Jesus knew how His death would affect His disciples.
John 16:16 says, "A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me."
This statement confused His disciples and continues to confuse commentators to this day. Because of the context, I believe He uses "a little while," first, to refer to His death and second, to refer to His resurrection. But the thought of Jesus leaving them was overwhelming. They were confused and sorrowful.
Having a close relationship with the Lord doesn't mean we won't experience great sorrow. The disciples loved Jesus. They didn't want Him to leave. They were heartbroken. So, clearly you can have a deep relationship with Jesus and still experience sorrow.
The sorrow we experience when a loved one dies can be intense. And the stronger the relationship, the deeper our sorrow can be. But we need to remember that being sorrowful doesn't mean we're not spiritual.
Granted, the grief and sorrow Christians experience are different than what this world experiences because we have our hope in Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:13). But we still experience sorrow. In fact, Isaiah 53:3 describes our Lord Jesus as "a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief." It is not ungodly to grieve. It is not ungodly to experience sorrow.
Some time ago, I was the guest speaker at a church and noticed a young girl taking notes. What I didn't realize was that, not long after that, she would die in a tragic accident. Her family found the notes she had taken and, despite their deep sorrow, found comfort.
"God breaks us and lets bad stuff happen for a reason(s)."
1. There's still sin in our world.
2. To draw you closer to him.
3. To strengthen your faith.
4. God will always get you through it.
This family is experiencing the sustaining grace of the Lord, but they also feel their loss every day. Like this family, we are to trust in the sovereignty of God in the midst of our sorrow, seeking His comfort while also recognizing the reality of our sorrows.
Although we're separated by over 2,000 years, we experience sorrow—as did the disciples.
Sorrow filled their hearts, first, because they expected Jesus to deliver them from the oppressive Roman rule. They expected Him to establish an earthly kingdom. But there He was, telling them He was going away. They didn't understand.
Things weren't going the way they expected. That's how sorrow enters our heart. When it comes to our jobs, our children, our relationships, and even our relationship with Christ, we should experience joy. Instead, far too often, we experience sorrow. Why? Our situation doesn't meet our expectations.
Why do some people bounce from job to job? Why do children become estranged from their parents? Why do friends only stay friends for a year or two? Why do people leave church and not go return for years? More often than not, they had wrong expectations. When those expectations weren't fulfilled, they don't know how to cope.
In John 16:16-18, Jesus says, "'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.'"
You can understand their confusion. Jesus had told them repeatedly that He was going to Jerusalem to suffer and die, but the disciples didn't understand. They couldn't understand how this could be the case if He was, indeed, the Messiah.
They thought they understood the Scriptures that prophesied of the coming Messiah. The Pharisees also thought they understood the Scriptures. However, their understanding was limited.
We, too, approach situations with preconceived ideas of how things should work out. But when things don't happen as we expect them to, we become confused and sorrowful.
Sometimes, evil prospers.
In verse 20, Jesus went on to say, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice."
The religious leaders celebrated Jesus's death. The disciples became disheartened and filled with sorrow at the injustice.
From personal disappointment and heartache to unjust conditions all around the globe, we continue to witness evil prospering.
Still, Jesus can—and does—turn sorrow into joy. We will explore that further this week.