You Cannot Come

March 29, 2022

Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come’ (John 13:33).

One advantage Christians have when reading the Gospel records of Jesus Christ is that ‘hindsight is 20/20' - we can review all of the accounts, harmonize them, and see the bigger picture. The disciples did not have that advantage. They lived ‘in the heat of the moment’ as events were unfolding before their very eyes. It should not be difficult for us to understand why they asked questions that Jesus answered, and yet they didn’t grasp the import of His words. 

Jesus repeatedly told His disciples of His coming death, especially in the latter part of His ministry. But they didn’t want to hear it because [1] He claimed to be the Messiah of God and, in their mistaken theology, He would rout the Romans and return Israel to the glory days of Kings David and Solomon. He couldn’t do that if He was soon to die. [2] He was more than a friend to them. He was their hope, their inspiration, their beloved leader. No one wants their beloved friend to leave them, especially in death. So, the disciples did what most of us do - they blocked it from their mind and refused to discuss it, (John 16:16-17; Matthew 16:21-22).

To be fully glorified, Jesus had to ascend to the Father in heaven; He had to take His place of authority at the right hand of the throne of God in glory. He could not stay with them, in human flesh, past the Day of Pentecost. They heard Him tell the Jews all of this earlier (John 12:27-36). That time was drawing very near. They had to prepare for it.

Judas Iscariot had left the group. In addressing the remaining disciples, Jesus called them teknia, ‘little children’. This was an endearing term of love and affection. He had called them disciples, then friends, and now little children. As He was about to leave them, His final words were meant not only to teach them concerning what lay ahead, but also to temper their grief. He revealed His abiding interest in their welfare which all loving parents feel and express to their children. 

Jesus would leave them in His coming ascension. But He told them, Where I am going, you cannot come. How are we to understand this? How did they understand this? In John 7:33-34, Jesus said to the Jews, I shall be with you a little while longer, and then I go to Him who sent Me. You will seek Me and not find Me, and where I am you cannot come. In John 8:21, Jesus said to the Jews, I am going away, and you will seek Me, and will die in your sin. Where I go you cannot come. However, this is not what He said to His disciples. Knowing the grief, and even horror, at His leaving them, Peter asked, Lord, where are You going? Jesus answered him, Where I am going you cannot follow Me now, but you shall follow Me afterward. He later told them (John 14:2-3), In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. The promise was given and affirmed, we cannot see Jesus here and now, but we will see and be with Him again. Amen.


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