Jesus left his disciples. Jesus said, “I am with you always even to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:20). It wasn’t much long after that he was taken up into the air. He leaves. What is the most common question or statement made by a person in crisis?
Where is God in this? Some days I look around and it is easy to fall into the idea that Jesus isn’t involved in some of these situations. Sometimes it is tough to see Jesus. Is he here? Is he truly with us?
A day I have been fearing has arrived. I knew it was inevitable, but part of me wished it would have taken longer. My young son now realizes that I am gone. When I leave for work in the morning he asks me not to go. When he realizes that it is impossible for me to stay he tries to find things for me to do to keep me home longer. If anything it buys him a few more minutes. With the end in sight he begins to negotiate a chance for him to come with me. Each day when I leave the house a dance begins. This dance is a heart-wrenching, gut-checking reality of having to leave my children. Back and forth I enter the dance knowing what the outcome will be. I will leave. My only hope is that I will return to see them, and to pick up where we left off. Some days my son continues to go back and play with his toys. Other times he extends the mourning process (which always makes things fun for my wife). He is confused. He doesn’t want me to leave.
This confusion is also found in the disciples in John 14. They are like children playing on the floor, only to look up and see Mom and Dad putting on their coats to leave. The children/disciples have three questions: “Where are you going? Can we go? Who will stay with us?” Jesus responds, “I am going to my Father and your Father. You cannot come now; you can come later. I will not leave you as orphans. I will send another friend, another helper who will never leave, but who will stay with you forever.”
The question we have to wrestle with is whether or not this promise is enough. Is this a suitable answer to you? I have to go to work. This is part of life. So it is with the disciples. Part of the life of a disciple is working, growing, learning, living, while Jesus is gone, but doing it all in hopeful anticipation for when he will be back and our world will be safe again. The new heaven and new earth may look different, but it will be home to us. And it will be as if he never left at all.