John 16:20 – Your Grief Will Turn to Joy

Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.

John 16:20

Misinterpretation

The above verse is a part of Jesus’ talk to His disciples, sensitizing them about the incidences in the offing. The last part of this verse ‘your grief will turn to joy’ is extracted from this important text and is often used as a slogan to invite the people who are in distress, offering them joy in place of their grief.

Who does not want joy in this world? Irrespective of their faith, people will take a chance to grab any joy offered in this manner. The question is, whether the people using this slogan are able to provide joy as offered by them to their audience?

Many believers invite people of other faiths to witness the miracles that take place in their place of worship. They believe that by inviting others to these supernatural happenings will draw them closer to Jesus Christ. On the contrary, people are attracted towards the happenings and they are motivated to go in search of more happenings.

People usually do not see beyond the happenings to recognize the source behind it but they stop when they receive their miracles. If at all a person wishes to recognize the source, then they should recognize Jesus on the basis of evidences. Jesus does not use evidences to call mankind but He accomplishes faith in the hearts of mankind. This kind of faith begins in us, when we learn to love Him for all that He has done to redeem us and put our trust on Him without relying on evidences. Jesus does not promise miracles or comforts but He promises to give His grace and pour out His love on us.

…. the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.

John 16:2

Context

The entire chapter contains sensitive talks of Jesus, who for the first time told His disciples, not figuratively but directly about His return journey to His Father. In spite of His direct talk, disciples were unable to realize the situation that was going to come, as their minds were not prepared to accept the truth and somehow they were preoccupied with the belief that Jesus was going to conquer the Roman Kingdom soon.

“What things?” he asked. “About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place.

Luke 24:19-21

Interpretation

Knowing the expectation of the disciples, Jesus again and again told them about the suffering that He was to undergo but they were not willing to accept the truth. Jesus never interferes in our jurisdiction of exercising our ‘Free will’ to impart His teachings.

In the current verse, while pointing to the time when His suffering was going to begin and also while indicating the period of His absence, Jesus was using the phrase ‘In a little while’ and ‘after a little while’ respectively. This time period was not understood by the disciples at that point of time because they did not pay attention to Jesus as He was one among them. When Jesus said that He was going back to His Father, they took it casually and did not realize the consequences.

At this, some of his disciples said to one another, “What does he mean by saying, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me,’ and ‘Because I am going to the Father’?”

John 16:17

Because of their ignorance, Jesus told them in simple words that for a short period they would not see Him and that they will be worried while the world will rejoice over His death. Jesus further explained that when they see Him again, their grief will turn to joy. This ‘grief’ signifies the vacuum in the hearts of the disciples, whose minds were not prepared to accept the absence of Jesus. The ‘joy’ was about the disciples’ happiness when they would see the resurrected Savior. This verse may not be relevant for those who do not meet Jesus even once in their lifetime.

Application

Sometimes because of our disbelief, we might miss the presence of Jesus but when we realize His presence, things may begin to take better shape.

Jesus repeatedly told His disciples about what was going to happen to Him, yet they did not understand. This is because they felt secure in the presence of Jesus and did not want to practice His teachings. At the same time, when they were insecure, a casual talk by a passerby ignited their hearts with fire. Are we expecting an insecure situation to come on us so that we may truly heed His word?

They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

Luke 24:32

If we do not pay attention to the word of God, we may miss His direction in our lives. We normally pay attention to the word of God only when trouble occurs. We need to train ourselves to pay attention to His word even when we are happy.

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

Isaiah 30:21

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