I shall never forget when I first met Elizabeth and fell in love with her on the spot! She then meant everything to me. To be with her was more important than anything else. To me she outshone everything and everybody. I longed to be with her and to share life together for the rest of my life. My love burned and I was confident that Elizabeth was God’s choice for me – but for a whole year she steadfastly said “no”. Devastating!
Peter and Jesus’ other disciples had come to love Jesus with their whole heart. They gave up everything to follow him and to be with him through all the ups and downs of his years of ministry on earth. Then Jesus announced to them, “Where I am going, you cannot come” (John 13.33) and “Where I am going, you cannot follow now” (John 13.36). Their love for Jesus overcame all other desires in their hearts and minds. They had determined to follow Jesus totally. How could Jesus reject such love and declare that they couldn’t stay with him and be with him wherever he went? No wonder Peter asserts that he wants to continue following Jesus even if it costs him his life (13.37). But Jesus knew that neither Peter nor the other disciples were yet ready for martyrdom. And Jesus knew that he must die alone and suffer the final darkness and loneliness of being totally abandoned by them. On the cross there was nothing to comfort him, not even the loving presence of his Father in glory.
After a year saying “no”, Elizabeth found love ruling in her heart too. What joy now to belong to each other and to be together! And so our lives took on a wonderful new dimension of love – and we have now delighted in these last 55 years of marriage and love. The bewildering disappointment of the past yielded to the wonderful glory of Christian marriage.
Jesus’ disciples also had something of a parallel experience. “Where I am going, you cannot come” in Chapter 14 gives way now to the reassurance that Jesus will prepare a place for them where he is going (14.2). In contrast with the future tense of “I will prepare”, Jesus uses present tenses for his coming again to the disciples – “I am coming and will take you to myself” (14.3) and wonderfully too “I am coming to you”
(14.18). How exciting! Jesus is coming for us! He is on his way! And he will assuredly take us (the verb implies bringing us to his side) to be with him in his glory.
So where is he bringing us? Jesus’ emphasis underlines that our final goal is to be with the Father, the one who had sent Jesus. Jesus is perfectly one with the Father and dwells eternally with the Father. We as Jesus’ followers are one with Jesus and therefore with him are brought into the intimate presence of the Father. That is what heaven is all about. Meanwhile let us never forget that the only way to that glory of knowing the Father is through Jesus who is the unique way without whom no-one can come to God the Father. And Jesus is totally trustworthy and his words are truth. We can trust and believe in him with confidence because he is in himself “the truth”. If we believe in him and love him, we shall of course delight to obey his commands and teaching (14.23). In loving and following Jesus we shall find the perfect life, even life eternal. Jesus is indeed “the way, the truth and the life” (14.6).
What glory! What love! No wonder Jesus declares that our hearts should not be troubled (14.1, 27). He will not leave us as orphans, for we are now adopted as children of our perfect Father in glory. It is amazing that the all-holy God Almighty is now our Father and we are his much loved children. In addition, to crown it all, he promises to send us the Spirit of Truth, so that with him we can do even greater things than what Jesus did (wow!!) and our prayers ‘in his name’ will be granted (14.12-14).
Jesus is coming for us!
P.S. For those who have not yet got hold of Elizabeth’s life story “God can be Trusted”, let me warmly recommend it. She starts the book with her youth experience in a Japanese prison camp in China and in the second half she vividly describes our life as missionaries under local churches during the wonderful mass movement to Christ in Indonesia. This book is available through Amazon or direct from the publishers, Authentic Media.