There is always the temptation for a disciple of Jesus to frame our life from the perspective ‘If only Jesus were here,’ or ‘How do Jesus’ teaching and actions from two thousand years ago guide my responses to contemporary situations.’
Both these ways of thinking are deficient for the truth is that Jesus tells us that he is with us right now, and that he leads us in the way which we should go.
From Henri Nouwen:
Following Jesus does not must mean following Jesus who lived two thousand years ago. Some of say, “I wish I could have lived then. It is too bad that it was two thousand years ago and I have to imagine Jesus. I have to fantasise about this man who live so long ago, whom I have never met. I will use my memory to follow this man, this Jesus of Nazareth. I will try to do what he told us to do then and apply it to our times now.
But following Jesus means much more than following the memory of someone. It is more than following someone we imagine, someone we dream about, someone we try to evoke with our imagination. Following Jesus means following the Risen Lord. Following Jesus means following the Lord who is the Lord of history, the Lord who is with us now and here, at this moment. It is not a sentimental memory. It is not a pious feeling about someone we hardly know. No. It is being guided by the One who is with us here and now. It is being led by the One who really is present among us as the Lord, who rose from the dead and became the Lord who embraces all people, in all times, and is therefore the Lord of the now, the present, the here.
Henri Nouwen, Following Jesus, SPCK, 2019, pgs 109-110.