Summary: Jesus promises his presence as people join him in his work. God is always with us, because the Father and the Son have made their home with us where we are. God has made his home in our hearts, and in return he has made a home for us in heaven.
How many of you have been part of sad goodbyes? Perhaps it was because of an adult child leaving home. Perhaps it was because a visitor was leaving, or perhaps it was because you were getting ready to leave after visiting someone. Perhaps it was because of the death of a family member or friend. Regardless of the situation, sometimes goodbyes are not easy.
The reading from John 14:23-29 was part of Jesus’s goodbye message to his disciples. This took place at the Last Supper. Jesus told his disciples that he will be crucified. Naturally, the disciples were sad. They had spent the last three years learning from him. They wondered how they would cope after he was gone.
When someone we love leaves us, it’s natural for us to not want to see them go, but if we really love them, we have to let them go. Real love allows us to release those we care about. When we try to hang on to the ones we love, we are being selfish. Jesus was preparing to die and eventually return to his Father, but the disciples did not want him to leave. He urged them to rejoice because he was leaving. His departure would allow the disciples and all believers to do great things, including growing Christianity.
Jesus was more concerned for the disciples than he was for himself. He reassured them that they would not be alone. He promised them peace and hope-the same peace and hope he offers to all believers. Even though he offered instructions to the disciples during his earthly ministry, he knew that they did not understand what he had taught them. They did remember his words and teachings after the resurrection and ascension When Jesus was with his disciples, they could listen to his teachings and ask him questions. When he was gone, the Holy Spirit assumed that role. For the rest of their lives and as Matthew, Mark, Luke and John wrote the Gospels, the Spirit reminded them of all the things Jesus did and said. The Holy Spirit stood with them and guided them, just like it stands with us and guides us today. Jesus made it clear that followers love him by serving others. That message is just as relevant to us today. To live that kind of love requires the constant presence of God in our lives.
There are times when we feel alone and we don’t know what will happen to us. We could be stranded in a strange town with a broken down car. Our spouse has just died and our future looks bleak. You’ve lost your job like I recently have and you have no idea what to do next. At times like these it’s natural for us to ask ourselves, “What’s to become of me?” How do we take care of ourselves in such moments? For us as Christians, the answer is clear. God wants us to trust in him. When we do, we will receive both the Holy Spirit and God’s peace.
When Jesus told his disciples that he would be leaving, they were afraid. They could not imagine their future without him. Jesus confronted their fears with four truths, and these truths allow all believers to overcome fear:
1. We may be inadequate, but the Holy Spirit will make us competent and courageous. He will teach us and remind us of what Jesus has already taught us.
2. We may be fearful, but the peace of Jesus Christ is ours for the taking. Jesus wants us to focus our attention on the final victory.
3. Circumstances may be difficult, but victory has been assured. Jesus has written the future and it can’t be changed. Our future might be difficult and our experiences might not always be pleasant, but we can endure with hope because God has secured victory for us.
4. Circumstances may be difficult, but courage is found in obedience. We do not have to fear anything. God is our ally, especially when we face enemies. When we trust him, we begin a process of growth in which we experience the truth of Christ’s words personally through obedience. When we obey God, our fears diminish.
The peace Jesus offers is not the same peace that the world offers. The peace offered by the world is similar to the peace that people enjoyed during Christ’s lifetime. That peace was the Roman peace-a peace that was founded by military might, funded by Roman taxation and enforced by soldiers. It was dominance rather than peace. In contrast, Christ offers real peace. We can see that peace in the lives of ourselves and fellow believers. We will receive a calm strength. We can use Romans 8:31 as our motto- “If God is for us, who can be against us?”