Matthew 28:20 – Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
As I was making pastoral visits last week, I chose to use this verse from the end of the gospel of Matthew. It is mainly a verse of comfort. Jesus is speaking to his disciples shortly before his Ascension. Jesus is encouraging them and comforting them by letting them know that he will always be there for them even though he will no longer be present physically. Shortly before this, he gave them the Great Commission. He told them to spread the Word of God to all nations, baptizing them and teaching them everything.
Because of the Great Commission, Jesus is with us. Through the work of Christians spreading the gospel, the Holy Spirit worked in our hearts. Through baptism, he washed us clean and worked faith in us. Jesus has been with us through faith. We grow closer to him through worship and Bible Study. We have so many opportunities to grow in our faith. Jesus is with us to remind us of our forgiveness and to lead us to our eventual home in heaven.
Even though this verse is mainly comfort, there is also law in these words. Think about what it means that Jesus is with us always. He is there even when we sin. He knows our sins of thoughts, words, and deeds. Even those sins that we think that no one else knows about, Jesus knows. This makes us a little frightened. This makes us feel an extra level of guilt and shame. But it also helps us see the comfort of these words. Even though Jesus knows every single one of our sins, he still died on the cross to pay the price for our sins. We are forgiven. We have heaven. He is with us throughout our lives to comfort and help us.
As I was speaking to people on my visits last week, there were several ways to speak about God being with us. With one person, we talked about people living to be over 100 years old. It is amazing that God blessed those people with such a long life. He has been with them through their years on this earth. With other people I talked about how God is with us through life events such as financial problems or diseases.
One of my visits was with our member Ingo Werner. It was the last time I shared God’s Word with him before he was called home to heaven. I spoke to him about how God is with him through his sickness, God is with his wife to help her through this difficulty, and God is with his kids to help them process what is going on. After the devotion, I shared the Lord’s Supper with him. At Trinity, we have a conclusion to our Lord’s Supper blessing which I really enjoy. We always close, “and you have heaven to look forward to. Amen.” Only a couple days after that devotion, Ingo entered eternal glory.
God was with Ingo just like he is with all of his people. God brings us through this earthly life. He brings us through all our troubles and sorrows. He leads us home to heaven. We don’t always know why he allows certain events to happen the way that they do. In the end, we know everything we need to know. He has saved us from our sins and the punishment we deserve. God is with us and he guides us in the most important way. He has saved us from our sins and he will lead us to heaven. That is all that truly matters. We are comforted by the fact that God is with us always.