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5But now I am going to him who sent me; yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts. 7Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: 9about sin, because they do not believe in me; 10about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; 11about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned.

12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

Sorrow Will Turn into Joy

16 “A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me.” 17Then some of his disciples said to one another, “What does he mean by saying to us, ‘A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and ‘Because I am going to the Father’?” 18They said, “What does he mean by this ‘a little while’? We do not know what he is talking about.” 19Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, “Are you discussing among yourselves what I meant when I said, ‘A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’? 20Very truly, I tell you, you will weep and mourn, but the world will rejoice; you will have pain, but your pain will turn into joy.


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Persecution Foretold; The Expediency of Christ's Departure.

1 These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended.   2 They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.   3 And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me.   4 But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them. And these things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you.   5 But now I go my way to him that sent me; and none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou?   6 But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart.

Christ dealt faithfully with his disciples when he sent them forth on his errands, for he told them the worst of it, that they might sit down and count the cost. He had told them in the chapter before to expect the world's hatred; now here in these verses,

I. He gives them a reason why he alarmed them thus with the expectation of trouble: These things have I spoken unto you, that you should not be offended, or scandalized, v. 1. 1. The disciples of Christ are apt to be offended at the cross; and the offence of the cross is a dangerous temptation, even to good men, to turn back from the ways of God, or turn aside out of them, or drive on heavily in them; to quit either their integrity or their comfort. It is not for nothing that a suffering time is called an hour of temptation. 2. Our Lord Jesus, by giving us notice of trouble, designed to take off the terror of it, that it might not be a surprise to us. Of all the adversaries of our peace, in this world of troubles, none insult us more violently, nor put our troops more into disorder, than disappointment does; but we can easily welcome a guest we expect, and being fore-warned are fore-armed—Præmoniti, præmuniti.

II. He foretels particularly what they should suffer (v. 2): "Those that have power to do it shall put you out of their synagogues; and this is not the worst, they shall kill you." Ecce duo-gladii—Behold two swords drawn against the followers of the Lord Jesus.

1. The sword of ecclesiastical censure; this is drawn against them by the Jews, for they were the only pretenders to church-power. They shall cast you out of their synagogues; aposynagogous poiesousin hymasthey shall make you excommunicates. (1.) "They shall cast you out of the particular synagogues you were members of." At first, they scourged them in their synagogues as contemners of the law (Matt. x. 17), and at length cast them out as incorrigible. (2.) "They shall cast you out of the congregation of Israel in general, the national church of the Jews; shall debar you from the privileges of that, put you into the condition of an outlaw," qui caput gerit lupinum—to be knocked on the head, like another wolf; "they will look upon you as Samaritans, as heathen men and publicans." Interdico tibi aqua et igne—I forbid you the use of water and fire. And were it not for the penalties, forfeitures, and incapacities, incurred hereby, it would be no injury to be thus driven out of a house infected and falling. Note, It has often been the lot of Christ's disciples to be unjustly excommunicated. Many a good truth has been branded with an anathema, and many a child of God delivered to Satan.

2. The sword of civil power: "The time cometh, the hour is come; now things are likely to be worse with you than hitherto they have been; when you are expelled as heretics, they will kill you, and think they do God service, and others will think so too." (1.) You will find them really cruel: They will kill you. Christ's sheep have been accounted as sheep for the slaughter; the twelve apostles (we are told) were all put to death, except John. Christ had said (ch. xv. 27), You shall bear witness, martyreiteyou shall be martyrs, shall seal the truth with your blood, your heart's blood. (2.) You will find them seemingly conscientious; they will think they do God service; they will seem latreian prosphereinto offer a good sacrifice to God; as those that cast out God's servants of old, and said, Let the Lord be glorified, Isa. lxvi. 5. Note, [1.] It is possible for those that are real enemies to God's service to pretend a mighty zeal for it. The devil's work has many a time been done in God's livery, and one of the most mischievous enemies Christianity ever had sits in the temple of God. Nay, [2.] It is common to patronise an enmity to religion with a color of duty to God, and service to his church. God's people have suffered the greatest hardships from conscientious persecutors. Paul verily thought he ought to do what he did against the name of Jesus. This does not at all lessen the sin of the persecutors, for villanies will never be consecrated by putting the name of God to them; but it does enhance the sufferings of the persecuted, to die under the character of being enemies to God; but there will be a resurrection of names as well as of bodies at the great day.

III. He gives them the true reason of the world's enmity and rage against them (v. 3): "These things will they do unto you, not because you have done them any harm, but because they have not known the Father, nor me. Let this comfort you, that none will be your enemies but the worst of men." Note, 1. Many that pretend to know God are wretchedly ignorant of him. Those that pretend to do him service thought they knew him, but it was a wrong notion they had of him. Israel transgressed the covenant, and yet cried, My God, we know thee. Hos. viii. 1, 2. 2. Those that are ignorant of Christ cannot have any right knowledge of God. In vain do men pretend to know God and religion, while they slight Christ and Christianity. 3. Those are very ignorant indeed of God and Christ that think it an acceptable piece of service to persecute good people. Those that know Christ know that he came not into the world to destroy men's lives, but to save them; that he rules by the power of truth and love, not of fire and sword. Never was such a persecuting church as that which makes ignorance the mother of devotion.

