“In a little while you won’t see me anymore. But a little while after that, you will see me again.”
Some of the disciples asked each other, “What does he mean when he says, ‘In a little while you won’t see me, but then you will see me,’ and ‘I am going to the Father’? And what does he mean by ‘a little while’? We don’t understand.”
Jesus realized they wanted to ask him about it, so he said, “Are you asking yourselves what I meant? I said in a little while you won’t see me, but a little while after that you will see me again. I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn over what is going to happen to me, but the world will rejoice. You will grieve, but your grief will suddenly turn to wonderful joy. It will be like a woman suffering the pains of labor. When her child is born, her anguish gives way to joy because she has brought a new baby into the world. So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy.” (John 16:16–22)
Jesus first told his disciples that they wouldn’t seem him anymore—then told them that after a little while, they would see him again.
Jesus predicted his death at the hands of the Romans—and he predicted his resurrection. He knew they would mourn not only the loss of the one they considered a friend, but also the death of their dream of national redemption. He knew they thought Jesus would restore the kingdom of David and overcome the Romans. Instead, the Romans would overcome their Messiah. They would never see that Jesus of their mistaken dreams again.
But Jesus wanted his disciples to understand his death and the death of their mistaken hopes wasn’t the end. They were still missing the vital reality that the kingdom of God was not a physical, earthly kingdom like Rome, but something far grander and more pervasive.
Their mourning, as sharp as it would be, would be mercifully brief. From the night he was arrested, until the morning he rose from the dead, barely three days passed. Jesus compared what was about to happen to the birth of a child. The joy the disciples had after the resurrection, and the joy that we now have from it, is a joy that will endure forever. All our sorrows from this brief lifetime of ours will be wiped away in the wonder of God’s eternal kingdom. It’s eternity that even now we have in our hearts.