Promised presence of Jesus

The placing of words in a sentence or a paragraph is usually done on purpose. The word ‘behold’ occurs in the instruction of Jesus to his apostles that they should go into all the world and make disciples (Matt. 28:18-20).

If we had been told beforehand that the word ‘behold’ was going to be in this statement by Jesus, I wonder where we would have placed it. Perhaps we would have put it in the sentence describing his exaltation at the commencement of his instruction. Instead he uses it to stress his ongoing presence with the communities of disciples down the centuries.

How would this have been true for the apostles and how is it true for us? Here are some suggestions. It is true whatever the destination – Jesus knew that his immediate disciples would be scattered from one another. They would not be with one another as they served him, but they would all be with him. Jesus is also with us as we trust in him.

It is true whatever the difficulties – Jesus knew that his disciples would have many dangers to face – most of the apostles suffered greatly and eventually were martyred. He was with them through all of the problems. And he will be with us in every trial as we trust in him.

It is true whatever the day. Jesus said that he would be with them ‘all the days’ – every Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday of the years remaining for them. There would be days when they would see no one, yet Jesus would be with them.  And he will be with us each day as we trust in him.

This is true whatever the duties – here Jesus mentions baptising and teaching. In what ways does Jesus help with regard to them. I suppose we could say that he provides physical strength for engaging in them. His help goes far beyond that, however. In addition, he enables us to appreciate the spiritual significance of the baptism and the subsequent instruction. Our baptism, even if it happened a long time ago, still has relevance for us. If we wish to see some of the ways in which Jesus can help each of us improve our own baptism we should read what the Westminster Larger Catechism 167 says.

The promise of his presence here is described as personal, persistent and pertinent. It is personal because by the Holy Spirit Jesus indwells every person who trusts in him. It is persistent because it will last as long as we are here. And it is pertinent, which means that whatever we need him to do for our spiritual benefit, he will do it.

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