Order of Service Printed in Today’s Bulletin
“If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.” – John 14:15-21
Put yourself in the place of one of Jesus’ disciples. You and your fellow disciples are gathered together with Jesus on the day before he died. Over the past couple weeks he told you about how he would be betrayed, arrested and put to death. Again, he tells you that he won’t be on this earth much longer. He will soon leave to return to heaven to God the Father. How do you feel about it? Fearful? Anxious? Confused? Maybe all of the above.
Perhaps the feeling of the disciples can be compared to that of an orphan child who would feel all of those things: fear, anxiety and confusion. It seems he is alone on this earth. His parents are gone and it looks like there is no one to care for him. In these verses from John chapter 14, Jesus made some wonderful and comforting promises to his disciples. And through these inspired words of John, he also speaks these promises to all his believers today. Jesus said that he will not leave us as orphans. We are not alone.
Jesus sends the Holy Spirit to us. What the Spirit does for us is nothing short of remarkable. He lives in us and gives us the eyes of faith to see Jesus even though our physical eyes can’t. Without the Holy Spirit, we couldn’t see Jesus. But because Jesus has sent him to live in our hearts, he has enabled us to see Jesus and all he has done and continues to do for us.
The Holy Spirit points us to Jesus’ cross and shows us that there our sins are forgiven. He points us to Jesus’ empty tomb and enables us to understand that because Jesus lives forever in heaven, so will we as his believers. Finally, the Holy Spirit lights a burning love for our Savior in our hearts. After showing us Jesus’ love for us, he works in us the desire to say “thank you” to Jesus by following what Jesus says. Yes, Jesus and his love can be seen in our lives through our obedience to him.
Although Jesus is not visible to us right now on earth, he has not left us as orphans. He has sent the Holy Spirit that we may continue to see Jesus through the eyes of faith. Because the Holy Spirit lives in us, our lives are living testimonies to Jesus’ love for us. And one day Jesus will do just as he said, “I will come to you.” He will come back and take us to be with him forever in heaven.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for giving your life to forgive all of my sins. Thank you for rising from the dead to give me everlasting life in heaven. Continue to send your Holy Spirit to me that I may see you through the eyes of faith. Help me to live my life according to your Word. Through the work of the Holy Spirit, continue to strengthen my faith in you. One day, do as you have promised and come back to take me and all believers to heaven. Amen.
In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 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. – John 14:2-3
In Jesus’ day, it was the wedding custom that just after the Jewish couple was engaged, the groom would go to prepare a home or room for his bride. Then upon returning to the bride’s home, he would sweep his lady off her feet and take her to their wedding ceremony.
Part of this sounds very romantic – a bride waiting expectantly, not quite sure when her beau will come. Surely the young woman had great confidence that her fiancée would return to pick her up for the wedding. After which, they would have a glorious life together. But there must have been a little doubt as she waited so eagerly while hours, even days passed by.
Jesus understood that after he left the earth, the hope of his followers for his return could easily slip from sure faith to nagging doubt. So just before he died, Jesus explained that they could be confident in their hope in him. No matter how long the delay, Jesus would return and take them to heaven with him.
Jesus gives this sure promise to all who have hope in him: “I am going [to my Father’s house] to prepare a place for you. … I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”
You might be hoping to get a raise, or the Cardinals win the World Series, or even that you have found the right “someone.” Yet, with all our dreams and hopes, we can never be sure. Relationships can go sour, jobs can get cut, or teams can fizzle out during the stretch. What makes Jesus so amazing is that we can put our complete confidence in him and know that he will never fail us – not now, not forever. In Jesus we have true hope.
Prayer: Jesus, because you accomplished my salvation through your death and resurrection, I can hope and plan for heaven. Sustain me through the struggles of life that I go through now. Focus my faith on your promise that you will return to take me to the glorious heavenly home that you are now preparing for me and all believers. Amen.
As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. – Luke 24:28-29
The two disciples gave Jesus a sincere and heartfelt invitation, “Stay with us.” They wanted to hear more about what Jesus had to say. They were also concerned because the day was nearly over, and they didn’t want their traveling companion on the road by himself.
As I consider the disciples’ invitation and Jesus’ decision to stay, who really benefitted the most? When I finish reading Luke’s account (Luke 24:30-35), it was definitely the disciples. They had their eyes opened to the truth. They were also set free from their doubts and fears.
“Stay with me!” It is an invitation which will benefit me as it did the disciples. I know the world is filled with distractions and deceptions. These are offered by the world and used by the devil to lead me to say, “Come back later, Jesus, when I’m not as busy.” Even more dangerous is the influence of my sinful flesh. Through its constant attraction to sinful thoughts and actions, I separate myself from the Lord. In my disobedience and rebellion I actually tell the Lord, “Go away!”
“Stay with me!” It is knowing this invitation and what it means which will keep me close to my Savior. I need Jesus to stay with me. I need his reassurance and his comfort. I need his forgiveness and peace. I need him to set me free from my doubts and fears.
Later that evening Jesus left his disciples, but he didn’t leave them alone. He left them with the joyful confidence he was alive, and with the assurance he would always be with them. Jesus does the same for me. It is this assurance which gives me the same joy, the same confidence, and the same peace it gave the disciples. This is why I daily pray, “Lord, stay with me!”
Abide with me fast falls the eventide,
The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me.
I fear no foe with thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight and tears no bitterness.
Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still if thou abide with me. Amen.