(Inspired by John 16:16-33)
There was a lot on Jesus’s mind. He knew that His friend Judas was betraying Him right at that moment and that his treachery would lead Jesus to the cross. The Teacher needed some alone time with His Father in heaven before it all started, so He led the eleven remaining disciples to His favorite spot, the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives.
After the warnings Jesus had given them that evening, the disciple’s mood was heavy with sadness. Even so, Jesus would not allow their last few hours together to be ones of silence. There was too much to talk about.
“You’re all still upset because I said I was going away,” Jesus said as they walked.
“Of course we’re upset, Lord,” John spoke up. “None of us want you to go away.”
“When are you going, Master?” Philip asked sadly.
“In just a very short time it will happen, and you won’t see Me,” Jesus answered. “But then a little while after that, you will see Me!”
At those words the disciples were so confused that they stopped and looked at each other.
“What…what did He say?” Simon, who had been walking in the rear, asked.
“I don’t know,” Little James tried to answer. “It was something about not seeing Him but then seeing Him again. I don’t know what that means.”
“Don’t feel bad, Little James,” Andrew said. “None of the rest of us do either.”
“And what does He mean a short time and a little while?” Thomas asked in frustration. “Is that a day…two days…a week? What is He talking about?”
When Jesus realized that His followers weren’t following, He stopped and walked back to them. “Are you wondering what I meant when I said that you wouldn’t see me but would see Me later?” Jesus said with a smile.
The response was eleven nodding heads.
“I’m not going to tell you all the details,” Jesus explained. “It would be too upsetting for you. But here’s the truth—the absolute truth. When it happens, you will be sorrowful and cry bitterly while, at the same time the world will cheer and be glad. But that will not be how it all ends. The bitter sorrow that you’ll feel will suddenly be turned into joy!”
“How can that happen, Lord?” James asked.
“The same way it happens for a woman when she gives birth to a child,” the Teacher responded. “When she’s in labor, there is much sorrow and anguish, but as soon as her baby is born, she has so much joy that she forgets the sorrow. That’s the way it will be for you. Now you have sorrow in your hearts, but I’m going to see you again, and when that happens, you will be so full of joy that no one will ever take it away! And that’s a promise!”
“But, Lord…” Matthew started to ask, but he was cut off when Jesus raised His finger.
“On that day of joy when you see Me again,” Jesus announced, “you will not need to ask Me any questions. You will be asking the Father directly, and He will answer you. I’m telling you the truth—the absolute truth. If you ask the Father for anything in My name, that is, for what I want and as I would ask, then He will give it to you.
“You really haven’t prayed like that yet. You are always asking for what you want. But now you are to identify what I want and pray for that. That’s what it means to pray in My name, and when you do that, God will not only answer your prayers, but His answers will absolutely fill you with joy!
“In the past, much that I have told you was in parables or figures of speech. Things are changing now,” Jesus announced.
“What’s changing, Lord?” Rock blurted out in frustration. He had been silent until now because he was still struggling with Jesus’s prophecy about him denying Jesus that very night.
“Soon I won’t be using figurative language any more but will make sure you understand plainly about the Father,” Jesus answered, making eye contact with Rock. “Also, I used to pray to the Father for you because you didn’t know how to pray, but now you do. All of you are now going to begin praying in My name.”
“Yes, in Your name,” Andrew echoed reassuringly.
“Right,” John agreed. “We try to understand Your wants and desires, and when we do we ask the Father for them.”
Yes,” Jesus smiled, “you understand. When you pray like that, in My name, the Father will answer your prayers. You will no longer need Me to pray for you. That’s because the Father loves you!”
“The Father really loves us, Master?” Simon asked.
“Yes, Simon, yes!” Jesus answered with a laugh of joy. “And do you know why? The Father loves you because you love Me and have believed that I came from the Father. The reason I came from the Father and have come into the world is to tell you about the Father. But I’ve been here long enough, so now I am leaving the world and going home to My Father.”
“You’re doing it, Lord!” Philip exclaimed, trying to grasp the significance of what Jesus was saying. “You’re doing it! You’re speaking plainly to us and not using any figures. Master, You know everything…everything! No one needs to question You! That’s why we believe that You came from the Father!”
“Do you now believe?” Jesus asked with a skeptical expression. They all eagerly nodded that they did. “I wish that were true, but the time has almost arrived when all of you will be scattered, running away in fear and leaving Me to face My enemies alone. But it’s okay; I won’t be alone. The Father is with Me.”
Jesus looked around at His heartbroken and crushed disciples and smiled. “I didn’t tell you these things to hurt or disappoint you. I told you about your failures ahead of time so that when they happen, you will know that I already knew about it and will take care of it all. Instead of being destroyed by guilt over your failures, I want you and all of My followers to trust in the Father and in Me and have peace.”
By Alan W. Harris