Where’s Jesus?

Where's Jesus?

Where’s Jesus? is a sermon teaching us the whereabouts of Jesus. He was here, will come again, and is with you now. His Holy Spirit is with you always. How long? Even to the end of the world.

Key verses:
John 3:1-13

We will be reading John chapter three verses one through thirteen, but I want to open with just verse thirteen. The Lord Jesus is speaking:

John 3:13: “And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.”

It is a tremendous thought. I want you to think this morning about where’s Jesus. Many years ago, I was in the Highland Baptist Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee and we had quite a bus ministry there. A whole fleet of buses go out all over town and bring people in, families sometimes, adults, teenagers, boys, and girls.

A little fellow came one day on the bus, and he had not been to that church before, and I am pretty sure he had not gone to any church before. It was a large auditorium that seated 3,500 folks and was always overflowing. But we were up on the balcony and this little fellow was being rather noisy and a lady, one of the bus workers was talking to him. She was explaining to him that he needed to be quiet and listen because he was in the Lord’s house. They did not have a children’s church there, so he needed to be quiet because he was in Jesus’ house.

The choir there wore gold-colored robes with a purple stole, and you have got to keep that image in mind – gold-colored robes with a purple stole. So, she was trying to quiet him, and he says really loud, “Where’s Jesus? I don’t see Jesus.” About that time, one of the men in the choir walked out the door and the boy says, “There he is! There’s Jesus!” So, he thought he saw Jesus. Isn’t that wonderful? It is wonderful if somebody sees Jesus in you.

But that little fellow was looking for Jesus, and so I want to quote that little boy and say, “Where’s Jesus?”

One of the wonderful things we have available to us as born-again believers in Christ is to have His presence with us always. I want to show you that in scripture today and maybe in a way you haven’t thought about or maybe you have. But I want to take Jesus’ encounter with Nicodemus and some other scriptures and help you to see as a believer, you are always in His presence and He is always with you.

Attributes of God

Before we get into the scripture, I want to give you some of the attributes of God or characteristics of God. I am going to give you a list, it is not an exhaustive list, it is not everything you can say about God or that you could attribute to God. And if you do a little research, you can find some others on your own. But listen to these characteristics, or attributes of God:

1. God is infinite – What does that mean? We live in time and space. God dwells outside the realm of time and space in a realm we call eternity. Therefore, God has always been and will always be without beginning or without end. God is self-existent. God is the Creator. God himself was not created. Not only is He self-existent but He is self-sufficient. He does not need any other source. He does not depend on anyone or anything else for His existence.

2. God is immaterial – What does that mean? Some people say that means irrelevant. No, in this case, it does not. In John chapter four, Jesus said:

John 4:24: “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”So, God is immaterial.

3. God is immutable – That means unchangeable.

Malachi 3:6: “For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.”

Hebrews 13:8: “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.”

4. God is holy – The word “holy” means separate or set apart so as to be unique, absolutely pure, undefiled, without imperfection, contamination, or stain.

5. God is loving and gracious –

Ephesians 4:32: “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”

6. God is omnipotent, all-powerful –

Jeremiah 32:17: “Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee:”

7. God is omniscient, all-knowing –

Psalms 139:1: “(To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.) O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me.”

Psalms 139:2: “Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off.”Psalms 139:3: “Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.”

Psalms 139:4: “For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether.”

Hebrews 4:13: “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.”

8. God is omnipresent or God is everywhere –

Psalms 139:7: “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?”

Psalms 139:8: “If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.”

Psalms 139:9: “If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;”

Psalms 139:10: “Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.”

Psalms 139:11: “If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me.”

Psalms 139:12: “Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.”

So, these eight attributes or characteristics of God are found throughout the scriptures. But they will help us answer the question, “Where’s Jesus?”

Scriptures vs. Traditions

Let’s look at John chapter three. It may seem unusual to go to John chapter three and not go directly to verse sixteen, but we will refer to it no doubt. But that is not what we are going to look at primarily this morning. John chapter three, look at the first couple of verses:

John 3:1: “There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:”

John 3:2: “The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.”

