A Little While
As the disciples walked with Jesus to the Garden of Gethsemane after celebrating Passover, He again attempted to prepare them for what they would experience over the next few days. They were visibly saddened, but no one asked Him to explain (Jn. 16:1-6). At that point, the Lord simplified His message:
“A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me, because I go to the Father” (v. 16).
They were puzzled. It didn’t make sense. Was it a riddle? In a little while they wouldn’t see Him, but in a little while they would see Him again because He was going to His Father? They were confused by the phrase “a little while” (v. 18).
Continuing across the Kidron Valley, the seeming conundrum was the topic of their conversation. The grammar suggests the disciples discussion was prolonged with no apparent resolution. What did Jesus mean?
Finally Jesus interrupted, “Are you inquiring among yourselves about what I said?” (v. 19). Suddenly the disciples were all ears. He had their full attention!
You Will Not See Me
Jesus twice repeated the word translated “most assuredly” emphasizing the certainty of His ominous revelation (v. 20). Within hours, the disciple’s world would be turned upside down. They would see their rabbi brutally beaten, crucified and hurriedly placed in a borrowed tomb. They would be grief-stricken while the prevailing antagonistic culture would rejoice thinking Jesus had been permanently silenced.
Jesus likened the upcoming trauma to the pain of a woman in labor that seems unbearable, but is replaced with joy when the baby is delivered (v.21).
You Will See Me
Actually, it should have been no surprise. Jesus informed during the preceding six months that He would suffer many things and be killed when they arrived in Jerusalem (Mt. 16:21. 17:22-23; 20:17-19). He also communicated that He would rise from the dead on the third day.
On the third day, in a demonstration of awesome power, the great stone covering the door of the tomb would be rolled away and He would triumphantly step from the grave victorious over sin and death (Mk. 9:31). Yes, in a little while they would see Him!
I Go to the Father
After Jesus’ resurrection, not only the disciples, but also Thomas along with crowds of as many as 500 people saw Him alive in various settings (Lk.24:13-48; Jn. 20:18- 30; 1 Cor. 15:3-8).
Many disciples met the risen Lord on the Mount of Olives near Bethany 40 days later. After speaking briefly to the gathered crowd, He ascended bodily into the clouds. They saw Jesus return to the Father as had He taught (Lk. 24:50-53; Acts 1:9-11).
It was as He had told them. What took place during this brief time we now call Holy Week was part of the plan.
For just a little while—three days to be exact—Jesus’ followers had not seen Him as His dead body lay in the tomb. After that little while, the disciples again saw Him after He arose victorious from the grave. On Resurrection Sunday, three days of sorrow and mourning were truly turned to unbounded joy. Jesus was not dead. They saw him. He was alive!
On this glorious day of our Lord’s resurrection, share the message that He Is Risen, Risen Indeed! Express your joy to all you encounter today!
1) Doubting Thomas. (Image used for illustrative purposes) (Photo credit: By Carl Bloch/[PD-US, PD-Art]/Wikimedia/Enhancement, MKM Portfolios)
Copyright © 2018 Charles E. McCracken, commentary only. Repost/Reprint with permission. Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.