Of course, as New Testament believers, we who have put our faith in Christ and in His death on the cross on our behalf have personally experienced the fullness of the Holy Spirit, but for the disciples in the Upper Room, the fullness of the Spirit’s ministry was still future. Here, we see Jesus telling them what was soon going to take place at the first Christian Pentecost (Acts 2; see John 20:22, where Jesus acts out this reality in a preliminary fashion when commissioning His followers). Jesus ends His instructions by illustrating the disciples’ experience of temporary grief at His crucifixion with a woman’s experience of giving birth: while it is painful in the short run, that pain soon gives way to joy when the baby is born (16:16–33). Similarly, the disciples will briefly grieve over Jesus’ death but will soon be overjoyed when they see Him risen from the dead.
With this, Jesus concludes, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (16:33). In this way, Jesus reassures His followers in view of the upcoming tribulation and anticipates His victory over the world and Satan, “the ruler of this world” (12:31; 14:30; 16:11).
The Prayer Itself
In the New Testament, it is primarily the book of Hebrews that sets forth and expands on Jesus’ high priestly role. The New Testament as a whole depicts Jesus in His three roles as Prophet, Priest, and King. Regarding His prophetic office, Jesus acts as a Prophet when clearing the temple at His first visit to Jerusalem at the occasion of the first Passover recorded in John’s gospel (2:13–22). In keeping with the psalmist’s portrait, Jesus is shown to be consumed with passion for God’s glory and the purity of people’s worship (John 2:17; see Ps. 69:10). The temple is Jesus’ “Father’s house” (John 2:16; see Luke 2:49), the place where He—the messianic Bridegroom (John 3:9)—will go to prepare a place for His followers after His departure (14:2–3).
Also, when people see the messianic sign Jesus has performed when feeding the five thousand, they say, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world” (6:14, emphasis added), in keeping with the expectation of the arrival of a “prophet like Moses” (Deut. 18:15–19). Note, however, that at the temple clearing, Jesus is rejected and pronounces judgment on the Jewish nation, and when recognized as “the Prophet who is to come into the world,” He withdraws, “perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king” (John 6:14–15). Thus, as John remarks regarding Jesus just before His performance of one of His messianic signs in Galilee, “a prophet has no honor in his own hometown” (4:44; see Matt. 13:57; Mark 6:4; Luke 4:24). So, in John’s gospel, Jesus is indeed a Prophet, but One who is rejected both by the Jewish authorities in Jerusalem and by His own people in the Galilean north.
With regard to Jesus’ role as King, we’ve just seen that people, right after the feeding of the five thousand, were going to compel Jesus to be their king by force (John 6:15). Later, at His triumphal entry into Jerusalem just before the crucifixion, Jesus mounts a donkey and rides into the city in Solomonic fashion (12:12–19; see 1 Kings 1:38), emblematic of His regal humility (John 12:14) and in fulfillment of the Old Testament prophet Zechariah’s prophecy, “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!” (v. 15; see Zech. 9:9). Large crowds come out to meet Him, waving palm branches in a gesture of Jewish nationalism—nearby Jericho was known as “the City of Palms,” and palm branches were symbols of Jewish national pride—and crying out: “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” (John 12:13).