Summary: Do we live our lives as orphans or do we live as if God's presence is always with us, just as He promised?
The Power and Purpose of God’s Presence to the Believer
Those of you who know me and Leslie know that we don’t fight, right?? Those of you, who know us really well, know that I am kidding. We fight many times. Most of times, the fight is about one thing. That is I don’t spend enough time with her. I am basically a logical person, and I like my numbers and figures. So when Leslie complains that I don’t spend enough time with her, my immediate reaction is to collect statistics to prove her wrong. So I will pull out numbers and give her the amount of minutes and hours that I have actually spent with her. Then finally she will pull out the last arrow from Quiver, she will say, even when you are with me, your presence is not with me, you are not present with me. Of course, after that I have no arguments in my defense, I meekly submit and admit to that.
You see, the presence of a loved one, whether it is a spouse, a lover, a child a parent, a sibling, or even a pet, is something that all of us crave for. The presence of a loved one is something that we enjoy.
This morning, God’s message to us is simply that. The passage that was read to us said it clearly in few words. Jesus is telling his disciples, “and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:20 (NIV). Normally when this verse is preached, the focus is on the great commission. Well that message is strong and it is there, but for this morning, we will look at how the great commission ends. Let us focus on the last part of the verse. The other translations put it like this. Matthew 28:20 (MSG) Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I'll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age." Matthew 28:20 (NLT) Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20 (NKJV) teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen. You get the message right? Jesus Christ is giving the promise, the promise that he is with us right till the end of ages.
Let us ponder for a moment who is giving this promise. We don’t have to go far to know this. Let us just go a couple of verses back and see what Jesus says. Matthew 28:18 (NKJV) And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. So Jesus is making this promise not without authority, not without power, not without sanction. He is making this promise with full power and authority that is vested in him by being part of the triune God!
Did you notice that Jesus used the same term that God the Yahweh used with Moses? Jesus is not saying that I will be with you; Jesus is saying that I am with you. Do you see the emphasis on I am? Jesus was repeating an act. An act performed by God in the Old Testament. God sent Moses to lead the Israelites out of slavery into the Promised Land. When Moses asked who should I say sent me, God asked him to say that the I am sent him. Exodus 3:14 (NKJV) And God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM." And He said, "Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you.' "And after establishing His identity, He commands Moses: Exodus 4:12 (NKJV) Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say."
This is exactly what Jesus is doing here. He first establishes his identity, He is the past, present and generations to come as clearly brought out in Revelation 1:8 (NKJV) "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End," says the Lord, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty." After establishing that, He is asking his disciples to Go and make disciples of all nations, and He is promising them “I am with you, always, till the end of the age”.
Let us take a moment to savor this promise. The Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the Almighty, is promising us "I am with you, to bear you up, to plead your cause; with you in all your services, in all your sufferings, to bring you through them with comfort and honour. When you go through the fire or water, I will be with you. In the pulpit, in the prison, lo, I am with you." (Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible.). He is saying I am not away from you, I am the ever present help Psalm 46:1 (NKJV) God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. He is saying "Lo, I am with you, to make your ministry effectual for the discipling of the nations, for the pulling down of the strong holds of Satan, and the setting up of stronger for the Lord Jesus." …. I will be with you on sabbath days and week days, fair days and foul days, winter days and summer days. (Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible.)