IV. He tells them why he gave them notice of this now, and why not sooner.

1. Why he told them of it now (v. 4), not to discourage them, or add to their present sorrow; nor did he tell them of their danger that they might contrive how to avoid it, but that "when the time shall come (and you may be sure it will come), you may remember that I told you." Note, When suffering times come it will be of use to us to remember what Christ has told us of sufferings. (1.) That our belief of Christ's foresight and faithfulness may be confirmed; and, (2.) That the trouble may be the less grievous, for we were told of it before, and we took up our profession in expectation of it, so that it ought not to be a surprise to us, nor looked upon as a wrong to us. As Christ in his sufferings, so his followers in theirs, should have an eye to the fulfilling of the scripture.

2. Why he did not tell them of it sooner: "I spoke not this to you from the beginning when you and I came to be first acquainted, because I was with you." (1.) While he was with them, he bore the shock of the world's malice, and stood in the front of the battle; against him the powers of darkness levelled all their force, not against small or great, but only against the king of Israel, and therefore he did not need to say so much to them of suffering, because it did not fall much to their share; but we do find that from the beginning he bade them prepare for sufferings; and therefore, (2.) It seems rather to be meant of the promise of another comforter. This he had said little of to them at the beginning, because he was himself with them to instruct, guide, and comfort them, and then they needed not the promise of the Spirit's extraordinary presence. The children of the bride-chamber would not have so much need of a comforter till the bridegroom should be taken away.

V. He expresses a very affectionate concern for the present sadness of his disciples, upon occasion of what he had said to them (v. 5, 6): "Now I am to be no longer with you, but go my way to him that sent me, to repose there, after this fatigue; and none of you asketh me, with any courage, Whither goest thou? But, instead of enquiring after that which would comfort you, you pore upon that which looks melancholy, and sorrow has filled your heart."

1. He had told them that he was about to leave them: Now I go my way. He was not driven away by force, but voluntarily departed; his life was not extorted from him, but deposited by him. He went to him that sent him, to give an account of his negotiation. Thus, when we depart out of this world, we go to him that sent us into it, which should make us all solicitous to live to good purposes, remembering we have a commission to execute, which must be returned at a certain day.

2. He had told them what hard times they must suffer when he was gone, and that they must not expect such an easy quiet life as they had had. Now, if these were the legacies he had to leave to them, who had left all for him, they would be tempted to think they had made a sorry bargain of it, and were, for the present, in a consternation about it, in which their master sympathizes with them, yet blames them, (1.) That they were careless of the means of comfort, and did not stir up themselves to seek it: None of you asks me, Whither goest thou? Peter had started this question (ch. xiii. 36), and Thomas had seconded it (ch. xiv. 5), but they did not pursue it, they did not take the answer; they were in the dark concerning it, and did not enquire further, nor seek for fuller satisfaction; they did not continue seeking, continue knocking. See what a compassionate teacher Christ is, and how condescending to the weak and ignorant. Many a teacher will not endure that the learner should ask the same question twice; if he cannot take a thing quickly, let him go without it; but our Lord Jesus knows how to deal with babes, that must be taught with precept upon precept. If the disciples here would have found that his going away was for his advancement, and therefore his departure from them should not inordinately trouble them (for why should they be against his preferment?) and for their advantage, and therefore their sufferings for him should not inordinately trouble them; for a sight of Jesus at the right hand of God would be an effectual support to them, as it was to Stephen. Note, A humble believing enquiry into the design and tendency of the darkest dispensations of Providence would help to reconcile us to them, and to grieve the less, and fear the less, because of them; it will silence us to ask, Whence came they? but will abundantly satisfy us to ask, Whither go they? for we know they work for good, Rom. viii. 28.

(2.) That they were too intent, and pored too much, upon the occasions of their grief: Sorrow has filled their hearts. Christ had said enough to fill them with joy (ch. xv. 11); but by looking at that only which made against them, and overlooking that which made for them, they were so full of sorrow that there was no room left for joy. Note, It is the common fault and folly of melancholy Christians to dwell upon the dark side of the cloud, to meditate nothing but terror, and turn a deaf ear to the voice of joy and gladness. That which filled the disciples' hearts with sorrow, and hindered the operation of the cordials Christ administered, was too great an affection to this present life. They were big with hopes of their Master's external kingdom and glory, and that they should shine and reign with him: and now, instead of that, to hear of nothing but bonds and afflictions, this filled them with sorrow. Nothing is a greater prejudice to our joy in God than the love of the world; and the sorrow of the world, the consequence of it.

The Expediency of Christ's Departure; The Promise of the Spirit.

7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.   8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:   9 Of sin, because they believe not on me;   10 Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more;   11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.   12 I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.   13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come.   14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you.   15 All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall show it unto you.

As it was usual with the Old Testament prophets to comfort the church in its calamities with the promise of the Messiah (Isa. ix. 6; Mic. v. 6; Zech. iii. 8); so, the Messiah being come, the promise of the Spirit was the great cordial, and is still.