Nicodemus was a very well-educated man. Had he been in our society today, he might have been called a doctorate, not a medical doctor but a Ph.D. He was a member of the assembly called the Sanhedrin. My source for what I am about to tell you is the Jewish Virtual Library. Listen to who the Sanhedrin were.

The Sanhedrin consisted of seventy men, elders of Israel, and the reigning high priest. They met daily in the temple at Jerusalem and judged legal matters as well as religious and ritualistic matters. So that is what the Sanhedrin made up of seventy men were. Nicodemus was one of those seventy.

He was also a Pharisee, it tells us that, “a man of the Pharisees.” Not all of the Sanhedrin were Pharisees. There were Pharisees and Sadducees who comprised that group. We talked about the Sadducees last week. But the Pharisees were a Jewish sect known for strict observance of rights and ceremonies of the written law and for insistence on enforcing their own oral traditions.

Now, that was the conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees. They were always insisting on their traditions when Jesus said they needed to come back to the scriptures. But they elevated their traditions to be equal to and in many cases superior to what the scriptures taught. And Jesus said no that they needed to get back to the scriptures that is the Word of God. There was a lot of conflict between them.

The point I am telling you about him being a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin is the phrase in verse one, where it says, “a ruler of the Jews.” Religiously and legally speaking, he was a ruler of the Jews. He was a member of that ruling body.

Showing Respect but Not Respecting

In verse two, it says that Nicodemus came by night. It is obvious that he wanted a personal conversation with Jesus. It is not obvious as to why he came at night. Many speculate on that, but a good possibility is it was the only good time to have a one-on-one, face-to-face conversation. There are other possibilities. Perhaps he did not want members of the Sanhedrin to see him talking with Jesus or there are other things people have brought out.

But the text does not say any of that, it only says that he approached Jesus as many people do with respect but not with faith. There are a lot of people who respect Jesus but more and more in America today people do not respect Jesus. There are still a lot of people who respect Jesus, but they do not have their faith and trust in Jesus. They will say things like, He was a great teacher, He was a religious leader, He was a man of high moral character and therefore, a great example. He was all of those things but that is not putting your faith in Him. So, that is showing respect to Jesus but that is not respecting Jesus.

How do we know Nicodemus showed respect? Look in verse two again, “The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi.” The term “Rabbi” there means master teacher. So, Nicodemus, himself a Pharisee, would be considered a master teacher, or Rabbi. But, he addresses Jesus as Rabbi. So, he is considering Him on the educational level at least equal with himself. Now that is pretty impressive because I am sure he knows Jesus did not go and train in any of the rabbinical schools, the yeshivas, that they had in those days. And yet, he gives Him the term, the title of one who would have done that. So, he calls him Rabbi.

Nicodemus goes on to say, “we know that thou art a teacher come from God.” When he says, “thou art a teacher come from God” – what he is probably meaning is, “we recognize you as a prophet,” like Isaiah, Jeremiah Ezekiel, Daniel, or Malachi, or one of the others. So, he calls Him, “Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God,” and he says the reason they know He is come from God is that, “no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.” He had that part right.

Jesus did miracles that no normal human being could ever do or has ever done. There have been lots of people who have done miracles. You can read through the Bible, and you are going to find that Moses and others, and Elijah we talked about him recently, did miracles. Elisha did twice as many miracles as Elijah. And there were other people like the apostles who did miracles.

Some may say that there are people today doing miracles. Perhaps, but nobody today and nobody in the Bible did what Jesus did. Of all the other people who have done miracles, who else walked on water? Nobody. Who else took five loaves and two fish and fed thousands of people? Nobody. Who else brought people back from the dead? Healers and other people have brought people back from the dead. Yes, they did, and some have brought back people from the dead, or been used to bring people back from the dead, who had recently died. But who else goes to the cemetery and brings a fellow up who has been dead for four days? Nobody. Let’s go even further. Who else brought themselves back from the dead? Absolutely nobody.

