One of my favorite hymns of Christmas is an old choral arrangement my father taught our church choir years ago, called “Emmanuel.” There is something deeply moving, even to a child learning a song, about the phrase “God with us.”
The fact that Jesus came in flesh, to live the life of a poor man, wandering and teaching and healing, only to die as a sacrifice for humanity, is truly baffling to followers of other gods. Why would a god stoop to such a life? There’s no logical, scientific reason for such madness. So…possibly it’s something science cannot explain.
Love. God is power and Creator and the most supreme Being in the universe. The Bible is extremely clear on these points. But there is something else regularly pointed out that is hard for the human mind to fathom. God is love. And Jesus is love in human form.
In John 14, Jesus has explained to his closest friends and followers how they can come with Him even when it seems He’s left them for all time. None of his disciples really understand this speech. Who would? Why would Jesus compare Himself to a vine? Why say there is only one road to the Father and it’s Him? But then, He had just behaved like the lowest of all servants (or slaves) and washed their feet, so there were many things they struggled to understand about Him. I always used to be really hard on them, but the older I get, the more I realize, I wouldn’t have understood Jesus either.
The disciples didn’t know what He meant by His extraordinary claims, but they knew one thing, if He was going somewhere, they wanted to go too. They had followed Him everywhere, seen the most insane miracles, witnessed impossible healing and seen Him reach out to people they wouldn’t have dared spoken to. And there was John, who rarely refers to himself at all, except to call himself “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” I guarantee, John wanted to be where Jesus was.
Here in this passage, after telling them how they could dwell with Him in eternity, He confirms their worst fears, He is leaving them. They can follow, but not just yet. However, He isn’t leaving them alone. He’s sending Someone else. Someone permanent. The Holy Spirit is also a representation of God with us.
The Holy Spirit is not just a glorified conscience whispering in our ear that we’re getting this all wrong. That’s how I saw Him for years. He is powerful, He was with God at the dawn of Creation. He is Jesus still with us. He is comfort. He is love.
In the insanity that is December, in the swirl of fun and frenzy, take a deep breath, and remember that supernatural power, peace and love are with you. God is with you. If nothing else gives you comfort and peace, just remember that.