Three things we have here concerning the Comforter's coming:

I. That Christ's departure was absolutely necessary to the Comforter's coming, v. 7. The disciples were so loth to believe this that Christ saw cause to assert it with a more than ordinary solemnity: I tell you the truth. We may be confident of the truth of everything that Christ told us; he has no design to impose upon us. Now, to make them easy, he here tells them,

1. In general, It was expedient for them that he should go away. This was strange doctrine, but if it was true it was comfortable enough, and showed them how absurd their sorrow was. It is expedient, not only for me, but for you also, that I go away; though they did not see it, and are loth to believe it, so it is. Note, (1.) Those things often seem grievous to us that are really expedient for us; and particularly our going away when we have finished our course. (2.) Our Lord Jesus is always for that which is most expedient for us, whether we think so or no. He deals not with us according to the folly of our own choice, but graciously over-rules it, and gives us the physic we are loth to take, because he knows it is good for us.

2. It was therefore expedient because it was in order to the sending of the Spirit. Now observe,

(1.) That Christ's going was in order to the Comforter's coming.

[1.] This is expressed negatively: If I go not away, the Comforter will not come. And why not? First, So it was settled in the divine counsels concerning this affair, and the measure must not be altered; shall the earth be forsaken for them? He that gives freely may recall one gift before he bestows another, while we would fondly hold all. Secondly, It is congruous enough that the ambassador extraordinary should be recalled, before the envoy come, that is constantly to reside. Thirdly, The sending of the Spirit was to be the fruit of Christ's purchase, and that purchase was to be made by his death, which was his going away. Fourthly, It was to be an answer to his intercession within the veil. See ch. xiv. 16. Thus must this gift be both paid for, and prayed for, by our Lord Jesus, that we might learn to put the greater value upon it. Fifthly, The great argument the Spirit was to use in convincing the world must be Christ's ascension into heaven, and his welcome here. See v. 10, and ch. vii. 39. Lastly, The disciples must be weaned from his bodily presence, which they were too apt to dote upon, before they were duly prepared to receive the spiritual aids and comforts of a new dispensation.

[2.] It is expressed positively: If I depart I will send him to you; as though he had said, "Trust me to provide effectually that you shall be no loser by my departure." The glorified Redeemer is not unmindful of his church on earth, nor will ever leave it without its necessary supports. Though he departs, he sends the Comforter, nay, he departs on purpose to send him. Thus still, though one generation of ministers and Christians depart, another is raised up in their room, for Christ will maintain his own cause.

(2.) That the presence of Christ's Spirit in his church is so much better, and more desirable, than his bodily presence, that it was really expedient for us that he should go away, to send the Comforter. His corporal presence could be put in one place at one time, but his Spirit is every where, in all places, at all times, wherever two or three are gathered in his name. Christ's bodily presence draws men's eyes, his Spirit draws their hearts; that was the letter which kills, his Spirit gives life.

II. That the coming of the Spirit was absolutely necessary to the carrying on of Christ's interests on earth (v. 8): And when he is come, elthon ekeinos. He that is sent is willing of himself to come, and at his first coming he will do this, he will reprove, or, as the margin reads it, he will convince the world, by your ministry, concerning sin, righteousness, and judgment.

1. See here what the office of the Spirit is, and on what errand he is sent. (1.) To reprove. The Spirit, by the word and conscience, is a reprover; ministers are reprovers by office, and by them the Spirit reproves. (2.) To convince. It is a law-term, and speaks the office of the judge in summing up the evidence, and setting a matter that has been long canvassed in a clear and true light. He shall convince, that is, "He shall put to silence the adversaries of Christ and his cause, by discovering and demonstrating the falsehood and fallacy of that which they have maintained, and the truth and certainty of that which they have opposed." Note, Convincing work is the Spirit's work; he can do it effectually, and none but he; man may open the cause, but it is the Spirit only that can open the heart. The Spirit is called the Comforter (v. 7), and here it is said, He shall convince. One would think this were cold comfort, but it is the method the Spirit takes, first to convince, and then to comfort; first to lay open the wound, and then to apply healing medicines. Or, taking conviction more generally, for a demonstration of what is right, it intimates that the Spirit's comforts are solid, and grounded upon truth.

2. See who they are whom he is to reprove and convince: The world, both Jew and Gentile. (1.) He shall give the world the most powerful means of conviction, for the apostles shall go into all the world, backed by the Spirit, to preach the gospel, fully proved. (2.) He shall sufficiently provide for the taking off and silencing of the objections and prejudices of the world against the gospel. Many an infidel was convinced of all and judged of all, 1 Cor. xiv. 24. (3.) He shall effectually and savingly convince many in the world, some in every age, in every place, in order to their conversion to the faith of Christ. Now this was an encouragement to the disciples, in reference to the difficulties they were likely to meet with, [1.] That they should see good done, Satan's kingdom fall like lightning, which would be their joy, as it was his. Even this malignant world the Spirit shall work upon; and the conviction of sinners is the comfort of faithful ministers. [2.] That this would be the fruit of their services and sufferings, these should contribute very much to this good work.

