“I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. 5 But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. 7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.” Jn 16:4–7.
There is an old Americanism which goes: “What you don’t know can’t hurt you.” The McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms says it came from this idea: “If you don’t know about a problem or a misdeed, you will not be able to make yourself unhappy by worrying about it.” It’s a pretty short-sighted concept however, and our text shows how in a very poignant way.
Jesus is about to be crucified, though the Disciples haven’t fully grasped it yet. And in discussing it, Jesus opens up something for them they really didn’t expect. It is subtle but powerful. And it comes by way of shifting their focus, shifting their emphasis. He points out to them that they are sad because He said He is going away, but none of them went any deeper than that information to ask Him why or where He was going. In fact, far more important than the fact that He IS going away, is WHERE He is going. But they are all wrapped up only in that He has said He is going, and that makes them sad.
And what of this sadness? It’s a sadness borne of not knowing the glory which He is about to re-enter. They are only thinking about themselves, not Him. So they are sad He is going, but they haven’t given the slightest thought about what that will mean for Him! It is a sadness stemming from a failure to understand the nature of His reassuming the His throne.
Secondly, it was a sadness which had no category for the blessing of the Spirit which He would send from there. Sadness because they did not know that His going to the Cross would propitiate the Father, and make the way for their sins to be forgiven and to be justified before God the Father. He was about to embark upon a three-legged journey. The Cross, the Grave and the Throne. But no one asked: “Where are you going Master?” If they had, how different would their responses have been? He could have said something like this:
1. I am going to the Cross where I will bear the wrath of the Father against the sin of mankind so that all who believe in me may have forgiveness of sins.
2. I am going to the grave, where in death, the final penalty of sin is paid in full.
3. I am going to my Father, (17) to reclaim my throne, send the Spirit, and intercede for you.
Instead, they were merely sad. And I wonder how many times I am sad or worried or confused needlessly, because I have failed to understand the bigger picture from God’s point of view. Oh how we need to understand His plans and purposes in His Word.
As the old hymn writer said: “Oh what peace we often forfeit, Oh what needless pain we bear.” If they had asked Jesus where He was going, they would have had some sadness at the loss of Him – but what joy at the realization of what was about to be accomplished. Father, help us understand from YOUR point of view.