I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33
This verse has brought comfort to many in the face of trials and hardships. Jesus’ words bring an incredible promise and a warning to keep our eyes open. The John 16:33 meaning is one that every Christian should know.
In this blog post we are going to look at this powerful verse and see how it applies to our lives today. Let’s start by looking at the context.
The Context Of John 16:33
Before we can dive into the meaning of John 16:33 we need to understand what was happening that lead to Jesus saying these words. This will help us better understand this passage.
In John 16 Jesus is nearing the end of his time on earth. His crucifixion is looming, and he is preparing his disciples for what is about to happen. In the precious time left, Jesus is continually warning his disciples that he is leaving them soon (John 14:25, 16:16). While this might be jarring for the disciples, it’s important that they know this so they can be prepared. And that’s Jesus’ point, so that they might not fall away (John 16:1).
Jesus warns the disciples that things will be difficult for a little while. There will be grief and sorrow, but he also promises that the Holy Spirit will be with them. And he also promises that this time is temporary, and there will be great joy to come.
The disciples don’t really understand what’s going on or why Jesus is saying these things. It’s clear in John 16:29-32 that they have the faith, but they don’t have a great picture of what lays ahead.
As we get to the last verse in John 16, Jesus sums up his whole discourse from the chapter. Hardships will come, but remain faithful because God will lead you through.
Let’s take a close look at the John 16:33 meaning and see how these incredible words apply to our lives.
The John 16:33 Meaning
There’s so much packed into this single verse, so to help us not miss anything I’ve broken the meaning of John 16:33 into three sections.
I Have Told You These Things So That In Me You May Have Peace
The start of this verse shows that Jesus is concluding this section of his discourse. Jesus reveals his purpose for why he’s told the disciples what they are about to face; it was so that they could have peace.
They are about to face storms and turmoil, but Jesus’ desire for them is that they would have peace. This peace isn’t like the peace we think of; it’s peace in the middle of storms not in the absence of them. When Jesus says “in me” he’s likely referring back to the picture of the vines and branches in John 15. That they can have peace in him IF they stay connected.
This is the promise Jesus continually points to for his followers; we find peace and joy in him. This peace isn’t like what the world offers, but it’s a confident trust in God to work things out.
In This World You Will Have Trouble
In this world you will have trouble… This is a promise we don’t want, but it doesn’t make it any less true. We will all face trials and hardships in this life. Jesus doesn’t want his followers to be caught off guard when things go sideways. He tells us plainly, we will face troubles in this world.
Christians need to be aware that life will not always go according to plan. Not only will things inevitably go wrong in this world, but they are part of God’s plan. If we aren’t expecting this, we will react out of fear and confusion rather than faith.
Throughout the Bible we see God’s people go through trials and hardships. These don’t mean that God has abandoned his people or isn’t in control. God is always seen leading his people and restoring their pain and losses.
The Bible promises us that hard times will come, but for those who place their trust in God he will not only lead them through but restore them. We see glimpses of that here on this earth and will experience a complete fulfillment in eternity.
But Take Heart I Have Overcome The World
Jesus here is speaking about something that has not yet happened, but soon will. This was a common practice in Biblical prophecy and ancient literature. On the cross Jesus will defeat death once and for all. In the moment the disciples didn’t fully understand what Jesus meant, but on the other side of the cross these words would take on new life.
The word Jesus uses here is the Greek word thareso (θαρσέω), which is often translated as “take heart” or “take courage.” Interestingly it is only Jesus who ever uses this word in the New Testament. It’s both a word of encouragement and comfort; he has (and will) provide for his people.
Mark Moore in the Chronological Life Of Christ sums up John 16:33 by saying this: “Jesus predicts this terrible abandonment in order to grant peace to the Apostles. How can such a painful prediction bring peace? Well, it wouldn’t at the time. But after the dust settles, these specific predictions would demonstrate that Jesus was God’s Son, that he and the Father were one, and that he was at the right hand of God. It would show that what Jesus suffered was not out of his control. He, indeed, conquered through what he suffered. This confidence will sustain the disciples as they in turn encounter persecution from a hostile world. Thus, these terrible predictions will eventually bring great peace to the Apostles (John 14:27). So the conclusion to this somewhat troubling discourse is: ‘Take heart! I have overcome the world.’ “
Yes, in this world you will have trouble. BUT take heart because Jesus has overcome the world.
How John 16:33 Applies To Your Life
John 16:33 is a reminder for us today of what Jesus has done for us; he has overcome the world. And if you’ve been following Jesus for a while you know that, but my guess is you have a tendency to forget it. Or at least struggle to live like that.
So I want to end by giving you two ways you can apply the John 16:33 meaning to your life.
1. Don’t Be Surprised When You Face Troubles
Some false teachers will promise that God wants you to have an easy life. That if you just have enough faith all your desires in this world will come to fruition. It sounds good, but the problem is that’s not what the Bible teaches. John 16:33 is clear, in this world you WILL have troubles.
Jesus tells us this so that we won’t be surprised when it happens. The troubles you face likely aren’t because you lack faith or because God doesn’t care about you. Even Jesus faced trials we can’t imagine. So, we shouldn’t be surprised when life gets hard.
John 16:33 prepares us for the troubles we will face in this world so that we aren’t caught off guard.
2. Keep Your Eyes On Jesus
When we are facing a storm we tend to focus on the storm and not on the One who is greater than the storm. It was true for the disciples 2,000 years ago, and it’s true today as well.
John 16:33 is a reminder to keep our eyes on the One who’s overcome the world and not the storm that’s in front of us. Jesus doesn’t leave us in our troubles; he promises us, “take heart I have overcome the world.”
When you are facing troubles turn to Jesus. Spend time praying, pick up the Psalms, let a friend encourage you, remind yourself of how God has cared for you in the past, do what builds your faith. Keep your eyes on Jesus, and he will lead you through.
Looking for a great resource to help you grow in your faith? I HIGHLY recommend Mark Moore’s books Core 52 and Quest 52. These simple 15 minute daily readings will help you connect with God and understand the Bible better. They are INCREDIBLE. Plus there’s kids/teen versions as well!
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