“I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:18).
John 14 recounts a heartbreaking conversation between Jesus and His disciples. He had told them that He was going to leave them, and they were clearly troubled. How could they find Him if they didn’t even know where He was going, Thomas asked. They were still wrapped up in the immediate, physical reality of their day. Jesus, however, was speaking in spiritual terms that transcended their physical reality. He was not going to abandon them to navigate the spiritual and physical realities left in His wake. In their confusion He promised, “I will not leave you as orphans.”
A Promised Helper
As Jesus continued speaking in John 14, He told them something amazing. He was going to send them a helper (v. 26), and not just any helper, but the Holy Spirit Himself. He was sending God as their helper. And the same helper Jesus sent them is the one Paul calls the seal on our hearts that guarantees that God will fulfill His promises to us.
“In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory” (Eph. 1:13-14).
We Are Sealed
What was the point of a seal? In ancient times, it authenticated a document. If the king’s seal was on the document, you knew it was from the king. On top of that, Paul said the Spirit is our guarantee. He is God’s earnest money, the down payment given to guarantee that a buyer follows through on a transaction they initiate.
What does the Holy Spirit guarantee? That God will not default on His promises to us. He guarantees that the inheritance God has said is ours in Christ will, in fact, be ours. He guarantees that the promises God has made to sustain us on earth will be kept.
After Jesus returned to heaven, He didn’t leave His disciples as orphans to carry their weights by themselves, and He hasn’t left us either. He’s given us the Helper—in the Greek, paraklete, which means One who comes alongside in aid. We are not left as believers to figure this life out on our own, pull ourselves up by the bootstraps, or carry our weights by ourselves.
What kind of help does the Holy Spirit provide? Jesus said He will “remind us of everything Jesus said.” The Holy Spirit helps us by reminding us of the message of Jesus, our Cornerstone. He keeps us connected to Christ, who sets the direction for our understanding of Scripture.
The Power of the Spirit
After telling us the Spirit is a seal and guarantee, Paul ends Ephesians 1 with a prayer as relevant to us today as it was to believers in Ephesus in the first century (v. 18-20). He prayed for the church to be “enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe.”
The promises of God were secure and real in the life of those Ephesian believers, but they were at times oblivious. Paul prayed that their eyes would be opened to the exceeding greatness of God’s power at work in their lives. What power is that? Paul goes on: “according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places.”
What power raised Christ from the grave? It was the Holy Spirit! And that same power is at work in us, tethering us to Christ and the promises He has secured for us in the heavenly places.
We too, like Jesus’s disciples facing His crucifixion and return to heaven, feel troubled in our lives, unmoored from the promises of God. When we do, let us pray with Paul that God enlightens us to the very real hope we have in Christ. Pray that God would open our eyes to the power at work on our behalf, for it is the same power that rose Christ from the grave, the Holy Spirit, our helper, seal, and guarantee. God has not left us as orphans to figure this life out on our own.