Forty days counted out past Resurrection Sunday is a day marked for remembrance. Remembrance of the day, ages ago, when the Son of God ascended to heaven. And what better to remember, so that we don’t grieve the departure of our Lord, than the promises He made?
I turn today to John 14, to some of His last words spoken during His earthly ministry.
Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God;
believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms.
If it were not so, would I have told you
that I go to prepare a place for you?
(Jn 14:1-2 ESV)
There’s nothing better to remember this whole world over than Jesus' assuring words of the promise of heaven. Scott Franks once preached, "Heaven is not just what happens when you die, it is a truth to be lived right now."
Jesus proclaimed truth we need to live a God-glorifying life now. Truths which include heaven. We must remain steadfast in our citizenship as our new reality for it is more than a place, a destination, it is the state of our hearts.
Matthew Henry summed it up best when he wrote, "It is certain that all that will go to heaven hereafter begin their heaven now and have their hearts there." As we set our hearts and minds above, it changes our frame of reference for all the decisions we make here and now.
Jesus made it a priority for His believers to understand, to believe, that He is preparing a place for us. His dying paved the way for our arrival. And His leaving opened the door. That hope hastens our hearts homeward.
I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
Yet a little while and the world will see me no more,
but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.
Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word,
and my Father will love him, and we will come to him
and make our home with him”
(Jn 14:18-19; 23 ESV).
Though leaving, Jesus did not abandon us. He lives . . . and has offered us that same resurrected and ascended life. Those obedient to His Word have the Father's love and the Spirit residing, ever-present, with us. Jesus' own words reassure us of the fact of eternal life and fellowship with the Trinity. Power for living lies within these words.
These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper,
the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you
all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give
to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid
(Jn 14:25-27 ESV).
Jesus went, so the Father would send the much-needed Paraclete. This Helper would bring remembrance of Jesus’ words to the apostles so they could teach. So they could write it down, preach it in the world, and pass on the message. The Holy Spirit was the Confidence of His disciples then . . . and now. He is the powerful, guiding, growing force of the Church.
And shalom. Let us not forget He left shalom. A heavenly, divine peace. The unworldly in this disturbed world.
These are life-giving words recorded from Jesus’ last night before He gave His life. They are passages worthy of remembering today in our continuation of the Easter drama in which we still live. Three points stand out from them to encourage hope, to strengthen and comfort—so our hearts won’t be troubled:
Heaven is a reality for the living . . . now
God dwells with those who love, trust, and obey Him
Jesus has provided a Helper for our ambassadorship here
Heavenly Father, they looked to the skies, astounded at our Lord’s ascension, His return to the Father. They were told not to remain, but "Go!" He came, the Helper, to keep us moving. With Your blessed peace, heaven in our hearts, promises for our faith, and the indwelling Spirit, we have a continual remembrance of You, our Eternal Hope, to carry us home. Give us courage to not just stand looking to the skies for Your return, though imminent. Keep us sharing Your Good News with urgency and expectancy—always believing . . . proclaiming . . . and remembering.