John 16:16-22 (ESV)
"A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me."  So some of his disciples said to one another, "What is this that he says to us, 'A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me'; and, 'because I am going to the Father'?"  So they were saying, "What does he mean by 'a little while'? We do not know what he is talking about."  Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, "Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, 'A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me'?  Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy.  When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world.  So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.”
“What is this that he says to us, ‘ A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me’; and, ‘because I am going to the Father’? Because I am going to the Father.
Jesus is preparing his disciples for quite a bit as they head to Jerusalem with him. First and foremost he is preparing them for this death and resurrection, but then he is also preparing them for his ascension, which day is coming up soon here, marking forty days after the resurrection. And that is what Jesus is doing in this passage, preparing them for his ascension. “A little while and you will see me no longer; and again a little while and you will see me.” We can all be thankful that that little while has drug on for a couple thousand years now. If it hadn’t there would be none of us to see him after that little while. We would never have our sorrow turn into joy. True joy.
See my gut, always had me thinking this is talking exclusively of the death and resurrection. But I don’t think it is all that exclusive of that. It definitely is there though. But Jesus says he is going to the Father, as it reads earlier, and as the disciples mention. And Jesus tells Martha he has not yet ascended to the Father when she sees him after the resurrection. But the death and resurrection do play a part in this. When it occurs the disciples will know what he is talking about. They will know what he means by going to see the Father, and also what it means that sorrow can be turned to Joy.
The Father, I am going to the Father. It is strange phrasing. Who puts a definite article infront of Father, but Jesus. The Father. The is the only definite article in the English language. It marks something as definite, no just any old father, but The Father. It is nomenclature for God the Father. Jesus sometimes refers to him as my Father. We refer to him as our Father. He is The Father, the one God. As 1 Cor. 8:6 says. “ yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.” That one comes to mind today because I’ve spent the last week trying to memorize it in Greek. And that is why he is called “The” Father. He is the Father of fathers, it is from him that all things exist, and for whom we exist. We exist for him. And one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things and we exist. God is God, first and foremost because he created us. It is because he is our God, that our sin is an affront to his being. And affront I think fathers get a small tinge of when their children disobey and talk back to them. I don’t care how cool a Father you try to be, that hurts. Anger builds up, whether you want it to or not. Which is why we have so many warning against punishing your children in Anger. Count to ten they say. Right, that just gives you another ten seconds to be taunted and exasperated… I’m not here to discuss proper parenting techniques. Though I will caution that you do not want to exasperate your children either, exasperation can run both ways, and become quite a vicious circle to climb out of. As it says in the third chapter of Collossians “fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.” This can only lead to alienation.
Alienation from one’s child, separation. This perhaps is worse for a father to feel than anger, when it comes to a child. Us earthly fathers feel it. There come times when we don’t understand our children. Or perhaps we understand them all to well, because they are exactly who we were 20 or 30 years ago. Perhaps we have become a bit wiser since then and can only wish our children would listen to what we have to say now, rather than repeat what we did back then. There come times when all sorts of things come between us. Perhaps we feel it just as much as children as we do as parents, when estrangement sets in. This is not right. Yet it occurs. It occurs among and between sinful people. Sorrow increases. Our Holy Father who knows not sin, who created us for him, through his only begotten son, can you imagine how much more he feels it? Our heavenly Father who sent his Son to die for us that we would be reconciled because he in his supreme love for us could not bear this estrangement any longer, because he wanted to do away with his anger, his holy and righteous wrath that he has for our sin. We feel sorrow, God does too. He feels it with every sin we commit when we exasperate our children, and children exasperate their parents. When we fail to live holy lives, perhaps because in our zealousness to live that holy life, we pile on to many rules and set our children up to fail. But I think God feels even more sorrow over the estranged children who will not in any way believe in him or come to a knowledge of truth. Who constantly and actively reject him, and hide behind the faultiest of arguments against him. I think he is grieved more so, over those who have been led astray by others, whether by college professors or Hindi gurus, grieved over those who perhaps never hear and honest presentation of the gospel and what it means for life.
It means we are reconciled to the Father! To THE FATHER. Finally, now, our souls can find rest and peace in him! It is for this reason that Jesus goes to the Father now, He has accomplished this reconciliation on behalf of you and me. He has died for our sins, atoned for them with his blood, with his death on the cross, that God’s anger and holy wrath against our sin might be assuaged, would be done away with, that we could live with him holy lives being fed the forgiveness of sins in the living body and blood that he sacrificed for us in death that we might be forgiven. It is holy and awesome. He did this so we would no longer have to fear God and his wrath, and therefore hide behind made up arguments, and false views of who he really is. He is our Father, and he loves us, loves us more than we can really no in this world full of sorrow. Sorrow brought about by an estrangement with The Father, an estrangement caused by our sin. He calls us back to him. And So Jesus goes to the Father, to intercede there on our behalf before his face, that whenever we sin, God might see the wounds of his son who died for our sins, be ever reminded of his sons sacrifice. Yes and when this little while is over. When this time is up. We will see him face to face, as the disciples will see him again. And the joy that they had at his resurrection will be known by all who have believed them concerning his death and resurrection. There will be joy as there has never been known before, as the fullness of the joy we now feel in the resurrection comes to complete fulfillment and the sorrow of this sinful world is finally done away with forever. Then we will be united with those we love, United in Christ who first rose from the dead, that the dead might rise, that those who in baptism have been buried with him into death, would even now walk in the newness of life. But then walk in the full glory thereof.
Now the peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.