Summary: The ascended Christ wants us to be where He is. Jesus wants us to join him, even standing in the glorious presence of the Father, “that where I am, there you may be also.” And there in his presence, we will have lasting peace forever.
When parents are headed out for the evening, they might give their teenaged children some last-minute instructions: “Don’t forget to feed the dog. No fighting. Turn the lights off when you go to bed. We’ll be home by eleven.” Parting words, then they’re gone.
Something like this is happening in John 14. Jesus has told his disciples that He is soon going to depart, and He has announced it before it happens so they’re not unprepared. For his departure won’t be the normal kind, like when we say goodbye to farewell loved ones at the airport. This departure is more final, but it’s also less absolute. It is more final, because Jesus is headed to his death. And it is less absolute, because Jesus is going to return from the grave as the risen and triumphant Lord.
Having told his disciples about his ‘departing,’ Jesus now takes a step closer to the door. But the disciples are still very anxious. “Lord, where are you going?” Peter asked. “Why can’t we go with you?” Was the Lord’s help now going to be out of reach? Isn’t that what we would think too? Long distance love just isn’t the same.
Our Saviour understands the fears of his people. For that reason, He speaks comfort to his disciples, and they are words of comfort and instruction for us too. Christ says: “Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me” (John 14:1). Trust in him! With Christ ascended into heaven, we need not fear but have every reason to walk by faith in his name. I preach God’s Word from John 14:27,
‘Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid,’ for:
1) Jesus has ascended into heaven
2) Jesus is working in heaven
3) Jesus will come again from heaven
1) Jesus has ascended into heaven: It was a special time in those years when Jesus walked the earth. It was unlike anything seen before: God came down, took on human flesh, and He lived among men. Jesus looked like any other person, acted like one, spoke like one—yet He was different. He was more. Remember that his name was Immanuel, ‘God with us.”
He walked among us for a purpose: He came as the one who’d suffer and die and rise again. And when Jesus speaks to his disciples in John 14, this task lays heavy on his mind. It was the night of the Passover, and they had already shared the Last Supper. Satan has just entered Judas, who disappeared into the night to do his betraying. The countdown to the cross was in its last hours, and as the Son of God, Jesus can clearly envisage his own pending death.
So He tells his disciples: “I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming” (v 30). That sounds ominous. Satan is called ‘the ruler of this world,’ and Jesus sees him getting closer on the radar, preparing to attack. And this is really the moment of truth: will Jesus remain faithful to his calling? Satan is going to offer this temptation to Christ more than once as death looms large. Why not bail, right now? Escape all this misery? Look to your own interests for once.
“The ruler of this world is coming,” says Jesus, but “he has nothing in me” (v 30). As the final test gets closer, Christ assures his disciples that He will not fail. For more than thirty years, Satan has been unable to break Christ’s commitment to his task, and he won’t do so now.
Rather, says Christ, in just a few hours, “The world [will] know that I love the Father” (v 31). All along, this is the purpose that kept Jesus going, his motivation: obedient love for his Father! And because of that obedience, the next day sees Jesus enduring all the shame and torture of hell. Out of love for the Father, Jesus gave until He had nothing left to give.
For many people, that was the end of the story. Most people probably assumed that Jesus was now gone, soon to be forgotten. Jesus told his disciples this very thing, “A little while longer and the world will see me no more” (v 19). He would be dead and buried—out of sight, out of mind. His time in the spotlight, seemingly at an end.
“The world will see me no more,” says Christ, but here’s the twist in the story, the surprise and the sequel: “but you will see me” (v 19). And only three days later, these words of Jesus came true. For the disciples did see him! The resurrection was God’s stamp of approval on all of Christ’s suffering. The resurrection was the divine receipt that Jesus had paid the price for sin, down to the very last penny.