I am going away, but I will come back to you. (John 14:28)
When it came time for Jesus to return to the Father, the apostles were sad to see him go. He explained to them that it was necessary for them that he left them, because, if he did not leave, the Spirit would not come. He told them that when he returned to the Father, he would send the Spirit to complete his work. A spirit on its own cannot do anything. An evil spirit needs somebody's hand to plant the bomb, or somebody's tongue to tell the lie. When the Holy Spirit came, the apostles, and ourselves, would provide the body, so that the Spirit could carry on the work of Jesus through us. I provide the voice to speak God's word, or the hands to provide his healing touch. I just have to provide the body, and the Spirit provides the power. I am a channel of his power, his peace, his love. I never become a generator or a transformer!
Jesus promises his apostles that he will return. This is very important for them. He came in humanity, and suffered all the slings and arrows of being human, even to death. When he returns, he will come in glory. The kingdom of this world will end, and the kingdom of Satan will be confined to hell for all eternity. No longer will Satan be able to tempt, or bully any of God's children. No longer will the false values of this world persist. There will only be one Kingdom, and Jesus will be Lord in that Kingdom. The Kingdom, the power, and the glory will be his. Belief in this promise must have been at an all-time low on Calvary. How could he come back from this?
When he came to them on Easter Sunday, their belief in this promise was resurrected. Anything was possible now. They had witnessed the many ways in which his plans were thwarted, his teachings rejected, and his promises derided. They had seen the success of deceit and lies in bringing him to an ignominious end. The thought that he would return in glory, and would put all his enemies under his feet, was something wonderful. They had felt so helpless to defend him, and they were afraid of what would happen to them if they went public in his defense. Now they believed that he was quite capable of defending himself, and he would prove to all the world that he had the final victory.
After Pentecost, we have several long sermons from Peter. These sermons usually are based on five points of Good News. The Messiah who was promised has come. His name was Jesus of Nazareth. You put him to death, but he rose again from the dead. He returned to the Father in triumph, where he can no longer be subjected to human degradation. He will return in triumph to reap the harvest into his Kingdom, and to proclaim his eternal victory over all the powers of the evil one.
Notice that his return is also proclaimed as Good News. The Jesus they knew would be welcome to return anytime. As a matter of fact, many of them expected him to return during their life-time. St. Paul refers to this in his letters, and the very last words of the Bible are Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus! (Rev. 22:20). Having watched him exercising his power over the forces of evil, they longed for him to return to put an end to the wiles and attacks of the enemies, both human and demonic.
Finally, please note the positive nature of the promise. I am going away, and I will come back to you. There is no room left for doubt here. This is a sure and certain promise. It is something I can build on. I can stake my whole future, for time and eternity, on the truth of this promise. This is something that I need to pray through. In other words, I need to pray about it, chat to the Lord about it, and constantly ask the Spirit to impress this promise indelibly on my mind and heart. I depend on the Spirit to remind me, as Jesus said he would (John 16:12). When I have a deep conviction about the reality of this promise, I can open my fists, ungrit my teeth, and relax my muscles. I get on with life, giving it all I have, in the sure and certain hope that my eternal destiny is in safe hands. Jesus holds my future, so I need not worry what my future holds.