John xvi. 16, 17.-"A little while, and ye shall not
see Me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see Me, because I go to
the Father. Then said some of
His disciples among themselves, What is this that He saith?" [And what
[1.] Nothing is wont so to cast down the soul that is anguished and
possessed by deep despondency, as when words which cause pain are continually
dwelt upon. Why then did Christ, after saying, "I go," and, "Hereafter
I will not speak with you," continually dwell on the same subject, saying
"A little while, and ye shall not see Me, because I go to Him that sent
Me"? When He had recovered them by His words concerning the Spirit, He
gain casteth down their courage. Wherefore doth He this? He testeth their
feelings, and rendereth them more proved, and well accustometh them by
hearing sad things, manfully to bear separation from Him; for they who
had practiced this when spoken of in words, were likely in actions also,
easily to bear it afterwards. And if one enquire closely, this very thing
is a consolation, the saying that, "I go to the Father." For it is the
expression of One, who declares that He shall not perish, but that His
end is a kind of translation. He addeth too another consolation; for He
saith not merely, "A little while, and ye shall not see Me," but also,
"A little while, and ye shall see Me"; showing that He will both come to
them again, and that their separation would be but for a little while,
and His presence with them continual. This, however, they did not understand.
Whence one may with reason wonder how, after having often heard these things,
they doubt, as though they had heard nothing. How then is it that they
did not understand? It was either through grief, as I suppose, for that
drove what was said from their understanding; or through the obscurity
of the words. Because He seemed to them to set forth two contraries, which
were not contrary. "If," saith one of them, "we shall see Thee, whither
goest Thou? And if Thou goest, how shall we see Thee?" Therefore they say,
"We cannot tell what He saith." That He was about to depart, they knew;
but they knew not that He would shortly come to them. On which account
He rebuketh them, because they did not understand His saying. For, desiring
to infix in them the doctrine concerning His death, what saith He?
Ver. 20. "Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and
lament "-which belonged to the Death and the Cross-"but the world shall
Because by reason of their not desiring His death, they quickly ran
into the belief that He would not die, and then when they heard that He
would die, cast about, not knowing what that "little" meant, He saith,
"Ye shall mourn and lament."
"But your sorrow shall be turned into joy." Then having shown that after
grief comes joy, and that grief gendereth joy, and that grief is short,
but the pleasure endless, He passeth to a common example; and what saith
Ver. 21. "A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow."
And He hath used a comparison which the Prophets also use continually,
likening despondencies to the exceeding pains of childbirth. But what He
saith is of this kind: "Travail pains shall lay hold on you, but the pang
of childbirth is the cause of joy"; both confirming His words relative
to the Resurrection, and showing that the departing hence is like passing
from the womb into the light of day. As though He had said, "Marvel not
that I bring you to your advantage through such sorrow, since even a mother
to become a mother, passeth in like manner through pain." Here also He
implieth something mystical, that He hath loosened the travail pangs of
death, and caused a new man to be born of them, And He said not, that the
pain shall pass away only, but, "she doth not even remember it," so great
is the joy which succeedeth; so also shall it be with the Saints. And yet
the woman doth not rejoice because "a man hath come into the world," but
because a son hath been born to her; since, had this been the case, nothing
would have hindered the barren from rejoicing over another who beareth.
Why then spake He thus? Because He introduced this example for this purpose
only, to show that sorrow is for a season, but joy lasting: and to show
that (death) is a translation unto life; and to show the great profit of
their pangs. He said not, "a child hath been born," but, "A man." For to
my mind He here alludeth to His own Resurrection, and that He should be
born not unto that death which bare the birth-pang, but unto the Kingdom.
Therefore He said not, "a child hath been born unto her," but, "A man hath
been born into the world."
Ver. 22, 23. "And ye now therefore have sorrow-[but I will see you
again, and your sorrow shall be turned into joy]." Then, to show that He
shall die no more, He saith, "And no man taketh it from you. And in that
day ye shall ask Me nothing."
Again He proveth nothing else by these words, but that He is from God.
"For then ye shall for the time to come know all things." But what is,
"Ye shall not ask Me"? "Ye shall need no intercessor, but it is sufficient
that ye call on My Name, and so gain all things."
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask My Father
in My Name."
He showeth the power of His Name, if at least being neither seen nor
called upon, but only named, He even maketh us approved by the Father.
But where hath this taken place? Where they say, "Lord, behold their threatenings,
and grant unto Thy servants that with boldness they may speak Thy word"
(Acts iv. 29, Acts iv. 31), "and work miracles in Thy Name." "And the place
was shaken where they were."