I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live.
I served as a chaplain in a juvenile corrections facility for adolescent males where only one in seventeen of our young men grew up with a father. I saw daily the pain of children growing up without a strong, loving, affirming father’s presence. Therapists often speak of the “father wound”, the deep longing for relationship with father.
Today’s text addresses our spiritual father wound, our longing to be brought close to the heavenly Father. Speaking to disciples who are distraught at the prospect of His departure, Jesus assures them: “I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you”. It is an especially significant word that Jesus uses, as the Greek orphanos literally means to be “without a father”. This must be understood in light of Jesus’ earlier words about His being “the way” to the Father: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”. Jesus tells troubled disciples that He is taking them to the Father. He will not leave them bereft, “without a father”.
“I am coming to you” Jesus promises. He will come to the disciples in the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-17, 23), and tenderly care for them as a parent cares for a child. Through the Holy Spirit Jesus will draw them into a cherished, intimate relationship with His Father.
“Because I live”, Jesus reassures, “you also will live.” Evidently the disciples are not really living at this point. Yes, they have a physical life with brain, heart, and other organs functioning, but are not experiencing the spiritual life God intends. With His promise, “you also will live”, Jesus is talking about more than the resurrection of the body at the end of time. He is talking about how, by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, they will come alive in Him, and He in them.
I have seen this in people’s lives. People whose lives are dry and empty come alive as the Spirit releases the life of Jesus within. This is the key to the Christian life: as Jesus lived in the life of the Father in Him, so we live in the life of Jesus within us. This is not about becoming a rule keeper, or religiously zealous, but living close to the Father’s heart.
What are there in Jesus’ words today to know; to feel; to do?