In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. – John 14:19
John records that just before his arrest, Jesus spends the evening comforting, guiding, and preparing his disciples for all that lies ahead. Though they cannot imagine what is about to transpire, Jesus empowers them with both theological insights and spiritual assurance. He tells them plainly that he will die, but he assures them that he will not be separated from them. Like many of Jesus’ sayings, especially in John’s gospel, his words seem to create a paradox, “The world will no longer see me, but you will see me,”
Of course on a literal level, Jesus could be talking here about the various resurrection appearances which will follow his death. John records four such appearances, but Jesus rarely talks on a literal level, especially in John’s gospel. More than likely, Jesus is talking about a spiritual awareness in which not just his immediate disciples, but followers through the ages, will see Jesus in their own lives and in the lives of one another.
Jesus’ words advance his promise, “Because I live, you will live also.” The significance of these words cannot be overstated. Jesus is saying that what happens to him is what happens to all who follow him. With his own, he shares his life; he shares his love; he shares his purposes; he shares his spirit; he shares his very nature. His death and resurrection are emblematic of what happens to his followers. Discipleship is born, not merely when we believe or join a church, but as we die to our narrow self-interest and live to the grand purposes and glory of God. As the Apostle Paul writes, “If we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his” (Romans 6:5). Charles Wesley puts it this way in the Easter Hymn, “Made like Him, like Him we rise/ Ours the cross, the grave, the skies.” Both are simply echoes of Jesus’ words, “Because I live, you will live also.”
Good Father, help me live out the promises of Christ Jesus by daring to die to my own self-centered ways and rising to the higher purposes of God. Amen.
A Bible-study devotional blog by Gorman Houston