They heard things that night that they didn’t want to hear. We don’t like Truth when it’s winter-cold and iron-hard, do we? There they were, sharing this precious meal about rescue and the faithfulness of God, when Jesus spoiled it by telling them what the future held – for him, for them. And fear crept in, searching for a comfortable home.
From the child afraid of the emptiness around her in a buzzing playground to the silent pain behind drawn curtains that keeps out the darkness of night, but not of the soul… we all fear being left alone. And that is how we find the disciples as they digest those words that they didn’t want to hear: ‘I am going away to the Father.’ So, he was leaving them.
But other words followed – miracle words, wonderful words: ‘I am going away to the Father… and I shall ask the Father to give you someone else (the Holy Spirit) to stand by you, to be with you always – he is with you now and will be in your hearts. I am not going to leave you alone in the world… I am in my Father, you are in me and I am in you… When someone loves me, they follow my teaching. Then my Father will love them and we will come to that person and make our home within them. The one who is coming to stand by you, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name, will be your teacher.’ (John chapter 14)
And so that amazingly mystical relationship between Father, Son and Holy Spirit, a threefold intertwining presence of love and companionship, was promised to the listeners in that upper room of fear – the disciples would never be left to face the journey of life on their own.
And there was more! ‘There are many rooms in my Father’s house. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? It is true that I am going away to prepare a place for you, but it is just as true that I am coming again to welcome you into my own home, so that you may be where I am.’
They would never walk this life alone, and for that last moment when their shallow breath would be dismissed and the temporal yield to the call of eternity, there was the promise of a hand, a loving welcome – Jesus waiting to lead them into heaven. The disciples would never be left to enter eternity on their own.
The Bible says that Jesus’ words are for disciples of the twenty-first century as well as the first century. We do not need to journey life alone; we do not need to die alone – so don’t give fear a chance to find a comfortable home.