Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the historic one-year lectionary.
In John 16, Jesus tells his disciples that he is going to go away for “a little while.” They really don’t understand what he is talking about. In retrospect, we have a fairly good idea, as did John when writing the Gospel, what Jesus meant. As with many prophecies, there are two fulfillments.
First, Jesus is going away from his disciples. He is going to be arrested, tried (sort of ), crucified, and killed (really, entirely). He will be laid in a tomb and left there. Yes, he’s going to rise from the dead, something his disciples failed to remember. But he is going away. This should bring joy, as through his death, burial, and resurrection Jesus works the way of salvation to all who believe. After being dead for a few days, he will show his disciples that he is victorious over death. That’s really good news.
Second, Jesus goes away from the disciples and all Christians. Granted, we could have a discussion, and it is an important one, about the real bodily presence of Jesus in communion. But for now, let’s simply concede that from the time of Jesus’ ascension, 40 days after his resurrection, until his second coming, he is not walking around with the disciples. He is not telling them things. He is not entertaining their questions and answering them the same way, walking down the road or sitting on a rock or a chair somewhere. However, during this time, which may seem like the absence of Christ, he sends the Holy Spirit, he speaks to us through the written Word of Scripture, and he guides us in every way we need. He promises that he will be with us always, and he keeps his promise. During this time while we wait for Christ’s return, we recognize that he is creating reason for rejoicing in the world. He is drawing all nations to himself, redeeming them from sin, death, and the power of the devil. This is great news, because now, instead of only speaking to and influencing those people walking around in Israel where Jesus is walking around, he is reaching the entire planet, through his disciples who speak his word.
Because Jesus has gone to the Father, we have hope that he will continue to bring his words of forgiveness and life into all the world until he comes again. Thanks be to God for his great love!
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