Nicodemus is right when he says, “no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.” He recognizes this but he has not yet put his faith and trust in Jesus. We are not going to finish the chapter today but even if we did, you would not see that Nicodemus ever places his faith in Jesus in this chapter. It is evident that he did later on. How is it evident? After Jesus’ crucifixion Joseph of Arimathea and another man took the body of Jesus down and prepared it, and then buried the body of Jesus in the tomb. And that other man was Nicodemus. I do not think he would have done that if he did not have his faith in Jesus.

John 3:3: “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Born of the Spirit

It is obvious that Nicodemus is wanting to talk Rabbi to Rabbi. He wanted to discuss things, maybe he wanted to discuss the scriptures. Maybe he wanted to know why Jesus did not accept many of the traditions that the Pharisees and the Sanhedrin taught. And maybe, Nicodemus wanted to talk about the miracles. There is a good chance of that, don’t you think it is reasonable? But Jesus immediately changes the subject and says, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Jesus says he is never going to be in the kingdom of God.

There is a religious group in our country. It started in our country, and they are pretty much throughout the world nowadays. They believe only a limited number of people are going to Heaven, but they hope of going into the kingdom. I was talking to one of them and asked him if he was born again. They have a stock answer for whenever they are asked this. He said, “No, I have not had that privilege yet.” It is because they do not mean born again as the Bible means born again. They have a different meaning attached to it. So, I said he was not going to the kingdom. He looked at me and asked how I could say that. I told him that I did not say that; Jesus said that: “Except a man be born again, he cannot [even] see the kingdom.” I told him he needed to be born again.

So, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus was probably taken a little aback by that. So, he starts to think because he is a thinking man.

John 3:4: “Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?”

“How can a man be born when he is old?” — that is a logical question. How old was Nicodemus? I do not know. If he were 50-years old in those days, he would be considered an old, old man. Obviously, he was a grown man, a man of education, a man of achievement to be in the point of life where he was. It is certain he was above the age of thirty because he would not even have been accepted as a Rabbi or a member of the Sanhedrin if he were younger than thirty. I am guessing he may be between thirty and fifty, he may have been older than that.

But Nicodemus asks, “How can a man be born when he is old?” – that is a good question. And he goes farther and asks, “can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?” You see, Nicodemus is doing exactly what many people do. They are thinking strictly on physical terms, strictly humanistic terms, strictly on the here and now, strictly in the realm of time and space, and they are eliminating the spiritual.

If a person is not well, there are three major parts to a human being. There are more than three parts obviously, but three major categories of parts. There is the mental, the physical, and the spiritual. Most of the time, if you have an issue, you go to somebody to get treated. They will maybe treat the physical aspect and that is good, nothing wrong with that. They may treat the mental part and that is good too, I am not criticizing any of this. But most often they leave out the spiritual part. To be honest with you, if you treat the physical and the mental, you have done some good, but you have only treated two-thirds of the problem. You still have another third that you have not even addressed and that is the spiritual part.

I went to school for a long time and of all the different schools I went to, they had the same policy. If you scored sixty-six percent, you failed. That was not a “D,” that was an “F.” You had to at least get a seventy to get a “D.”

What am I saying? I am saying, if you do not address the spiritual, we failed. And that is what Jesus is saying here. Jesus is talking about spiritual birth and Nicodemus is thinking about physical birth. So Jesus clarifies:

John 3:5: “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”

A lot of people have looked at that, some well-meaning people not meaning to do any violence to the scriptures. They think they got it right and think that Jesus is talking about baptism. He is not. How do we know he is not? First of all in the whole passage of the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus, baptism does not even factor into it. It is just not there. Secondly, it is extremely obvious what Jesus is talking about here when He says, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit.” How obvious? It is obvious because you read the next verse.

John 3:6: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”

And He says to Nicodemus:

John 3:7: “Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.”

