Comfort

Based on: John 14:15-21

Have you ever played peekaboo with a baby? They all seem to love that game.  But, do you realize what’s happening as you play that game? You are teaching them, as you hide your face, that there are times when you will go way and they will not be able to see you, but you are also teaching them, as you show your face to them, that you will come back.  You’re teaching them to not be afraid during the times you are gone because you will come back.

As children get older, they still need to know they have not been abandoned.  Perhaps you remember a time as a child when you were in an unfamiliar place and all the sudden you looked around and didn’t see your mother or father or whoever had been with you.  Fear came over you suddenly.

What if instead, your mother or father told you, “You can stay here and look at the toys, and I will be three aisles away looking at toasters.”  You would stay calm and not be afraid even though you could not see your mother or father.

Just as we talked about last week, Jesus is in the upper room with his disciples and ready to go to the Mount of Olives.  He is preparing his disciples for the time when they will not see him.  He is going away, but he will come back. With these words Jesus gives them assurances for now and assurance for the future.

At the very beginning of this paragraph Jesus says, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.”  Jesus says something very similar at the end of this paragraph.  Those may not seem like words of comfort, but as we look at them closer we will see that they are intended for comfort.  First, by these words Jesus is not saying, “If you think you love me you better show it by doing what I tell you to do.”  No, instead, he is saying that those who love him will just naturally do the things he told his disciples to do.  It is just like an apple tree that bears apples.  A tree doesn’t decide, “I am going to produce apples so I can be an apple tree.” No, it is an apple tree first, and because it is an apple tree, it produces apples.  The same is true with us.  Because God has called us to faith and made us Christians, we just naturally do the things Christ wants us to do.

Now here is the comfort. When you see apples on the tree you know it is an apple tree.  When you see yourself doing the things that Christ commands, when you see yourself listening to God’s Word and when you see yourself serving fellow believers out of love for Christ, then you can take comfort in the fact that you are one of those who love Christ.

Not only do you love Christ, but as one of those people who loves Christ, Jesus promises you, along with the disciples, that the Counselor will come to you.  Jesus is talking about Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit lives with us and lives in us.  This is not for everyone because Jesus says, “The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him.” 

The disciples who were with Jesus during the time he lived as a  man on this earth and every disciple of Christ since that time, has had this special relationship with God, this intimate relationship with God. God lives with and in every Christian. Just think what that means for our daily lives.  Whenever anything  happens to us, if someone persecutes us because of our faith or someone mistreats us, they are also mistreating God.  God is there to see what they’re doing, and he is the their to protect us and to make sure that it works out for our good.  In fact God lives with  us and in us so that he can keep his promises to keep evil away from us and to love each of us as his child.

God does love us.  As we obey the commands that  Jesus gave to his disciples, we know that we are one of those who love Jesus. We also know that if we love Jesus, it is only because God loved us first. We can be certain of God’s love for us, and we can also be certain that Jesus will keep his promise to show himself to us.  Jesus says, “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.”

Jesus does show himself to us.  He reveals himself to us in God’s word and in the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s supper.  In those things he tells us about who he is and what he has done for us.  These are not things that the world understands.  They can read the Bible and they can watch what happens at baptism or at the Lord’s supper, but they really don’t understand who Jesus is unless Jesus shows himself to them.

As Jesus talks to his disciples he tells them who he is and what he has done for them.  He shows himself to them, and he shows himself to us in these words found in the middle of the portion of John’s gospel which we read today, “Because I live, you also will live.”

With these words Jesus tells us a little bit about who he is.  He tells us that he is alive and by our connection to him we will live too.  When he speaks these words, Jesus knows that in less than 24 hours he is going to die, but he also knows that death can have no hold on him.  He will live.  It doesn’t matter what the world does to him.  All the evil forces of sin, death and Satan cannot keep him from living.

By this statement, “Because I live, you also will live.”  Jesus also tells us that our life is inseparably connected to his life.  It is a guarantee.  We will live as long as he lives.  Or let me say it another way.  The only way we will die is if Jesus Christ dies. 

Sure, I know that one day this body will stop functioning.      Just as Jesus’ body died and was put in the grave, our heart will also stop beating.  These lungs will stop taking in air, and the electrical discharges that make up the activity of the brain, they too will cease.  But our God given soul will continue on.  Our soul, which is very much a part of who we are, will continue to live. As for this body, God will take care of it at the proper time.  He will return life to this body, and, just like Christ, it will never die again.

What else is there to worry about? Is anything else in this world as important as knowing what Jesus says right here, “Because I live you also will live.”  Our biggest problem, the problem of the eternal death in hell, has been taking care of.

But are there times when we don’t think about the comfort Jesus gives in these words? When we complain about our taxes and how much we have to pay the government, are we thinking about, “Because I live you also will live”? Are we really thinking about the fact that the number of years we pay taxes on this earth is small compared to the amount of time we will spend in heaven enjoying the the wealth we have inherited from God.

What about when people mistreat us? What if they call us names or treat us unfairly?  Do we get angry and want revenge? Perhaps we have forgotten that Jesus said, “ because I live you also will live.”  perhaps we have forgotten that we have the glory of heaven as God’s children.

Just imagine how little you would be concerned about a penny that fell out of your  pocket if you knew you had a couple hundred dollars in your wallet.  You have much greater things waiting for you.

Even for the things in life that are not so minor, the words of Jesus provide comfort.  Even when we come to the end of our life, especially at the end of our life, these words tell us that the death of our bodies is not the end.  Our life will continue with Jesus.

As Jesus gives these words of comfort to his disciples we know that the basis in the foundation for these words of comfort come from the things that he was about to do the very next day.  Jesus was about to pay for our sins.  Jesus was about to make us pure and holy and worthy of spending an eternal life with him.

Jesus will return again and with these words he has given us comfort until he does return.

Amen.

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