16 ¶ A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father. 17 Then said some of his disciples among themselves, What is this that he saith unto us, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me: and, Because I go to the Father? 18 They said therefore, What is this that he saith, A little while? we cannot tell what he saith. 19 Now Jesus knew that they were desirous to ask him, and said unto them, Do ye enquire among yourselves of that I said, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me? 20 Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. 21 A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world. 22 And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.
Seven times, in these passages, the phrase, “in a little while,” is used. Stating the significance of numbers in the Bible can be very subjective and it is not difficult to twist the amount of times a number is mentioned to try to make it mean something you want it to mean. However, an interesting study can be made of the usages of numbers in the Bible like three, five, seven, and nine. There are books written about the significance and meaning of numbers. An interesting book is Bible Numerics by Peter Ruckman. A dangerous book is Michael Drosnin’s The Bible Code. Just be careful about looking for secret messages and codes within the Bible based on repeated numbers or hidden patterns. There is enough in the Bible we do not follow that is written plainly rather than to be looking for some secret knowledge that makes you feel superior to the less enlightened while you resist obeying Christ with your attitude, words, and deeds.
Look at the counter position here of joy and sorrow. The world will rejoice when Jesus dies and the disciples will mourn but the disciples will then rejoice when Jesus is risen.
Psalm 30:5 For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.
Psalm 130:6 My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning: I say, more than they that watch for the morning.
I cannot imagine a more bitter, painful, and difficult thing than giving birth to a child. In this bitterly poor culture a male child was met with great rejoicing. The covenant God made with the Jews was between Himself and the male children as per Genesis 17:10 although women were part of this covenant in that the same rules and benefits applied to them woman came from man.
Genesis 2:22 And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. 23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. 24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
1Corinthians 11:11 Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord. 12 For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God.
Also, the son could work and help on the family farm or business and a son was a mother’s welfare when she grew old. But we rejoice no matter what sex the child is today. We are just happy to have a healthy child. Women quickly forget the pain they endured, the labor or travail, to bring a child into the world.
In like manner these disciples will quickly forget the sorrow they feel right now and rejoice over a risen Saviour. This is the essence of Christianity, not a lamentation for our glory lost, like the Jews, but a triumph in that God’s glory reigns and Jesus is risen and our best times lie ahead of us and not behind us.
The joy they will feel at Christ’s defeat of the grave and proof of His Godhood will be unshakeable and no man will be able to take it from them. This is a promise of Christianity. We weep for a time but will rejoice for eternity. Let no man, even yourself, take your joy from you and try to place you back under the Law given to Moses. You cannot please God with slavish obedience to the Law because you set yourself up for constant failure and disappointment. Preachers and evangelists will constantly try to put you back under the Law. If the Jews could not and would not obey do you think your will, your good intentions, is better or stronger than theirs?
Again our faith is to be a joyous thing looking forward to the time of Christ’s appearing and our eternity with the God who created us, not a dismal durge lamenting past greatness, wishing we could return. Let no man take your joy from you. You might come to God in prayer with a heavy heart for something you’ve done or that has been done to you but when that prayer is over you should be lifting your voice in praise to the One who forgave you and conquered death and Hell.
1John 4:4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.
1Corinthians 15:51 ¶ Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.