It’s been an eventful evening: Jesus and his followers have celebrated the annual feast of the Passover together. In the middle of the meal Jesus took on the clothes and the duties of a slave, and washed his students’ dusty feet.
He’s said that one of them was going to betray him to the religious authorities (who for months have been looking for an opportunity to get rid of this infuriating threat to their previously absolute influence over the Jewish population). And Judas has slipped out to tip those religious authorities off - though the rest don’t know that yet.
Then Jesus has spent the rest of the night warning them that their confidence is about to be badly shaken. He’s going to leave them. But he will send the Advocate, the Spirit of Truth to them, and in fact Jesus and the Father will come and live with them, and in them.
This weekend we read John 16:16-33, where Jesus sums up – you won’t see me, then you will see me. His disciples are confused. He explains: you’re going to experience deep grief; but then you will be full of joy. Like a woman giving birth to her baby, the same event that will give you such pain will also produce the very outcome you are longing for.
The outcome of their grief will be a joyful new day – when they can speak directly to the Father in heaven, and he will do what they ask, because they love Jesus, and recognise that he came from the Father. They will be asking in Jesus’ name, with his authorisation, in accordance with his will.
Til then, their confidence and commitment are fragile; he assures them, and also us, that whatever trouble we face in this world, he is in charge. No one can overcome him.