Reading once in John's Gospel, I was struck by something for the first time. It happened in John 16, in the midst of this little scene:
So they were saying, "What does he mean by 'a little while'? We do not know what he is talking about." Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, "Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, 'A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me'? Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. (vv.18-20)
I bolded the part that ministered to me. It's not something that would ordinarily jump out. "Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said… "
I found that exceedingly sweet. Now, I confess I was feeling pretty heavy from ministry circumstances when reading this, but, reading this passage aloud, I actually started crying reading "Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said… " Because: Isn't that sweet? Isn't that wonderful?
What a tender Lord we have, what a compassionate King! He doesn't overhear us in our confusion, deliberation, ignorance and stand aloof. He doesn't overhear our conversations about what we want to ask and refuse to speak unless spoken to. In our house we call this "hinting" and I confess we don't respond to it as well as we ought. I will overhear my daughters discussing something within my earshot of something they want to ask me: it's usually a request involving money or some other matter they think I will not be agreeable to. So by discussing it with each other in the next room, it's a way of putting it in my ear, softening me for it before they bring it to me. My wife and I think they do this in case I will want to bring agreement before they bring request, saving them the trouble. "Hinting," see?
I don't know that that's what the disciples are doing. They're just confused. And Jesus hears them and sweetly answers, taking the initiative with his kindness and clarity. For some reason, this line in John 16 reminded me of the line from Mike Cosper's Rhythms of Grace: "In Christ, we are never misunderstood."
I love my friend Jesus, because he's sweet in all the ways I deeply need and greatly want.
Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.—Proverbs 16:24