John 16:16–33: Grief turned to joy

In John 16:16, Yeshua repeats the warning He would be separated from His disciples physically (Mk. 9:31–32; Jn. 7:33; 12:35; 13:33; 14:18–24; 16:5). 

The Eleven are a little confused and didn’t understand or want to understand His proverb: “you won’t see Me then you will.” The  Greek word that is translated as “little while” is μικρός mikros (Strong’s lexicon No. G3398). It’s a word that is the root of words such as micro, micron. It means something very small.  It seems to refer to the “three days” of Yeshua’s death and resurrection. It’s Hebrew equivalent is katan. For example a talit katan, is a small talit often worn as an undershirt. 

However, other Scriptural uses of mikros and related words βραχύς brachus (G1024) and ὀλίγος oligos (G3641) point to Yeshua’s time as a human and the time leading up to the Day of the LORD being a brief time (Heb. 10:37 (quoting Hab. 2:3); Jas. 4:14; 1Pet. 1:6; 5:10; Rev. 6:11; 17:10). 

Critics say that the disciples use of the word mirkos was based on their misunderstanding but that is not the case. The expectation of “a little while” is really a little while because in God’s time, all of time is “a little while.” 

Why does God keep using the term “a little while” and says He is not going to tarry, when from the time of Habakkuk to Yeshua was 400 years? Or even Moshe’s foretelling of a Messiah was over 1,400 years before He came. 

We have to live as if He is going to come today. Today, if you hear God’s voice, is when you are to respond and make your choice. 

Since the times of Moshe and Israel’s exilic prophets ― about four centuries ― the people had waited for the Coming One (ὁ ἐρχόμενος ho Erchomenos, Matt. 11:3), aka the Mashiakh.

Yeshua taught via a string of interconnected parables and proverbs that we must always be ready for the Day of the LORD (Luke 12:16–53):

“And the Lord said, ‘Who then is the faithful and sensible steward, whom his master will put in charge of his servants, to give them their rations at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes.’ ” (Luke 12:42–43 NASB)

One lesson of this parable is that we are to respect other people. We are to treat those in our realm of responsibility and contact with respect today, not to wait until we get our act together. This is the point of the  “second-greatest commandment.” (Lev. 19:18; Mt. 19:19; Mk. 12:31; Lk. 10:27; Rom. 13:9; Gal. 5:14; Jas. 2:8). 

We are to remember that we are in the presence of the Master. We are not to become obsessed with pleasure, leisure and departure. People like to “tune out” in various ways, but taking ourselves from situation doesn’t really take us away from the situation. 

Pleasure, beauty and laughter are enjoyable, but they are fleeting. Excesses lose their fun, wrinkles come, and jokes get old. Thankfully, sorrow can be as fleeting, if we let it go. What we put into the lives of others, that is what lasts through time. 

The apostles likened our training as ambassadors for the Kingdom of God to preparing for endurance in sports:

“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.” (1Cor. 9:24–25 New American Standard Bible Update)

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Yeshua, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb. 12:1–2)

If we are going to “run” as God’s servants, we have to be careful not to run faster than we’ve trained to, otherwise, we set ourselves up to get “winded” and quit. If we are running faster than the Spirit, we can exhaust that Spirit. 

Some of God’s servants have gotten so caught up in the work, they forget to pray, to take care of their house and they burn out. This is what happens when we presume that the call of God is a sprint when it’s actually a marathon.

We are racing against our former way of life before the covering of Mashiakh’s death and invitation of the Spirit of God. We are to rejoice at every milestone we pass. Yeshua repeatedly told the congregations they were to overcome. Each congregation had to overcome a different issue but they all were called to overcome to reach their goal.

As we wait for the “little while” we can see where God has changed us and moved us from the old life to the new life.  

“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.” (1 Corinthians 9:24–25 NASB)

We are not racing our fellow believers in Yeshua as though we are in competition with each other. That old life lacked self-control and shrank away from persecution, leading one to want to decide the Kingdom of God isn’t worth the personal sacrifice.

For Yeshua, washing people’s feet, like the lowest slave, was not an issue for Him. He knew where He came from and where He is going. What the world considers as a high or low status meant nothing to Him. 

We are sons and daughter of the Kingdom of God. That is not a pollyanna goal that we will never attain. You are not looking at yourself as God sees you. God told Paul that He had a lot of people in Corinth. Corinth was one of the most decadent cities in the Roman Empire but God was looking at the inside, not the outside. 

The Apostle Paul in Romans 12 revealed to us the point of the offerings in the Torah: sacrifice all of what’s inside of us that keeps us from siding with the Creator of the Universe and His direction for how life works best. The Torah is not a slaughterhouse manual, it’s about a transformation of a nation and the entire world. It’s how to erase the old man or old woman and to bring out the new man or woman. 

The needed endurance training is what Yeshua had been telling the Eleven that Pesakh, recorded in John 13–15: God’s Helpers ― the Mashiakh and the Ruakh haKodesh ― are essential to starting and maintaining the new life as a guilt-free. 

Just as in the Torah, you see how leadership moved from Moshe to Joshua is similar to how Yeshua was preparing the Eleven to take over leadership. From the one who spoke to God face to face to ones who have the Spirit of God in a different kind of fullness. 

“Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full.” (John 16:24 NASB)

What are we asking for? We are asking for the Helper to help us and move us into the new realm. 

Read Deuteronomy 30-32 to get the whole context just as you read John 13-17. I encourage you to feel the same emotion that is going on through a transition in leadership. Yeshua would be leaving the Eleven, but they were not going to be left behind, powerless and alone. Neither are we.

Speaker: Jeff. Summary: Tammy. Because of a technical problem, there is no recording of this discussion.


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