Jesus promises the disciples that he will not abandon them. He will not be with them in the flesh but he will send the Holy Spirit (vv.5-7). In other words, Jesus will not leave them as orphans. He will also not abandon them to grief and pain (vv.20,33). Jesus is preparing his closest companions for his physical departure from earth. He is pledging that even though it may appear he has left them, if they hang in there they will experience the joy, power and victory of the presence of Christ through the Holy spirit now and the Second coming of Christ at the end of the age. On the day of Pentecost in Acts 2 the Holy Spirit comes and Jesus makes good on his promise. He hasn’t abandoned them afterall!
This is very comforting, but there is something heartbreaking going on in this chapter. While Jesus promises to be with us even in the midst of our grief, he predicts that those closest to him will actually abandon him when he needs them most (v.32). The Christ who kept his promise not to abandon us is abandoned by us when he needed our companionship the most. This is heart-breaking.
How many times have I abandoned Christ when he needed my committed companionship the most? How often have I received the gift of his love for me when I needed it but withheld my loving obedience to him when he required it? Why are we humans so quick to abandon the one who gave his life because he refused to abandon us? The abandonment he experienced on the cross was the price he paid for not abandoning us. What a friend we have in Jesus! If only we could reciprocate every now and then!