Have you ever been all alone? Being alone and being all alone are different. Sometimes I will come to church when I have some time alone. I will either be in the sanctuary or my office. I can pray and talk to God during that time alone.
We all need times of aloneness. We need times to be alone with God. Even Jesus would go away from the crowds to spend time alone with God. So, aloneness in that sense - is good for us.
But that is not being all alone. Being all alone is being separated from others, isolated, and lonely. You can be alone in a crowd. That is what I mean by being all alone. Have you ever been all alone?
Jesus knew what it meant to be all alone. Not too long after he said these words like, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” he was nailed to a cross. In that moment, he took our sins and knew what it meant to be separated from God. In that moment, he experienced true aloneness.
But Jesus promised that his disciples would never be all alone! He tells his disciples that he will not leave them “orphaned.” He will send another “companion” to be with them. Jesus will make sure that there is someone to stand with them. Someone to guide and comfort and teach them.
Jesus fulfilled part of this promise after the resurrection. They were not orphaned - all alone. He appeared to his disciples for 40 days. For 40 days, he counseled them and opened their eyes. Then Jesus fulfilled this promise when he sent the Holy Spirit.
Ten days after he ascended to the Father, on the day of Pentecost, he sent the Holy Spirit. Through the Holy Spirit, Jesus and the Father are made present in our lives. Through them, we are never alone whether in a crowd or when no one else is around.
But all this talk of being alone and not being alone is framed by statements about keeping Jesus’ commands. Verses 15 & 16 say, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. I will ask the Father, and he will send another Counselor, who will be with you forever.”
Then verse 21 says, “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them loves me. Whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.”
Loving God and keeping his commandments are all moved together. You really can’t do one without doing the other. If you truly love God you will want to do his will. You can’t sincerely try to do his will without first loving God. Loving God and knowing his presence are all moved together. God is present in our love and in our actions that live out that love.
We talk about the Holy Spirit and feeling Jesus in our hearts. We sing, “I walk with him and talk with him…” The Bible is telling us that Christ is made present to us in our love for one another. That is why church is so important. Not the building but the community. We love one another in Jesus name and we live out God’s love together in our worship and ministry. And Christ is present in that.
I would say that the Kingdom of Heaven is like a Father who took his son fishing. They would make a habit of going fishing together. It was there special time together. It was the time that they talked and shared things. Yeah after years they did this. Even when the son had grown and moved away they would make special plans to go fishing together.
Then the Father died, and the son kept on going fishing. And in those times of fishing he would remember his father and things that they shared. He would feel the love and presence of his father once again.
When we do the thing that Jesus taught us he becomes a part of us. It is like that son. His father was no longer physically present but was there in his memory and in his heart when he did the things that they shared. When we do these things, Jesus taught us he is present there in our hearts.
You see why it is not an “If ... then” thing. The point is not that “if” we do this “then” he is present. It is more a “both ... and.” In the doing - Jesus is there. In the loving of others Jesus is present. That is why activities like Backpacks for Kids and Habitat for Humanity are so popular. When we practice love, Jesus is made present to us in special way.
That is what we do every first Sunday. When we break bread, and share a cup, we experience the presence of Jesus. It is like the son who feels his father’s presence when he goes fishing, but it is more. The analogy with the father and son fishing trips breaks down at this point. Because the son’s father is not truly present, just the son’s memory of the father moved by the sights, sounds, and smells of fishing.
But Jesus is truly present with us through the Holy Spirit. When we share Holy Communion, or act according to Jesus’ teaching - Jesus is there. He is in our hearts and souls; but not just as a memory as with the man and son in the story. Jesus is really present by the Holy Spirit. Jesus has promised that we will never be alone. Shalom and Amen!
Scripture: John 14:15-21