Sunday, December 17
In those final days leading up to the cross Jesus often spoke of returning to the Father. That suggests some underlying realities. One possibility is that he was eager to be reunited with his Father. While that resonates with us, it has some problems: except for that one moment on the cross, wasn’t he in total union with the Father? Can the godhead be separated? And what about omnipresence? Maybe we’re dealing with an anthropomorphism. [I won’t pursue that at this point.] Another thought is that the Son had been sent on a mission and once that mission was completed, he would naturally want to return home. But no matter what was behind the oft-repeated statement, Jesus was very much aware of his relationship with his disciples. He knew how they would feel, and empathized with them. He would miss them, too. He was not abandoning them. He told them of preparing a place for them and that they would be reunited with him later. While in one sense his job on earth was done, they had much to do. He told them of their commission and how they would be persecuted by the world. He prayed that they would be protected from the evil one. He promised the Holy Spirit who would indwell them and allow them to produce more fruit than they otherwise could. While he would not be physically with them, he would be with them to the end of the age. He left no question about his love for them. As John 13: 1 says, he loved them to the end.