more of the matter; for which Jesus here justly blames them, as his departure was an event of so great importance to his apostles.
John 16:7. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth;— Though you have not asked the reasons of my going away, I will declare them to you. It is necessary even on your account that I depart; because, if I do not ascend into heaven, and take possession of my mediatorial kingdom, the Comforter, by whose assistance, as I told you before, Ch. Joh 15:26 you are to convert the world, and who will in a most eminent degree comfort and sanctify your souls, will not be given you: whereas, if I depart, and take possession of my kingdom, I will send him unto you, as the first fruits of the exercise of my kingly power. The word παρακλητος, (see Ch. John 14:16.) signifies not only a Comforter, but an Advocate. Among the Romans, it was usual for those who had any great law-suit, to call their relations and friends to their assistance, who in this office were named advocates. These attended the parties in the court; some assisting them with counsel, others pleading for them, and others barely by their presence giving weight to their cause. Hence the word came not only to signify an advocate, who pleads the cause of another, but a counsellor, a friend, a patron. In this passage the Holy Ghost is called παρακλητος, or advocatus, in the largest sense; because he was to espouse the apostles' cause, to accompany them wherever they went, to defend them from the attacks of their enemies, and to plead for them by their apologies, which he inspired them to deliver in their own behalf; and by the miracles which he enabled them to work in confirmation of their mission; so that he was in the properest sense their friend, counsellor, advocate, patron, and protector. See 1 John 2:1.
John 16:8. And when he is come, he will reprove— He will convince, &c. "And he, coming from on high, by virtue of my death, and in consequence of my resurrection and exaltation, shall carry on my cause in this lower world by demonstratively convincing both Jews and Gentiles, wherever my gospel comes, of their guilt, depravity, and obnoxiousness to the wrath of God; of the righteousness which I bring in by my obedience and sufferings to the death of the cross, for the justification of such as are conscious that they have no righteousness of their own to recommend them to the divine favour and acceptance; and of my holy and judicial power, in setting to rights the disorders of human nature by sanctifying grace, in overthrowing Satan's dominion, and in passing judgment against him and the finally unbelieving and unrighteous at the great day of account." See the following notes.
John 16:9. Of sin, because, &c.— "When the Comforter comes, he will, by the miraculous effusion of his gifts, accompanied with divine grace, convince the world of the sin that they commit indisbelieving me; who, though absent in respect to my bodily presence, am able to confer such extraordinary powers on my ministers." Accordingly we find that multitudes of the Jews were thus convinced, Acts 2:37; Acts 2:47.
John 16:10. Of righteousness, because, &c.— "He shall likewise convince them of the righteousness of my person and cause, and of the necessity, suitableness, and perfection of that atonement, which I am come to accomplish by my obedience unto death; because I am going to be exalted at my Father's right hand, and you shall no more see me again in this humble state of sufferings and abasement, as if I had not fullysatisfied his justice for the faithful, and finished the work which he gave me to do upon earth?"
John 16:11. Of judgment, because, &c.— "In the last place, when the Holy Ghost thus cometh, he will convert men from idolatry and from vicious tempers and vicious practices, to the knowledge, experience, and practice of true religion; and by thus victoriouslydeprivingSatanofthatdominionwhichhe has hitherto exercised over the minds of men, he will convince the world of judgment. He will demonstrate, not only that the world is governed by God, (so the word judgment is often used,) but that all power in heaven and earth is given to me particularly as the mediatorial king, who by mySpirit have dethroned the devil. Moreover, this present punishment of the prince of this world, will be an earnest and proof of that judgment, which at the last day I will execute, upon him and all his adherents." See Ch. John 12:31.
John 16:12. I have yet many things to say unto you,— These other things to which our Lord refers, might probably relate to the abrogation of the ceremonial law, to the doctrine of justification by faith, the rejection of the Jews, the calling of the Gentiles, and the like, which the disciples could not fully receive till their remaining prejudices were removed.
