"In a little while you will see me no more, and then after ..." (John 16:16)

"In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me." (John 16:16)

Is Jesus is predicting his passing?

In this continuing discussion with his closest disciples following what is now considered as the 'last supper,' Jesus is explaining what will take place in the coming days.

In the first phrase, "In a little while you will see me no more" Jesus is describing the coming death of his physical body. This will take place at the hands of the Romans, after Jesus will be arrested by the servants of the temple high priest Caiaphus and handed over to the Romans with the complaint that Jesus has been stirring up trouble. 

Sadly, this will be followed by Jesus' persecution and the murder of his physical body.

Following the death of his physical body, Jesus will reappear to his disciples - in order to reinforce what he had been teaching them: That the goal of life is to love God, and that there is life after the death of the temporary physical body.

Jesus illustrated this second teaching because he proved that his physical body died and his spirit left his body at the time of death.

How do we know Jesus' physical body died and his spirit left his body? Consider these clear statements from the four Gospels:
"It is finished." With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:30)
And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. (Matt. 27:50)
With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. (Mark 15:37)
And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, "Surely this man was the Son of God!" (Mark 15:39)
"Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." When he had said this, he breathed his last. (Luke 23:46)
These verses clearly communicate that Jesus' physical body died, and his spirit left that body. To "give up the spirit" means the person living within - the spirit-person - leaves the physical body at the time of death.

This is also supported by hundreds of thousands of clinical death experiences, where people have died and then their body is revived later.

They later describe rising up above their physical body and looking down upon it. They also describe seeing events unfolding around their dead body that they could otherwise have not seen.

Who is rising up and looking down at their body? This is the spirit-person: Each of us is a spirit-person, temporarily driving a physical body.

In addition to the verses quoted above, all four Gospels confirm that they carried Jesus' dead body to a tomb.

Where did Jesus go after he left his body?

Where did he, this God-realized spirit-person, go? There are many speculative opinions by ecclesiastical teachers, but it is clear from Jesus' statements that he was to return to the spiritual realm to be with God.

But Jesus also indicated that he would also visit his disciples again. Jesus clearly describes this above with, "and then after a little while you will see me."

This statement, however, has another dimension, and this affects how different versions are translated. We find in the King James and New King James versions and several other translations, the addition to the end of the verse, "because I am going to the Father."

Yet we find in the original Greek texts there is no such text in Greek. Why was this phrase added in other versions? Because Jesus' disciples, in the next verse, state that Jesus said this. Therefore, we can assume that indeed, Jesus did say this.

Here is the next verse (NIV):
At this, some of his disciples said to one another, "What does he mean by saying, 'In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me,' and 'Because I am going to the Father'?" (John 16:17)
In most cases, additions like this in later translations (as there are numerous) are inappropriate. But this is not the case here. Here it is obvious that Jesus said this, and therefore it should be added.*

So we find that Jesus is saying that he will be leaving this world, then he will appear before them again. And after that, he will be returning to be with God in the spiritual realm.

Other than his statement about returning to the Father (Creator), how do we know Jesus would be returning to the spiritual realm? Consider these other clear statements:
"My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the institutional temple leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place." (John 18:36)
And consider this exchange with the man being crucified next to him:
"Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." Jesus answered him, "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise." (Luke 23:43)
This clearly communicates that Jesus would be leaving his physical body and returning to the spiritual realm. It is also clear from the scriptures that Jesus' return to the spiritual realm also meant his returning to be with his beloved Supreme Being:
After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. (Mark 16:19)
What does it mean to be at the "right hand" of God? A person who "sits" at the "right hand" of someone is none other than that person's subject. Their companion and loving servant. Even today we use this expression, as a business owner might describe his dedicated assistant as "my right-hand man."

How did Jesus appear to his students after his body died?

Jesus was still able to appear to his disciples after his body died. Many teach that Jesus was in his supposedly resurrected physical body but the scriptures do not ascribe to this teaching. None of his disciples - even his mother and Mary - recognized Jesus when he appeared after his body died. If he was appearing in his physical body they would have immediately recognized him.

If Jesus reappeared to his disciples in his physical body, why didn't his disciples recognize him? Consider these clear statements, among others:
Afterward Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country. (Mark 16:12)
At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. (John 20:14)
Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. (John 21:4)
These statements from the Gospels clearly indicate that Jesus did not reappear to his disciples in his physical body. Otherwise, they would have immediately recognized him.

