Jesus made a statement to His disciples that puzzled them, and it’s a statement that speaks to and puzzles His bride today:
John 16:16 “A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me, because I go to the Father.”
The key is found in the word “see,” which is not the same word in both instances. When Jesus said you will “not” see Me it’s the word theoreo, which literally means “to be a spectator.” It’s the word from which we get our word “theater.” Here it means to contemplate Him, see Him face-to-face; looking at Him the way the disciples were at that very moment. And so, the reference to not seeing meant that He was going to pass out of their sight. But when He says that again a little while and you “will” see Me, the word has a different meaning.
The majority of commentators believe that the period Jesus spoke of (a little while) refers to the 40 days when He appeared and disappeared, when they saw Him only to have Him vanish before their eyes. When Jesus said that then they would “see” Him, the word is orao, which means to see Him in a “new way,” a way in which they had never seen Him before… to comprehend.
The disciples had been “seeing” (observing) Jesus for three and half years and little-by-little they had begun to see something of His glory, His divinity. Jesus just told them that in a little while they were going to see (intuitively) all that He was as Christ. And what He was referring to was Pentecost where the Holy Spirit would allow them to see (orao; comprehend) Him in a new way.
It is the same thing for His bride today. Even with the full light of New Testament revelation and with the Holy Spirit to guide me and with volumes of commentaries in my library, I still fail to see (orao; comprehend) Him fully. And I suspect it is the same for you.Now we see Him through the eyes of our faith (theoreo), but one day we will see Him face-to-face (orao) and fully understand Him for who He truly is… The Son of God.
Today we are slowly getting that vision as we move from milk to the meat of the Word, which sharpens our vision verse-by-verse under the tutelage of the Holy Spirit. We, like the disciples, have had our upper room experience and are on the road to seeing Jesus in all His glory as Lord of lords and King of kings. The challenge, and the excitement, for us is to follow the example set for us by Paul…
Phil 3:12-14 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
It’s a journey, but praise God the “seeing” gets a little bit clearer every day.