John 16:13. When he, the Spirit of truth, is come,— The personality of the Holy Ghost is strongly and incontestably marked by the mention of his coming, being sent, guiding, &c. as well as by the particularity in the original; wherein the word rendered he; εκεινος, is of the masculine gender, though the word rendered spirit, το πνευμα, is neuter. Instead of shall not speak, &c. the original may with much greater propriety be rendered will not, &c. and so in the two next verses. In this chapter, as Dr. Heylin intimates, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, are considered as three gracious Masters in the breasts of believers. The internal agency of the Holy Ghost is continually admitted; and that of the Father and the Son, as represented in this gospel, greatly deserves to be attended to.
John 16:15. He shall take of mine— He will receive of mine, ληψεται the same word as in Joh 16:14 and consequently the translation should be the same in both places. "Be not surprized that I said unto you, He will receive of mine, &c. for the whole treasure of the Father's wisdom belongs to me." See Colossians 2:3. Those who oppose the divinity of Christ, seem to be at a loss for an explication of this passage. Le Clerc tells us, that it is highly figurative;—that the subject treated of is such as cannot be understood by reason;—that the manner of it is not revealed;—and therefore it is not possible to mark precisely the proper sense of every expression. Such are the shifts to which the espousers of a false hypothesis are reduced!
John 16:16. A little while, and ye shall not see me:— Our Lord hinted to them, that it was their interest, as well as their duty, to rivet all these things in their memory, because they were his dying words. A few hours would put an end to his life; and though he was to rise again from the dead, he was to remain but a very little while with them upon the earth; for he was soon to ascend into heaven, and be seated at the right hand of God.
John 16:17-18. What is this that he saith,— There are so many passages in the preceding discourse relating to Christ's goingto the Father, that it is a strange instance of the dulness of the apostles at that time, that they did not understand him. Perhaps it is recorded on purpose to shew us what an alteration the teaching of the Spirit made in them afterward. It is indeed difficult to imagine what could perplex them, unless it were that they suspected the words in Joh 16:16 might intimate, that after Jesus had gone to the Father, and made a short stay there, he would come again, and settle an earthly kingdom;—and they might desire an explication in this view. Accordingly, after having told them, that though they were sorrowful,he would come and see them again after his resurrection, Joh 16:20-22 and would introduce them to a state of comfortable converse with the Father by prayer and holy communion with him, and a joy of which none could deprive them, John 16:22-27. He adds, Joh 16:28 that he was quickly leaving the world to go and reside with the Father from whom he came; thereby gently intimating, that no temporal reign, the constant object of their hopes, was to be expected: and if we suppose him thus to have glanced obliquely at the most secret sentiments of their hearts,it will account for that confession of his omniscience which immediately follows the 28th verse, (John 16:29-30.) the reason of which would not appear merely from his discovery that they doubted about something, as their countenances andwhispers might shew this. Some one, considering our Lord's words as referring to the life of glory, a sense which is evidently implied in them, beautifully observes, that believers may sometimes think this little while of a tedious length; they are almost apprehensive that it will never end: but let them animate their hopes, by reflecting that the Master calls it a little while. It will be found a short time indeed, compared with the happy eternity, to which it is the passage.
John 16:21-22. A woman when she is in travail— "The state of mind you will be in, when the events happen of which I am speaking, cannot be described better than by comparing it to the condition of a woman in travail. During her labour she has exquisite pain, because the birth approaches; but as soon as the is delivered, she forgets her anguish, being filled with joy that she has brought one of the human species and a child of her own into the world. Just so, you my disciples will be in the greater distress during the time of my departure; but as I am to rise again from the dead, and to ascend into heaven, you will forget yoursorrow, and rejoice exceedingly; and from that time forth it shall not be in the power of your enemies to rob you of your joy." As this promise will be for ever accomplished to all Christ's faithful servants, so it is pleasing to observe how St. Paul, in his more abundant afflictions, attests his experience of its truth, when he says, As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing, 2 Corinthians 6:10.
John 16:23. In that day ye shall ask me nothing.— "You shall not inquire any thing of me, u949?κ ερωτησετε :—One great source of your joy, in the period I am speaking of, will be, that your understanding shall be enlarged and enlightened; so that you shall have no need of my personal presence with you, nor any occasion to ask questions concerning intricate points, as you find yourselves obliged to do now: and whenever you stand in need of instruction, or assistance, or any other blessing, whether for the propagation of the gospel, or your own salvation, the Father will immediately supply you with it, upon your asking it in my name."
