Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.
The DEEP

More Alive

The ultimate joy.

John 16:29–33

His disciples said to Him, “See, now You are speaking plainly, and using no figure of speech! Now we are sure that You know all things, and have no need that anyone should question You. By this we believe that You came forth from God.”

Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

The disciples respond joyously that they get it—that Jesus is who He says He is. By this we believe that You came forth from God.

So Jesus immediately shoots down their happiness. That almost sounds mean spirited.

But the last thing they need is to be giddy when the hammer drops. This is yet another allusion to how they’ll feel, but this time Jesus adds the crucial detail that they will be scattered.

That’s about feelings too. Scattering is a fear response.

Furthermore, it’s a cowardly fear response. The disciples should be aware of this. The basic concepts of warfare and other forms of violence are familiar to everyone in the first century because those kinds of events are anything but rare.

Running away can be the right thing to do in the presence of overwhelming force. Standing your ground may be useless, not to mention fatal.

So, their being scattered is either an indication of cowardice or overwhelming opposition.

Either way, it’s depressing.


This whole section of John is a portrait of pain and joy together. It’s a curious blend, but common in the economy of the kingdom of Heaven. It’s a hallmark of Christianity. We are promised both, over and over.

One takeaway is that joy is not the opposite of pain. It definitely isn’t all about the absence of pain.

So we end up with something that might be called “uncomfortable joy.” If what you seek is comfort, Christianity isn’t for you.

Christianity promises, even commands, suffering. It also warns of persecution.

But the joy is worth it. Being connected to God gives meaning to everything. It makes life more alive.

That's the ultimate joy.


These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Saturday DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/community

The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/itemlist/category/91-deep-studies

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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