Military Devotion – Jesus Has Not Left Us Alone – May 17, 2024

Based on John 16:7,13

As a warfighter, your vocation requires you to leave at times. Whether that’s leaving overseas,
or TDY, or to school, or to training—you have to leave.

And when you leave, that means that you leave something or someone behind, whether that’s parents or friends or your church family. If you’re a married warfighter, you leave behind a spouse. If God has blessed you with children, you leave children behind. How do they feel when you have to leave? I think you know the answer to that question.

But how do you feel when you have to leave? Do you ever feel that you are abandoning your family, your parents, your friends, your church family, your spouse, your children? Or do you feel that when you make the transition from active duty to civilian life, that maybe you have abandoned your company, your platoon, your fellow battle buddies?

Well, you’re not alone. Jesus also left. He left friends and family members and loved ones. And like you, he told them ahead of time so he could prepare them emotionally and mentally. But Jesus also had a way to prepare them spiritually for when he had to leave. He does that through the words of John 16.

When he spoke these words, it was on that night that it would appear to his family and friends that the world just was collapsing down around them, because it would happen on a night that Jesus would be betrayed, arrested, and crucified, and then die and be buried.

When Jesus spoke these words, he was pointing them past all of that to his resurrection from the dead on Easter Sunday. But he was also pointing them past that, even, to his ascension, which would happen 40 days from then. And he was also pointing them past that to the day we call Pentecost, which would happen 50 days after he spoke these words.

It was on the Day of Pentecost that Jesus chose to send another friend to be with his friends and with his family members and with you and me—so that they would know and we would know that no matter where we go, no matter what we do, no matter what emotions we feel, no matter what we experience, no matter what we endure, Jesus promises that he has not left us alone. In John 16, he told his friends, “I have to leave, and it’s good that I go away so that I can send you what I have promised you, which is the Holy Spirit.”

And in this section of John 16, Jesus calls him the Spirit of truth. Jesus says, “He will testify about me. And when the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.” How comforting to those whom Jesus left behind. Because he really didn’t leave them behind. He didn’t leave them all alone. He had promised them before he ascended into heaven, “I am with you always.” And in a way that our human minds cannot understand, Jesus, with his body and soul reunited after his resurrection, ascends body and soul into heaven so that he with body and soul can be at the right hand of God but also here with us, no matter where we go, no matter what we do.

But he also promises to send the Spirit of truth to testify about him, about Jesus. What that means for you is that whenever you open your Bible to read it, whenever you go to church to listen to God’s Word, whenever you think about your baptism, when you receive Christ’s body and blood for the forgiveness of your sins, when you sit down at the dinner table to study a catechism lesson with your children or you sit your children down to read a Bible story with them—there, the Holy Spirit reminds you of not just a truth, but the truth. He reminds you about Jesus and his love and his forgiveness and his strength and his comfort and his eternal presence for you. And not just for you, but also for those you leave behind when your vocation of soldiering requires you to leave.

What greater comfort can you leave behind for your family members, your siblings, your parents, your spouse, your children, your church family, than encouragement from Jesus? It reminds them that they are not alone. And when you do that—when you remind them of the promises that Jesus has made to you through his Word and sacraments—the Holy Spirit will remind them of those truths.

What better words can you share with them than the truth that will calm worried minds and anxious souls and lonely hearts? When you go, know that the Holy Spirit will speak truth to those whom you leave behind, because he will speak Jesus to them.

Holy Spirit, Comforter sent from Jesus, work in us by your Word of truth so that we may know the truth in Christ. Guard and keep us in the faith that saves. Remind us that we are not alone, but you are always with us no matter where we are, no matter what we are doing. Use that Word of truth to comfort and to strengthen and to forgive and to keep our eyes fixed on Christ, our risen and ascended Lord Jesus.

Next week as we observe the founding of the American Red Cross on May 21, 1881, Lord, we marvel at the men and women like Clara Barton whom you raised up to provide for those who suffer from disaster and emergency and war. Continue to provide the Red Cross with resources and manpower to carry out their mission to the world. We ask this in your name. Amen.

Written and recorded by Rev. Paul Horn, WELS National Civilian Chaplain to the Military, San Diego, California.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.

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