3. See what the Spirit shall convince the world of.

(1.) Of sin (v. 9), because they believe not on me. [1.] The Spirit is sent to convince sinners of sin, not barely to tell them of it; in conviction there is more than this; it is to prove it upon them, and force them to own it, as they (ch. viii. 9) that were convicted of their own consciences. Make them to know their abominations. The Spirit convinces of the fact of sin, that we have done so and so; of the fault of sin, that we have done ill in doing so; of the folly of sin, that we have acted against right reason, and our true interest; of the filth of sin, that by it we are become odious to God; of the fountain of sin, the corrupt nature; and lastly, of the fruit of sin, that the end thereof is death. The Spirit demonstrates the depravity and degeneracy of the whole world, that all the world is guilty before God. [2.] The Spirit, in conviction, fastens especially upon the sin of unbelief, their not believing in Christ, First, As the great reigning sin. There was, and is, a world of people, that believe not in Jesus Christ, and they are not sensible that it is their sin. Natural conscience tells them that murder and theft are sin; but it is a supernatural work of the spirit to convince them that it is a sin to suspend their belief of the gospel, and to reject the salvation offered by it. Natural religion, after it has given us its best discoveries and directions, lays and leaves us under this further obligation, that whatever divine revelation shall be made to us at any time, with sufficient evidence to prove it divine, we accept it, and submit to it. This law those transgress who, when God speaketh to us by his Son, refuse him that speaketh; and therefore it is sin. Secondly, As the great ruining sin. Every sin is so in its own nature; no sin is so to them that believe in Christ; so that it is unbelief that damns sinners. It is because of this that they cannot enter into rest, that they cannot escape the wrath of God; it is a sin against the remedy. Thirdly, As that which is at the bottom of all sin; so Calvin takes it. The Spirit shall convince the world that the true reason why sin reigns among them is because they are not by faith united to Christ. Ne putimus vel guttam unam rectitudinis sine Christo nobis inesse—Let us not suppose that, apart from Christ, we have a drop of rectitude.—Calvin.

(2.) Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and you see me no more, v. 10. We may understand this, [1.] Of Christ's personal righteousness. He shall convince the world that Jesus of Nazareth was Christ the righteous (1 John ii. 1), as the centurion owned (Luke xxiii. 47), Certainly this was a righteous man. His enemies put him under the worst of characters, and multitudes were not or would not be convinced but that he was a bad man, which strengthened their prejudices against his doctrine; but he is justified by the spirit (1 Tim. iii. 16), he is proved to be a righteous man, and not, a deceiver; and then the point is in effect gained; for he is either the great Redeemer or a great cheat; but a cheat we are sure he is not. Now by what medium or argument will the Spirit convince men of the sincerity of the Lord Jesus? Why, First, Their seeing him no more will contribute something towards the removal of their prejudices; they shall see him no more in the likeness of sinful flesh, in the form of a servant, which made them slight him. Moses was more respected after his removal than before. But, Secondly, His going to the Father would be a full conviction of it. The coming of the Spirit, according to the promise, was a proof of Christ's exaltation to God's right hand (Acts ii. 33), and this was a demonstration of his righteousness; for the holy God would never set a deceiver at his right hand. [2.] Of Christ's righteousness communicated to us for our justification and salvation; that everlasting righteousness which Messiah was to bring in, Dan. ix. 24. Now, First, The Spirit shall convince men of this righteousness. Having by convictions of sin shown them their need of a righteousness, lest this should drive them to despair he will show them where it is to be had, and how they may, upon their believing, be acquitted from guilt, and accepted as righteous in God's sight. It was hard to convince those of this righteousness that went about to establish their own (Rom. x. 3), but the Spirit will do it. Secondly, Christ's ascension is the great argument proper to convince men of this righteousness: I go to the Father, and, as an evidence of my welcome with him, you shall see me no more. If Christ had left any part of his undertaking unfinished, he had been sent back again; but now that we are sure he is at the right hand of God, we are sure of being justified through him.

(3.) Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged, v. 11. Observe here, [1.] The devil, the prince of this world, was judged, was discovered to be a great deceiver and destroyer, and as such judgment was entered against him, and execution in part done. He was cast out of the Gentile world when his oracles were silenced and his altars deserted, cast out of the bodies of many in Christ's name, which miraculous power continued long in the church; he was cast out of the souls of people by the grace of God working with the gospel of Christ; he fell as lightning from heaven. [2.] This is a good argument wherewith the Spirit convinces the world of judgment, that is, First, Of inherent holiness and sanctification, Matt. xii. 18. By the judgment of the prince of this world, it appears that Christ is stronger than Satan, and can disarm and dispossess him, and set up his throne upon the ruin of his. Secondly, Of a new and better dispensation of things. He shall show that Christ's errand into the world was to set things to right in it, and to introduce times of reformation and regeneration; and he proves it by this, that the prince of this world, the great master of misrule, is judged and expelled. All will be well when his power is broken who made the mischief. Thirdly, Of the power and dominion of the Lord Jesus. He shall convince the world that all judgment is committed to him, and that he is the Lord of all, which is evident by this, that he has judged the prince of this world, has broken the serpent's head, destroyed him that had the power of death, and spoiled principalities; if Satan be thus subdued by Christ, we may be sure no other power can stand before him. Fourthly, Of the final day of judgment: all the obstinate enemies of Christ's gospel and kingdom shall certainly be reckoned with at last, for the devil, their ringleader, is judged.

III. That the coming of the Spirit would be of unspeakable advantage to the disciples themselves. The Spirit has work to do, not only on the enemies of Christ, to convince and humble them, but upon his servants and agents, to instruct and comfort them; and therefore it was expedient for them that he should go away.

