Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? Behold, an hour is coming, and has already come, for you to be scattered, each to his own home, and to leave Me alone; and 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 peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:31-33 NASB
When I encountered these verses earlier this week in more than one of my daily readings, I studied the passage in depth, convinced it should introduce the Advent theme peace. I pulled my Strongest NASB Exhausted Concordance from my shelf and searched key words, generating a list with reference numbers and definitions as I went. Yet, a distinctive omission led me on an unanticipated dead end.
|English Word||Concordance Reference Number||Greek Word||English Synonyms||Hebrew Synonyms|
|peace||1515||eirēnē or eirō (to join)||welfare, undisturbed|
|tribulation||2347||thipsis||afflictions, anguish, distress, persecution, trouble|
|courage||2293||tharseō||bold, confident,||2388; chazaq: to be or grow firm or strong, strengthen|
|overcome||3528||nikaō||to conquer, prevail, victory|
|believe||4100||pisteuō||to believe, entrust|
|alone||3441||monos||even, just, mere, merely, only, only one, only thing, private, themselves|
When I looked up the word home under John 16:32, no reference number appeared.
I paused for a long time on this portion of the verses.
I searched for other possibilities for the meaning of home. Maybe the Greek word oikos, meaning a house, a dwelling would be a suitable definition. Other synonyms are descendants, families, palaces, place. But, as I discovered, there is an issue with this interpretation of the word.
“When they left him alone, they were scattered every man to his own; not to their own possessions or habitations, these were in Galilee; but to their own friends and acquaintance in Jerusalem; every one went his own way, where he fancied he should be most safe. Every man to secure his own; himself and his own life” Matthew Henry Commentary, John 16:28-33
This interpretation explains why the word home in the NASB is italicized, indicating it is an insertion and not found in the original Greek. Other translations leave out the word completely:
So, why include the word home?
Doesn’t everybody want one?
Home is where the weary relax and recreate. It is a safety zone for regressive childish tantrums. It provides space for reconciliation. It overflows with raucous reunions. It epitomizes refuge.
Or, in this case, it is a sign of rebellion and rejection.
Jesus warns his disciples they are about to commit spiritual treason against the heavenly kingdom to which they claim undying allegiance. They are going to desert the Son of God thinking that can save them. They are going to abandon the best friend any of them had ever known.
They are going to cling to the false security of their former four-walled life.
They are going to go their separate ways.
No one wants to believe Jesus’ words in this passage. Because, when it comes down to it, everyone believes in the staunch commitment made to never leave or forsake Him.
Yet, did God mean for each of the disciples to go their own way on purpose?
In the moment, the scattering appears like rebellion and rejection. But, if the disciples try to stop Jesus’ arrest, they are rebuked. The only One who can be arrested, falsely accused, and forced to carry the cross of salvation is Jesus.
Jesus must go His own way all alone.
“…and 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 peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
God prepares the disciples in this scattering. Because not long from this moment, they will be scattered again to their own ministries, their own martyrdom. That blank space where a reference number should be symbolizes what the disciples will learn.
Jesus’ peace does not rest in a manger, in a tomb, or in an earthly home.
His peace rests within…
- those who know they are never truly alone in their tribulations
- those who take courage as they go their own ways according to His purpose
- those who believe He overcomes not just the whole world, but their personal worlds, too.