“I AM WITH YOU TO THE CLOSE OF THE AGE”
Our Lord Jesus Christ promised “to be with us to the close of the age,” therefore, as God He is with us, as well as the Holy Spirit whom He sent to comfort and guide us. We can easily see who was Head and Guide of the Church from its infancy and who remains so until the present day. There is one God, Father Son and Holy Spirit and these three are one God. There is one High Priest according to Holy Scripture and Orthodox History and that High Priest is Jesus Christ. No one can replace either our Head or our Guide or the Church which Christ founded
“The Lord swore and will not change His mind; you are a Priest forever after the order of Melchisedec; by so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament. And there were truly many priests but they were not able to continue by reason of their death. But this man (Jesus), because He continues forever has an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore He is able to save them to the uttermost who come unto God by Him, seeing that He is always alive to make intercession for them. For such a High Priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; who needs not as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices daily, first for His own sins and then for the people, for this He did once when He offered up himself. For the law makes men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, makes the Son who is consecrated for evermore” (Heb. 7:21-28).
The old Levitic priesthood was succeeded by the Priesthood of Jesus Christ which remains forever. The priesthood of Christ is found all through His Body the Church, through bishops ordained by the Church and the priests ordained by bishops. The Church and its organic structure has been preserved since ancient days, and Christ alone is the only High Priest through whom all ordained clergy derive their priesthood.
Jesus said to His disciples: “All authority is given to me in heaven and in earth.” When He spoke to them He spoke as the King and ruler of all, having previously fought and overcome the ruler of the world, the devil, who has been stripped of his authority. All the angelic powers in heaven have acknowledged Christ as their King and God and submit a do His will. But men on earth must also recognize Christ as their lawful King and Lord, sent to them by God to render them happy and blessed with eternal life. This is accomplished when the Apostles are taught of the Lord, and then pass on that teaching to all mankind through preaching and filling the Church. The kingdom of heaven is offered to free men, who have been freed from sin, and who willingly choose to worship and obey the King of all.
Jesus says clearly that He will not leave us and will be with us to the close of the age. He is with us in His Church, as our only Head. He is with us by all His words. He constantly is feeding us with himself in the Holy Eucharist. Though not visible to our physical eyes, His presence is clearly visible by those who worship Him in faith and love.
Before Jesus proclaimed, Behold I am with you . . . as in the title above, the following words were spoken as recorded by Matthew: “Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee unto a mountain which Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted. They doubted because Jesus having come down from heaven after His victory on the Cross and Resurrection, was shining brilliantly in His divine glory, not being as they had seen Him before. And because they saw in Him such glory, some doubted saying to themselves: “Is it possible that the one we see in such glory is Jesus, for He is very different from when we saw Him before?” “Jesus responded and spoke to them saying: All authority is given to me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore, and teach all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit; teaching them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you; and behold, I am with you even to the close of the age.”
The Lord came to us in humility as a new born babe lying in a manger. He is the God who created all men, and who withstood from men every from of abuse and insult that was heaped upon Him. His submission and silence led Him to suffer His passion and crucifixion and death. After His victory on the Cross, he appeared to His disciples in His glory and so will soon appear to all men. When He appears before mankind in His glory, men will flee and become terrified and will seek death but not find it. But those who know Him and in loving obedience keep His commandments will rejoice and be exceedingly glad at the sight of their Master and Lord whom they worshiped in spirit and truth.
His invitation remains as He calls all mankind to himself, saying, Behold I am with you . . . He is closer to us than we know, for being God He is unrestricted and everywhere present. While there is still time Christ welcomes all, but a day will come when He will call all men to himself for judgment and each man will be judged by what He has done with his faith.