Friday 01 September 2017

Bible Book:

‘A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me.’ (v. 16)

John 16:16-24 Friday 1 September 2017

Psalm: Psalm71:15-28


Opinion is divided on how these words of Jesusshould be understood. They might refer to his approaching death,when the disciples will no longer see him, and to his resurrectionwhen they (again) see him. But since he will again depart at theAscension, this raises a question about the permanent joy hepromises them (verse 22), if he must once more 'go away'.

Others suggest that we should understand all theevents from his death to this ascension to be included in the useof the first "little while": it is once Jesus ascends that they nolonger see him. The second "little while" would then refer to thesecond coming, connecting the reference to the pain of childbirth(verse 21) to the "birth pangs" of the new age in Matthew's Gospel(Matthew 24:8). Elsewhere in John, "a littlewhile" can refer to longer as well as shorter periods: both severalmonths (John 7:33) and a few days (John12:35). But it may be questionable whether the second 'littlewhile' can stand the strain of the unspecified time betweenincarnation (Jesus' birth) and eschaton (the second coming).

Another view, and one that's perhaps more in tunewith the themes of this section of John's Gospel, is that Jesus isreferring to the disciples "no longer see[ing]" him after theevents culminating in his ascension; and that the second "littlewhile" refers to the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost when they"will see" him. If something of the work of the Spirit is to revealJesus (John 16:13-15), this introduces a differentaspect of 'seeing', one less dependent on encounter with thehistorical Jesus or even the risen Christ: but on 'seeing him' ashe truly is, God's living word, redeeming act, incarnate love inand for the world - and me.

To Ponder

  • Which understanding of the sequence of events that Jesus' wordsare referring to makes more sense to you? Why?
  • What helps you to 'see' Jesus? How might the Spirit be at workin that?
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