After the disciples left their professions and began following Jesus, they were convinced that Jesus was the promised Messiah and that He had come to deliver them from Roman tyranny. They believed that Jesus had come to setup his kingdom on earth. The more miracles He did the more they were convinced that Jesus was God and that the new kingdom on earth would soon be a reality.
But the disciples missed the point of why Jesus came to earth. He came to die that they might be delivered from the power and the penalty of sin. “For what the law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own son…as an offering for sin.” (Romans 8:3).
To accomplish God’s purpose of redemption. Jesus had to go to the cross. So near the time of his crucifixion Jesus sat down with the disciples and had a very frank and direct conversation. We read about this event in John 12-14.
It was the last Passover in the upper room. Jesus was once again foretelling his death. Just before He washed the disciples feet they were arguing about who would be the greatest in the kingdom (Luke 22:24). They were self-focused, discouraged and confused. Then Jesus said to them;
“Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so I would have told you. For I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way where I am going.” Thomas said to Him, “Lord we do not know where you are going, how do we know the way?” Jesus said, “ I am the way and the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but through me.” (John 14:1-6)
In this one statement Jesus revealed three eternal truths to the disciples that day.
I must go so I can pay your sin debt.
I am going to prepare a place for you because this is not your home. You are a pilgrim and a stranger just passing through this world temporarily.
In order to pass through this world you must first pass through me.
Notice the emphasis to “passing through” in the above statements. As a committed follower of Jesus, our whole life is about passing through. We first pass through Jesus for our salvation. We then take the position of passing through this life because we recognize that we are “other worldly”. This world is not our home because we are now strangers and pilgrims.
I recently read a summary of the book by Ron Pettey entitled “Heaven is Real”. It is the story about Ron dying on the operating table during brain surgery, and his visit to heaven and back. I don’t normally read books like this but I was intrigued by his story and it seemed believable to me.
In his visit to Heaven the angel refused his full entry because it wasn’t his time to die, he had to go back into his body and finish his time on earth. Before he left heaven he encountered several events including seeing the Lord Jesus. Here is his account of Jesus welcoming the saints into heaven.
As the young man came near Jesus, the lad glanced at me and smiled. Then he disappeared, engulfed in the flowing sleeve of Jesus’ glowing garment. Suddenly, I realized the boy had literally passed through Jesus into Heaven.
The truth of John 14:6 suddenly became clear. “No one comes to the Father but through me.” Could it be that the scriptural reference to Jesus being the door and the gate into Heaven were not figurative as I had thought? My mind could scarcely contain what I had witnessed.” (Heaven is Real, by Ron Pettey).
Life is not about accumulating stuff, it’s about living our life surrendered to the one who is preparing a place for us. Heaven is the superior of everything good. It’s where we are meant to live and experience all the best that Jesus has prepared for us.
As you reflect on the meaning of Christmas this year, remember that Christmas is not only about the birth of the Christ child, but it is also about celebrating the indwelling Christ, the One who we will ultimately pass through, and dwell with forever.