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©Clay Eldridge

Chapter 16:16-24 (ESV)

Posted on September 10, 2023  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 16:16-24 (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. In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

Question to consider: Where else in scripture has Jesus used the illustration of suffering in childbirth?

The word eschatology is from the Greek eschatos which means “last or final” and logos which means “word or speech”. When we tack “ology” onto a particular subject, it more specifically refers to the study of that subject, and so we refer to eschatology as the study of endings. Often, people associate it with the end of the world, but as I’ve pointed out in my studies of the Old Testament prophets like Zechariah and Ezekiel, I believe it’s more nuanced than that. 

To the disciples, life revolved around the temple because that is the place where God dwelt among them. While Israel wandered in the wilderness, God dwelt in the tabernacle which was an ornate tent that was taken down and reassembled every time God asked them to move. Once Israel came into the promised land and established an earthly king, their desire was to make the dwelling permanent so God granted the earthly temple under David’s son, Solomon. Solomon was known for peace and wisdom as opposed to his father who was known for bloodshed.

Earlier in John’s gospel, Jesus made a statement to the Jews after having cleansed the temple courts of the money changers which would be used against Him at His trial, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” (John 2:9) John pointed out that Jesus was referring to the temple of His body. Not only did John point this out as a prophetic word about Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, but Jesus’ body was “the temple” where God dwelt among us in flesh.

When the disciples marveled at the majesty of the earthly temple in Matthew’s gospel, Jesus told them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” (Matthew 24:2) When the disciples questioned Jesus’ meaning, He spoke of signs that the earthly temple was about to be destroyed and said, “All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.” (Matthew 24:8)

Jesus used this same image of birth pains in His discussion with the disciples in today’s passage in regard to the destruction of the temple of His body that was about to occur. Their pain would be turned to joy at His resurrection.

So when I say that eschatology is more nuanced than the events that usher in the end of the world’s system, it is because scripture seems to speak of it in a threefold manner. The great and terrible day of the Lord occurred as Jesus bore the punishment for all of our sins, and the temple of His body was destroyed on the cross. God raised Him up in joy, for we could now become the righteousness of Christ. In AD 70, the great and terrible day of the Lord occurred as the Romans tore down the earthly temple, brick by brick, but God raised up the temple of His church which fills the earth! We now look forward to the great and terrible day of the Lord in which Christ comes to judge the world in righteousness. The temple of His church will not be thrown down like the earthly one but made perfect for us to dwell with God eternally.


Dear heavenly Father, thank You for giving us Your Spirit who testifies with our own that we are Your children and the temple in which You dwell. Please grant us Your peace and joy in the midst of the birth pangs we also are experiencing as we wait for the end of this age when we will be raised like Christ without sin or blemish. Amen.