1. He intimates to them the tender sense he had of their present weakness (v. 12): I have yet many things to say unto you (not which should have been said, but which he could and would have said), but you cannot bear them now. See what a teacher Christ is. (1.) None like him for copiousness; when he has said much, he has still many things more to say; treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hid in him, if we be not straitened in ourselves. (2.) None like him for compassion; he would have told them more of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God, particularly of the rejection of the Jews and the calling of the Gentiles, but they could not bear it, it would have confounded and stumbled them, rather than have given them any satisfaction. When, after his resurrection, they spoke to him of restoring the kingdom to Israel, he referred them to the coming of the Holy Ghost, by which they should receive power to bear those discoveries which were so contrary to the notions they had received that they could not bear them now.

2. He assures them of sufficient assistances, by the pouring out of the Spirit. They were now conscious to themselves of great dulness, and many mistakes; and what shall they do now their master is leaving them? "But when he, the Spirit of Truth, is come, you will be easy, and all will be well." Well indeed; for he shall undertake to guide the apostles, and glorify Christ.

(1.) To guide the apostles. He will take care,

[1.] That they do not miss their way: He will guide you; as the camp of Israel was guided through the wilderness by the pillar of cloud and fire. The Spirit guided their tongues in speaking, and their pens in writing, to secure them from mistakes. The Spirit is given us to be our guide (Rom. viii. 14), not only to show us the way, but to go along with us, by his continued aids and influences.

[2.] That they do not come short of their end: He will guide them into all truth, as the skilful pilot guides the ship into the port it is bound for. To be led into a truth is more than barely to know it; it is to be intimately and experimentally acquainted with it; to be piously and strongly affected with it; not only to have the notion of it in our heads, but the relish and savour and power of it in our hearts; it denotes a gradual discovery of truth shining more and more: "He shall lead you by those truths that are plain and easy to those that are more difficult." But how into all truth? The meaning is,

First, Into the whole truth relating to their embassy; whatever was needful or useful for them to know, in order to the due discharge of their office, they should be fully instructed in it; what truths they were to teach others the Spirit would teach them, would give them the understanding of, and enable them both to explain and to defend.

Secondly, Into nothing but the truth. All that he shall guide you into shall be truth (1 John ii. 27); the anointing is truth. In the following words he proves both these:—1. "The Spirit shall teach nothing but the truth, for he shall not speak of himself any doctrine distinct from mine, but whatsoever he shall hear, and knows to be the mind of the Father, that, and that only, shall he speak." This intimates, (1.) That the testimony of the Spirit, in the word and by the apostles, is what we may rely upon. The Spirit knows and searches all things, even the deep things of God, and the apostles received that Spirit (1 Cor. ii. 10, 11), so that we may venture our souls upon the Spirit's word. (2.) That the testimony of the Spirit always concurs with the word of Christ, for he does not speak of himself, has no separate interest or intention of his own, but, as in essence so in records, he is one with the Father and the Son, 1 John v. 7. Men's word and spirit often disagree, but the eternal Word and the eternal Spirit never do. 2. "He shall teach you all truth, and keep back nothing that is profitable for you, for he will show you things to come." The Spirit was in the apostles a Spirit of prophecy; it was foretold that he should be so (Joel ii. 28), and he was so. The Spirit showed them things to come, as Acts xi. 28; xx. 23; xxi. 11. The Spirit spoke of the apostasy of the latter times, 1 Tim. iv. 1. John, when he was in the Spirit had things to come shown him in vision. Now this was a great satisfaction to their own minds, and of use to them in their conduct, and was also a great confirmation of their mission. Jansenius has a pious note upon this: We should not grudge that the Spirit does not show us things to come in this world, as he did to the apostles; let it suffice that the Spirit in the word hath shown us things to come in the other world, which are our chief concern.

(2.) The Spirit undertook to glorify Christ, v. 14, 15. [1.] Even the sending of the Spirit was the glorifying of Christ. God the Father glorified him in heaven, and the Spirit glorified him on earth. It was the honour of the Redeemer that the Spirit was both sent in his name and sent on his errand, to carry on and perfect his undertaking. All the gifts and graces of the Spirit, all the preaching and all the writing of the apostles, under the influence of the Spirit, the tongues, and miracles, were to glorify Christ. [2.] The Spirit glorified Christ by leading his followers into the truth as it is in Jesus, Eph. iv. 21. He assures them, First, that the Spirit should communicate the things of Christ to them: He shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you. As in essence he proceeded from the Son, so in influence and operation he derived from him. He shall take ek tou emouof that which is mine. All that the Spirit shows us, that is, applies to us, for our instruction and comfort, all that he gives us for our strength and quickening, and all that he secures and seals to us, did all belong to Christ, and was had and received from him. All was his, for he bought it, and paid dearly for it, and therefore he had reason to call it his own; his, for he first received it; it was given him as the head of the church, to be communicated by him to all his members. The Spirit came not to erect a new kingdom, but to advance and establish the same kingdom that Christ had erected, to maintain the same interest and pursue the same design; those therefore that pretend to the Spirit, and vilify Christ, give themselves the lie, for he came to glorify Christ. Secondly, That herein the things of God should be communicated to us. Lest any should think that the receiving of this would not make them much the richer, he adds, All things that the Father hath are mine. As God, all that self-existent light and self-sufficient happiness which the Father has, he has; as Mediator, all things are delivered to him of the Father (Matt. xi. 27); all that grace and truth which God designed to show us he lodged in the hands of the Lord Jesus, Col. i. 19. Spiritual blessings in heavenly things are given by the Father to the Son for us, and the Son entrusts the Spirit to convey them to us. Some apply it to that which goes just before: He shall show you things to come, and so it is explained by Rev. i. 1. God gave it to Christ, and he signified it to John, who wrote what the Spirit said, Rev. i. 1.

