At this they tried to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his hour had not yet come. Still, many in the crowd believed in him. They said, “When the Messiah comes, will he perform more signs than this man?”
The Pharisees heard the crowd whispering such things about him. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees sent temple guards to arrest him.
Jesus said, “I am with you for only a short time, and then I am going to the one who sent me. You will look for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come.”
The Jews said to one another, “Where does this man intend to go that we cannot find him? Will he go where our people live scattered among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks? What did he mean when he said, ‘You will look for me, but you will not find me,’ and ‘Where I am, you cannot come’?”
Let me begin this reflection by giving you a puzzle to solve. Take six matchsticks (or toothpicks if you don't have matchsticks). From these six sticks, make four equilateral triangles, where the length of each side of the triangle is equal to the length of a matchstick. Pause reading (or listening to) this reflection to solve this puzzle. It's a very interesting one.
Sometimes, understanding the things Jesus says are like puzzles. For instance, in this passage, he says: "I am with you for only a short time, and then I am going to the one who sent me. You will look for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come." Puzzles are puzzling until you find the solution. Once found, you wonder how you didn't solve it in the first place.
When Jesus speaks about being with the people "for a short time," he doesn't mean regular time. He's talking about a special time, a God's time, where important things happen. He is speaking of kairos time (see Reflection on John 7:6-9). Hence, they should pay attention to what he says and does.
He then tells the people he is going to the one who sent him. "You will look for me," he says, "but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come. The people were confused. They thought, "Where can Jesus go that we can't? Another country, like Greece? We could follow him there."
Just like them, if we only think in worldly terms, we might miss what Jesus is trying to tell us. Let's return to the puzzle I gave you. Many of you tried but couldn't solve it because you were looking at the puzzle two-dimensionally, laying the sticks on a table and putting them together. It is unsolvable if you tried this. However, the moment you thought three-dimensionally, you would have made a pyramid with four equilateral triangles.
The people couldn't understand what Jesus meant because they were thinking in worldly terms. The moment they understood that Jesus was not speaking about going to another city or country but another realm, they would have understood what he meant. He had come from heaven and would be returning to it.
But Jesus was making a way so that we could go with him. So, why couldn't they follow? Because they don't believe in him. They can't see the special things Jesus is showing them and can't understand the special things Jesus is teaching them because they are stuck in their set ways of thinking.
Let's keep our minds open to Jesus' words, looking beyond the obvious and seeing the deeper truths he shares with us.
God bless you.