May 11, 2018

Instructions and Promises

Matthew 28:16-20

Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

—  Matthew 28:20

When my parents left on a vacation and put me in charge of the family farm, they wrote out instructions for me to follow.

After Jesus ascended to heaven, the disciples gathered together and prayed (Acts 1:14). They also kept in mind all the teachings and instructions Jesus had given them. It’s clear from the New Testament gospel accounts, written down some years later, that Jesus’ followers in the early church remembered their identity and mission. They were disciples of Jesus, and they were to go and make disciples of Jesus from all nations.

As the disciples began this next chapter as the people of God, they also knew they were not alone. They remembered Jesus’ “last words” telling them that all authority in heaven and earth had been given to him. They also heard a promise: “I am with you always.” But if Jesus was in heaven, how could he also be with them—and today with us?

When the believers received the Holy Spirit (Acts 2), that would help to answer some of their questions, but they had to continue in faith, with other questions unanswered. Some even doubted.

Today we may also have doubts from time to time. That doesn’t mean we are no longer believers, and it certainly doesn’t mean Jesus isn’t keeping his promise to be with us always! But in faith, and with his Spirit living in our hearts, we can follow his instructions and trust his promises.

Dear God, we need you to help us face our fears and doubts. May the presence of Christ by his Spirit empower us! Amen.

About the author — Julius T. Medenblik

Rev. Jul Medenblik is a former attorney who was called to pastoral ministry and became the founding pastor of a church in New Lenox, Illinois. He is currently serving as president of Calvin Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan. Jul and his wife, Jackie, are blessed with a son, Joshua, and a daughter, Julianne.

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