Christ's Departure and Return; Sorrow and Joy Foretold.

16 A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father.   17 Then said some of his disciples among themselves, What is this that he saith unto us, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me: and, Because I go to the Father?   18 They said therefore, What is this that he saith, A little while? we cannot tell what he saith.   19 Now Jesus knew that they were desirous to ask him, and said unto them, Do ye enquire among yourselves of that I said, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me?   20 Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.   21 A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.   22 And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.

Our Lord Jesus, for the comfort of his sorrowful disciples, here promises that he would visit them again.

I. Observe the intimation he gave them of the comfort he designed them, v. 16. Here he tells them,

1. That they should now shortly lose the sight of him: A little while, and you that have seen me so long, and still desire to see me, shall not see me; and therefore, if they had any good question to ask him, they must ask quickly, for he was now taking his leave of them. Note, It is good to consider how near to a period our seasons of grace are, that we may be quickened to improve them while they are continued. Now our eyes see our teachers, see the days of the Son of man; but, perhaps, yet a little while, and we shall not see them. They lost the sight of Christ, (1.) At his death, when he withdrew from this world, and never after showed himself openly in it. The most that death does to our Christian friends is to take them out of our sight, not out of being, not out of bliss, but out of all relation to us, only out of sight, and then not out of mind. (2.) At his ascension, when he withdrew from them (from those who, after his resurrection, had for some time conversed with him), out of their sight; a cloud received him, and, though they looked up steadfastly after him, they saw him no more, Acts i. 9, 10; 2 Kings ii. 12. See 2 Cor. v. 16.

2. That yet they should speedily recover the sight of him; Again a little while, and you shall see me, and therefore you ought not to sorrow as those that have no hope. His farewell was not a final farewell; they should see him again, (1.) At his resurrection, soon after his death, when he showed himself alive, by many infallible proofs, and this in a very little while, not forty hours. See Hos. vi. 2. (2.) By the pouring out of the Spirit, soon after his ascension, which scattered the mists of ignorance and mistake they were almost lost in, and gave them a much clearer insight into the mysteries of Christ's gospel than they had yet had. The Spirit's coming was Christ's visit to his disciples, not a transient but a permanent one, and such a visit as abundantly retrieved the sight of him. (3.) At his second coming. They saw him again as they removed one by one to him at death, and they shall see him together at the end of time, when he shall come in the clouds, and every eye shall see him. It might be truly said of this that it was but a little while, and they should see him; for what are the days of time, to the days of eternity? 2 Pet. iii. 8, 9.

3. He assigns the reason: "Because I go to the Father; and therefore," (1.) "I must leave you for a time, because my business calls me to the upper world, and you must be content to spare me, for really my business is yours." (2.) "Therefore you shall see me again shortly, for the Father will not detain me to your prejudice. If I go upon your errand, you shall see me again as soon as my business is done, as soon as is convenient."

It should seem, all this refers rather to his going away at death, and return at his resurrection, than his going away at the ascension, and his return at the end of time; for it was his death that was their grief, not his ascension (Luke xxiv. 52), and between his death and resurrection it was indeed a little while. And it may be read, not, yet a little while (it is not eti mikron, as it is ch. xii. 35), but mikronfor a little while you shall not see me, namely, the three days of his lying in the grave; and again, for a little while you shall see me, namely, the forty days between his resurrection and ascension. Thus we may say of our ministers and Christian friends, Yet a little while, and we shall not see them, either they must leave us or we must leave them, but it is certain that we must part shortly, and yet not part for ever. It is but a good night to those whom we hope to see with joy in the morning.

II. The perplexity of the disciples upon the intimation given them; they were at a loss what to make of it (v. 17, 18); Some of them said, softly, among themselves, either some of the weakest, that were least able, or some of the most inquisitive, that were most desirous, to understand him, What is this that he saith to us? Though Christ had often spoken to this purport before, yet still they were in the dark; though precept be upon precept, it is in vain, unless God gave the understanding. Now see here, 1. The disciples' weakness, in that they could not understand so plain a saying, to which Christ had already given them a key, having told them so often in plain terms that he should be killed, and the third day rise again; yet, say they, We cannot tell what he saith; for, (1.) Sorrow had filled their heart, and made them unapt to receive the impressions of comfort. The darkness of ignorance and the darkness of melancholy commonly increase and thicken one another; mistakes cause griefs, and then griefs confirm mistakes. (2.) The notion of Christ's secular kingdom was so deeply rooted in them that they could make no sense at all of those sayings of his which they knew not how to reconcile with that notion. When we think the scripture must be made to agree with the false ideas we have imbibed, no wonder that we complain of difficulty; but when our reasonings are captivated to revelation, the matter becomes easy. (3.) It should seem, that which puzzled them was the little while. If he must go at least, yet they could not conceive how he should leave them quickly, when his stay hitherto had been so short, and so little while, comparatively. Thus it is hard for us to represent to ourselves that change as near which yet we know will come certainly, and may come suddenly. When we are told, Yet a little while and we must go hence, yet a little while and we must give up our account, we know not how to digest it; for we always took the vision to be for a great while to come, Ezek. xii. 27. 2. Their willingness to be instructed. When they were at a loss about the meaning of Christ's words, they conferred together upon it, and asked help of one another. By mutual converse about divine things we both borrow the light of others and improve our own. Observe how exactly they repeat Christ's words. Though we cannot fully solve every difficulty we meet with in scripture, yet we must not therefore throw it by, but revolve what we cannot explain, and wait till God shall reveal even this unto us.

