“A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.” So some of his disciples said to one another, “What is this that he says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and, ‘because I am going to the Father’?” So they were saying, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We do not know what he is talking about.” (John 16:16-18)
Scripture Reading – I Corinthians 1:18-31
The disciples often failed to understand Jesus’ teaching. For instance, when Jesus told the Parable of the Sower, the disciples needed a private explanation from Jesus to interpret the parable. The disciples seemed to be always slow to grasp the essence of Jesus’ teaching. Now in the moments before Jesus’ arrest in the garden, the disciples were once again confused. Jesus told them that something was going to happen in “a little while.” And then, a little while later, something was again going to take place. Jesus was going to be gone, and then He was going to appear again. The disciples had no clue what Jesus meant. It reminds me of the time I was visiting the home of a shaman. The shaman told me that he often disappears in the middle of talking with someone. He told me that if that happened, I was not to be alarmed as he was certainly still there, although invisible.
Understandably, the disciples were on edge. After all the important teaching that Jesus gave them that night, they seemed most disturbed by Jesus’ claim of His imminent departure. After three years of being with Jesus, the disciples had no idea what they would do in such an event, without Jesus. When combined with the heightened excitement in Jerusalem about the Passover Feast, and the overwhelming reception of Jesus, the disciples were on an emotional roller-coaster, but they knew that something big was about to happen in “a little while.”
However, the disciples made one colossal mistake. They heard the teachings of Jesus and couldn’t understand them, so instead of seeking understanding from Christ, they tried to interpret Jesus’ words themselves. Jesus had just told them that His words were too much for them to bear and that later the Spirit of Truth would come to guide them in all truth, but they couldn’t wait for later. Because Jesus was going to leave “in a little while,” they needed to know now! So, the disciples got together to interpret Jesus’ words according to what they thought was the appropriate possibilities for a Messiah. This list of possibilities excluded the death of Jesus on the cross.
It shouldn’t have surprised the disciples that Jesus was speaking about His death and resurrection because, on many occasions, Jesus foretold these events. But the dull minds of the disciples couldn’t comprehend the wisdom of God. Still today, people don’t comprehend God’s plan of redemption. The world wants to create a Jesus that fits their own view of what the Messiah should say and do. They want a Savior who doesn’t demand anything of them, but instead is on call to serve their every need. They don’t want to deny themselves. They want to live their own lives with “a little bit” of Jesus added to appease their conscience.
The gospel is not about you. It’s about God and His plan to bring ultimate glory to Himself through saving us from our sins. God is most glorified in our salvation, because He did what no one else could do. He defeated Satan and set us free to worship Him. There’s no question the gospel places demands on our lives, like living holy lives and being willing to sacrifice so God’s glory will spread throughout the earth, but it’s all worth it! Are you submitting to Christ and obeying His commands?