Jesus Wants You to Know That Heaven is Waiting
John 13:31–14:6 (NASB95) — 31 Therefore when he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him; 32 if God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and will glorify Him immediately. 33 “Little children, I am with you a little while longer. You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ 34 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” 36 Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, where are You going?” Jesus answered, “Where I go, you cannot follow Me now; but you will follow later.” 37 Peter said to Him, “Lord, why can I not follow You right now? I will lay down my life for You.” 38 Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for Me? Truly, truly, I say to you, a rooster will not crow until you deny Me three times. 1 “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 “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. 3 “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. 4 “And you know the way where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
Christians love to sing, talk, and think about Heaven. During my first pastorate, we would occasionally have a favorite hymn service. We were a small congregation, so members would call out what hymn they wanted to sing. Most of those songs were about Heaven. We find comfort in eternity, but we must wait for it. How do we wait for Heaven? What do we do while we wait? How do we prepare?
After Judas left the Last Supper, Jesus began an important conversation with the remaining eleven disciples. These men would change the world within the next sixty years, but in that moment they needed to hear from their Lord to prepare for the future.
The moment for His glorification had arrived. After three years of ministry, the time for His death, burial, and resurrection had come. Within hours, He would suffer and three days later be raised.
Jesus told His disciples they would look for, but not find Him. He was going to a place they couldn’t. These words confused the eleven, but before they could ask His meaning, Jesus gave a new command. The disciples were to love one another as Jesus loved them.
This command may sound strange to us. After all, doesn’t the Old Testament also speak about loving others? Why would Jesus say this command was new? The key phrase is “even as I have loved you (v. 34).” Jesus told His men that they were to love one another sacrificially. Within hours, Jesus would lay down His life for the world. He challenged the disciples to love one another this completely.
God still commands us to love one another with a Christ-like love. This love sacrifices self for the sake of others, specifically other believers. While we are certainly called to love the world, Jesus gave this command to a Christian group. Fortunately, when we love one another sacrificially, the world notices. Jesus said in verse 35, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
The disciples didn’t understand Jesus. They focused on His departure. Peter and Thomas asked about Jesus’ destination. Peter wanted to go. Thomas wanted to know the way.
When Peter claimed to want to go with Jesus, he said he would lay down his life for the Lord. Jesus informed Peter of his impending failure. Peter would not obey the new command. Instead, He would deny Jesus three times.
Jesus didn’t let those weighty words remain in the air for long. He immediately began to speak about the comfort of His destination. John 14:1-3 has encouraged many grieving families, but in context these words were given to distraught disciples. Eventually, the disciples would go where Jesus was going, but He had to go first to prepare.
Thomas asked one of the most important questions in the Bible. He wanted to know about the place Jesus was preparing. In response, Jesus pronounced His uniqueness: He is the way, the truth, and the life. He is the only way to Heaven. The truth about Christ is the only saving truth. Only the eternal can live in Heaven. Salvation through Christ exclusively grants eternality.
Christians typically use John 14:1-6 for comfort during loss. However, when seen in the larger context of John 13:31-14:6, the main idea is love. Of course, Heaven encourages Christians. Yet, while we wait to see Jesus face to face, He has commanded us to love one another sacrificially.