“All right, Lord, you will leave us. But you are asking us to continue to trust you. We have seen your mighty works. We have given up everything and followed you. We have been with you this far. Now, you promise us to plead for us with the Father when you get there. You are very positive that we will even do greater works when you are gone. This is perplexing. How can you work with us? How can we be sure you will be with us?”
These thoughts might have lingered in the minds of the Apostles while the Lord Jesus was saying His good-bye to them. We understand the trepidations of the Apostles. We know from experience that long distance love or friendship is very difficult to keep. If it is to last, both parties must regularly defy the gap by being present, either virtual (artificial) or real. Knowing that anxiety riveted the hearts of his followers, Jesus promised to return and take them to a place where He and the Father would live with them always.
But Jesus knew that the promise was not comforting enough. He knew that his followers were very disturbed about going on without him. They heard him talk about the persecution that would befall them. And they had already made the preaching of good news their life’s purpose. They needed the reassurance that they could continue this exciting and eternal journey. So Jesus revealed to them His plan to maintain the relationship during the in-between time.
Jesus started by pointing out that the relationship is characterized by mutual love. He would sacrifice his life to them, but he was asking them to love him in return. “If you love me,” He said, “obey my commandments” (v. 15). Conversely, Jesus said that those who do not love him do not obey him (vv. 23-24). Jesus used another metaphor for this kind of love, that of remaining in his love (John 15:9-10). Loving Jesus means loving his commandments.
When the disciples would love and obey Jesus, He and God the Father, would establish their love in them (John 14:21). But wait, there is more. When disciples would love and obey Jesus, God would fill them with His Holy Spirit who would never leave them (v. 16). They would never be abandoned (v. 18). The Spirit is called the Encourager or Comforter. He is the Presence of God in all situations and conditions of life. He would remind Jesus’ followers of His teachings (v. 26). He would give them peace, for He is the Spirit of peace (v. 27). The Spirit would help them continue their mission by working in the lives of people ahead of them (John 16:8-11). The Spirit would make them bold even in the midst of opposition (Acts).
Do you sometimes wonder why Jesus is more absent than present? You don’t need to look for another miracle to know His empowering Presence. Do this: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. (Mark 12:30, NIV).