John 16:25. I shall shew you plainly of the Father.— I will then make a free, open, and full discovery of my Father; of his gracious counsels concerning the church; of the nature and design of my sufferings and death; of the reasons of my going to him; of the business which I go to transact with him; of the confidence which on these accounts you may have towards him; and of the way in which you are to address him, through me, for obtaining all the blessings that you need.
John 16:26. At that day ye shall ask in my name:— This is the fifth time our Lord enjoined his apostles to offer up their petitions in his name. See John 16:23-24. Ch. Joh 14:13 and John 15:16. The frequency of the injunction shews the importance of the matter enjoined; for whether we understand Jesus as speaking of the things requisite to the conversion of the world, or of such things as are necessary to the salvation of individuals, it is evident that the great end of the mediation of Christ is, to atone for the sins of the world, and to impress mankind with a deep sense of their own sinfulness which makes them unfit to approach the divine presence directly; of the merit and efficacy of Christ's death, whereby alone they have access to God; of the necessity of receiving his spirit for every good thought, word and work, and to send this divine Comforter into the hearts of believers. When our Lord says, And I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father, his meaning is, "Do not think that I shall solicit the Father on your behalf,as if he was unwilling to bestow upon you the blessings you want: no; the Father himself bears a warm love towards you, for my sake, and on account of your love to me, and your faith in me."
John 16:28. I came forth from the Father, &c.— "To conclude. The true and proper meaning of my discourse to you at this time, and particularly of the expression which appeared so obscure to you, is, that as I came forth from the Father, and was commissioned by the Father, and came into the world to reveal his will to mankind; so, having finished all that work,I now leave the world, and return to the Father, from whom I came."
John 16:29-30. His disciples said— "We acknowledge that now thou speakest in such a manner as we can understand; for what thou sayest is by no means dark, like the things before delivered. Moreover, by what thou hast now spoken, we clearly perceive that thou knowest the hearts of men; and that in conversing with men, thou hast no need that they should tell thee their thoughts by any question. In short, thy knowledge of our hearts fully convinceth us that thou camest forth from God." It seems, through the whole of this discourse, Jesus had obviated the objections, and answered the questions which his disciples were going to propose, or would gladly have proposed to him. See Joh 16:19 and on John 16:17.
John 16:32. Every man to his own,— Εις τα ιδια : To his own habitation and employment. Dr. Heylin renders it, Every man to take care of himself.
John 16:33. These things I have spoken— "I have told you these things, that you may have consolation in the prospect of the benefits that you are to receive, a lasting peace, and serenity of soul, by the exercise of your faith in me; and thus, free from all anxiety and perturbation, may not be terrified when the afflictions draw nigh which are to overtake you. The truth is, you will have great tribulation in this present life, because the malice of men will every where pursue you; nevertheless, be not discouraged; rather take heart by reflecting how, through constancy and patience, I have overcome the malice of the world, and that I am able to make you overcome it in like manner also."
Inferences.—How great is the ignorance and folly of those, who persecute their brethren in the name of the Lord, and kill his children under the pretence of offering him an acceptable sacrifice! Thus were the apostles treated by those Jews, who knew not the God for whom they professed all this flaming zeal. Let us bless God that we are providentially sheltered from those effects of it, which might otherwise bear so hard upon us; while we diligently watch over our hearts, that no irregular affections, no uncharitable sentiments, may work or harbour there.
Whenever, like the apostles, our hearts are filled with sorrow, may we be very cautious not to be so stupified and absorbed by it, as that any call of duty should pass unheard, or any opportunity of religious advancement escape us unimproved; nor let as be indolent in our inquiries into the meaning of those dispensations which we do not understand; but rather seriously consider, whether we are not sorrowful for that which is indeed designed for our advantages and in the issue will be matter of rejoicing to our souls.
We have seen to what purpose the Comforter was sent. His coming was designed in the first instance for the benefit of the apostles, and was of greater service to them, as Christ had assured them he should be, than the continuance of his own presence with them in the body would have been; not only to support and comfort them under all their trials, but to acquaint them with all necessary truth, and fully to instruct them in the mysteries of godliness. He came moreover for the conviction of an apostate world: the important errand on which he was sent was, to awaken men's minds, to convince them of their own guilt, of Christ's righteousness, and of that awful judgment which should be executed on the most inveterate of his enemies.
