THIRD SUNDAY AFTER EASTER. BY REV. ASHTON OXENDEN, D.D.

ST. JOHN, xvi. 16-22.

Jesus said to his disciples, 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 unto us, A little while and ye shall not see me ; and again a little while and ye shall see me ; and, Because I go to the Father ? They said therefore, What is that he saith, A little while ? we cannot tell what he saith. Now Jesus knew that they were desirous to ask him, and said unto them, Do ye inquire among yourselves of that I said, A little while and ye shall not see me , and again, a little while and ye shall see me ? Verily, verily, I say unto yon, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall re joice ; and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. A woman, when she is in travail, hath sorrow, because her hour is corne ; but as soon as she is delivered of the child she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world. And ye now, therefore, have sorrow : but I will see you again,
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and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.

THIS was spoken by our Lord on the evening before His crucifixion. He had just been partaking of the last Passover

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with His disciples. He had left the supperroom, and was on His way towards the garden of Gethsemane. Many of the dis ciples who were still with Him were full of sadness at the thought of His leaving them. And by way of comforting their hearts He says to them, 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/

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As they did not clearly understand Him, they inquired of one another ; * What is this that he saith unto us, A little while, and ye shall not see me ; and again, a little while and ye shall see me ; and, Because I go to the Father? They said therefore, What is this that he saith, A little while ? We cannot tell what he saith/

They were at a loss to know what He meant. And our Lord was quite aware of their difficulty. Now Jesus knew that they were desirous to ask him, and said unto them, Do ye inquire among your selves of that I said, A little while, and ye shall not see me ; and again, a little while and ye shall see nie ? Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament.

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but the world shall rejoice; arid ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. You observe, He does not exactly explain Himself: He merely tells them that events were coming that would cause joy to the world, but would for a time bring sorrow to them, though it would soon pass away, and they would again rejoice.

But what did His words actually mean? Let us see if we can understand them.

Our Lord here makes an announce ment, that He was going to depart from them, and that He would again return. He evidently speaks of a two-fold depar ture, and of a two-fold return of His de parture in the course of a very few hours into the grave, and of His return again to the world for a little while ; and then of His departure into heaven for a much longer time, and of His return one day in glory to
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reign for ever.

Let us take these events separately, and dwell on them for a few minutes.

First, His immediate departure, and His immediate return.

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On the morrow Jesus was going to die, the just for the unjust/ In a few hours He was going to be stretched on the cross, and then laid in the grave. In a few hours He was to be taken from His beloved fol lowers, and buried out of their sight. To this He no doubt referred when He said, A little while, and ye shall not see me.

But very soon He would be among
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them again. He would tarry but a little while in the grave. Death would speedily give up its prisoner. He would rise again as a victorious Saviour. This was what He meant when He said, Again a little while, and ye shall see me/

This, however, was not all that Jesus meant ; for He adds, Because I go to the Father/ Clearly then He spoke also ot another departure and another return, more distant. After remaining a few weeks upon earth, He was going back to His Father in heaven. He would then be removed out of their sight, but not for ever; for He would come again at the end of the world in power and great glory.

At this present moment we see Him not. Like the nobleman in the parable, He

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is * gone into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return/ He is in heaven now, and we see Him nob with our bodily eyes ; but we shall see Him when He comes in His glory, and then we shall be with Him for ever.

Here then we have all that our Lord meant when He said, 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/ He spoke of His speedily ap proaching Death and Resurrection, and He spoke also of His Ascension into heaven, and of His Second Advent, when He shall again appear among us. All this is in cluded in the words before us.

But in our Lord s answer to His won dering disciples, He does not enter into any particulars concerning His absence or
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His return. All He dwells on is that His absence would cause much joy to the world and much grief to His people ; but that theirs would not be a hopeless grief, for it would soon be exchanged for joy. He compares their feelings to those of a mother, who when her hour is come is in anguish for a while ; but this is soon followed by a

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joy of which only a mother can know the full blessedness ; A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come ; but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish for joy that a man is born into the world. And then, turning to His sorrowstricken disciples with a look of tender compassion, He adds, c And ye now there
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fore have sorrow ; but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you/

There can be no doubt what was our Lord s great object. It was to cheer the hearts of His people, and to show them how different their feelings would be from those of the world.

His death, for instance, would be a triumph to the world. The Jews and the Romans hated Him, and conspired together against Him. Their cry was, * We will not have this man to reign over us ; Crucify Him, crucify Him ; and a fiendish joy pos sessed them when they saw Him expire before their eyes. But how differently did His own followers feel ! The tear of sorrow trickled down their cheeks as they beheld

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Him breathing out His soul upon the cross. And those three days when He was in the grave were indeed days of unspeakable sorrow to them. The Bridegroom was taken from them, and they could but mourn. The Sun was hidden from them, and they were in darkness : it was night-time to their souls.

And again, what a difference between the world s feelings and the Christian s re garding the Saviour s resurrection. When He rose from the grave, and appeared once more to His disciples, many a one was filled with anger and disappointment. They hoped He would have remained a prisoner in the tomb ; and therefore when He burst the chains of death, they were disquieted and alarmed. But how was it with His beloved disciples ? We are told that they believed not for joy. The news was too
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good, thought they, to be true. And when He appeared among them, and showed them His hands and His side, then, we read, were the disciples glad when they saw the Lord/

And should our joy be less than theirs was ? No ; the Saviour s Resurrection is

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everything to us. It is the crown of oiu rejoicing, the foundation of our hope. It is true, Jesus is not actually among us, as He was with them. We are not favoured with His bodily presence ; but He is with us by His Spirit, and will be with us to the end.

Ay, and He will appear again in person. Yet a little while, and He that shall com;, will come, and will not tarry. He will then come with clouds, and ev^*y eye shall
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see Him, and they also that pierced Him. To them His coming will be a signal for wailing and woe. They will shrink from beholding Him. They will cry out to the rocks and mountains, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb/

But His people will rejoice. I believe that the keenest joy that could fill the heart of a true believer would be to behold the Saviour returning in His glory. Those who have loved Him, and served Him in His absence, will then have their cup of joy filled to the very brim.

And now let us for a few moments ponder over these words of Jesus ; A little

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while and ye shall not see me, and again, a little while and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father/ He is absent from us now. But those words are very comforting which remind us that He is gone to the Father/ He is there, in His own proper home, in terceding for us, and blessing us. Let us be comforted by this thought, and let us be ever looking forward with hope to that day, when His promise will be fulfilled ; * I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no maa taketh from you.

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