Advent Week 3: God Still With Us
Advent means “coming”. Jesus Christ has come and he will come again. Advent season is about rejoicing in the reality that God came to be with us in the person of Jesus Christ so that we could be with him forever. It is a celebration of Jesus’ first coming in humility and it produces eager anticipation for his second coming in glory. This season is a time for remembering and rejoicing, watching and waiting. Follow along with us this Christmas season as we anticipate and celebrate the birth of Jesus together.
ADVENT: WEEK 3
GOD STILL WITH US
John 14:15–20, 25–28
Jesus has this conversation with his disciples a few hours before he dies on the cross. Put yourself there for a moment. Try to imagine what you might have felt. Confusion. Fear. Maybe even abandonment. Why was he leaving? What would happen next? Would he return? Does he love us? In the midst of so many questions, Jesus speaks. His words are filled with peace, comfort, reassurance and the hope of a continued relationship.
Jesus starts by explaining how his friends ought to relate with him, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” Jesus indicates that a life in relationship with him is a life committed to obeying him. This obedience is motivated by and overflows from love for him.
Love for the Lord is a gift from God that yields delightful obedience. We realize that we are lost without salvation found in Jesus (Romans 5:8). The Spirit softens our hearts and allows us to see the beauty and goodness of God in Jesus Christ. We turn from our sins and trust in him for salvation (Ephesians 2:1–10). By his grace, we find satisfaction and joy in him and we love him. Our love for him then motivates us to walk in relationship with him and keep his commandments.
Do you love him? Has your heart been captivated by Jesus? Does your love for him overflow in joyful obedience to him? This Christmas season, cry out for God to open the eyes of your heart to know him, love him and treasure him above everything.
Jesus then explains how he would continue in relationship with his followers. He would be with them. He would not abandon them. How can Jesus remain with them when he is leaving them? Jesus promised that he would send “another Helper”. This Helper would be their comforter, friend and teacher. He would be with them forever, dwelling in them.
A few hours later, Jesus died on the cross. For three days his friends returned to life as they knew it before Jesus came to be with them. Jesus wasn’t there and the Helper had not yet come. But everything began to unfold exactly how Jesus said it would. Jesus triumphed over death and emerged from the tomb. He appeared to his disciples and the first words he spoke to them were, “Peace to you!”
Can you imagine? For three days, the disciples were carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders. For three days, they must have been confused, sad and anxious. And then, at the exact moment he said he would, Jesus came and spoke peace over them. His disciples had the joy of being with him again… but only for a short time.
When Jesus came as a baby, he came quietly. Not many knew of his arrival. But in Acts 2, God comes to dwell with his people again and this time in the power of the Holy Spirit. This was no quiet advent. This coming was with wind and fire. When the Spirit comes, the God of the universe draws near to his children and lives within them. And this time, he will never leave them.
We, the children of God, have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us. He is with us always. This changes everything! We do not need to fear, because the all-powerful God is with us. We do not need to worry, because the all-knowing God is with us. We do not need to despair, because the all-comforting God is with us. We do not need to look to the world for satisfaction because the all-satisfying God is with us. We are not alone. We are not lost. We are not without hope. We are not without help.
No, God is not here with us in the flesh. It’s better than that. He dwells within each of his children by his Spirit. If you belong to God, then you can be certain that God is with you. He is more with you than if he were sitting in the open seat at your table. The Spirit of the living God is in you.
How does it comfort you knowing that the Holy Spirit dwells in you?
This week, how can you cultivate an awareness of “God with us”?
Stop and take a few minutes to thank the Lord for his promise of presence and ask him to increasingly make you aware of his indwelling presence.