I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.…
Notice some of the comforts left by Jesus to his disciples. "I will not leave you desolate [or, 'orphans,' or, 'comfortless']," implying that he would leave them some suitable and substantial comforts.
I. THE COMFORT OF HIS CONTINUOUS COMING UNTO THEM. "I come unto you."
1. This was really the case, in spite of some appearances to the contrary. They thought that he would leave entirely and for ever by death. This was a mistake, and Christ is very careful to correct it. "I come unto you." Many of our troubles and sorrows arise from our mistaken notions of things. Things are not always what they seem. The disciples thought that Christ was going away from them by death, while in fact he was coming unto them, spiritually nearer to them in sympathy and fellowship. On the cross and in the grave he was coming unto them; and he was coming nearer and nearer unto them in all the trials and dangers of after-life. And thus he comes unto all believers, even when they think that he leaves them.
2. This was literally the case at his resurrection. He came unto them, and they embraced their risen Lord.
3. This was specially the case on the Day of Pentecost. When his promise of the Spirit was fulfilled, and in the fulfillment of this promise, they realized the presence of Christ more than ever; and, instead of the outward Christ, they henceforth enjoyed him in them as a Divine power, light, and inspiration. "Christ in you, the Hope of glory."
4. This will be fully the case at the last day. He ever comes in his Word, in his Spirit, in the dispensations of providence, in the shadows and sunshine of life, and especially in the gloom of death, and each coming is a source of comfort and joy; but his great coming at the last day will crown all, and swallow every other coming in itself, and will perfect the mutual fellowship for ever.
II. THE COMFORT OF A CONTINUOUS VISION OF JESUS.
1. This is denied to the world. "Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more." The world had seen him outwardly. But even this vision would be soon withdrawn. There is an undertone of sadness in his announcement of this. The best opportunity the world ever had would soon be lost forever. The world cannot see the spiritual and eternal; only the material and outward. Only this it saw of Jesus; but even this was about to be withdrawn.
2. This vision is granted to the disciples. "But ye see me." He assures them not merely that he would continue to come unto them, but that they would continue to see him - see him even after his departure; and if not, it would be their own fault. They had professed to have the power of spiritual vision, faith, which they doubtless had, and they had been well strengthened by his teaching and miracles. Now it was about to be tried, and he had no doubt of the ultimate success. Material and circumstantial changes cannot entirely intercept the vision of faith. There may be an eclipse, but not total; and if total, it will not continue long enough to be specially noticed. It was so now in the case of the disciples with regard to their impending trial. After the terrible but brief gloom, "the Sun of Righteousness" appeared to faith brighter than ever. So clear and full was the vision to the disciples that they could see nothing else. It filled their horizon with his presence and glory. They saw him in every object around and above them in the gloom of earth and in the glory of heaven; saw him in all the circumstances and trials of life and in the sufferings of death, in nature, providence and redemption. Christ, in fact, was their "all in all."
III. THE COMFORT OF A CONTINUOUS LIFE.
1. The life of Jesus. "I live." Christ's life was continuous. It is true that he really died, but it was the act of his own will. He was the Prisoner of death, but only for a short time, and that by his own permission. By reason of the fullness of life in him, he could well afford to ignore death. He lived in death, and through death he attained his mediatorial life in its glory. Death was made by him to serve life. The disciples were afraid that would be his final end; but this fear is dispelled by the announcement, "I live." Of the truth of this they had ample proofs in due time. What a comfort it is to believers to know that their pious dead are still living, and especially to know that their Redeemer liveth! They are not orphans.
2. Their life. "And ye shall live also." Next to their concern for his life was that for their own. They were afraid that his death would involve their death, and they would naturally and sadly ask - What will become of us, of our fond hopes, dreams, and aspirations? They are set at rest by the statement, "And ye shall live a]so."
3. Their life as united with his. "Because I live," etc. We have here:
(1) The nature of their life. A life like that of Jesus; a Divine and spiritual life, different from and superior to the physical and its circumstances. They are directed to the spiritual nature of their life as a source of consolation.
(2) The infinite cause of their life. It is a great source of comfort to have an adequate reason for an important statement such as the one made here by our Lord, "Ye shall live also." One would naturally ask - Why and how is this? It appears strange, if not impossible. There is sufficient answer in the statement of Jesus, "Because I live," etc. Physical life is dependent upon the life and will of God; and spiritual life by faith is entirely dependent on the life of Christ as its Divine Source, its efficient and meritorious Cause, its infinite Support and Guarantee.
(3) The perfect certainty and safety of their life. In the degree they would believe in the life of Jesus they would realize their own, and have confidence in its safety. The life of faith is as certain and safe as that Divine life from which it emanates, and by which it is protected and supported. Safe in all the trials and dangers of life, and even in death itself. It is "hid with Christ in God."
