Sorrow will turn to Joy

by Sey Yen

Scripture taken from John 16:1-24

First Part: Necessities of Pain and how to Face it

From verses 1-4, He started with the warning of prosecution.

 These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble. They will put you out of the synagogues yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor  Me.  But these things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them. And these things I did not say to you at the beginning, because I was with you.


He did not want them to be surprised and stumbled by it. They will be rejected everywhere they go to preach the Gospel. Note that Jesus used the word “these” refers to many opposition and persecution that may come.


In verse 2 When He said, The time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service, who did He refer to ? Jesus is referring to Saul of Tarsus before his conversion showed in Acts 8:1-3 who prosecutes the early church and approve of Stephen stoning and thinks that he offer God service.


Jesus did well to warn us, because it comes as a great shock that a gospel that is so glorious is hated so passionately. He did not tell His disciples these things at the beginning, the reason is because He had been in their company, and as long as He was with them the world’s hatred has been drawn to Jesus Himself.


Like the parable of the sower:

Matthew 13:19-21 “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside. But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles”


Jesus warn us so that we can take heed and not stumble when tribulation and persecution arises.


In verse 5-7,  Jesus explains the benefits of His departure.

But now I go away to Him who sent Me, and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.”


Notice that Jesus said, None of you asks Me, “Where are You going”. Ironically, Peter had asked this question earlier John 13:36 “Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, where are You going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow Me now, but you shall follow Me afterward.”


But in this context, why Jesus said” none of you ask , where are am I going  ?


What Jesus means not only the words  but more of checking the heart of the disciple.


They previously asked was about themselves, what will happen to us when Jesus leave, not in the sense what Jesus meant here , what will happen to Jesus when Jesus leave.


However Peter he made no real attempt to find out where Jesus was going. He had been concerned with the thought of parting with Jesus, and not with Jesus’s final destination. What he had in mind is what will affect  him and his fellow disciples. In this situation, we can see that the disciples are relying on their own human wisdom.


In Verse 6 : Jesus said But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart:


Jesus did not blame the disciple for lacking of interest in His fate, knowing their great sorrow. The disciples could only see the sorrow of Jesus leaving but Jesus’ departure was an essential step in their growth as disciples.

And Jesus said in verse 7

Nevertheless , I tell you the truth “It is to your advantage that I go away”:


In KJV and NKJV, the word Nevertheless,  These word meant a challenge to their sorrow and even their unbelief. Nevertheless  means despite of all circumstances. Jesus knew they were filled with sorrow because of what He told them. But, despite all of all circumstances that He wanted them to know that it was to their advantage.


This disciple hardly understand this statement. When our loved one is suffering and there is no way to cure it, we often think it is the best to let death take its natural course. We say, “It will be better for them to go, and to stop the suffering. It is to their advantage they go away. Yet Jesus here said that it was not to His advantage, but it is to our advantage that He go away.


If the disciples really understood what was about to happen, it would be even more difficult for them to believe. Now I would like us to ponder even as Easter is drawing near, let us ponder on these thoughts:


To our advantage that Jesus is arrested

To our advantage that Jesus is beaten

To our advantage that Jesus is mocked

To our advantage that Jesus is nailed to a cross


What are the advantages that we receive?


  • It was better because Jesus could be with every believer all the time. Jesus promised, “ For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them“ Matthew 18:20.
  • It was better because now we have communion with God.
  • It was better because now we can have a more trusting relationship with God.
  • Before Jesus left , the disciples were confused, selfish and self-centered and we see many of their fleshly weaknesses.  After Jesus left and after the Holy Spirit had come they were wise, bold and proclaiming the gospel everywhere.
  • Lastly and the most important one, It was better because Jesus’ work is better understood as He is enthroned in the heavens and fulfilled the Father’s plan of salvation.  He finished His work on the cross and the perfect plan of salvation.

Verse:  (8-11)

And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in  Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.


Sin is the truth about man, righteousness is the truth about God, judgment is the combination of these two truths.