Jesus tells Nicodemus that he has been born physically, that is obvious because he is standing right there. Jesus says that he needs to be born spiritually and He explains that:

John 3:8: “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.”

Jesus says to Nicodemus that he knows the wind is there, that he feels the wind and hears the wind, but can the wind be seen? No. Someone might say that they did see the wind. But no, you do not see the wind. You have seen things in the wind and seen what the wind does, but you have not seen the wind itself. So, Jesus says, “so is every one that is born of the Spirit.”

“How Can These Things Be?”

We are talking not about physical things that you can see. We are talking about spiritual things that you do not see. But Nicodemus still does not understand:

John 3:9: “Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?”

He says that he does not understand. Jesus upbraids him a little bit:

John 3:10: “Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?”

Jesus says to Nicodemus that he is an educated man, and he was. Jesus tells him that he knows the scriptures, and he did. Let’s be fair to Nicodemus. He did not have the New Testament scriptures that you and I have. But he had all of the Old Testament scriptures you and I have. And, in order to be recognized as a Pharisee, particularly as a leader for the Pharisees, he had memorized at least all of the Torah, the first five books, and I have heard some say that he would have to have memorized the entire Old Testament. Is it possible? It is very possible.

I have met people who have memorized the entire New Testament. I could tell you of several people who memorized the entire New Testament. You give them a reference in the New Testament and they could just quote it and never miss a word. Let me tell you about one in particular. When I was at school up in Chattanooga, one of the professors there, I was not in one of his classes, but one of the professors there was Dr. Aubry Martin. The president of the school used to call him The Amazing Dr. Aubry Martin.

I have seen Dr. Aubry Martin stand in the pulpit and expound a passage. If he were doing this passage here, he would say, “In verse one, Nicodemus was a Pharisee and in verse nine it says “how can these things be?” but if you go back up to verse three, …” He would work up and down a chapter and tell you everything in it.

A lot of people could do that. Sure, but Dr. Aubry Martin was totally blind. He did not even have braille notes in front of him. He had no Bible in front of him. It was all in here in his head, all of it memorized, complete. He graduated seminary with the second-highest grade average in the history of the seminary that he went to. He could not see a thing. Is it possible for somebody to memorize that much scripture? I will tell you; it is.

Is it possible that Nicodemus could have memorized the entire Old Testament? It is bigger than the New Testament, but it is possible that he did. I do not know if he did but he at least memorized the Torah. So, Jesus says to him, “Art thou a master of Israel [You are a master of the Sanhedrin, you are a master, a Rabbi, a Pharisee], and knowest not these things? [Do you not know these things?]” Jesus tells Nicodemus that he should know his own scriptures — he read it, he studied it, he memorized it, how does he not know? Jesus goes on:

John 3:11: “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness.”

It is interesting that Jesus uses the plural pronoun “We.” Who is He talking about? Jesus says, “We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness.” Jesus is telling Nicodemus that he is not listening and is not taking what Jesus tells him and that he is not understanding and has not believed. Jesus tells him that he knows but he does not believe.

John 3:12: “If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?”

Jesus is telling Nicodemus that He explained to him on earth, but he does not understand and yet wants to know more, “how can these things be?” But if Jesus tells him from a heavenly point of view, he is really not going to understand it.

Eternal Truths

Jesus now is going to say eternal truths that were foreign to Nicodemus. In verse thirteen He is going to tell us and that is where we started. He will tell him something about himself. It is one of those things that are easy to read over and pass over, not giving it too much thought, and just go on with your reading but I want us to go back and give it some thought.

Before we do, let me point out something else in verse twelve, “If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?”

Paul wrote of this same concept to the church at Corinth.

I Corinthians 2:9: “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”

Isn’t that beautiful? You have not even thought about the things God has prepared for you.

I Corinthians 2:10: “But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.”

Who knows you than your own Spirit does? Nobody.

I Corinthians 2:11: “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.”

The Holy Spirit knows things of God that you do not know.

I Corinthians 2:12: “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.”

