Olsen Park Church of Christ

“A Little While”

Introduction. (John 16:16-22). In these words spoken only a short time before Jesus’ death, the disciples were confused by His words. Yet, if they had listened to Him more carefully this might have been clearer to them.

I. “A little while and you will not see Me” (John 16:16a).

A. Jesus had said this before.

1. He said He would go “to Him who sent Me” (John 7:31-36).

2. He said that He would be “lifted up” (John 12:27-36)—a reference to His death.

3. He referred to His earlier statement to the Jews (John 13:31-33)—probably referring to His words in John 7:31-36.

B. The time that Jesus walked upon the earth was short—His disciples had to cherish it. Soon they would feel loss.

1. “I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful” (John 16:20a). In many ways this illustrates the human condition.

2. Absent from communion with God man experiences emptiness.

3. But, the disciple of Christ can realize that the emptiness of life, as well as the emptiness of our absence from direct contact with God is only for “a little while.”

II. “Now for a little while…” There are many ways in which we as Christians must recognize the brief nature of our experience on this earth.

A. For “a little while” we are grieved by various trials (1 Pet. 1:3-9).

1. But we are promised an incorruptible inheritance (1 Pet. 1:4).

2. This is a temporary testing (1 Pet. 1:7).

3. Now we do not “see” Him, but we believe in His salvation of our souls (1 Pet. 1:8-9).

4. This trial of faith is only for “a little while.”

B. For “a little while” we await Him who is coming (Heb. 10:35-38).

1. This is a paraphrased quote of Habakkuk 2:3b-4.

2. In the context, Habakkuk wants to know why the wicked prosper and sin goes unpunished (Hab. 1:1-4; 2:1). Have you ever wanted to ask God that? Habakkuk is allowed to ask, and receives an answer.

3. God answers Habakkuk with the assurance that judgment will come and not tarry—but the faithful shall live (Hab. 2:2-4).

4. The Hebrew writer shows the demonstration of this in the person of Jesus, paraphrasing it to read “He who is coming.” The Hebrew writer then challenges us to faithfulness (Heb. 10:39). God’s delay should not lead us to loss faith, but to recognize that it is only for a short time.

5. For “a little while” we wait for Him, but its only for “a little while.”

C. For “a little while” we wait for the number of “fellow servants” to be completed (Rev. 6:9-11). In this text it is not one observing oppression that asks of God, it is those who have suffered oppression that ask God why He delays. Note the answer…

1. There are souls yet to be a part of “the number” of those who will go through what they did. This can only happen when “the number” of those who render obedience to Christ is increased. Every moment of Divine delay is another moment in which God offers the opportunity for repentance and obedience to the gospel.

2. God’s delay is a demonstration of His patience (2 Pet. 3:9).

3. But His delay is only for a little while.”

III. “Again a little while and you will see Me” (John 16:16b).

A. There seems to be a dual meaning here.

B. Disciples of Christ “see” Him when the world does not (John 14:19).

1. The disciples would mourn Jesus’ death, but they would see Him resurrected and then “see” Him by faith forever more.

C. This communion of faith, takes away some of the emptiness, offering the promise of even greater joy—“your sorrow will be turned to joy” (John 16:20b-22).

1. This allows the “little while” that disciples of Christ must be away from the direct and visible presence of Christ to be viewed like labor pains for a pregnant woman (John 16:21).

2. One day, the joy when we see Him again “no one will take from you” (John 16:22).

Conclusion. We did not, like the apostles, know the joy of walking and talking with Jesus—but we (like all men) ache with the emptiness of His absence. As Christians, when we “see” Him by faith we can have the assurance that in only “a little while” we can see Him as He is forever with Him.

Kyle Pope 2012

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