In the darkest hour of history, the darkest hour of Jesus’s life, Jesus devoted himself to seeking the joy of his disciples and equipping them for what was ahead.
In John 13:1 John says, “When Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” How does Jesus loves his disciples to the end? He washes their feet, symbolizing the spiritual cleansing they will receive through his death, instructs them (John 13:31–16:33), and prays for them and those who will believe through their ministries (John 17:1–26).
Five times in his teaching he states why he is instructing his disciples.
“These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:11)
“I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away.” (John 16:1)
“I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you. I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you.” (John 16:4)
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
“Now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.” (John 17:13)
When Jesus is at his greatest point of need, he selflessly seeks the full joy and peace of his disciples — joy and peace that will keep them from falling away when suffering comes.
“Our joy will be full, our peace secured, and our faith kept through the words we have in the Bible.”
Jesus is about to face his darkest hour; yet he recognizes that the disciples will also suffer. Jesus knows that when he is taken away from them in death, fear may grip his disciples, which would rob them of joy and peace. Jesus reassures them, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me.” Jesus not only promises to return to them after he dies and rises from the dead, but he also promises that he will not leave them alone when he ascends to his throne. He will send them the Holy Spirit.
While Jesus is with them, his word gives the disciples joy and peace that secures their souls, but he has more to teach them that they cannot bear now (John 16:12). He has much more to say to sustain them when the world rejects them and persecutes them for believing in him. Jesus says,
“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” (John 16:12–15)
He Will Guide You
In what way will the Spirit guide the disciples into all truth? Jesus could mean that the Holy Spirit will help them better understand the truth that has been revealed in the Old Testament, or it could mean that the Spirit will give them new revelation.
“The Spirit has guided the church into all truth and has glorified Jesus — by giving us the Book.”
While it is undeniably true that the Spirit guided the disciples into a proper understanding of revealed truth (1 Corinthians 2:11–16), what Jesus says in John 16 is about the Spirit inspiring new revelation. We know this because Jesus says that there is more he wants to teach them. He will not be the one to teach them these things; the Holy Spirit will. This means that after Jesus’s ascension, Jesus continues to teach the disciples by the Spirit.
The new revelation in these verses refer to the New Testament, not extra-biblical “revelation.” What Jesus promised, he has already fulfilled. The Spirit of Christ has guided the disciples into all truth by inspiring them to write the New Testament.
Give Yourself to the Book
What does this mean for believers today? Well, Jesus loves you the same way he loved the disciples. Because he loves you, he wants you also to have full joy and peace in him. That is why he sent the Holy Spirit to inspire the words you now have in your Bibles.
To experience the comfort the eleven disciples received from being in Jesus’s presence, and the joy and peace they received from Jesus’s words, you need only read the Bible. In the New Testament, the Spirit of Christ gives us Jesus’s words. The soul-guarding joy and peace that Jesus gave to his disciples through his words in John 13–17 now extend to the entire New Testament. Our joy will be full, our peace secured, and our faith kept through the words of Christ in the Bible.
For your full joy and faith-keeping peace, immerse yourself in the teachings of Christ in his inspired word.
“Give yourself to the Bible. Read it. Memorize it. Meditate on it. Live it. Love it. Share it. Die for it if you must.”
Jesus’s instructions and promises sustained the apostles through every trial, and his words are powerful to sustain you through every pain and suffering. By the Spirit, Jesus gives you joy and peace-filled promises like this: “For those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called [in Christ] according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). Jesus’s words are powerful to give you assurance when you sin and Satan accuses you. By the Spirit, Jesus says, “God made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). When you doubt God’s promises to you, Jesus says by the Spirit, “All the promises of God find their Yes in him [Christ]” (2 Corinthians 1:20). He also tenderly asks you, “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things (Romans 8:32)?
Out of his great love, Jesus gave us the Bible. Give yourself to the Book. Memorize it. Meditate on it. Live it. Love it. Share it. Die for it if you must. This is how we abide in Jesus’s love. This is how we find soul-keeping joy and peace.