If you are a believer, then you have received the Holy Spirit into your life.

I Corinthians 2:13: “Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.”

I Corinthians 2:14: “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

The “natural man” is the unsaved man, the unbelieving man. What Paul was saying there and what Jesus was saying to Nicodemus is that you need the Holy Spirit to guide you in spiritual truth and without the Holy Spirit, you will not understand a lot of things. One of the ministries of the Holy Spirit is to be our teacher and our guide into all truth. So, in verse thirteen, spiritual truth is given straight from God, and it is understood by those who know God. Look at what Jesus says in verse thirteen because this is where I want to really focus this morning:

John 3:13: “And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.”

It is interesting that “no man hath ascended up to heaven.” What about people who died up until that point who were believers? And what about Enoch and Elijah? Well, it is commonly believed if you read Luke chapter sixteen, you will see this. Believers who died prior to Jesus’ resurrection went to a place called Paradise which was a place of eternal joy but not quite the place they entered into after Jesus went to Heaven.

There is a lot of scripture to document that, but I do not want to take the time to go into all that right now, except to tell you that Jesus spoke accurately when he said, “And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven.” Obviously, Jesus is talking about himself there. He said no man has gone into Heaven that is in the presence of God himself. Understand the time when Jesus is saying this. Lots of people are in Heaven right now. “Do you mean my loved one who is a believer is not in Heaven?” No, I do not mean that. People go to Heaven ever since Jesus’ resurrection. Maybe we need to do another whole message on that.

Jesus says, “And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven.” He is telling Nicodemus that He himself came down from Heaven. Much later in John chapter eight, Jesus said something very similar to some other religious leaders of the day, no doubt friends and associates of Nicodemus. They were in the temple when Jesus said:

John 8:56: “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.”

Do you understand what Jesus is saying? Jesus is saying that Abraham was glad when he saw Him. And they looked at Him and said:

John 8:57: “Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?”

Let’s be fair to them. Abraham lived two thousand years before Jesus came to the earth. They told Jesus that He was not even fifty years old, and He was not. They ask Jesus how He saw Abraham. It is very much like Nicodemus’ question of how a man could be born if he is old. It is a logical question. Here is the answer:

John 8:58: “Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.”

Listen to what He said. He did not say, “Before Abraham was, I was.” He said, “Before Abraham was, I am.” He is speaking in the eternal sense, that is why we gave you these attributes of God in the beginning. He is speaking in the eternal sense, “Before Abraham was [lived], I am.” The same term the Lord used with Moses at the burning bush. Moses said, “Alright, I am going to the people of Israel the, but who do I tell them sent me?” And the Lord says, “I am, that I am.” Moses must say, “I am has sent me.” — the eternal God, the eternal One, the one who has no beginning and no end, because He does not live in the realm of time and space where everything has to have a beginning and an end.

So, Jesus said, “Before Abraham was, I am.” Somebody is bound to be thinking how do we know what He meant by that? That is a good question and the answer again, as it was earlier, was that I read the next verse.

John 8:59: “Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.”

When the people heard that Jesus said, “Before Abraham was, I am,” they were going to stone Him. Why were they going to stone Him? If you go over to chapter ten, it will tell you exactly why. They were going to stone Him because in their opinion, He being a man claimed to be God – that is blasphemy, and they were going to stone him for that. Not only did He blaspheme God in their opinion, but He did it in the temple. They are going to stone Him. But they do not stone him, why?

John 8:59: “Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.”

No man does these miracles unless God is with him. What does that mean? They are picking up stones to stone Him and He just walks right through them, and they do not even see Him. Did He make Himself invisible? In some manner, yes. How did He do that? I don’t know, folks. I was not there, and I do not know how God does a lot of things. But that is what He did.

They were going to stone Him not because they misunderstood Him, they were going to stone Him because they knew exactly what He was saying. He said in essence, “I am the eternal one, I am God.”