May these considerations often lead us to think of the force of the Spirit's testimony to the truth of Christianity, and to endeavour to understand it in all its extent; blessing the Almighty Father of mercies, that the gospel and the character of his Son were thus gloriously vindicated. May we rejoice in the views of that complete conquest to which Satan is already adjudged; and, in the mean time, let us earnestly pray, that the influences of the Holy Spirit may be communicated to us in such a manner, that Christ may be glorified in us, and we in him; and that the things of Christ may be taken, and shewn to us by that Spirit; for it can only be done by means of his influence and operations.
We are perhaps often regretting the absence of Christ's bodily presence, and looking back with a kind of envy on the happier lot of those who conversed with him upon earth in the days of his flesh: but if we prove true persevering believers in an unseen Jesus, it is but a little while, and we shall also see him; for he is gone to the Father, and will so successfully negotiate the affairs of his faithful saints in the realms of bliss, that whatever their present difficulties and sorrows may be, they shall end happily, and bring peace and joy at the last. And, in the mean time, surely we have no reason to envy the world its joys and triumphs. Alas! its season of weeping will quickly come! but the lamentations of the faithful are soon to be turned into songs of praise, and their hearts filled with that solid, sacred, and peculiar joy which shall never be taken away.
While we are in this state of distance, it is certainly matter of rejoicing that we have access to the throne of grace through the prevailing name of Christ. Let us advance thither with holy courage and confidence, and so ask as that we may receive, and that our joy may be full.—With what pleasure may we daily renew our visits to that throne, before which Jesus, the friend of sinners, stands as an intercessor; to that throne which is possessed by the Father, who himself loveth us, and answers with readiness and delight those petitions which are thus recommended! May our faith in Christ, and our love to him, still more and more increase; and thus shall our supplications be more and more acceptable to him, whose loving-kindness is better than life itself.
Whoever seriously reviews these gracious discourses, must consider them as an invaluable legacy bequeathed to us by Christ, the dying Saviour. O may they dwell with us in all our retirements, and be applied to our comfort in every distress!
Can we have any reason to wonder, if human friendship be sometimes false, and always precarious! Alas!—the disciples of Christ were scattered in the day of his utter extremity, and left him alone, even when they were under the highest obligations to have adhered to him with the most inviolable fidelity. It is better to trust in the Lord, than to put any confidence in man. May we but be able, like our Master, to say in every trial, that our Father is with us; and then that delightful converse with God, which we may enjoy in our most solitary moments, will be a thousand times more than an equivalent for whatsoever we lose in the creatures. In the world we must indeed have tribulation; and he that has appointed it for us knows that it is fit we should: but since Jesus, the Captain of our salvation, who was made perfect through sufferings, has overcome the world, and disarmed it, let us hence be taught to seek that peace which he hath established, and press on with a cheerful assurance, that all his faithful followers shall share in the honours and benefits of his victory.
REFLECTIONS.—1st, To be forewarned, is to be fore-armed. Christ lets his disciples know what they had to expect.
1. He tells them what they must look for, and warns them to prepare for it. These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended, that you may not be discouraged by sufferings, faint under the cross, and desert the path of duty. They shall put you out of the synagogues, excommunicate you from their society and from their assemblies for divine worship: yea, the time cometh, when, so infatuated and bloody will their persecution be, that whosoever killeth you, will think that he doth God service. Note; (1.) The best friends of the church of Christ have often been branded by those who pretend to be church-rulers, as her worst enemies. (2.) Blind bigotry raises the bitterest persecution; the blood of martyrs has never flowed more liberally than by the hands of those who murdered them as excommunicated heretics in the name of the Lord.
2. He suggests the real cause of this treatment. These things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me; though they may pretend the highest attainments of wisdom and piety, and persecute you as a set of poor, illiterate, deluded enthusiasts; yet they are sunk in wilful spiritual ignorance, which, though no excuse for their wickedness, is an argument for you to bear patiently with them, and to pity and pray for them.
