We are continuing on with Jesus and His disciples during His last evening on earth before His death. He has shared with them a lot of information but it hasn’t all been straight and direct. It’s crunch time and He wants to get His disciples ready for what is to come without tipping the Father’s hand completely. So the disciples are understandably lacking in interpretation to Jesus meaning.
The question the disciples want to ask is, “What does He mean by ‘a little while’?” (verse 18}. Jesus had been speaking about God’s plan and His position within the coming Kingdom since the beginning of His time with the disciples. I’m wondering if there question was meant to focus on the timing of events to come or the separation being predicted.
Jesus chose to focus on the second aspect, rather than pin down the first. We know what He meant by “a little while.” It was honestly only a matter of hours before His death but they didn’t understand that. Were they possibly wondering when they were going to get to see His Kingdom and reap the rewards promised there? Were they racking their brains trying to come up with the timing for Jesus to be crowned King? How were they fitting the symbolism Jesus shared at dinner just a short time ago in with their plans?
The disciples didn’t ask their question of Jesus. He knew their hearts and minds and answered their whispered question in a way only He could. Jesus’ answer to them would not be the direct answer they were seeking though. Instead His answer focused on their emotions during the upcoming absence. He began with a short range vision in mind, and then He returned to His customary long range vision. He was looking at the next three days and the pain His disciples would endure and the joy the religious community would experience. But He would conclude His answer with the amazing gift they were about to receive for believing in Him.
Because of Jesus’s death, the religious leaders believed they had won. His followers would go into mourning and hide away from those who had just killed Jesus. But Jesus let them know that this would only last a moment and then the joy on the other side would eclipse the pain they had suffered. He likened this experience to labor and childbirth. The pain and difficulty of labor recedes into the background at the sight of the newborn baby. Jesus is essentially telling them to hold on and ride it out. On the other side is joy!
Jesus then takes His disciples to the result of their sorrow. He knows that they don’t want to go through this but He is with them again on the other side. And the other side brings an amazing gift from Jesus. This gift is also given freely to us. Jesus gives us the gift of being able to approach the Father with our needs. “In that day you will ask nothing of Me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, He will give it to you” (verse 23). That is a promise straight from Jesus to all of us, not just His disciples there that night.
I know this promise comes with some conditions, one of which is faith. The other gospel writers share this with us from Jesus’ own lips. And if you have been reading along with me for any length of time you know my issues with how this promise has been misappropriated and misinterpreted over the years. I want with all my heart to be able to take this promise and run with it, but I fall short in doing so. There are many things I have asked for “in Jesus’ name” and God has not provided them to me. I KNOW He has GOOD reasons for not doing so and I don’t doubt His love one bit for His refusal to give in to my inappropriate or counterproductive requests. I simply would love to know if it is something I am doing wrong in the way I’m asking, what I’m asking or the timing of my asking. I’m sure it is a heart issue on my side. When I see Him face to face I’ll ask Him. Until then, I will accept the fact that I don’t know everything and that my wishes are not always granted. I will accept “No” from my Father and understand that it is for my benefit.
Father God, please strengthen my faith. Help me take Jesus at His word. Help me to ask with right motive and in faith. I have a feeling that I’m going to have a LOT of face/palm moments when You show me what it was that got in my way so often in my prayer life.
Thank You Jesus for caring about the emotional needs of Your disciples. Thank You that, for that night, I didn’t walk the dusty roads with You. I can’t imagine the heartache Your closest friends must have suffered. Not only was their dearest friend brutally ripped from them but they believed their only hope was also snuffed out. The longest three days in history. But what a party afterwards!