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Christian Biblical Studies
‛WHERE ARE YOU GOING?’
Scripture citations are to the New International Version, UK Edition
Question: Why does Jesus say in John 16: 5, ‛none of you asks me, “Where are you going?” when both Peter and Thomas had previously asked Him?
John 13: 33 My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come. . . . 36 Simon Peter asked him, ‛Lord, where are you going?’ Jesus replied, ‛Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.’
John 14: 5 Thomas said to him, ‛Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?’
John 16: 5 ‛Now I am going to him who sent me, yet none of you asks me, “Where are you going?”’
Answer: After the Last Supper, Jesus addressed the eleven disciples who remained in the upper room with Him after Judas Iscariot had left (John 13: 30, 31). Our Lord’s words were intended as a message of consolation and hope, but He added the caution that they should prepare themselves against trouble and temptation. In a veiled, gradual way He revealed that He would have to go away, and would seem to desert them. His discourse and subsequent High Priestly Prayer comprises John Chapter 13 and runs to the end of Chapter 17.
Jesus addresses Peter’s query (‛where are you going?’) in 14: 2: ‛In my father’s house . . . I am going there to prepare a place for you, . . . [y]ou know the way .’ Thomas then asks ‛how can we know the way?’ (14: 5) to which Jesus replies (14: 6), ‛I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’
Jesus continues His discourse, affirming His relationship with the Father, promising that the holy spirit of comfort and enlightenment will come upon them. After the company leave the upper room and walk toward Gethsemane, Jesus relates the figure of the Vine (15: 1), and warns them of persecutions to come.
This brings us to 16: 5: ‛Now I am going to him who sent me, yet none of you asks me, “Where are you going?”’ – for which He offers the reason in verse 6, ‛Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief’. In other words, ‛you’ve gone strangely quiet’.
By this point the disciples were probably weighed down with the grim prospect which now unfolded before them, too timid to probe deeper as the harsh realities crowded in. Jesus fills in the silence with His words recorded in v. 7: ‛It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the [holy spirit] will not come to you . . . .’
Jesus then turns His attention to alleviating their sorrow. In 16: 30 it is recorded that ‛the disciples said, “Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions”’. To which Jesus responds (v. 31), ‛You believe at last!’
[Note: James Moffat in his translation of John, uniquely re-orders Chapters 14, 15, 16 as 15, 16, 14, thus placing the words of 16: 5 before the questions posed by Peter and Thomas.]
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