3. He lets them know that he gave them these warnings for the confirmation of their faith in him, and to encourage them to bear up when the day of temptation came upon them. These things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them, and have a fresh proof of my omniscience and faithfulness to you. And these things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you, to bear the chief burden myself, and to comfort and support you. Note; Christ graciously proportions our trials to our strength.
4. He assures them, though he was going, and they were dejected, his departure would be abundantly for their good. But now I go my way to him that sent me, and none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou? Though they had asked him with a temporal view, they had no apprehension that he was going to heaven, to prepare an abode for them in glory, and therefore did not pursue their inquiries. But because I have said these things unto you, of my departure, and your approaching troubles, sorrow hath filled your heart, when you ought rather to rejoice. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth, greatly as you dread my going from you, it is expedient for you that I go away, and a kind father will give his children not what they foolishly wish, but what he knows will be best for them; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; such being a part of the great plan of redemption; but if I depart according to the will of my heavenly Father, finishing my work, and entering into my glory, I will send him unto you, as the fruit of my death, and the effect of my intercession: and this will more than supply the loss of my bodily presence. Note; Many of us are often melancholy, when they ought to rejoice; much readier to pore over their inbred corruption, and terrify themselves with the fear of their enemies, than to exult in the promises, to press after full sanctification, and to look up with confidence to Christ Jesus; and this is as dishonourable to him, as uncomfortable to ourselves.
5. He describes the blessed work of the Spirit, whom he promises to send: When he is come, he will convince the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.
[1.] Of sin, awakening the consciences of sinners, both Jews and Gentiles, to a discovery of their native corruption, actual transgressions, exceeding sinfulness, and liableness to the wrath of an offended God; especially the great sin of unbelief, this being the great damning iniquity, and the grand cause of sinners' destruction, because they believe not on me for pardon, grace, life, and salvation; and, under this view of themselves, he lays them in the dust of deepest abasement.
[2.] Of righteousness; of the righteous obedience of Christ unto the death of the cross,—the sole meritorious cause of every blessing that we can receive either in time or in eternity,—the sole meritorious cause of the acceptance of the persons and works of believers before God: to which the Spirit directs the self-despairing soul to look, as the grand foundation of hope towards God; because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; his exaltation to the right-hand of God being the fullest token of his Father's approbation of him, and that he is well pleased for his righteousness' sake; and, therefore, he was no more to appear in his present state of humiliation, because he had, to his Father's entire satisfaction, finished the work that he had given him to do upon earth.
[3.] Of judgment; that all power is given to Christ, in heaven and in earth, to sanctify and renew the hearts of his faithful people, and execute judgment upon all their enemies and his, the finally impenitent and obstinate sinners; because the prince of this world, the devil, is judged; his power is broken, his kingdom destroyed; and, while the triumphs of the Redeemer's grace are now continually spreading through the earth in multitudes rescued from the hands of this enemy, he and all his adherents shall shortly be brought to receive their final sentence at the bar of this eternal Judge; and wicked devils and wicked men together be cast into the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.
6. The Spirit will wonderfully enlarge their understandings, and give them a clear insight into many glorious truths, which, as yet, they did not fully apprehend. I have yet many things to say unto you, respecting the abolition of the Mosaical oeconomy, the calling of the Gentiles, the rejection of the Jews, &c. but ye cannot bear them now, through the deep-rooted prejudices which still held possession of their hearts; bigotted to the ritual in institutions, and expecting a temporal kingdom. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, then they shall be enabled to receive all discoveries which they now could not bear; for he will guide you into all truth; opening their understandings to comprehend the Scripture, as an unerring Guide leading them into the most explicit views of the gospel-truths, and enabling them to speak and act under his direction with infallible wisdom: for he shall not speak of himself, as a private person, or serving any interest merely his own; but, in exact correspondence with Christ and the Father, whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak, according to the sacred will of them both, with which he is fully acquainted, searching the deep things of God; and he will shew you things to come; as a Spirit of prophesy, enabling them to look into futurity, and make known to the church the things which, in succeeding ages, should come to pass, even to the end of time.
