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. In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.
“Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father. In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.”
Then Jesus’ disciples said, “Now you are speaking clearly and without figures of speech. Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. This makes us believe that you came from God.”
“Do you now believe?” Jesus replied. “A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
This passage records Jesus’ last conversation with His disciples before He was to be crucified.1 Jesus said, “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.” The disciples were distressed, asking each other “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’?” Jesus recognized their reticence to ask Him directly, so He answered the questions they could not articulate.2
Jesus spoke into what would be the darkest, most painful, and disillusioned time of their lives. “You will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.” This compares to the pain and anguish of a woman in labour who soon forgets amidst the overwhelming joy of the birth of the child. Similarly, the disciples’ anguish would also turn to joy. They would lose Jesus, their in-person relationship with Him. This dark pain of despair would be for a little while.
Yet in a little while “You will see me in a new way,” and in this seeing “you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.” This would be a “joy of understanding” at seeing Jesus resurrected and glorified, and also a “joy of efficacious prayer.”3 “In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.” A new, more intimate relationship was being birthed, a relationship directly with the Father through Jesus, “instead of asking him for things [in person], they would be able to ask the Father [anytime], and he would give them whatever they asked.”4
We may experience seasons in our walk with Jesus when pain, loss, or disappointment seem to cast a shadow over our relationship. It may feel like we have lost the Jesus we have known. The spiritual practices that once brought joy and connection no longer satisfy. Something is missing, leaving us with little understanding of how or why. This has been my personal experience. In this shadowy place, I am hearing Jesus’ assurance that He is with me and He is longing for more. My soul responds to His longing with deeper personal longing for a new, more intimate relationship borne out of these very shadows. My heart responds, “Yes Lord!” In this a new joy is flowing into this deepening intimacy; this is a joy that no one can take away.
1 Gary M Burge, John: The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 2000), 440.
2 Colin G. Kruse, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries Vol 4, John (Downer’s grove: InterVarsity Press, 2017), 387.
3 George Beasley-Murray, World Biblical Commentary Vol 36: John (USA: Thomas Nelson, Inc, 1999), 285.
4 Kruse, 388.
Jesus, invite us into Your new way. We long to be in a deeper and more intimate relationship with You. We ask that You fill us with a new joy.
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Sylvia Buchanan has her Master of Theological Studies. She is an Intercessor and Spiritual Director, certified by Tyndale Association of Spiritual Directors. She is part of the Prayer Ministry at Rexdale Alliance Church, she leads on-site intercessors at the National Ministry Centre of the Christian and Missionary Alliance.