17They said to each other, “What does Jesus mean by saying that for a little while we won't see him, but after a while we will see him? What does he mean by saying he is going to the Father? 18What is this ‘little while’ that he is talking about? We don't know what he means.”
19Jesus knew they had some questions, so he said:
You are wondering what I meant when I said that for a little while you won't see me, but after a while you will see me. 20I tell you for certain that you will cry and be sad, but the world will be happy. You will be sad, but later you will be happy.
21When a woman is about to give birth, she is in great pain. But after it is all over, she forgets the pain and is happy, because she has brought a child into the world. 22You are now very sad. But later I will see you, and you will be so happy that no one will be able to change the way you feel. 23When that time comes, you won't have to ask me about anything. I tell you for certain the Father will give you whatever you ask for in my name. 24You have not asked for anything in this way before, but now you must ask in my name. Then it will be given to you, so you will be completely happy.
Riddles and riddles. He knows he is going to die, so Jesus tries to prepare his disciples.
But it’s cryptic – you won’t see me, then you will see me – you will cry, but the world will be happy – you’ll be sad, then you will be happy – you haven’t asked for anything, now you must ask for something.
A perplexing conversation. Then – you’ll be so happy you won’t have to ask me about anything – my Father will give you anything you ask in my name – you haven’t asked before – now you must ask – then you’ll have it, and you’ll be happy.
Whatever Jesus means, the disciples are unnerved by his dark warnings lately. Something dreadful is brewing. What began as a wonderful adventure with their beloved Teacher Rabbi, is turning sour. Jesus is in mortal danger from the establishment. Public hostility and threats are increasing.
We know the story. Jesus is murdered on a cross and buried in a tomb. But after three days, Jesus walks out of the tomb, fully alive, resurrected.
Then his previous words make sense to the disciples. He was dead and gone, and then they see him again. They wept bitterly to lose him, but he comes back and they are overjoyed. In the same way that the excruciating pain of childbirth is overshadowed when the infant is placed in the mother’s arms, the death of Jesus gives over to joy when he rises from the grave.
Perhaps Jesus’s point here is ASKING. Jesus did the talking with his Father while he was with the disciples, but now they must learn how to ask. He instructs them to ask in his name, which means ask in his nature, in his character. And God will give it.
Lord Jesus, thank you for showing me, by your life, how to live. Thank you that I can ask for anything in your name and it will be given. Grant me wisdom to pray rightly.