In Heaven and with You Always

So, Jesus is standing on earth speaking face to face with Nicodemus. Verse thirteen, look at it again:

John 3:13: “And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.”

The term “Son of man” is a term Jesus used often. He goes on, “the Son of man which is,” not was, not will be, “which is in heaven.” Maybe you are back there with Nicodemus thinking how can these things be? “I am talking face to face with this man, and he is telling me that he is in Heaven. Not was in Heaven, not will be in Heaven, but is in Heaven.” How can these things be?

This is the whole point I am trying to get across to you this morning so stay with me. Jesus is the all-powerful, all-knowing, ever-present God. Somebody told me Jesus could not have been God. I ask why and he said that Heaven was never without God. He was right. He said to explain that and I said I did not have to, it was already explained for you, “no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.”

When Jesus spoke to His disciples for the final time, he gave them the Great Commission. There is a version in Mark and in Acts, but this is in Matthew:

Matthew 28:18: “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.”

Think about that. “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” – omnipotent.

Matthew 28:19: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:”

Jesus says, “Go ye therefore,” because all power is given to Him over Heaven and earth. “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:”

Stop right there, listen to something else. He did not say, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the names of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:” – plural. He uses a singular name that is in English as well as the Greek, “the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:” – not the names but the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Why? Because there are not three Gods, there is only one God.

Matthew 28:19: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:”

Matthew 28:20: “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”

Listen to the five words, “I am with you always.” and continues “even unto the end of the world. Amen.” Jesus is saying “I am with you always.” He will always be with you. Stop and think about that a moment. Because Jesus, shortly after this, ascended bodily into Heaven. You read about it in Acts chapter one. And they stood by looking toward Heaven and two angels appear to them, it says two men in white apparel, but it was evident that they were angels. They came and said:

Acts 1:11: “Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.”

The angels said that He would come again in like manner that they saw Him go. They saw Him ascending to Heaven. But He said, “I am with you alway.” Physically, did He just go to Heaven? Yes, they saw it. But He said, “I am with you always.” He did not say to the disciples, “I will be with you.” He said I am with you alway.”

The Presence of God’s Glory

Let me try to give you a couple of illustrations for you. Do you remember the story of how Moses goes down, and God sends him? We made reference to the burning bush before. God sends him to Egypt to lead the people of Israel out because they called out to the Lord. He sent them a deliverer, He sent them Moses.

And Moses goes to Pharoah and says, “Let my people go,” and Pharoah says, “I do not have to because I am Pharoah, get out of here. That is not how he said it, but it is my paraphrase. So, God sends ten plagues to Egypt and after the tenth plague on the Passover, Pharoah finally relents and lets the people go.

But not long after that, Pharoah changed his mind and gets his army together, and chases Moses and the Israelites. It has been estimated that there were possibly up to a million people in that crowd. Whether it was a million or not, it was an awful lot of people. They get to the Red Sea and the Egyptian army is coming behind them. They had the Red Sea in front of them and it was not something they could wade through, and the Egyptian army was coming behind them. The Lord told Moses to stretch out his rod over the Red Sea and it divides. You know that. They walked through on dry ground in the divided Red Sea.

But wait a minute. During all that time and for the next forty years, God is leading the people of Israel. Moses leads the people of Israel, but God led them. What did they see? They saw a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of cloud in the daytime. God is not a fire, but it does say in one verse that our God is a consuming fire. But he is not a fire, and he is not a cloud. I told you this before and I will tell you again, do a word study sometime on “clouds,” you are going to find it very interesting what God does with clouds. But God is not a cloud, and He is not a fire. That pillar of fire at night and that pillar of cloud by daytime is what is called in Hebrew, the shekinah, or the glory of God. They did not see God himself but they saw the glory of God.

Once they dedicated the tabernacle, it was not built at the Red Sea episode, but once they built that tabernacle, that glory of God settled over the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle. And then when Solomon builds the temple, they dedicate the temple, and the glory of God settles in the Holy of Holies there. That shows them that God is there, God is with them. And as long as they could see the cloud or fire, they knew that God was there. They did not see God, but they knew He was there. God’s presence was made known to them.