III. The further explication of what Christ had said.

1. See here why Christ explained it (v. 19); because he knew they were desirous to ask him, and designed it. Note, The knots we cannot untie we must bring to him who alone can give an understanding. Christ knew they were desirous to ask him, but were bashful and ashamed to ask. Note, Christ takes cognizance of pious desires, though they be not as yet offered up, the groanings that cannot be uttered, and even anticipates them with the blessings of his goodness. Christ instructed those who he knew were desirous to ask him, though they did not ask. Before we call, he answers. Another reason why Christ explained it was because he observed them canvassing this matter among themselves: "Do you enquire this among yourselves? Well, I will make it easy to you." This intimates to us who they are that Christ will teach: (1.) The humble, that confess their ignorance, for so much their enquiry implied. (2.) The diligent, that use the means they have: "Do you enquire? You shall be taught. To him that hath shall be given."

2. See here how he explained it; not by a nice and critical descant upon the words, but by bringing the thing more closely to them; he had told them of not seeing him, and seeing him, and they did not apprehend the meaning, and therefore he explains it by their sorrowing and rejoicing, because we commonly measure things according as they affect us (v. 20): You shall weep and lament, for my departure, but the world shall rejoice in it; and you shall be sorrowful, while I am absent, but, upon my return to you, your sorrow will be turned into joy. But he says nothing of the little while, because he saw that this perplexed them more than any thing; and it is of no consequence to us to know the times and the seasons. Note, Believers have joy or sorrow according as they have or have not a sight of Christ, and the tokens of his presence with them.

(1.) What Christ says here, and in v. 21, 22, of their sorrow and joy, is primarily to be understood of the present state and circumstances of the disciples, and so we have,

[1.] Their grief foretold: You shall weep and lament, and you shall be sorrowful. The sufferings of Christ could not but be the sorrow of his disciples. They wept for him because they loved him; the pain of our friend is a pain to ourselves; when they slept, it was for sorrow, Luke xxii. 45. They wept for themselves, and their own loss, and the sad apprehensions they had of what would become of them when he was gone. It could not but be a grief to lose him for whom they had left their all, and from whom they had expected so much. Christ has given notice to his disciples beforehand to expect sorrow, that they may treasure up comforts accordingly.

[2.] The world's rejoicing at the same time: But the world shall rejoice. That which is the grief of saints is the joy of sinners. First, Those that are strangers to Christ will continue in their carnal mirth, and not at all interest themselves in their sorrows. It is nothing to them that pass by, Lam. i. 12. Nay, Secondly, Those that are enemies to Christ will rejoice because they hope they have conquered him, and ruined his interest. When the chief priests had Christ upon the cross, we may suppose they made merry over him, as those that dwell on earth over the slain witnesses, Rev. xi. 10. Let it be no surprise to us if we see others triumphing, when we are trembling for the ark.

[3.] The return of joy to them in due time: But your sorrow shall be turned into joy. As the joy of the hypocrite, so the sorrow of the true Christian, is but for a moment. The disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. His resurrection was life from the dead to them, and their sorrow for Christ's sufferings was turned into a joy of such a nature as could not be damped and embittered by any sufferings of their own. They were sorrowful, and yet always rejoicing (2 Cor. vi. 10), had sorrowful lives and yet joyful hearts.

(2.) It is applicable to all the faithful followers of the Lamb, and describes the common case of Christians.

[1.] Their condition and disposition are both mournful; sorrows are their lot, and seriousness is their temper: those that are acquainted with Christ must, as he was, be acquainted with grief; they weep and lament for that which others make light of, their own sins, and the sins of those about them; they mourn with sufferers that mourn, and mourn for sinners that mourn not for themselves.

[2.] The world, at the same time, goes away with all the mirth; they laugh now, and spend their days so jovially that one would think they neither knew sorrow nor feared it. Carnal mirth and pleasures are surely none of the best things, for then the worst men would not have so large a share of them, and the favourites of heaven be such strangers to them.

[3.] Spiritual mourning will shortly be turned into eternal rejoicing. Gladness is sown for the upright in heart, that sow tears, and without doubt they will shortly reap in joy. Their sorrow will not only be followed with joy, but turned into it; for the most precious comforts take rise from pious griefs. Thus he illustrates by a similitude taken from a woman in travail, to whose sorrows he compares those of his disciples, for their encouragement; for it is the will of Christ that his people should be a comforted people.

