Sermon: “I Have Overcome the World” (John 16:16–33)
Throughout the Upper Room Discourse, Jesus has moved between comforting the disciples in their sorrow and encouraging them in the hope of his soon-to-be finished work and the coming of the Holy Spirit. In John 14, Jesus both promises that he is going away from them to prepare a place for them in his Father’s house (John 14:2–3) and also addresses their concerns about being left as orphans (John 14:18) with troubled hearts (John 14:27). Then, John 15:1–17, Jesus beautifully described how the disciples would be his branches so that he, the vine, would produce abiding fruit in them. Afterward, Jesus abruptly transitioned to warning them that they would face the full brunt of the hatred of the world (John 15:18–25). Next, Jesus encouraged them with the hope of the coming Holy Spirit (John 15:26–27), and then he immediately returned to the subject of the hatred of the world (John 16:1–4a).
In the immediately preceding passage, Jesus encouraged the disciples through a glorious description of the ministry of the Holy Spirit as a floodlight to glorify Jesus and as the Treasurer of the Trinity (John 16:4b–15). According to the pattern, it should perhaps not surprise us that after a word of encouragement, Jesus now again forces his disciples to face the brutal facts: Jesus will go away, and they will not see him any longer in the way in which they have grown accustomed. Jesus does not shy away from the truth that this coming departure will be bitterly sorrowful for the disciples, even as the watching world rejoices to rid themselves of Jesus. Nevertheless, Jesus promises this comforting word to his disciples: Jesus brings forth joy out of the sorrow of the cross.