(4) The endless continuance of their life. "Ye shall live also." The cravings and aspirations of immortality are fully satisfied in the life of Jesus. There is no room for any fear with regard to the great changes of the future. The life of faith is commensurate in duration with the life of Christ, with which it is inseparably connected. They had the comfort of a continuous vision of an ever-living Savior, and of their life eternally safe in connection with his.
IV. THE COMFORT OF A FULLER REALIZATION OF DIVINE FELLOWSHIP.
1. The fellowship of Christ with the Father. "Ye shall know that I am in my Father." This as yet was but imperfectly known - a source of perplexity to them.
2. Their fellowship with Christ, and Christ with them. "Ye in me," etc.
3. Their fellowship with the Father. This is an inevitable consequence of their fellowship with Christ. To realize all this would be to them a source of great comfort and spiritual peace and joy. Then they would not consider themselves orphans, but happy and rich children in the warm embrace of an almighty and infinitely kind Father.
(1) It is possible to have an interest in Christ without fully knowing it at the time. The disciples had much now of which they were not aware. Their spiritual possessions were greater than knowledge.
(2) Faith naturally presses forward to a fuller knowledge of Divine things. It craves for it, and is never disappointed. If we want an increase of knowledge, let us strive for an increase of faith. Believe, and you shall know.
(3) There are periods when Divine knowledge is specially attained and realized. "In that day ye shall," etc. The morning of Christ's resurrection was such a day, and Pentecost was another; and in individual and social experience of believers there are many such days, when faith is rewarded with knowledge, and culminates in spiritual realization. Then the language of the soul is not "I believe," but "I know" - "I know that my Redeemer," etc.; "I know whom," etc. Then there is in the soul a spring-tide of spiritual comfort and peace, and an ecstasy of inspired confidence.
V. THE COMFORT OF A CLEARER MANIFESTATION OF CHRIST. "I will manifest," etc,
1. This is a self-manifestation of Christ. He is the Revealer and the Revealed. Different mediums and agents are employed; still he is the Source and Subject of the revelation. During his personal ministry on earth he chiefly manifested the Father and the Spirit; but after the Ascension he manifests himself through the Spirit and the ministry of his Word. He manifests himself in his humanity and Divinity - in his human and Divine relationships; in short, in all his past, present, and future agency with regard to the great scheme of human redemption. His manifestation in the flesh was comparatively small, and only introductory to the great spiritual manifestation of himself in the soul and in the spirit of humanity.
2. This self-manifestation of Christ is inseparably connected with loving obedience to him. "He that hath my commandments," etc. Love to Christ manifests itself through obedience to his commands, and through this loving obedience Christ manifests himself to the soul. With every loving act comes a fresh vision of the Savior.
3. This self-manifestation of Christ is inseparably connected with a corresponding experience of Divine love. "He that loveth me shall be loved," etc. Love begets love. Human love to Christ is repaid with Divine interest. It returns in living streams of love to the experience from the Father and the Son. And this Divine love is the sweetest and most powerful medium through which Christ manifests himself. It is a manifestation of him in itself.
4. This self-manifestation of Christ is gradual and progressive. It was so in the experience of the disciples. There was a vast difference between the Christ of Pentecost and Jesus of Nazareth. And it is so in the experience of believers ever since. Jesus once really seen by faith will never be permanently lost sight of, but the constancy and clearness of the vision depend upon the degree of faith and love in the soul. He will manifest as we believe and love.
5. This self-manifestation of Christ will be ultimately complete. "I will," etc. It will not reach completion till the last day. To fully see him, he must fully appear; to fully know him, we must be like him; and to be like him, we must see him as he is. But even then we shall not see all his beauty nor comprehend all his Being. Were this the case, our happiness would cease. Eternity will not exhaust his glory, although fully employed in its exhibition. But at his final coming there will be such a full manifestation of him as will exclude every element of unhappiness, and fill the soul with satisfaction forever. We shall be satisfied with each draught of revelation, and look forward with serene confidence and ecstatic joy to the next and the next.
1. The sympathy of Christ with his people is most tenderly considerate. It was so here. His disciples did not tell him that they were afraid of orphanage and desolation, but he knew it; and in answer to their inward thoughts and feelings, he tenderly said, "I will not leave you," etc.
2. His sympathy with his people is ever practical. It is not mere sentiment. It is not only negative, but ever assumes an affirmative form. He did not stop with saying, "I will not leave," etc., but proceeded to say, "I come," etc. And all this was fulfilled in their experience; and it is ever so.
3. As Christ is manifested in the soul, we at once realize all we need. When the sun appears in the sky, all the landscape around is in full view. So, when the Sun of Righteousness arises in the soul, the spiritual universe is all ablaze. We see an ever-living Savior and an ever-loving Father in closest fellowship, and our life by faith in closest fellowship with both. When Christ manifested himself to his disciples, they never thought of orphanage and desolation afterwards.
4. Let us take care of the condition of our spiritual comfort and realization. "He that hath my commandments," etc. - B.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.