Following yesterday’s thoughts and the encouragement of Jesus to his disciples to “believe in God” just before his arrest, today we have two of the most challenging chapters in John’s Gospel (15,16). Jesus teaches, in straightforward language, but even then, the disciples grasp only part of what he is saying; even when they say, “Ah, now you are speaking plainly and not using figurative speech! Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you; this is why we believe that you came from God” (16:29,30).
They are feeling positive now after being perplexed by his words, “saying, ‘What does he mean by “a little while”? We do not know what he is talking about’” (verse 18). He tells them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy” (verse 20).
Can we see parallels with today? Many in our world seek a ‘froth and bubble’ kind of joy, passing pleasures that need chasing constantly. It should be a concern to us if we feel attracted in a similar way, for we are in danger of going out into the night as Judas did. However, in response to their claim to “believe”, Jesus asks, “Do you now believe?”. The disciples then, in a physical sense, went out into the night, but Jesus was with them. He tells them, “also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you” (verse 22).
The “night” is coming on our world. It is essential that we possess and develop the ‘inner joy’ so that we are able to “let light shine out of darkness”, knowing it “has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). This is not normal “knowledge” at all!
So our thoughts today are for each of us to ask ourselves, “Do I now believe?” Do I have a genuine conviction of mind that is alive? Our minds go back to the words of Jesus just before he told his disciples, ‘Lazarus is dead” – when he said, “if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him” (John 11:10). We only really believe when the light is in us. In these last days, we are going to need that light more than ever.