“Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:32–33, ESV)
The next words Jesus was to say were spoken directly to the Father in prayer. But before turning from them and to the Father Jesus told His disciples that this was it. It was time for the things He had been telling them about to finally happen. In the hours that followed He would be arrested and His disciples would be scattered. None of them would be with Him anymore. Whether this separation was volitional or not really is not the point that Jesus was making here. He went on to say that even when they left Him that He would not be alone because the Father was with Him.
What an amazing level of confidence the Son had in the Father that no matter what happened with the circumstances of His life or the presence of His friends that the Father was there with Him. Sure, we could say that He had this confidence because He was God, He came from God, and He knew that He was returning to God. As eternal God He knew the oneness that He had with the Father which left Him unshakably assured of His presence. But we also know that Jesus was fully man, and as fully man He placed His full confidence in the presence and the power of the Father. He willingly became man for us, and as man He fully could relate Himself to us and with us and us with Him.
As I think of these words I am encouraged in life to know that Jesus who said these words has promised that He also would always be with us, that we would abide in Him and His Spirit in us. We would never be alone even though we may not see and touch Him physically. In this there is a great peace that I can have and that we all can have knowing that God is with us all of the time. When sickness seems to have a tight hold on us, God is with us knowing every day of our lives before there was ever one of them. When persecution or life circumstances might seem to be dark and oppressive, God who is light is fully present with us and enclosing us before and behind. When our hearts are deeply troubled and we have no one else apparent to turn to, God has scrutinized our steps and our lying down and He knows every word on our tongue before even one of them is formed. And when we have no idea of our next steps we know that our ever present God has promised to direct them as we step forward in trust.
Jesus told His disciples that He told them the things He did so that in Him they might have peace. Though they might have even though they failed Him and fled in the face of His greatest need, He desired them to know that God was there. Though the plans they had dreamed of seemed to be crashing down in front of their very lives, God’s plan was going to be perfectly fulfilled in the midst of the world’s apparent triumph and rejoicing. When the world thinks that it has one in putting down the Christ, Jesus knew without any doubt that His death only led to His resurrection and the complete fulfillment of what He was sent to accomplish. Truly, truly in the face of the world’s persecution of the man named Jesus, the Christ would bring salvation to all who believe. Though the world thinks that it has the upper hand, Jesus would have overcome the world.
I know for me personally when I struggle with the unknown, with things that don’t seem to make sense or go the way I think they should, or when God might seem slow to answer from my side of things that my place or rest and peace is found in remembering who He is and that He has promised to never leave me. I also know when my faith waivers and I tremble and falter, that God is the strong tower in whom I can find shelter. I know without a doubt that God who began a good work in me is faithful to complete it.
“The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.” (Proverbs 18:10, ESV)
Because of the righteousness of Jesus being imputed (credited) to me I am made righteous, and because I have been made righteous in Christ I have the assurance that He truly is my strong tower.