“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you also will live. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in Me, and I in you. Whoever has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves Me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”” (John 14:18–21, ESV)
Before Jesus’ death and burial He could be seen by everyone, but after His resurrection He was seen by those who believed. He promised His believers that He would not leave them alone—as orphans, but would return to them. What they did not anticipate was that once He was placed in the grave was that they would in just a few days see Him as the resurrected Christ, but they did. Jesus made a promise and He kept it. The big difference is that after His resurrection He made Himself known only to believers, and from that point forward it would be settled that because He lives they were to live also.
He had told them that if they had seen the Him they had seen the Father, and knowing Him they knew the Father. Upon His resurrection they would know without a doubt that He indeed was (and is) in the Father and the Father in Him. He would prove Himself to be more than a man and to be fully God. And beyond that because of their belief they would also know Him in a new way. Rather than walking alongside Jesus they would be walking with Christ in them. When the Spirit comes they would be filled forever, as He had just said, with the very presence of God.
Jesus had already established that the commandments were summed up in two things—love God and love others. Those who have these commandments and lives in accordance with them demonstrates his love for Christ. And those, Jesus said, who love Him will be loved by the Father. And beyond that Jesus would love them in return and manifest Himself to them. He already spoke about Himself being manifest in believers when the Spirit comes, and this surely would happen to His disciples and every single person who believes in Him from that point forward.
When I think of them not being orphans I think of being left alone without parents. Prior to our trusting in Christ the Bible says that we are slaves to our Father the devil. Speaking to the Jewish leadership in John 8:44 Jesus said, “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44, ESV) In contrast to that Paul wrote in Romans 8:14-15, “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”” (Romans 8:14–15, ESV)
What an incredible contrast. When we trust in Jesus Christ and are saved we are moved from one family apart from God and adopted into His forever family, destined to be with Him forever. Jesus surely did return to them with His resurrection and He surely has taken all who have died as beloved children of God to be with Him for eternity. This is the certain hope that we all possess, not because of works that we do, but because of the love of God show to us such that we believe, are saved, and are then called to reciprocate in loving Him and others just as He loved us.