7. In all this work of the divine Spirit, his intention eminently is to glorify the Redeemer. He shall glorify me; all the gifts and graces that he bestowed, and the miracles he enabled the apostles to perform, were designed to exalt Jesus as the great Redeemer of men, and to bear witness of his divine mission; for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. Christ hath obtained all blessings for the faithful; the office of the Spirit is to apply them to their hearts, and put them in possession of that pardon, adoption, comfort, grace, and glory, which he hath purchased by his obedience unto death. All things that the Father hath, are mine; not only as we are one in nature, perfections, and unity of interests; but as all the blessings that he designed for his faithful people are lodged in my hands as Mediator; therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you. Spirit of truth and grace, apply these inestimable blessings to my soul!
2nd, To comfort his sorrowful disciples, the gracious Saviour suggests farther grounds of encouragement to them.
1. He promises to visit them again shortly. A little while and ye shall not see me, he should be hid in the grave; and again, a little while, and ye shall see me, after my resurrection, because I go to the Father; to enter upon his glory, to appear in the presence of God, as Intercessor, to take possession of the purchased inheritance for the faithful, and at last to bring them to be with him where he is.
2. Some of the disciples, blinded with their national prejudices, and stupid with sorrow, were at a loss to comprehend his meaning; and, repeating his words, inquired of one and another what they understood by them; and all confessed they knew not what he meant by a little while.
3. Christ, who knew the secrets of their hearts, and what was the subject of their whispers, prevented their inquiries by explaining the meaning of the little while he spake of. Verily, verily, I say unto you, that ye shall weep and lament at his sufferings and death, with all the circumstances of ignominy wherewith it would be attended; but the world shall rejoice, the wicked world: the scribes and rulers would triumph, as if they had obtained a complete victory over him; and ye shall be sorrowful; sunk in deep dejection, their hopes swallowed up in despair; but your sorrow shall be turned into joy; when, seeing him arisen from the dead, they would triumph, fully assured of his being the Messiah: and with joy still more unspeakable and full of glory would they be filled, when, after beholding his ascension into heaven, the Holy Ghost should from on high be shed abroad in their hearts. Then all their pangs, like those of a woman in travail, when her son is born, would be swallowed up and forgotten in the comfort which should succeed; Ye now therefore have sorrow, because I am leaving you; but I will see you again, certainly and shortly, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you; it will never again be interrupted by any more distress and fears. Note; (1.) Though the faithful saints of God may sometimes be in heaviness through manifold temptations, it is their comfort that they know their sorrow will be momentary; but their joys, which shall succeed, eternal. (2.) The triumphing of the wicked is but for a moment, and must end in eternal disappointment and misery. (3.) Though children are certain cares, uncertain comforts, we naturally rejoice at their birth; but when we see what a world of sin they are come into, and what snares are before them, we need tremble for them, and pray, lest it should be better for them they had never been born. (4.) In heaven all the sorrows of the righteous will be forgotten, and every tear wiped away from their eyes. Then shall they never lament the absence of Jesus, but, without interruption, behold the beatific vision.
3rdly, An answer to all their inquiries and prayers is promised them in that day, when, under the Spirit's mighty influences, they should in all things be taught and directed.
1. In that day ye shall ask me nothing, shall not need to make any farther inquiries about these things, concerning which you are now at a loss, and which I have spoken unto you in proverbs, under similitudes, in parables, and short sentences; and, though sufficiently plain, you, through your present prejudices and sorrow, have not understood: The time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall shew you plainly of the Father; make such clear discoveries to your minds, by my Spirit, of the whole system of gospel-truths; of the divine perfections and personality of the Father; of his gracious designs towards his faithful people; and the nature and end of all my sufferings; and of the glory thence accruing to God; as will be perfectly satisfactory. Note; All the great and glorious truths of God's word are dark and unintelligible, till he is pleased, by his Spirit, to shine into our hearts, to give us the light of the knowledge of his glory, and make us acquainted with the great mysteries of godliness.
