Jesus last command to His disciples was a recommissioning of God’s initiative right from the beginning of time. (Matthew 28:20) Reconciling a lost world back to Himself. God had announced that mission right after the Fall when God was explaining the consequences of Adam and Eve’s sin.
And I will put enmity between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her Seed,
He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.
– Genesis. 3:15
Jesus recommissioned His men to personally be involved in making disciples. If they were going to truly follow Jesus and obey all that He commanded them, they would now take all those experiences with Jesus and begin penetrating their world by being engaged with others to help them discover the message of the gospel, baptizing them and then teaching them to obey all that Christ commanded. Jesus final statement was not just meaningless platitude, but that He would indeed be with them always. It might seem strange knowing that Jesus would soon physically ascend to the heavens and would not be with them anymore.
Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to be with them in the same way that Jesus was with them. This is where it gets tricky for most of us. The issue is not an understanding of the Triune Godhead. We accept the claim of Scripture but the idea of not physically seeing Jesus like the privilege His men had often leaves us unsettled.
My daughter flew in for Christmas and heads back home tomorrow. We chat with her often and facetime with her every month. But actually having her here is very special and we have enjoyed her presence. Having her here clearly impacts our interactions and discussions. We plan events and experiences that we can enjoy and her presence has been a joy for us. We often talk about things we do not normally talk about and we have the privilege to get her perspective on things and listen to her heart and desires.
When Colleen flies home she may be with us in our thoughts and memories but she is definitely not here. We will talk about our experiences we had with here but they will all be past tense. We will reflect on the good memories and interacting with her friend who came over last night along with all the other events we enjoyed.
When Jesus left he was not saying to His men that they will simply have good memories of their time together. Clearly they will spend huge amounts of time discussing all their experiences with Jesus and reflecting on what was said and done. They will talk about all those amazing miracles and reminisce over His suffering and crucifixion in much better light than when it happened. But when Jesus promised He would be with them through the presence of the Holy Spirit it meant that he would be with them. The Spirit’s presence, while not physically seen, is just as real as if Jesus was physically present. The Spirit indwells our heart, mind and soul (1 Cor. 6:19-20). He is the same teacher, coach, trainer, counselor and mentor that Jesus was to His men.
We are not to imagine that Jesus is with us because He is with us. We don’t have to pretend that Jesus is with us like we did when we were a kid pretending to have an imaginary friend; the Spirit may be spirit and invisible to our normal sight but He is not imaginary. We are not to do a mental pep talk to simply honor someone who is historically important to us like setting up a mental monument in our mind that honors that person and is simply the motivation for doing our best.
The Spirit of God is in us. It is hard to get a sense of what it means to be in us or in our heart. Why does the Spirit want to inhabit our physical heart? Is he helping it keep a proper rhythm? What this means is that the Holy Spirit is constantly interacting with our mind, emotions, common sense, logic, thinking and how we process our life and He is constantly teaching us what to believe, value, prioritize; how we are to behave, talk, communicate and shape our character too. Since we are family He will always do it in a manner that is keeping with the desires of the Father caring for us as His children.
He is with us always. His Spirit is always on the cutting edge of every event, every experience, and every situation good or bad to help us experience Him so that we know He is truly and authentically with us in our journey. As we step into the New Year I hope and pray that you will have a deeper sense of Christ being with you every step of the way.
Sincerely in Christ, Pastor Brad