On that holy and horrendous night, Jesus’ final, the Passover of betrayal, he both warned and encouraged his disciples:
“A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me.”
~John 16:16 (NRSV)
He wanted them warned of the grief they would experience shortly, as well as the joy they would eventually experience, “a little while” from then, when they were to again be reacquainted. Jesus said this in response to the disciples’ sadness that he would soon be gone to the Father and that the Advocate would soon arrive to continue the work of God, from within them, in the world.
Having spent the better part of three years hanging on every word that Jesus spoke, witnessing his miracles, learning the apostolic trade, the disciples were about to be cast into an oblivion of sorrow. In the meld of all the emotion was disparate guilt upon varying levels of betrayal, with many of the disciples feeling they’d let Jesus down. And like we often do, they had.
Of course, hearing all these instructions, warnings and encouragements at the Last Supper gave the disciples no clearer conscious impression; but they would call on memory of all Jesus said. In all these instructions, including the hope of the joy to come past the sorrow, was built the purpose of the Church—the Mission of God in the world.
We may understand that the joy Jesus promised would come ahead of our reacquaintance with the Lord, because of the Advocate, the Holy Spirit.
Visions Of Jesus – Here And To Come
Upon the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we, again, like the disciples, gain a glimpse of Jesus, our Lord and Saviour. Whilst these glimpses are not visual, they are more importantly spiritual.
These spiritual glimpses are hope for our souls. In the conquest for life, and dealing with regaling fortune and misfortune, and whilst we suffer, in joy we’ll complete our race.
Jesus helps the disciples’ confused understanding of what he discusses by using the metaphor of a woman in labour. Whilst they were to suffer, like the woman with fierce contractions, and be saddened by the pain likened to childbirth, they would soon realise the joy of knowing this new life—their presentation before the Father.
The beauty of this new vision is that Jesus is our mediator. No longer will we ask of him, but through him we will ask the Father directly.
We may have sorrow now, but joy is inevitably to follow. Preceding a new life is the pain of childbirth. When a mother enjoys sight of her baby the pain is quickly forgotten. We too will soon roll past this difficult life into incontestable joy.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.