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John 16:25-33 Study Guide: Greater than the World

Community Group Study Guide — Greater than the World 
John 16:25-33

Study Information:
Often there is a gap between what we say we believe and what we do. You may believe that God is sovereign and has all authority and control, but you struggle with trusting him. Or maybe you believe Jesus’ words that it is “more blessed to give than receive” but you struggle with contentment with your things and desire more stuff. Narrowing the gap between what we believe and what we do is part of growing in Christ. In our passage, Jesus affirms the disciples love for God and that they believed Jesus was sent from God, but at the same time foretells that they would not live like it when a the trial of the cross came; they’d scatter and leave him. Our passage highlights this gap between what we believe and what we do by focusing on the faithful love of the Father for the disciples and the challenge of trust during times of trial. 

The Faithful Love of the Father
John 16:25-28
Throughout Jesus’ ministry to the disciples he spoke with images, figures of speech and parables. Sometimes the disciples would get a bit frustrated and ask for him to just speak plainly. The time for that will come, and specifically all that he taught made more sense after Jesus went to the cross, and after he was raised from the dead and after the Holy Spirit was sent to call into remembrance what they had learned (John 14:26). With all that in mind, notice how clearly Jesus spoke about God’s faithful love for the disciples. Jesus didn’t use a figure of speech or a story, but rather plainly told them that God the Father loved them because of their love for God and their belief that Jesus came from God. The theme of Jesus’ heavenly identity runs throughout the Gospel of John. The Jews could not believe Jesus was sent from heaven, but the disciples held onto that as a source of their faith which set them apart. Jesus indicates that their belief and love for God was real, not theoretical and that set them apart from the Jews who did not receive Jesus. 

This part of the passage is so important. Jesus declared God’s faithful love to them right before they’d scatter and abandon him (John 16:33). We will explore the challenge of trust during times of trial, but notice the objective truth that Jesus communicated, God loved them and they really, actually, truthfully loved God and believed even if their actions would cause us to question that. If all we knew of the disciples was their abandoning of Jesus we would sincerely think they did not love God or believe. Yet two things could be true, they could whole heartedly believe and love God and still struggle during a time of trial. Jesus affirmed the truth of God’s love and predicted their struggle of trust because he wanted them to know that God’s faithful love was not dependent on how well they held up during times of trial. God’s love is unearned and endures even when we are weak (Romans 5:6). 

The Challenge of Trust During Times of Trial
John 16:29-33
Jesus already burst Peter’s bubble when he told Peter that he’d deny knowing Jesus instead of staying by his side (John 13:36-38). The same would be true for most of the disciples; “the hours has come, indeed is already here,” when they’d abandon Jesus (John 16:32). The arrest and crucifixion of Jesus would be a time of trial for the disciples where what they believed would be tested. They were tempted to believe that it was all over, rather than preserve in their love for God and belief that Jesus had come from God. Times of trial and tribulation can often uncover areas of fear or lack of trust in our lives. The hope would be that we’d go through those times with greater confidence in God and that our faith would not waiver. However, this was not the case for the disciples. They scattered and abandoned Jesus when he was arrested and went to the cross. Out of all the disciples only “the disciple whom Jesus loved” was at the cross during the crucifixion, every other disciple either betrayed, denied or abandoned Jesus. Jesus told them that they would “scatter each to their own home” (John 16:32). Things seemed hopeless after the cross and they drifted back to their old lives which is why some of the disciples went back to their career of fishing or travel outside the city of Jerusalem on the road to Emmaus. It is hard to know how we would have responded to the cross. If we’re anything like the disciples we probably would have scattered too. Notice verse 32 where Jesus said that the disciples would “leave him alone” but that he was not alone since the Father was with him. This is such a great promise for followers of Jesus. Just as God did not abandon Jesus, so too you are never alone because of the Holy Spirit’s presence. We may feel like we’re going through this trial without any support, but that is far from the truth. 

Jesus ends this passage with an encouragement to the disciples to take heart since he has overcome the world. We can persevere in times of trial because ultimately Jesus has all power and all authority and he is the overcomer. The disciples were radically different people in the book of Acts, which is a testament to the reality of the resurrection and the importance of the Holy Spirit. They would face many trials and persecutions in those early years of the church, but they learned that Jesus was trustworthy in his promise to overcome the world. The world is filled with tribulation, but Jesus has overcome the world.

At your community group:
Take 15-20 minutes to share about how God has been at work in your life, prayer concerns and pray for one another.

How did God speak to you through the scripture and the sermon this week? 

Discussion Questions:
Read John 16:25-33

What does Jesus say about God’s love and the disciples faith?

How will the disciples respond to the arrest and crucifixion of Jesus? Does that seem to line up with Jesus’ earlier statements about their faith?

What does it mean that Jesus has “overcome the world” and how does that encourage followers of Jesus during seasons of trial?