I Will Not Leave You As Orphans

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I have been pondering the words of Jesus when He told the disciples He would not leave them as orphans. Why did He say that specific phrase? Often we see through the words of Jesus that He addresses what is deep within someone’s heart. Prior to this passage in John 14, Peter was distressed at the news of Jesus leaving them. He was afraid of being orphaned. He wanted desperately to remain with Jesus, so much so, that he makes a bold declaration, “Lord why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you!”

The orphaned spirit can manifest in all sorts of ways, but I never saw before how the fear of being orphaned can lead us to make great boasts. These great boasts can appear like radical love, yet in reality they are only devised from a tapestry of fear buried deep within the heart. These boasts are driven by a fear of being left alone!

What was the response of Jesus to Peter’s great boast? “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow until you have denied me three times.”

The working out of fear will never result in the action of courageous love that lays down a life for another. A fear of being alone, of being orphaned, will cause our great boasts to evaporate into thin air when faced with difficulty.  Like Peter, we will run the other way, we will hide, we will deny, because there was never any courage to begin with.

Only settled love, the confident knowledge that we are not alone, can lead us to such radical love. Jesus full of grace and kindness, simply longed for them to understand, to become stable and complete in the truth that they would aways be together through His Spirit. Jesus returning to the Father was not an act of abandonment, but an act that would spur on the sending of His Spirit. This was God’s plan so that He could come and make His home in them, and be with them at all times.

The truth that Jesus was trying to communicate was the very truth Peter needed to know and receive. He was adopted and forever with the Father, but just did not see it yet. God was about to make happen the very thing that would still the tumultuous waters of Peter’s fear. So thankful for God’s kindness that stills our fears and brings us into perfect love.

Gretchen TeerlingComment