Various religious polls have shown that two of the most favorite Bible chapters of Christians are 1 Corinthians 13, which speaks of love, and John 14 which sets forth the hope of heaven. The first few verses of John 14 are very precious in times of death and sorrow.
“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. 4 And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.” (John 14:1-4)
In context, Jesus had been talking about His death, and Peter’s betrayal.
“Therefore, when he was gone out, Jesus said, Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him. 32 If God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him. 33 Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say to you. 34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. 36 Simon Peter said unto him, Lord, whither goest thou? Jesus answered him, Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards.” (John 13:31-36)
In 1895, a Polish author, Henry Sienkiewicz, wrote a lovely novel based on the question of Peter, “Quo Vadis, Domine?” “Where are you going, Lord?” Hollywood made the novel into a film in 1951
Jesus was going away. His disciples were going to look for Him and not find Him. But they could understand where Jesus was going, and why.
Jesus was going to heaven to prepare a place for His disciples where He could receive them forever.
Jesus was going to enter into glory.
Jesus was going to be restored to the glory He had with the Father prior to His Incarnation.
Jesus was anticipating the end of His humiliation, and His triumphant entrance, not into Jerusalem, but into the heavenly Jerusalem.
He was looking beyond on the Cross, despising its shame, for the joy on the other side of His great ordeal.
Jesus was going to His Father. He was going to His Father’s house. If this were not so, if there is no heaven, Jesus would have told us. If life after death is a mythological fantasy, Jesus would have plainly said so. But the truth is, heaven is for real. And there are many places of residency there.
Here is a gospel truth that can transform the heart, and change the world. If Christians believe Jesus, our hearts should be excited about going to heaven, sooner rather than later. Jesus illuminates this subject more.
“These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended. 2 They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. 3 And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me. 4 But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them. And these things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you. 5 But now I go my way to him that sent me; and none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou? 6 But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart.” (John 16:1-6)
When Jesus announced His imminent departure from earth, the response of His disciples was full of sorrow. It was a dreadful moment. There is great sorrow when we separate from people we love.
When Jesus told His disciples about His departure, they were devastated. They did not want Him to leave them.
But when we read the account of the Lord’s actual departure, there was no more sorrow, but there was absolute amazement.
“And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. 5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. 6 When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? 7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. 8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. 9 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; 11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. 12 Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day’s journey.” (Acts 1:4-12)
This narrative is to be read in light of Luke’s other account of the Ascension of Jesus in his gospel.
“And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. 51 And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven. 52 And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy: 53 And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen.” (Luke 24:50-53)
Notice that when the actual time of the Lord’s departure came, the disciples were worshipping with joy unspeakable.
Why had they changed?
They changed because they believed, and saw the value of the Lord’s departure. They understood the significance of the redemptive historical event. It was a moment to be celebrated.
It is to be celebrated because of what Jesus is doing in heaven.
Jesus is preparing a place for His own.
Jesus is being honored by the angels.
Jesus is interceding as our Great High Priest.
Jesus is enthroned as the Sovereign of the Universe.
Jesus is enjoying the glory and the fellowship He had with the Father.
Let the Church rejoice because it has an invitation to the coronation to the King of kings, and Lord of lords. It is something that is not to be missed.
Throughout His ministry, Jesus called attention to His desension, or coming down from heaven.
“And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.” (John 3:13)
However, once His ministry was nearly completed, Jesus began to call attention to His ascension.
To ascend is to go up. But the ascension of Jesus is something far more glorious. It is going to a particular place, for a particular purpose. For Jesus, that particular purpose was to be enthroned in heaven as the most glorious King. When Jesus left this earth, He left for His coronation. He left for His investiture. That coronation is not for the distant future. It happened two thousand years ago.
The Church today has missed out on the coronation of Jesus because of bad theology set forth by Dispensationalists. The Church must recapture the truth that our King reigns, right now. The reign of Christ is invisible to many. But His witnesses are to make the invisible reign of Christ visible to the world by our fidelity, our celebration, and our joy of His going into heaven.
Let the Church rejoice that Jesus has been exalted. The angels came to the disciples and asked the astonished disciples why they were gazing into heaven? Who would not be gazing into heaven at such an event? But, the gazing into heaven has to stop. There is gospel work to be done based on a promise. The promise is that, “This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11)
The inauguration of Jesus is only the beginning. He will come again in glory to consummate His reign. Let the Church tell the world, “The King has been given His crown!” To God be the glory.