Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Nov 22 2020 - John 14:15-31 – Not abandoned children

There are times when we can feel very alone, like an abandoned child. The disciples must have feared such a future as Jesus told them that he was about to leave them. They had been with him practically continually for three years. More than that, he had been with them. He was their Master and Lord and all their hopes were vested in him. As Jesus will soon remind them, without him they can do nothing. And now Jesus tells them that he is going away – he is going to leave them. But, he adds, he is going to send them another counsellor or comforter, one who will be with them to lead and direct them, reminding them of the things that Jesus himself had taught them and encouraging them to go on following him.

This new leader and counsellor, Jesus tells them, will be very familiar to them, “He is currently among you and will be in you” (John 14:17). They know him now in Jesus. The very Spirit who animated Jesus will come to inhabit them, and when he does so, they will know that they are not abandoned, but that Jesus himself, and the Father, are with them. That, I believe, is implied in Jesus’ words we read yesterday, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (14:3). The promise of his return to lead his disciples in the path that he has prepared for them does not have to await the second coming; Jesus himself comes to be with his disciples in the person of the Spirit and in the power of his resurrection.

Jesus then says something quite extraordinary – it must have seemed most strange to the disciples. He says, “If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I” (14:28). Why should the disciples be glad that Jesus is leaving them? They cannot understand it now, but Jesus will soon return to the Father because he has completed all that the Father has sent him to do. His return will mark the beginning of a new age, the age in which the Spirit will be at work in the world convicting people that Jesus the crucified Nazarene is Christ the Lord. The disciples should be glad because this will be an age when the promise to Abraham will at last be fulfilled that through him all nations will be blessed.

It is easy sometimes to lose perspective as disciples of the Lord Jesus. We may sometimes feel that the call to follow Jesus and live for him is more than we can manage. Indeed, it is; until, that is, we remember that he has not left us as orphans – we are not abandoned children. Jesus himself is with us to lead us, teach us and encourage us in the way he would have us go. As we walk that way, we see and know the reality of his presence. We live because he lives in us (14:19). He comes to us to take away our fears and to give us his peace (14:27). And he comes to empower us for mission – to continue his work in the world.

Lord Jesus, we thank you that though you have returned to the Father, you are not far off. You are with us in the presence and power of your Spirit. Teach us more of you and encourage us in the life of discipleship. Open our eyes to understand the immensity of your saving purposes, not for us alone but for the whole world. Holy Spirit, empower us for mission, that all the world may come to own that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.

Peter Misselbrook