Yet some say that because he showed them his hands and feet with holes in them, he must have been in his physical body.

But there are special circumstances here. Thomas - also dubbed "doubting Thomas" would not believe that it was Jesus unless he saw the holes in his hands and feet.

So Jesus - in his mercy, wanting to assure Thomas that he indeed lived after the body died - showed Thomas what he needed to see. But we know from the description of this event that truly Jesus was not in his physical body:
A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe." (John 20:26-27)
How did Jesus get in through locked doors to suddenly appear to them? Certainly, he could not have done this with a physical body. And how could a person put a finger through holes within a physical body or an arm through the side of a typical physical body? Those "holes" would have blood spurting out of them in a physical body.

Jesus was obviously appearing to their physical eyes using spiritual powers. The ability of a person coming from the spiritual realm - such as an angel - to appear before the physical eyes of someone on earth is due to their God-granted special spiritual potency to make that appearance. And the appearance of angels of God by such means is well documented throughout the scriptures.

Don't angels appear frequently in the Scriptures?

And the ability of an angel to appear in different forms to the physical eyes is also well documented.

What we know clearly from the scriptures is that Jesus' physical body died. We also know that he reappeared to his disciples after the death of his physical body. This is clear not only by Jesus' statement above but by events described throughout the four Gospels.

Why is this a big deal? Some sectarian teachers would have us believe that Jesus' reappearance to his disciples relates to them (and us) believing in Jesus. But they already knew Jesus existed. He didn't have to prove that. Nor did Jesus have to prove to them that he was great, or special. They already knew that.

In other words, was Jesus' reappearance really needed to know his greatness? Wasn't Jesus' incredible life and teachings enough to trust that he was great and truly able to save people?

Yes, it is very short-sighted to think that this was all about Jesus trying to prove he was special or great, and neither does it at all capture Jesus' essential teachings and purpose.

Jesus was trying to show his disciples and students that we are not these physical bodies, and our happiness lies within the realm of the spiritual world. The physical body changes throughout its life and then dies. When the body dies, the spirit-person within the body leaves that body.

This point is critical because most of us - and those during Jesus' times of course - are focused on the physical world. We think that we are these bodies and that we'll be happy here - if we can just achieve that "next" thing. But that "next" thing of this world never brings us happiness.

Jesus was trying to teach them and us that real happiness is spiritual. Real happiness comes from serving the Supreme Being and exchanging a loving relationship with God. This brings spiritual happiness to the spirit-person.

And when such a spirit-person leaves the physical world, the person who has re-established their eternal relationship with God during their physical lifetimes can return to the spiritual realm to be with God.

What was Jesus trying to teach them?

This is why he said: "My kingdom is not of this world." The spiritual realm - that place Jesus is trying to tell them about - is that place where the Supreme Being dwells personally and enjoys loving relationships with all of His children. Each of us has a unique loving relationship with God.

This relates to the very purpose of Jesus' coming to the physical world in the first place. Certainly, we cannot compare our physical body with the physical body of Jesus, because its very essence was spiritual, as it was being used to serve God. But the reason Jesus was sent into the physical world was because the Supreme Being wants us to come home to Him, and Jesus - being God's representative - came to give us this message from God.
"My teaching is not my own. It comes from the One who sent me." (John 7:16)
And the message Jesus brought related to our re-establishing our relationship with God:
"But seek His kingdom..." (Luke 12:31)
Yes, God wants us back. He knows that we will only be happy when we return to His loving arms. He knows this is the only thing that will satisfy us.

This is why we are perpetually empty as we seek happiness within the physical world. Whether it is wealth, fame, a great job, a successful career, a home on a tropical island or marrying our high school sweetheart or someone we otherwise think is our "soul mate," we find continued emptiness within. Why is this? It is because returning to our relationship with the Supreme Being is the only thing that will satisfy us.

This is why there are so many divorces and breakups even after we have supposedly found our "soul mate." After some time we find they must not have really been our "soul mate" after all.

The Supreme Being is our real Soul Mate. He is the person we are searching for. He is that person who will satisfy my need for the perfect friend and beloved. We simply need to come to know Him again and re-establish our loving service relationship with Him. This is why Jesus' most important instruction was:
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matt. 22:37-38)

*Here is the translation of Jesus' statement from the Lost Gospels of Jesus:
"Soon you will no longer see me and then soon after that you will see me, then I depart to the Creator.” (John 16:16)