You can tell the disciples are at least trying to act like they are taking it all in. “What is this that he says to us . . . we do not know what he is talking about.” they said among themselves (John 16:17,18). This seems to be the equivalent of the line from Finding Nemo, “It’s like he’s trying to speak to me, I know it!”
The disciples show us we aren’t alone in feeling like sometimes Jesus doesn’t totally make sense. We are finite creatures. Understanding the infinite won’t come easily and certainly won’t come naturally. But even that comment finds resolution in this passage where Jesus promises to send the Spirit to guide us into all Truth.
Jesus’ statement, “I have said these things . . .” occurs three times in this chapter (verse one, four, and thirty-three). Each time it is explanation and application of what immediately precedes it. So there’s a pretty clear section of teaching that Jesus is referring to when he mentions peace (verses five through thirty-two).
If we work through this passage we can outline the things that Jesus said so that we might have peace. While this is not intended to be exhaustive, since you cannot exhaust the peace of God, I have decided to call this a “formula for peace.” Check it out.
Jesus says the Holy Spirit will guide them in Truth (16:5-15).
Jesus shows that he will defeat the grave because the disciples will see him again (16:16, 20).
Jesus explains that he will enter the presence of the Father and intercede for us (16:17, 25-30).
Jesus declares that he has overcome the world (16:33).
After all this Jesus gives the application, “I’ve said these things that in me you might have peace.”
Do you want peace? Think about these things. Jesus taught these these things to the disciples and ensured that they would be handed down to us that in him we might have peace as well.
In the long run, our anxiety is no match for the promises of God. However, merely reciting these promises doesn’t immediately cast out all fear, despair, and depression. I don’t think that’s how it is supposed to work. We live in a messed up world. We see the evidence in the newspaper and in our reflection in the mirror.
But the truth is Jesus has overcome the world. He sent his Spirit to guide believers in Truth. He defeated the grave. He is in the presence of God praying for us now (even right now as you read this). We have to steep our hearts in these truths, return to them often, and remind one another of them daily.
Wait, I think I left something out of the list. When Jesus told the disciples that they would see him again this seems to be best applied to his rising from the dead (the resurrection). But in the broader context it is also true of his return.
Jesus promised to one day return to this messed up planet to set things right. The Apostle Paul says we should encourage one another with these words (1 Thessalonians 4:18). And Jesus said this gives a joy that the world cannot take away (John 16:22).
That might not make all of our problems go away in the here and now. But it is a formula for peace that this passing world knows nothing of. And it’s a truth believers cling to as if our lives depended on it. Better yet, it is clinging to us. It’s a joy that cannot be taken away.