So, listen to me, follow me on this. God could have dried up the Red Sea, it would not have been hard for Him to do that. He created the seas in the first place and the Red Sea is not one of the main oceans of the earth, but it is a large body of water. He could have dried up the Red Sea and He could have said, “No more Red Sea.” That would have been it. But He did not. He led them through the Red Sea. Some may say it was not dangerous. Why wasn’t it dangerous? The only reason it was not a danger was because He was there, leading.

And once they got across, the Egyptians pursued them, and you know what happened. God said I am moving on and the Red Sea comes in and drowns the Egyptian army. He did not stop the Red Sea. He did not dry up the Red Sea. He did not do away with the Red Sea, but He led them through the Red Sea. Keep that in mind because I have another illustration for you.

So, Where Is Jesus?

Do you remember Daniel chapter three? Daniel’s three friends, we call them Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and they would not bow to the image of gold that Nebuchadnezzar set up? They had this huge ceremony, all kinds of officials were there, and Nebuchadnezzar is proud of what he has done, and it was a tribute to him. He said when the music played, everybody is going to bow, and everyone bows down except these three fellows. Men came to tell Nebuchadnezzar about it, and he says (paraphrasing), “I know those guys, they are good guys. There must be some mistake, let’s do it again.” But they said that it was no mistake. We do not bow down to anybody but God.

So, Nebuchadnezzar says, “OK guys, we practice religious freedom here, if that is against your religion…” No, he did not say that. He did not do anything like that, did he? He put them in a fiery furnace. He expected them to be annihilated. As a matter of fact, the men who led them up to the fiery furnace perished from the heat. Those three fellows fell into the furnace. Nebuchadnezzar wanted to see them burn, so he comes and looks in to see them:

Daniel 3:23: “And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.”

Daniel 3:24: “Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king.”

Now they would have said that no matter what he said. Why? Because you did not cross him and if you did, you might be the next guy in the fire. They knew that.

Daniel 3:25: “He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”

Had Nebuchadnezzar ever seen the Son of God? No. So, how does he know? Because whoever he saw in there, he said that has got to be the Son of God. He put three men in the fire, he looks in there, and there are four and they are OK. That fourth one, he says, is the Son of God.

Jesus often referred to himself as the Son of man, but if you read the gospel of John, the whole book of John is written to show you that He is the Son of God. And Nebuchadnezzar said this was the Son of God.

The Roman centurion who stood by the cross of Jesus when He gave up the ghost and said this is finished, said, “truly this was the Son of God.” Men who were hardened men did not take things lightly, who had not seen Jesus as the Son of God recognized Him as the Son of God. So, Jesus told the men at the temple, “Before Abraham was, I am.” He tells Nicodemus that the Son of man is in Heaven. He told the disciples, “lo, I am with you alway.” The born-again believer in Jesus Christ has the Holy Spirit living within him. In Romans 8:9, he calls it “the Spirit of Christ.” In John 1:30, Jesus says, “I and my Father are one.” In John 14:16, 17, Jesus says:

John 14:16: “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;”

John 14:17: “Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.”

John 14:23: “Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.”

Who is “we”? Jesus and the Father. Three verses later:

John 14:26: But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”

The Comforter, who is the Holy Ghost, who Jesus said he will send, the Father will send in his name.

Romans 8:9: “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.”

Paul calls Him the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ. Now let’s think about that. We talked a moment ago about three facets of human beings. You have your mental facet, your physical facet, and your spiritual facet. But how many people are you? One. Is it very difficult then for you to understand that God is in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? You are a three-facet being yourself. You are not three people; you are one person. There are not three gods, there is one God. But, He manifests himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

What am I saying? Well, like the little boy said when he saw the choir member in the golden robe, “Where’s Jesus?” Jesus said He is in Heaven. But where’s Jesus? He was on earth talking to Nicodemus. God never left Heaven, but He came to earth in physical form. “How can that be?” as Nicodemus said. Because God is omnipresent. We are not talking about pantheism, saying everything is God, we are not saying that, or everything can be God, nothing of the sort. There is only one God.

