John 16:16-18, NIV
16 "In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a
little while you will see me. 17 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'?" 18 They kept asking,
"What does he mean by 'a little while'? We don't understand
what he is saying."

January 15, 2012
Now a few questions surface. A little while to Jesus may seem like
ages to the disciples. Jesus, please define "a little while." Why must
there be a little while? And what are you going to be doing and what
are we to do during that "little while"?

Jesus had a way of talking that left a lot to interpretation. Clarity was
not his top priority. It seems to me that he suggested something and
then left the listener to discover the meaning of what he said.

Two thousand years later, we can look back and decide for ourselves
if these words of Jesus came to pass. He died on a Friday and the
following Sunday he did rise from the dead and shortly therefore
presented himself to the disciples on several occasions. Was that
what he meant?

What the disciples actually saw on those resurrection appearances is
not exactly clear either. Did they see a physical or a spiritual person?
In one of those occasions Jesus suddenly appeared in a room where
the door was locked; then he invited Thomas to touch the wounds in
his hands and side. One does not physically walk through walls,
neither does a spirit have physical wounds.

Or did Jesus mean that when each of the disciples died, they would
see him beyond the grave? Was the "little while" the amount of time
the disciples would have to live on this earth? Maybe Jesus was
referring to the coming of the Holy Spirit. When we receive and live
in the Spirit, are we seeing Jesus?

Was Jesus using the word "see" in the sense of seeing with our
physical eyes, or with our eyes of faith? I'm sure there are many
other possible interpretations which have not crossed my mind.


                                            John 16:19-20, NIV
19 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'? 20 I tell you the truth, you will weep and
mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief
will turn to joy."

January 16, 2010
Jesus responded to their questions by talking about joy and sorrow.
And pointing out an interesting contrast. While "the world" rejoices,
you will mourn; when you rejoice, "the world" will mourn. The world
probably refers to those who do not believe. In John's gospel there
are only two kinds of people--those who believed in Jesus and those
who didn't believe in Jesus.

These disciples will definitely be at odds with most of the people
around them. Out of sync, out of step. Of course on the day Jesus
died, the disciples will mourn and the opponents of Jesus will rejoice.
But most people were probably indifferent and neither sad nor glad.
Beyond that, whenever another person believes in Jesus, the
disciples will have reason to rejoice, while the opponents of Jesus
will feel discomforted.

What makes me sad? What makes me glad? Would anyone know
I am a Christian based on the answers to these two questions!


                                             John 16:21-24, NIV
21 "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. 22 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. 23 In that day you
will no longer ask me anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will
give you whatever you ask in my name. 24 Until now you have
not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive,
and your joy will be complete."

January 17, 2010
Grief that turns into joy. Like a woman who works hard to deliver her
child. Like parents who labor 18 or more years at raising a child who
will be able to live independently and with honor and integrity. Like an
athlete who puts in many hours a day in order to compete in
championships. Like a soldier who endures many hardships and
perils to gain a victory. Like anyone who has sacrificed much as they
wait for their day of vindication. Joy does indeed come in the morning,
or on some bright distant morning. Sometimes it sneaks in at night, too.

In this text, joy will come when we see Jesus again. It will be a joy that
no one can take from us. "Seeing" Jesus is not all that hard to do. It is
not difficult when we look around our world with eyes of faith. Wherever
we see the fruits of the spirit--love, joy, peace, gentleness, kindness,
patience, and self-control--we see something of Jesus in our midst.
And we can smile, be grateful, and feel affirmed in our faith.

Not only that, Jesus tells us something else. When we see Jesus
living within our circumstances, we will no longer need an
intermediary between us and God. God will love us and love to
give us whatever we need.

Or within the context that Jesus spoke these words, the disciples will
not need a physical Jesus, God will love them directly and will provide
whatever they ask of him. Jesus would no longer be living among
them, so all requests they had made of Jesus, they must therefore
direct to God in prayer. They can be assured that God will love them
just as Jesus loved them, and will grant them and do for them
whatever they need. As they learn to think in this way, and as they
learn to trust their Father in heaven just as they trusted Jesus when
he lived among them, their joy will be complete.

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