The Upper Room Discourse 58

The Upper Room Discourse 58 Rabbi Michael Weiner

John 16:31-33 Yeshua answered them, “Do you now believe? Look, the hour is coming – indeed has come – when you will be scattered, each to his own, and you will abandon Me. Yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have shalom. In the world you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world!”

These are the last meaningful words Yeshua will speak personally to His disciples before the crucifixion. In John 17, we will conclude our study of the Upper Room Discourse with Yeshua’s garden prayer before He is betrayed by Judas and arrested by the Temple guards. What is it about these words that makes them notable? Consider for a moment how Yeshua weaves His message through the past, present, and future.

John 16:31-33 Yeshua answered them, “Do you now believe? (present) Look, the hour is coming (present) – indeed has come (past) – when you will be scattered (future), each to his own, and you will abandon Me (future). Yet I am not alone (present), because the Father is with Me (present). These things I have spoken to you (past), so that in Me you may have shalom (present and future). In the world you will have trouble (future), but take heart (present)! I have overcome the world! (past)”

My count is 2 – past, 6 – present, and 4 – future. Clearly, Yeshua’s focus is on the present and the future, what is happening, and what is about to happen. Furthermore; I want to make 3 separate points about these 3 verses.

In Verse 31, Yeshua is asking a question. The disciples had just finished saying (in the previous verse) “We believe.” So why did He ask them? “Do you now believe?” The Scripture never records if they actually answered or not. This forces us to believe Yeshua was asking rhetorically. He did that often, throughout His ministry. Rhetorical questions are asked to make the hearers think about the answer.

Yeshua is challenging us by asking the question. Whenever we read a Scripture, we must ask, “What is the Lord saying to me through these words?” We have to internalize and personalize God’s message to the world. Sentences change meaning depending on how they are spoken. Which word is emphasized alters the meaning of a sentence.

This is true with our subject sentence, “Do you now believe?” If we emphasize “you” it might mean others have believed, but you are now the focus. Emphasizing “now” might mean you didn’t before or your belief might be challenged in the future. “Sure you believe now, but will you believe in the future when that belief is challenged?” Both are adequate understandings, and worthy of our meditation.

In verse 32, Yeshua prophesies two things. The scattering of the disciples (this would happen later that same night) so that He will be left alone (abandoned) by them, but not by His Father. These words seem to be spoken to comfort both the disciples and Yeshua, Himself. We also, might be tempted to feel abandoned from time to time, but we are never truly abandoned, for God is always with us.

This message, that God will never leave us, is ubiquitous throughout the Bible. It was promised to Jacob (Genesis 28:15), to Joshua (Deuteronomy 31:6,8; Joshua 1:5), to Isaiah (Isaiah 41:10), and to us (Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5b). Emanuel, is made of 3 Hebrew words. Im means “with,” Anu means “us,” and El is God’s name. Put them together and the message is “God with us.”

Finally, in verse 34, Yeshua is inviting us to receive “Shalom” by hearing His spoken words. Earlier in the Upper Room Discourse, Yeshua already spoke a similar message. John 14:27 Shalom I leave you, My shalom I give to you; but not as the world gives! Do not let your heart be troubled or afraid. Shalom is inner peace, wholeness, completeness, perfection and lacking nothing. We are born with missing pieces called longings. Everyone in the world is searching (longing) for love and much more. Few are those who find it, and the only One Who can satisfy our longings is Yeshua. 1 John 4:18 tells us that fear and love are opposites and that we are made perfect in love.

Rabbi Trail: I did a series on the longings of the human heart beginning back on April 12, 2020 and lasting for 7 weeks. Look in the archives here These are core longings the Lord has placed within us that are meant to draw us to Himself, provided we anchor them in Him. If we attempt to fulfill these desires in the world, we will miss God and His purposes in our lives. End RT.

Then Yeshua warns us about trouble in the world. Yet we are not to “lose heart” because He has overcome both the world and the trouble it brings into our lives. His promise is not to take us out of the world of trouble, but to be with us in every situation. And those were His last words to His disciples before His was led away to His crucifixion.