Part 2: Two ways of looking at things concerning death, the kingdom of God, and heaven.
18 Three things are too wonderful for me; four I do not understand…
We ended yesterday with the thought that Jesus may have been referencing something other than His ultimate return or individual “return” for each of us. As we look into the rest of Jesus’ teaching that night, we find clues that give a different picture. His promise to come again is restated in 14:18 and again in 14:28. Jesus began to talk about the coming of the Spirit. He is called the Helper (14:16, 26, 15:26,16:7), the Spirit of truth (14:17,15:26, 16:13), and the Holy Spirit (14:26).
The idea of not leaving them as orphans (14:18) leans heavily toward this perspective. Verse 17 says that the Spirit dwelt WITH them at that time, but would be IN them once Jesus sent the Spirit to them (at Pentecost). The greatest promise is found in 16:22, “So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.” He finishes His teaching with these comforting words in 16:33, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Paul wrote a great synopsis on the love of God and Christ in Romans 8:31-39,
33 Who will bring a charge against God’s chosen ones?
It is God who declares them in the right.
34 Who is going to condemn?
It is the Messiah, Jesus, who has died, or rather has been raised;
who is at God’s right hand, and who also prays on our behalf!
35 Who shall separate us from the Messiah’s love?
Suffering, or hardship, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As the Bible says,
Because of you we are being killed all day long; we are regarded as sheep destined for slaughter.
37 No: in all these things we are completely victorious through the one who loved us. 38 I am persuaded, you see, that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor the present, nor the future, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in King Jesus our Lord. NTE
The neat thing about this love relationship is that it is NOW. We don’t have to wait until we get to heaven. In fact, the kingdom of heaven is in us because the Spirit of Jesus is in us. From the moment we believed in Jesus Christ, we have been progressively becoming Kingdom Citizens. He starts with our hearts and progresses with our minds and will ultimately transform our bodies (see Philippians 3:20-4:1).
As good as this argument is for what Jesus meant by going away and coming back, there is another one, which we will discover tomorrow.
Abba, thank You for the Holy Spirit coming to live in us. WOW! We get to join in the Fellowship of the Trinity–and we don’t even have to wait until we get heaven because You brought heaven to us. I’m with Paul in his doxology, “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! (Romans 11:33)” Unto You, O Lord, be glory forever. Amen.