Any woman who has given birth or a man who have been part of the birthing process can relate with the words of Jesus in today’s text. We can understand the joy that comes from patience and pain. Since I am a man I have and never will experience the pain of child birth. I can only imagine (and secretly thank God) I can’t relate to the pain involved in giving birth to a child. In fact I am pretty useless when the actual birth happens. All I during the child birthing process is to be there as a support for my wife through the labor pains through the actual birth. I am proud of my wife for enduring some of the most intense pain she will ever have to face so she she could bring our beautiful children into this world.
In today’s passage (John 16) Jesus speaks of the joy and pains of persecution, suffering and tribulations that we Christians may face in the world today. The theme for today is "overcoming through sorrow and pain." Through pain and suffering Jesus overcame the world. Since Jesus overcame the world we too will experience joy, peace and victory in our times of turmoil and suffering in our lives today."
Jesus tells his disciples that in a little while He will not be seen by anyone but a in a longer little while he will be seen once again. He is referring to His and his post resurrection appearances. In his death he will be seen no more. In his resurrection he will appear once again to the disciples and others. PLUS he will be seen at his second coming.
For the time being the disciples will weep and lament over the loss of their Lord, leader and teacher. His death will bring sadness among the disciples. The world will not be sad, in fact they will rejoice over his death. Their hatred is so strong against Jesus and the Father that when He is finally put to death the world will not be able to contain their enthusiasm and rejoicing.
Yet Jesus says in his departure (death) their sorrow will turn to joy. In his death, resurrection and eventual ascension the plan of redemption will be complete. Through his death sin can be forgiven, eternal life can be given, and true joy, peace and freedom can be found to those who believe in faith and commit their lives to Jesus Christ. The end result will be joy in the midst of mourning, suffering and persecution… just like the joy of childbirth. I am fairly certain that any woman who has gone through the pain of child birth actually enjoyed the pain involved. However the end result of the pain and suffering is a beautiful life that has the potential to bring inexplicable joy to the parent(s). Isn’t it nice to know we are all the end product of someone’s pain?
I don’t believe Jesus is giving a case for all suffering leading to happiness. Some suffering does in fact lead to more pain and suffering. I think Jesus is telling the disciples that joy can be found in the midst of suffering. The same goes for us today we may be miserable, in pain and suffering but we can still have joy in that is given by Jesus. It is when we keep our eyes on the prize (in this case it’s Jesus) we will get through the difficulties in life. What is best about this joy is that it is given by Jesus and he promises that nobody (no human) can take that joy from us.
Jesus then tells the disciples that he has been speaking figuratively up to this point. A time is coming when he will not have to speak figurative but can speak plainly for them to understand. It is suggested that Jesus is talking about the coming of the Holy Spirit and others suggest he is talking about his post resurrection appearance (Acts 1:3) where he speaks to them openly about the Kingdom of God. The time is coming soon when his death will cause the disciples to scatter abroad and go back to their everyday lives. We see this is the case after Jesus is crucified that many of the disciples went back to their old ways of life. He has told the disciples all of the things he has so they may have peace in this time of turmoil. In reality persecution is on the horizon. The trials and tribulations the disciples will face will not come to an end once Jesus is crucified, in fact this is just the beginning. During this time of persecution the disciples may feel alone and abandoned but peace will come because this peace is grounded in the fact that Jesus has overcome the world. The world will cause great persecution and trials but Jesus tells the disciples to have courage and know he has overcome the world. The world has no power over them.
This is a promise for all Christians. The Apostle John writes in his epistle and in Revelation about Christians being overcomers. Four times in his Epistle (I John 2:13, 14, 4:4 & 5:4) he reminds the believer that he/she has also overcome the world because we are born of God and we belong to Jesus.
As believers we need continual reminding about the fact that we are overcomers… We are victorious in this life because of Jesus. The world has no hold on us and we are not slaves to this world. Since we are overcomers we need to live as overcomers. The words Jesus spoke shows that there is nothing the world can do to take away our joy. The world can certainly try it’s hardest to beat us down, cause us to doubt, and take away our joy, but it cannot be taken away so let us start living like we believe this. Let us live as victorious Christians. Let us acknowledge and believe that in turmoil, pain, suffering, and persecution joy can be found. Let this truth be our foundation. We live in a time of uncertainty, violence, godlessness, amoralism and turmoil and this should not affect our lives in the least. We have overcome the world because we belong to Jesus and He is the ultimate victor thus giving us victory as well.
Biblical Studies Press. (2006; 2006). The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible. Biblical Studies Press.