Before the convicting work of the Holy Spirit one may say, I make a lot of mistakes , I am useless, I do something always get condemned, nobody’s perfect. After the convicting work of the Holy Spirit one may say, I’m a sinner, and I must rely on Jesus to get right with God.


The Spirit also reveals Christ in the lives of believers. The world cannot receive or see the Spirit of God, but they can see what He does as they watch the lives of believers, in other words the testimonies of believers. The Spirit convicts the lost sinner of judgment.


When a lost sinner is truly under conviction, he will see the sin of unbelief,  he will confess that he does not measure up to the righteousness of Christ, and he will realize that he is under condemnation because he belongs to the world and the devil .The only person who can rescue him from such a horrible situation is Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

There can be no conversion without conviction, and there can be no conviction apart from the Spirit of God using the Word of God and the witness of the child of God.


In verse  (12-15) The work of the Holy Spirit among the disciples.

When Jesus told the disciple that He still have many things to say to them,  Jesus frankly admitted that His own teaching was incomplete  and he anticipated the further instruction of the church by the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit, won’t be teaching us new doctrines. The Spirit of God will be reminding his disciples of what Jesus has already taught them (14:26). The Spirit will listen to Jesus and relay this to us, just as Jesus listened to the Father and communicate that to his disciples (5:30), and only spoke what the Father told him to say (12:49). Both Jesus and the Spirit will speak the Father’s Words to us. The Holy Spirit’s ministry is revealing Jesus to us, to bear testimony of Jesus  John 15:26.

Verse (16-18) Jesus tells them of His immediate, brief departure.

The disciples didn’t understand that the arrest of Jesus was only an hour or two away, and then His crucifixion would follow. Yet because He must go to the Father, they would see Him again as He rose from the dead.

Jesus understood that the disciples wanted more clarity; but He also knew that they needed more information. They needed their hearts and minds prepared to endure the coming crisis.



Second Part:  Sorrow will turn to Joy


Types of sorrow the disciples experienced:

  • Sorrowful at the loss of relationship with Jesus
  • Sorrowful at the humiliation of Master
  • Sorrowful because all they hoped for was taken away

The crucifixion and all that went with it was not a roadblock in the road on the way to fulfilling God’s plan, as if it were an obstacle to overcome. It was the way the plan would be fulfilled where eventually the sorrow would turn into joy.

God’s work of salvation was not to replace our sorrow with joy, but to turn sorrow into joy, as He often does in our lives.

Charles Spurgeon once quoted  “It is most remarkable and instructive that the apostles do not appear in their sermons or epistles to have spoken of the death of our Lord with any kind of regret. The gospels mention their distress during the actual occurrence of the crucifixion, but after the resurrection, and especially after Pentecost, we hear of no such grief.”

Verse 22,  I will see you again and your heart will rejoice: The disciple  didn’t fully understand the separation, so they could not fully understand the joy of the coming reunion. Yet when it happened, no one could deny their joy-filled testimony of the resurrection. It was testimony so sure that they endured death because of it.

Jesus said, Your joy no one will take from you: “Jesus’s  meaning appears to have been this that his resurrection should be so completely demonstrated to the world that no one can take away the joy.

Verse 23 In that day you will ask Me nothing: Jesus probably meant that they would be so overcome with joy and relief at the resurrection that they would be speechless/overwhelming when it came to making requests of Jesus. Yet the pathway to audience with God and answered prayer was more open, not more closed.

When we are too consumed with our own problems, it is impossible to focus on another person’s problem. Is our physical sorrow hurting us, or are we relying too much on our own understanding, trying to solve every single things by ourselves, or do we have marriage or family problem that affect us . Like the disciple, we should not caught up with the sorrow, but God allow us to experience the sorrow so that we can comfort others. 2 Cor 1:3-4


God is always looking to “help” us  in the sense that He takes over and consumes us as He wants to do His work in and through you.

Philippians 2:3 says, “ It is God who work in us to will and act according to His good purpose”