Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen. Matthew 28:20
Our text gives us a promise from the risen Lord Jesus Christ. Many of His soldiers have had to reclaim this promise on the mission field or in a difficult place of service. In times of hardship or opposition, the old man can descend into doubt and wonder, “Where is Jesus?” Whether we acknowledge it or not, Jesus’ promises never fail. Sometimes we fail to recognize the promised eternal presence of our Savior.
What is the most common reason? Probably denying His identity. John 1:11 states that even His own people “knew Him not.” Even when they were in His presence, His person and purpose were not acknowledged. Thus, these people did not enjoy the full blessing of being in the presence of the Son of God. In Matthew 23:37, Jesus even states He would have gathered His people to Himself as a hen gathers her brood under her wings. But they refused. This mentality robs a person of the blessing of Jesus Christ’s presence even when He is present and seeking to reach them.
At times, even believers and faithful laborers fail to recognize His presence. Circumstances, fear of danger, or lack of faith can blind us from recognizing His presence. Mark 6 tells the story of Jesus’ disciples out on the sea at night when a storm arose. The wind blew “contrary” to the effort of travel to the other side of the sea. They no doubt became heavily occupied in rowing and trying to accomplish their assignment. They knew Jesus remained behind on the shore and not in the boat with them. In the challenge of the task before them, they forgot Jesus’ power. He just fed more than five thousand people with the lunch of a lad. So, either Jesus was not on their mind, or they thought that Jesus was too far away to help. The Scripture states that though Jesus was on the shore “He saw them toiling” (Mark 6:48). Jesus does not assign a task and then leave the laborer alone. He comes to them even if He must walk on water. It must have been a great comfort to them to hear Jesus speak and tell them, “Be of good cheer. It is I; be not afraid.” Whatever the task and wherever He calls us, Jesus sees us toiling. He comes to our side bringing cheer and peace. As He promised, He will be with us even to the end of the age. We serve the same Jesus Who walked on water.
Sometimes things do not go the way we plan, or we misunderstand God’s plan. We fail to understand how God’s plan differed from our understanding. In Luke 24, two men headed to a village called Emmaus. As they traveled, they discussed the recent events surrounding the crucifixion of Jesus. One expressed his misunderstanding of the mission of Jesus. He thought as many did that Jesus was come to “redeem Israel.” As they journeyed along, Jesus joined them. Their “eyes were holden (restrained) that they should not know Him.” These men did not know they walked in the very company of the resurrected Savior. They focused on the disappointment that their plan was not accomplished to “redeem Israel.” Jesus informed these men of their wrong expectations (vs. 25-26). He pointed them to the Word of God, which foretold the mission of Jesus. The Scriptures of the prophets spoke of the death and the glorification of Jesus Christ. Because they misunderstood the Scripture, they were with Jesus and did not know.
If we are serving Him, we need to know His plan. We will not be disappointed or come to the wrong conclusion about how things happen. We need reminding that He always carries out His plan. God announced His plan back in Genesis 3:15. What if Jesus was not present to inform these men? He is always where His people are laboring and serving to keep us on the right course. Oh, what a comforting fact to know Jesus will not only comfort and protect us, but He will lead us in the right plan.