“A little while, and you will no longer behold Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me.” Some of His disciples therefore said to one another, “What is this thing He is telling us, ‘A little while, and you will not behold Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me’: and, ‘Because I go to the Father’?” And so they were saying, “What is this that He says, ‘A little while’? We do not know what He is talking about.” Jesus knew that they wished to question Him, and He said to them, “Are you deliberating together about this, that I said, ‘A little while, and you will not behold Me, and again a little while, and you will see Me’? Truly, truly, I say to you, that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned to joy. Whenever a woman is in labor she has sorrow, because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she remembers the anguish no more, for joy that a child has been born into the world. Therefore you, too, now have sorrow; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice , and no one takes your joy away from you” (Jn 16:16-22).
Jesus’ last words to His disciples in the upper room were packed with new information, new insights, new revelation. But this message from Jesus was not intended to just impart some new knowledge to His followers. No, Jesus’ instruction to his friends carried much much more.
Jesus is seeking to bring peace to the hearts of His disciples. Later in chapter 16, Jesus says, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (Jn 16:33).
Earlier in these chapters, Jesus is seeking to bring His disciples comfort in the promise of the coming of the Holy Spirit, and all that the Spirit will do in the lives of the disciples. Jesus also plants comfort in His disciples by laying out what will happen next, to Him and them, so that what befalls them will not be a total surprise. They are to be comforted by knowing that this is all part of the Father’s plan.
Here, Jesus is bringing the promise of resurrection to His disciples. “In a little while, you will not see Me, and then you will see Me” is the promise that Jesus’ death will not be the last act in the play. Jesus is coming back. Jesus will rise from the dead. “I will see you again” (vs 22).
And finally, Jesus is sharing all that He has said to ultimately bring them joy. “After all is said and done, your sorrow will be temporary. When you see me again, you will rejoice. And NO ONE can take your joy away!”
Is this joy always accompanied by rosy circumstances? No, it is a deep joy that finds hope and peace in Jesus’ presence in the middle of the challenges life sends our way. It is a joy reflected by Jesus Himself in the most terrible of times; His death on a cross. “Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb 12:2).
“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full” (Jn 15:11). Christ’s joy IN YOU is Christ’s promise TO YOU. May your joy be made full. And may you let NO ONE steal your joy!