Have you ever noticed how sometimes people would rather just keep asking each other what they think someone means by what they said rather than go directly to that person to find the answer? We’re funny creatures, us humans.
I’m just grateful the disciples didn’t have social media to do this!
What am I talking about? I’m looking at a funny interaction between Jesus and his followers as he’s trying to finish up a crash course before he faces the cross. It’s part of our walk through the words of Jesus in the gospel of John. Today we’re in chapter 16. Let me lay it out for you here:
Jesus went on to say, “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.” At this, some of his disciples said to one another, “What does he mean by saying, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me,’ and ‘Because I am going to the Father’?” They kept asking, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We don’t understand what he is saying.” Jesus saw that they wanted to ask him about this, so he said to them, “Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me’? Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.John 16:16-22 (NIV)
Do you see what I mean? All Jesus said was, “In a little while you’re not going to see me any more, but then, after a bit, you’ll see me again.” (That’s my paraphrase). That drove the disciples to distraction!
Instead of responding to Jesus and asking him, they probably pulled back and started whispering to each other. It’s not like this was something new. He’d said this several times from chapters 13 onward. It just wasn’t getting through to them what it meant.
Poor guys–no Holy Spirit, no understanding. I feel for them, and so, apparently did Jesus, because he basically told them to hush up and listen. Very truly I tell you is just another way to say, hush, listen to me now. And he did.
His death, his first departure would bring them much grief. They would have every right to mourn the one they’d grown to love. The world, in the meantime, would be rejoicing over his death, because they would think they’d won.
Thankfully, the tables would soon turn, because their grief would be brief and momentary (three days, to be precise), and then all heaven would break loose and their resurrected Lord would appear, restoring their joy and putting the world into long-term mourning.
The joy they would come to know would be forever, lasting through whatever was to come in this life and into the next.
Isn’t it much better when we stop trying to find the answers to life’s questions from the world and those around us and just go to the source? I know the disciples were glad Jesus had mercy on them that day and put them out of their misery.
He’ll do the same for you — just hush up and listen.
Grace and Peace