2. All their prayers shall be answered. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, as your exalted Saviour and great High-Priest, entered for you into heaven itself, and ever living to make intercession for you, he will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name, nothing so great as they were now invited to do; or rather had not, in their addresses to the Father, made use of his mediation, or pleaded his infinite merit as the ground of their hope: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full; all that you can wish or desire shall be granted, till the abundant joys of present grace and divine consolations shall reach their utmost consummation in eternal glory. At that day, when the Spirit shall be poured out upon you, ye shall ask in my name, with entire dependence on my atonement and prevalent intercession; and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you; not that he would ever cease to intercede for them, but that the Father would be ready of himself to grant all their petitions: for the Father himself loveth you, is your friend and Father, and reconciled God, because ye have loved me; this blessed effect produced on their hearts might assure them of the Father's love; and have believed that I came out from God, as the true Messiah, executing the divine commission received from him. Note; (1.) What an encouragement have we to pray, when the promise is so full? All the blessings which, in humble dependence on our Jesus, we can ask, believing, we are sure to receive. (2.) Nothing so directly tends to increase our spiritual comforts, as the abiding prayer of faith. (3.) True faith always works by fervent love; they who know Jesus as their Saviour, cannot but feel their hearts drawn out towards him with enlarged affection; and shortly they shall be made perfect in love.
3. He sums up plainly for their comfort all that he had been saying to them. I came forth from the Father, where, from everlasting, I am; and voluntarily submitted to my present state of humiliation: again, having finished the work which was given me to do, I leave the world, and go to the Father, to that eternal glory which I had with him before the worlds were. This therefore should be matter of their joy, not sorrow.
4. The disciples, now enlightened to understand his discourse, with delight express their satisfaction in what he had said, and their entire faith in him as the Messiah. Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no proverb: the meaning is no longer dark and doubtful. Now are we sure that thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask thee; we perceive thou art acquainted with our inmost thoughts, and canst answer us, even before we propose our questions: by this we believe that thou camest forth from God. Note; Many truths, though plain, affect us not, till Christ speaks to the soul; and then we wonder how we could have overlooked before, what we now see so clearly.
5. Jesus, who saw that their faith was less established than they apprehended, warns them how soon it would be shaken, Do ye now believe? Behold, as a farther proof of my omniscience, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, the moment is at hand, that I shall be betrayed into the hands of sinners, and ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, flying for safety to any place or friend's house that will conceal you, and shall leave me alone, in the power of my enemies; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me; not only as one in nature, and in the inseparable union of the Godhead; but his gracious presence would be with him, as Mediator, supporting him under all his sufferings. Note; (1.) In trying times many are apt to desert the profession they have made, unwilling to suffer for Christ and his cause. (2.) They who have reason to be persuaded that they do believe, must not be self-confident: he that thinketh he standeth, must take heed lest he fall. (3.) God does not forsake his afflicted believing people; when all the world, yea, their nearest and dearest friends desert them, a sense of his love, the light of his countenance, and his supporting presence, will make them an abundant recompence for the loss of all besides.
6. For their comfort, he assures them, that the issue of all their trials and his would be peace. These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace; whatever might happen to them, what he had spoken would afford them a sufficient ground for their support and comfort. In him, by faith in his person, and all-sufficient sacrifice and intercession, they would find such a peace as the world never knew; beholding their sins pardoned, and God reconciled to them; enjoying delightful communion with him; and, amidst all their trials, their souls kept serene and calm in the confidence of his power and grace to carry them through, and in the prospect of the glory which should be revealed in them. In the world ye shall have tribulation, you must expect and prepare for it; but be of good cheer, be confident of my power and grace, and courageously stand in the evil day; I have overcome the world; I have vanquished the god of this world with all his wicked instruments; and you may be comfortably assured, through my grace and love, that you shall be made more than conquerors. Note; (1.) Every real Christian must expect his cross, and prepare for tribulation; it is inseparable from his profession. (2.) No outward or inward troubles should deject or dishearten us; our Redeemer is mighty, yea, almighty to save. (3.) Peace in our consciences is our privilege and portion, if we do indeed belong to Christ; and usually as our tribulations for Christ abound, our consolations which are by him abound also. (4.) The world, and the things of it, are great enemies to our souls, and the means which the devil employs to ensnare and destroy us; but Christ hath overcome for us, and if we perseveringly cleave to him in faith, he will, by his grace, overcome in us, till all our foes shall be made our footstool.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on John 16". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany