May 16, 2019

A Joyful Goodbye

John 14:25-31

“If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father...”

—  John 14:28

Goodbyes can be difficult. When family members visit from far away, my children are always disappointed to see them leave. “Why can’t they stay longer?” the kids want to know.

Jesus’ disciples were similarly troubled by the prospect of his going away. Who would now teach them about God’s kingdom? Yet Jesus insists that his going away will be good for them.

Goodbyes come to us in various forms. We can experience the loss of a career. We can move away from friends or family. We can lose a loved one to death.

Jesus teaches that even in the face of such goodbyes, we can experience peace and hope. The “prince of this world,” the devil, wants us to be defined by our losses. But the Father is greater than all things. And when we love Jesus, our lives are directed toward the Father rather than our losses.

After Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, the Spirit would remind the disciples of these words. And then Jesus’ words about “going back to the Father” made sense. Not death, but glory, is the future of those who obey the Father’s will.

Jesus’ words point us to his destination—and to ours: full life in the presence of God. We may still experience sorrow in the face of loss. But we can rejoice as we see even death as a doorway to our heavenly Father.

Holy Spirit, remind us of Jesus’ words. Help us in the face of loss to see our destiny with the Father, and to rejoice in the ruling power of Jesus. Amen.

About the author — Joel Vande Werken

Joel Vande Werken has been a pastor since 2007, serving churches in Sussex, New Jersey, and in Whitinsville, Massachusetts. He and his wife, Brandie, have five young children.

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