‘I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.’ (John 14:18)
Knowing that someone is there can make such a difference. Think of the mother giving birth, or the aged person dying, or the child learning to ride a bicycle; just having someone nearby is so reassuring at such times. Being there makes such a difference at such times.
How good it is to remember, then, that our God is ‘the God who is there’ – ‘there’ upholding the universe; but also ‘there’ right alongside us mere mortals, moment by moment and day by day. What an amazing God! ‘There’ in the great things; and ‘there’ in the small.
But not only is he ‘there’; he is there as a friend. When Jesus came into his world, he came as a friend. Not only was the word ‘friend’ often found on his lips, he acted as a true friend to everyone he encountered, especially to those who felt they did not deserve it - even to the one who betrayed him!. Such is the depth of his friendship.
So, when the disciples became anxious at his talking about leaving them, he knew that what they needed more than anything was the reassurance of his ongoing presence, and it was in this context that he made his promise: ‘I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.’ He was looking beyond his death that would bring them to despair; beyond his resurrection that would bring them to joy; beyond his return to the Father that would bring them to anticipation. He was looking to the Day of Pentecost when he would baptize them with his Holy Spirit and when, through this life-giving and empowering experience, they would know for sure that Jesus was truly ‘there’ – with them for ever; not limited now by space or time; but with each of them, wherever they went, in the power of the Spirit.
Let us remember that Jesus is still ‘there’ for each one of us. His promise is that he will not leave us as orphans; and through his Holy Spirit, he wants to make that real to each of us today.
‘I will live among the people of Israel and never forsake my people.’ (1 Kings 6:13, NLT)
Copyright © 2017 Martin Manser and Mike Beaumont
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