But where is Jesus? Believer, He is with you always. Just as He was with Abraham, 4,000 years ago, just as He was with those three men in the furnace 2,500 years ago. As a matter of fact, when Moses died and God calls Joshua to replace Moses, and it does not say this in Joshua chapter one, but I imagine Joshua saying, “Me? Do you want me to replace Moses? What are you asking me? I am not the man Moses was. You want me to replace Moses?” Do you know what God said to him? “Have I not commanded thee? As I was with Moses, so will I be with you.”

Do you know what He is telling Joshua? You have the same God that Moses had. Do you know what Jesus said to those men in the temple? Same God Abraham had. You have the same God who walked with those men in the fiery furnace in Nebuchadnezzar’s day. He is with you always. He did not spare those men from the fire. He did not keep the Israelites from going through the Red Sea, but He went with them. And He will do that for you.

Whatever you are going through right now, you might be going through the hardest time of your life right now. Do you know what I learned about that over the years? You go through the hardest time of your life and then, later on, you go through the hardest time of your life. You might be going through one of those times right now. But He will go with you. He will be with you. If you have trusted Him to save your soul, trust Him to be with you always. If you are going through the fire, trust Him to be with you.

Practice God’s Presence

Practice His presence with you daily. Practice His presence, how do I do that? Let me share with you a couple of things I have shared with you before. Number one, be in the Word. God will speak to you in His Word. He will speak to you every day if you read His Word every day. I heard a man preaching on the radio many times, but I heard him on the way driving in this morning. He was sharing some things on passages that I have studied and read many times. Wow, it was tremendous what he was bringing out, it was so good, tremendous thoughts on the Word. So, get in the Word.

Number two, be in a constant state of prayer. That is what Paul meant when he said to pray without ceasing. You may say that you cannot be on your knees all the time. Listen, there is nothing wrong with praying on your knees, and a lot of times, it is good to pray on your knees.

But did you know the Bible does not give you a physical posture for prayer? You find sometimes in the Bible people laying on their faces praying. You find other times people standing and praying. You may be sitting, you may be kneeling, you might be lying down, you might be standing up, you might be walking, you might be driving, you might be doing anything, and you could still pray because prayer is your heart communing with God. You can pray without ceasing, be in a constant attitude of prayer. Be in touch with Him all the time. He is there, He is with you. Stay in touch with Him. Practice His presence with you.

Somebody said this: You know the Holy Spirit is in you, you know the Holy Spirit is with you, so do not do anything that would embarrass Him. That is a thought, isn’t it? I am not going to ask anybody to raise their hand or anything. But have you done anything that would embarrass God? I have. I am not going to tell you what that is. But practice His presence with you.

But wait, there is one thing you need before you can do any of that and I trust you have already been there. Jesus said, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” And then He said, “except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” His presence is not promised to everyone in the world. His presence is promised to those who have trusted Him as their Savior.

John 1:12: “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:”

That is pretty clear, isn’t it? So, if you believed in Him, you have trusted, you have been born again, then Jesus is with you and that means you will never, ever truly be alone. He is with you. He has promised to be with you. And one day, He is going to come, and not only will He be with us, but we will be with Him. It is a wonderful, wonderful statement Jesus makes:

John 3:13: “And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.”

He was here and He is coming again. But folks, He is with you. His Holy Spirit is with you. And He is with you always. How long? Even to the end of the world.


Watch the prerecorded live version of the entire service and sermon, Where’s Jesus?, on Facebook.

Where’s Jesus? — Related Sermons

You may also want to listen to or view these sermons:

The Spirit of Truth

In God We Trust

Share

Dr. Michael L. McClure, our lead pastor, is known for his in-depth knowledge and effective teaching style of biblical truths applicable to every day living.

Recent Sermons