There are many painful things we endure in life, but I think the most painful is strife. There are forces inside us and around us that drive us apart, so we all live with the uncertainty of being abandoned, never sure who may leave us or why. That makes love a very dangerous matter. To give our hearts to someone is to risk rejection. We become vulnerable to the whims of another person, and people, being the weak creatures we are, often end up hurting us. And for that matter, were just as likely to hurt them. So loving anyone here on planet earth is dangerous, and as time passes the wounds we suffer cause us to grow increasingly cautious, which leaves us with fewer and fewer friends.
I think the most wonderful gift we will receive in heaven is peace. In particular, heaven will be a safe place to love. Separation, abandonment and betrayal wont be there. Those you love will love you back
forever. And that kind of love will fill our hearts because thats the way we have been loved by Jesus, and well be with Him forever.
In the passage were reading today Jesus is talking to some of the very people who are going to kill Him, but instead of railing against the injustice they have planned, He warns them that He is ready to die, but that they arent. In the future they would deeply regret what they were about to do, but by then it would be too late. Thankfully, its not too late for us.
Trying to arrest Jesus (Jn 7:25-32)
A reunion (v33)
Notice how Jesus describes what will happen to Him after He dies. He says, I go to the One who sent Me (literal). He doesnt say Im going to a beautiful place with pearly gates and golden streets. He doesnt say Im going to a place where there will be no more sorrow or suffering. To Him heaven was not a place; it was a relationship; it was a reunion; He was going to return to His Father. When He spoke these words He had not yet been spiritually separated from His Father. That terrible moment would arrive a few months later, when for a few hours He would die alone on the cross (Mt 27:45-46). But even now, simply by becoming a man, that relationship had changed. It was not the face-to-face relationship that it had been, but after His death and resurrection He would return to that.
Death was just a brief transition for Him. He doesnt even mention it here, though He is talking about what will happen to Him after He dies. Thats because He was absolutely certain of what awaited Him on the other side. He would close His eyes in this world and open them in the next. Death was merely a doorway, not the end of His existence. With this in mind lets listen again to the way He described His death, I am still with you for a little while longer before I go to the One who sent Me (v33) (literal).
A warning (v34)
He was primarily addressing these remarks to the Pharisees and religious police who had been sent to arrest Him (v32). Basically He told them, You cant arrest Me or kill Me until Gods appointed time has arrived. And its not here yet. But it is coming soon, and when it does, death wont be the end of Me; you will simply send Me back to My Father (paraphrase). Then He added a warning, You will seek for Me but not find Me because where I am you cannot come (literal). To understand what He meant, we need to examine each part of this statement.
A. You will seek for Me. He told people who wanted to kill Him that they would search for Him after He died. What did He mean by this? I think there are three possible answers, and I actually think He meant all three of them:
1. You will look for My body after Ive been resurrected, but you will not find it because I will physically ascend to heaven.
Matthew 28:11-15 Some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all that had happened. And when they had assembled with the elders and consulted together they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, and said, You are to say, His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were asleep
And they took the money and did as they had been instructed; and this story was widely spread among the Jews, and is to this day.
There are people who are still looking for Jesus body, hoping to find it and disprove the resurrection.
2. You will long for the Messiah when terrible persecution arrives. False Messiahs will arise and promise to deliver you from bondage, but they will only lead you to destruction. And by then, I, the real Messiah, will be gone.
Luke 17:22 The days will come when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it.
Luke 19:41-44 When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes
You did not recognize the time of your visitation.
Luke 23:26-31 Daughters of Jerusalem, stop weeping for Me, but weep for yourselves and your children. For days are coming when they will say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore
. For if they do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?
3. You will long for a Savior after you die and face your eternal destiny, but by then it will be too late.
John 8:21-24 Then He said again to them, I go away, and you will seek Me, and will die in your sin; where I am going, you cannot come
You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world. Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am [He], you will die in your sins.
B. You will not find Me. He warned them that the time would come when they would look for Him: they would look for His body, but it would be gone; they would need His power to rescue them from the Romans, but they had missed their opportunity; and some day, each one of them would wake up on the other side of the grave and frantically look for a Savior, but it would be too late. Where we spend eternity is determined in this life, not the next. If we havent found Him here we wont find Him there.
C. Where I am you cannot come. The final verdict given to those who reject Jesus will be this, Where I am you cannot come. In other words, I will be with the Father, but because of your unbelief, you will be separated from Me and therefore you will be separated from Him as well.
For Jesus, eternal life meant being with His Father. For us, eternal life means to be with Jesus, and because we are joined to Him we too are able to be with the Father. Theres a very important revelation here. We can only be in heaven because we are there with Jesus. We could not enter the Fathers presence or remain without Him. We will be there because Jesus is there. In other words Jesus didnt merely open the door to heaven and let us in, He continues to clothe us with His righteousness, so we can stay there (Mt 22:11-13).
With Him forever
So what will heaven be like? John later saw it in a vision and said it has golden streets and a river with water as clear as crystal. It has fruit trees that bear twelve different kinds of fruit all year long. The city gates are made out of big pearls and the buildings are made out of a clear gold you can see through. But if all I wanted was a pretty place, I could find a nice park and spend the day there. What turns that beautiful place into heaven, for those who love Him, is that Jesus will be there. It becomes heaven because we get to be with Him forever. Listen:
John 12:26 If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also.
John 14:2-3 In My Fathers house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, [there] you may be also.
John 17:24 Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You have loved Me before the foundation of the world.
If the essence of eternal life is not being in a pretty place or living for a long time, but being with Jesus, then eternal life can start now. We can enter into that relationship of perfect love right now. We can safely give Him our heart knowing He will never abandon or betray us. Jesus said,
For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day (Jn 6:40).
And then He said,
If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make our abode with him (Jn 14:23).
If we behold and believe, if we love and obey, He and the Father come to be with us, now; the relationship starts now; when we worship and pray, His sweet presence comes over us, now. And that relationship dramatically changes the way a person thinks about eternal life. It causes us to think like Jesus. We too are only here for a little while longer, and then we go to be with Him. Well close our eyes in this world and open them in the next. Death is only a doorway, not the end, and well pass through it into the arms of our dearest friend. And when we arrive we wont meet someone new; it will be a reunion. Finally well see Him face-to-face
, and that will be heaven!
1) If Jesus were to walk into the room right now and physically stand in front of us so we could see Him, how would you respond? Would you say, Why, thats Jesus! I always wanted to meet Him. Or, would you finally be seeing with your eyes your dearest friend?
2) When we get to heaven Jesus will be there but so will our loved ones who died knowing Him. Name someone you look forward to seeing again someday.