First, Here is the similitude or parable itself (v. 21): A woman, we know, when she is in travail, hath sorrow, she is in exquisite pain, because her hour is come, the hour which nature and providence have fixed, which she has expected, and cannot escape; but as soon as she is delivered of the child, provided she be safely delivered, and the child be, though a Jabez (1 Chron. iv. 9), yet not a Benoni (Gen. xxxv. 18), then she remembers no more the anguish, her groans and complaints are over, and the after—pains are more easily borne, for joy that a man is born into the world, anthropos, one of the human race, a child, be it son or daughter, for the word signifies either. Observe,

a. The fruit of the curse, in the sorrow and pain of a woman in travail, according to the sentence (Gen. iii. 16), In sorrow shalt thou bring forth. These pains are extreme, the greatest griefs and pains are compared to them (Ps. xlviii. 6; Isa. xiii. 3; Jer. iv. 31; vi. 24), and they are inevitable, 1 Thess. v. 3. See what this world is; all its roses are surrounded with thorns, all the children of men are upon this account foolish children, that they are the heaviness of her that bore them from the very first. This comes of sin.

b. The fruit of the blessing, in the joy there is for a child born into the world. If God had not preserved the blessing in force after the fall, Be fruitful and multiply, parents could never have looked upon their children with any comfort; but what is the fruit of a blessing is matter of joy; the birth of a living child is, (a.) The parents' joy; it makes them very glad, Jer. xx. 15. Though children are certain cares, uncertain comforts, and often prove the greatest crosses, yet it is natural to us to rejoice at their birth. Could we be sure that our children, like John, would be filled with the Holy Ghost, we might, indeed, like his parents, have joy and gladness in their birth, Luke i. 14, 15. But when we consider, not only that they are born in sin, but, as it is expressed, that they are born into the world, a world of snares and a vale of tears, we shall see reason to rejoice with trembling, lest it should prove better for them that they had never been born. (b.) It is such joy as makes the anguish not to be remembered, or remembered as waters that pass away, Job xi. 16. Hæc olim meminisse juvabit. Gen. xli. 51. Now this is very proper to set forth, [a.] The sorrows of Christ's disciples in this world; they are like travailing pains, sure and sharp, but not to last long, and in order to a joyful product; they are in pain to be delivered, as the church is described (Rev. xii. 2), and the whole creation, Rom. viii. 22. And, [b.] Their joys after these sorrows, which will wipe away all tears, for the former things are passed away, Rev. xxi. 4. When they are born into that blessed world, and reap the fruit of all their services and sorrows, the toil and anguish of this world will be no more remembered, as Christ's were not, when he saw of the travail of his soul abundantly to his satisfaction, Isa. liii. 11.

Secondly, The application of the similitude (v. 22): "You now have sorrow, and are likely to have more, but I will see you again, and you me, and then all will be well."

a. Here again he tells them of their sorrow: "You now therefore have sorrow; therefore, because I am leaving you," as is intimated in the antithesis, I will see you again. Note, Christ's withdrawings are just cause of grief to his disciples. If he hide his face, they cannot be troubled. When the sun sets, the sun-flower will hang the head. And Christ takes notice of these griefs, has a bottle for the tears, and a book for the sighs, of all gracious mourners.

b. He, more largely than before, assures them of a return of joy, Ps. xxx. 5, 11. He himself went through his own griefs, and bore ours, for the joy that was set before him; and he would have us encourage ourselves with the same prospect. Three things recommend the joy:—(a.) The cause of it: "I will see you again. I will make you a kind and friendly visit, to enquire after you, and minister comfort to you." Note, [a.] Christ will graciously return to those that wait for him, though for a small moment he has seemed to forsake them, Isa. liv. 7. Men, when they are exalted, will scarcely look upon their inferiors; but the exalted Jesus will visit his disciples. They shall not only see him in his glory, but he will see them in their meanness. [b.] Christ's returns are returns of joy to all his disciples. When clouded evidences are cleared up and interrupted communion is revived, then is the mouth filled with laughter. (b.) The cordiality of it: Your heart shall rejoice. Divine consolation put gladness into the heart. Joy in the heart is solid, and not flashy; it is secret, and that which a stranger does not intermeddle with; it is sweet, and gives a good man satisfaction in himself; it is sure, and not easily broken in upon. Christ's disciples should heartily rejoice in his returns, sincerely and greatly. (c.) The continuance of it: Your joy no man taketh from you. Men will attempt to take their joy from them; they would if they could; but they shall not prevail. Some understand it of the eternal joy of those that are glorified; those that have entered into the joy of the Lord shall go no more out. Our joys on earth we are liable to be robbed of by a thousand accidents, but heavenly joys are everlasting. I rather understand it of the spiritual joys of those that are sanctified, particularly the apostles' joy in their apostleship. Thanks be to God, says Paul, in the name of the rest, who always causes us to triumph, 2 Cor. ii. 14. A malicious world would have taken it from them, they would have lost it; but, when they took everything else from them, they could not take this; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing. They could not rob them of their joy, because they could not separate them from the love of Christ, could not rob them of their God, nor of their treasure in heaven.




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