Chip Stapleton Highland Presbyterian Church April 21st, 2020 Hunkered Down Devotions
John 14:18-21; 25-27 (VOICE)
18 I will never abandon you like orphans; I will return to be with you. 19 In a little while, the world will not see Me; but I will not vanish completely from your sight. Because I live, you will also live. 20 At that time, you will know that I am in the Father, you are in Me, and I am in you. 21 The one who loves Me will do the things I have commanded. My Father loves everyone who loves Me; and I will love you and reveal My heart, will, and nature to you.
25 I have spoken these words while I am here with you. 26 The Father is sending a great Helper, the Holy Spirit, in My name to teach you everything and to remind you of all I have said to you. 27 My peace is the legacy I leave to you. I don’t give gifts like those of this world. Do not let your heart be troubled or fearful.
If you have been following along with these devotions and/or the daily lectionary, you will know that this passage from John comes right after Thomas and Philip have been asking Jesus to see him and to know the way that they are supposed to go (the way to follow in the footsteps of Jesus).
There are a few things in these verses, which are Jesus’ response to these and other questions, that I want us to notice and think about today. First, there is the word of hope and comfort that Jesus offers at the beginning – ‘I will never abandon you like orphans’. Sometimes, Jesus words and their meanings, can be a little unclear or ambiguous. But not here. Jesus is unequivocally stating that because of him we will never be left alone and that we will always be part of the family of God – no matter what.
The promise in these words is that there is no circumstance that can ever arise – no physical isolation, no social distancing, that can ever sever the ties that bind us to God in and through the love and grace of Jesus Christ. No matter how it might appear or how we might feel, we are not now and never will be alone.
We are not alone, because even though we cannot see Jesus, we have been promised – and after Pentecost, we have received – the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Sometimes this Holy Spirit of God is called the ‘great helper’ or the ‘comforter’ and those titles remind us of what God’s presence brings – comfort, help, and the peace that comes from knowing that we are not alone.
Finally, I want us to pay careful attention to the last words of Jesus in this passage. Again, he is clear about the nature of his presence with us and the gift he is leaving for us. He says, ‘My peace is the legacy I leave to you. I don’t give gifts like those of this world. Do not let your heart be troubled or fearful.’
If someone asked us, we might prefer to have a clear picture of what was going to happen and when. We might want to know exactly all that we were going to face and how we are to respond. But that is not what Jesus offers. Life full of surprises, and many of us are often anxious about the unknown.
Jesus doesn’t offer us life without trouble or pain. We aren’t promised advance warning for all of life’s surprises. Rather, we are offered the promise of God’s presence with us through the good and the bad and everything in between. Jesus tells us that his presence brings us something far more valuable than knowing what is coming next – the strength (in and through his Spirit) to face no matter what may come, and the peace that comes from knowing that we aren’t alone.
Sharing God’s Love,
Prayer: Holy God, thank you for your presence with us. Help to calm our anxiety and our need to know what comes next. Help us to instead trust in you and be at peace knowing that you are with us no matter what. Amen.