Work takes many people away from family and friends for days or weeks at a time. Thankfully, we can stay connected with home through Skype, FaceTime, and other technologies. It’s amazing to be able to see and talk with loved ones in real-time, and that connection can help to carry us through the long days when we are away. But we’re still away from home. The technology is great, but it isn’t a substitute for sitting across the table from our loved ones and talking about our day or thinking together about the situations we may be facing.
Together is a unique word because nothing can adequately substitute for it. That is why Jesus made it clear that His return is not just to provide us with a truer and better home, but a place where together is our ultimate reality. He said, “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” (john 14:3, emphasis added).
Here the imagery of Jewish wedding customs again is in view. Earlier we saw that the groom was responsible for preparing a home for his bride. However, having completed the preparations of that home, he would then arrive at the home of the bride’s parents to take her home to be with him. This is the imagery behind Jesus’s words—a return that produces together.
Many have wondered about the nature, location, and context of “heaven.” Some see our eternal home as here on a new earth, others place it in the New Jerusalem, and still others prefer to think in terms of the presence of the Father in the third heaven (see 2 corinthians 12:4). I’m pretty sure that the debate will not be settled until we are finally there—wherever there will actually be.
However, the location of our eternal home in the Father’s house is not where our focus should be. Jesus’s words offer us the most important thing about our eternal home: It is where He will be.It’s Jesus who makes it the only place we will want to spend forever. He said He would come for us, “that where I am, there you may be also.”
The key to the peace Jesus offered His men in the upper room, and which applies to our own seasons of trouble, is that our separation from Him is not permanent (nor was the disciples’ defection). What greater thought can there be at a time of painful parting than the thought of reunion? The disciples were given permission by Jesus to look beyond the present trials to the future—an eternal future with Him.
That’s it, isn’t it? Our comfort is not in a place, but in a Person—Jesus Himself. We long to be with Him. You see, for the follower of Christ, the Father’s house is not a state of mind. It is being where Jesus is. We can speculate about what our eternal home will be like, but really it is enough to know that He will be there and we will be with Him forever. That is why we have hope for then and peace for now—because we anticipate being together with Him.
How real is that? Hear the words of the apostle Paul:
But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better (philippians 1:22–23).
To be with Christ—that’s it. He’s what makes our eternal home really home for us. Our eternal home will never lose its meaning because Jesus will be there forever. And we will be with Him.