This Week’s Reflection Comes From
Rev. Krista Mendoza
Bethany Lutheran, Elmira
and Member of Synod Council

John 13:33
[Jesus Said] Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and I said to the Jewish people, so not I say to you, “Where I am going, you cannot come.”

Somewhere in us is our childlike nature. Jesus, recognizing this declares the disciples to be children, perhaps, because he knows what our reaction to his words will be. In our childlike nature our natural tendency in this situation of Jesus telling us we cannot do something is to obviously have a tantrum…..”why not!” or “I can too!” or some other defiant words will spring from our lips (well they do from mine). I can’t stand when someone says I cannot do something. My natural stubbornness takes on a whole new life when faced with the words, “you cannot do it.” I have accomplished some pretty impressive feats following those words all to show someone, “yes I can.” For better or worse, it is how I am wired.

Jesus turns to his disciples before he heads to the cross and begins a long segment of teachings that reaches from chapter 13-17 in John’s Gospel. It all begins with the foot washing and the call to be servant leaders. It follows with Judas taking off “at night” to go to the elders to tell them where and how to arrest Jesus. It will continue with Jesus’ prayer to the disciples, some final words of wisdom and these words of forewarning, “where I am going, you cannot come.” Is it to the cross that Jesus refers? Sort of, though many of the disciples will be martyred and some by hanging on the cross. Is it into the depths of Hades to defeat Satan and rescue those confined within it (depending on your theology)? Well, we certainly can’t do that. Is Jesus thinking in the future tense to his ascension to heaven? Perhaps, but Jesus promises to take us with him to the kingdom at the appointed time so that doesn’t quite fit either. Where is Jesus going? Why can’t the disciples go to? Is it death itself that Jesus forbids us to go? Is it with deep compassion and love that Jesus tells the disciples that we cannot go because with his resurrection death is no longer a possible destination for all the faithful? I lean towards this idea. I lean towards the promise that Christ will defeat death itself…that as Paul says, “in a twinkling of the eye we are transformed from our perishable body to an imperishable body.” Death is not a pit stop along the way to life eternal. We cannot even go there, not even if we wanted. Not in this life, not in the next. Jesus says, “you cannot come” because he takes away the possibility and wipes the destination off the map. Death has been swallowed up….we cannot go. What a thought! What a promise!

What do you think? What does Jesus mean when he says, “where I am going, you cannot come.”

I hope it is a word of promise in your ears!