Sometimes the promises of God bump up against circumstances or conditions that seem to erase them or render them unkept. In these cases, one of two things has happened – we have understood God’s promise within the limits of this world or we have understood God Himself within the limits of this world. In both cases we are mistaken and this causes us to miss out on so much God has for us.
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:19-20 (NLT)
When He was crucified, they thought He was gone. They were a scared, dejected, scattered lot. And then He rose from the dead. He was back! They worshipped Him and He taught them many things. Soon after He told His disciples that He would always be with them, He left again! (see Acts 1:9) Following the coming of the Messiah was a bit of a roller coaster ride. Let’s go back through the ups and downs to get us ready to discuss our passage.
He came! (see Luke 2:1-18)
Just as the prophets foretold, the Messiah, Jesus, was born in Bethlehem. Angels announced His birth, and the news spread that the Messiah had come.
He left (see Matthew 2:13-15)
Mary and Joseph took Jesus and fled to Egypt to escape the danger of King Herod’s jealous wrath. They remained in hiding until Herod died and eventually made their way to Nazareth where Jesus grew up in obscurity in Galilee.
He came again!
About 25 years later, Jesus, now an adult, was proclaimed as the Messiah and baptized by John the Baptist. God’s voice proclaimed from heaven, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17) During the next three years, Jesus taught, gathered disciples, performed miracles, and established His authority as the promised Messiah. The Messianic roller coaster hit an epic high point when Jesus entered into Jerusalem to shouts of “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Matthew 21:9)
He left again (see Matthew 27:26-50)
In just a few short days, Jesus was flogged and executed on a wooden cross as a criminal. The roller coaster hits the lowest of lows.
He came again! (see Matthew 28:1-10, Matthew 28:18-20)
Three days after being buried in a rock tomb, His followers discovered that He had risen! He was alive! It was during this period that Jesus delivered the promise that is in our passage – He would always be with them. The disciples must have thought, ‘Finally, the roller coaster ride is over.’ But, alas, it was not. Soon after Jesus made His promise. . .
He left again (see Acts 1:1-11)
Jesus was giving His disciples important instructions when all of a sudden He rose up into the sky and disappeared into a cloud. They were stunned! They just stood there, looking up, not knowing what to do or say. I’d forgive them if they were a little confused. Jesus took His place at the right hand of God in heaven and seemingly reneged on His promise to always be with them. Jesus’ last instruction to His disciples holds the key to understanding how He was going to keep His promise. He told them to stay in Jerusalem until God sent what He had promised – the Holy Spirit.
Let’s get off the roller coaster for a minute and discuss an important concept:
There is only one God, the Creator of the universe. God also exists as three unique persons. The triune (three-in-one) nature of God is a hard concept to grasp. It defies the ‘either-or’ requirements of the laws of physics that prohibit three people from also being one person or vice versa. Let’s remember right off the bat that God, as the Creator, is not bound by the limits of the universe He created. We would never argue that an auto designer must be bound by the limits of the car he designed. The designer, as with God, must be outside of the limits of that which he designs by definition. Some illustrations are used to help explain how God can be three persons and still be one person. While none can completely satisfy, consider this one:
The chemical compound H2O can exist in three unique forms – solid as ice, liquid as water, and gas as water vapor. Each is fully and completely H2O yet each has its own unique characteristics. So it is with the three persons of God. Each is fully and completely God, yet each is unique in their own right – God the Father and Creator, God the Son and Redeemer, God the Holy Spirit and Helper.
So how did Jesus fulfill His promise to ‘be with you always?’ while also residing in heaven at the right hand of God? He sent His other person – the Holy Spirit.
Now back on the roller coaster. . .
He came back! (see Acts 2:1-11)
On Pentacost an amazing thing happened. The promised Holy Spirit came upon the believers waiting as instructed in Jerusalem. With the sound of a mighty wind and with the appearance of fire, the Holy Spirit settled in among them. They were instantly transformed. Jesus was with them again in the person of the Holy Spirit! They poured into the crowded streets preaching the Gospel, miraculously in the many different languages spoken by those who were there. And so it is today. Jesus is with each believer in the person of the Holy Spirit bringing along with Him, His transformative power. And it gets even better because…
He is more than just ‘with us’
When Jesus is with us, He is within us. The very person that has the power to create the universe, overcome the grave, and teach us the truth is the same person that resides within us when we make Him our Savior and Lord.
[If you’re not sure Jesus resides within you, click here and learn how to be absolutely sure. It’s too good to pass up.]
You see, Jesus is more than just an almighty bodyguard that walks with each of us, He is the very person that walks in each of us. The apostle Paul put it perfectly when he wrote, “. . . I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20 NIV) Jesus can never be separated from us because He resides within. It doesn’t get any better than that! So what are we to do with this Good News? Jesus tells us in this passage – tell others about Him! Make disciples, baptize, and teach. It’s hard work but Jesus knows we can do it – after all, He is within each of us! That’s the truth.
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, for I am within you. Remember My three persons – baptize them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, for I am within you. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you, for I am within you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, for I am within you, even to the end of the age.”
That’s the YouTruth – Jesus Is With You Always.