It’s always sad to say goodbye to someone you really care about, especially if you are not sure when you will see them again. We have been especially aware of this during COVID-19. Saying goodbye can feel overwhelming, even crushing.
But although separation can be painful, sometimes it is necessary, and even beneficial. Think of the fledgling bird pushed out of the nest to learn to fly, the child dropped off at the school gate to study or the married couple who leave their parent’s home to start their own family.
Jesus knew that the time for this kind of separation had come for his disciples.
We are starting a new sermon series in the book of John, studying Jesus’ final teaching just a few hours before his death. In the intimate setting of the last supper, he told his disciples that he would soon leave them – that he would go to the cross and die, and then ascend to be with this Father in heaven.
The disciples were stunned and confused by this. Jesus had been the centre of their existence for the last three years – they had left their homes and families to follow him. His popularity in Jerusalem seemed to be sky high, why would he choose this as the time to disappear?
In these chapters, Jesus explains to his disciples that his departure was both necessary and beneficial. He needed to go to be with his Father to prepare a place for them in heaven, and he would not leave them alone. He would send his Holy Spirit to comfort and counsel them, so that even though he was not with them physically, it would be an amazing time of personal growth and gospel fruit.
These chapters are a great encouragement to us as well. Like the disciples, we too are tempted to be troubled when faced by the trials of this world. These chapters give us hope and purpose in the storm of life, because Jesus’ Spirit and his words are there to guide us each step of the way.