Follow Me: “I Go to Prepare a Place for You”

You are here

Follow Me

“I Go to Prepare a Place for You”

Login or Create an Account

With a UCG.org account you will be able to save items to read and study later!

Sign In | Sign Up

×
Downloads
MP3 Audio (11.2 MB)

Downloads

Follow Me: “I Go to Prepare a Place for You”

MP3 Audio (11.2 MB)
×

In concluding the last “Follow Me” column titled “Fixing Our Eyes on Eternity,” I stated that next time we would explore eternity together. So here we are. Are you ready?

Jesus said on the last night of His human existence, “I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2 John 14:2In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
American King James Version×
). The wording “I go” gives a sense that He was confidently in motion to prepare something special yet ahead. What was He talking about?

Where should our focus and vision be when it comes to eternity? This is an important question.

It’s been said that the adventurer Christopher Columbus “didn’t know where he was going, didn’t know where he was when he got there, didn’t know where he had been when He got back—and did it all on borrowed capital.”

Columbus was searching for a passage to a new realm beyond the familiar, and likewise so are we. But unlike Columbus’ journey, our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ guide us toward understanding of where we are headed, for whom and why. Having this understanding living within us is vital to maintaining our spiritual pilgrimage in responding to the upward call of God through Christ’s invitation of “Follow Me” (see Philippians 3:14 Philippians 3:14I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
American King James Version×
; Matthew 4:19 Matthew 4:19And he said to them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.
American King James Version×
).

This understanding comes from God today through the Bible. So let’s open up eternity one scripture at a time.

The intimate fellowship of eternity

Our first step forward in discovering the “prepared place” is to grasp the manner in which God the Father and His Son exist in their supernatural, uncreated state. God offers this self-disclosure in Isaiah 57:15 Isaiah 57:15For thus said the high and lofty One that inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.
American King James Version×
: “For thus says the High and Lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: I dwell in the high and holy place . . .”

Here we are introduced to a different realm beyond our world of time and space. The Hebrew word for eternity in this verse is ‘ad, which speaks to continuity, carrying the sense of everlasting and always, having no beginning or end. This does not define a mere location. No tangible man-made “X” could mark a spot called eternity. Rather, eternity designates the limitless existence of God. And to focus on eternity is to focus on God, who alone has inherent life eternal.

Having said this, there’s an amazing verse in the book of Ecclesiastes concerning human beings that tells us God “has put eternity in [our] hearts” (Ecclesiastes 3:11 Ecclesiastes 3:11He has made every thing beautiful in his time: also he has set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God makes from the beginning to the end.
American King James Version×
). In creating people in His image, God has purposefully planted a seed of longing for what only an intimate relationship with Him, the Eternal, can satisfy.

Even with man’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden, there remains a thirst and deep-down hunger for meaning in life beyond “the now” of this goldfish bowl of time and space. Human history and our personal story demonstrate how we have searched for eternity in all the wrong places by imperfect means. Put simply, there are no shortcuts to eternity!

Nearly 2,000 years ago on the last night of His mortal life, Christ earnestly and specifically prayed: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, as you have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as you have given Him” (John 17:1-2 John 17:1-2 [1] These words spoke Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify your Son, that your Son also may glorify you: [2] As you have given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as you have given him.
American King James Version×
).

Jesus implores the Father to be with Him at this time for Him to be offered up as the ultimate atoning sacrifice to reconcile and restore humanity to God so that eternal life might be ours.

He then defines what eternity is ultimately about: “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3 John 17:3And this is life eternal, that they might know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
American King James Version×
, emphasis added). Here we discover that eternal life is predicated first and foremost on a relationship that is personal and intimately connected!

The word “know” here is translated from the Greek term ginosko, indicating a close, warm, even passionate intimacy. The term is applied to Mary not having “known” a man in physical marital terms (Luke 1:34 Luke 1:34Then said Mary to the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?
American King James Version×
)—as its Old Testament Hebrew equivalent yada was also used of fleshly union (see Genesis 4:1 Genesis 4:1And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bore Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD.
American King James Version×
).

Of course, God’s desire is to intimately bond not in flesh, but in spirit and holiness with those made in His image (see 1 Corinthians 6:16-17 1 Corinthians 6:16-17 [16] What? know you not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, said he, shall be one flesh. [17] But he that is joined to the Lord is one spirit.
American King James Version×
). The echo of God’s voice through Scripture declares His intent that He would be our God and we His people (Leviticus 26:12 Leviticus 26:12And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and you shall be my people.
American King James Version×
; Hebrews 8:12 Hebrews 8:12For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.
American King James Version×
).

Eternity comes at a cost!

Once we understand that eternity is first and foremost defined by an intimate and personal relationship with God who inhabits eternity and that Jesus Christ is “the door” and “the way” to enter such existence (see John 10:7 John 10:7Then said Jesus to them again, Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.
American King James Version×
; John 14:6 John 14:6Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me.
American King James Version×
), we can begin to understand the truly rich future being prepared for us. Unlike Columbus, our spiritual journey toward eternity is not based on “borrowed capital,” but is paid for by a perfect freely given gift of love.

The prophetic book of Revelation, which ends with a description of eternity, begins with this reality: “All glory to him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by shedding his blood for us” (Revelation 1:5 Revelation 1:5And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. To him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,
American King James Version×
, New Living Translation).

Let’s fully absorb this reality. Eternal life with God the Father and Jesus Christ comes with a cost—but it’s already been paid for us. That’s why the apostle Paul was inspired to write that “the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23 Romans 6:23For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
American King James Version×
).

Yes, salvation is a gift! We have nothing by human endeavor to earn or deserve entrance into eternity. It comes by God’s grace through the gift of Christ’s blood—though, as other scriptures tell us, repentance, submission to God, obedience and change through God’s Holy Spirit are required to receive that gift.

So where does this leave us today? Jesus Christ, who existed from eternity, entered our realm of time and space and, after living and dying in the flesh, reentered eternity forever, where He is now preparing a place for us! Absorbing this and in turn freely surrendering our lives in faith in recognition of this supreme act of love signal our ongoing appreciation as we strive with God’s help to be holy, as He is holy (see Leviticus 19:2 Leviticus 19:2Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them, You shall be holy: for I the LORD your God am holy.
American King James Version×
; 1 Peter 1:16 1 Peter 1:16Because it is written, Be you holy; for I am holy.
American King James Version×
). This means we seek to obey God and become like Him in every way, to “be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48 Matthew 5:48Be you therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
American King James Version×
).

What are we waiting for?

Yet some might object to the very idea of eternal life, thinking, “I don’t want to keep living, because what I’m already experiencing seems like an eternity—and you are talking about forever?” Understood! But I’m speaking of a worthwhile and purposeful eternity in intimate oneness with our Heavenly Father and His Son, our Elder Brother Jesus Christ (Hebrews 2:9-12 Hebrews 2:9-12 [9] But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. [10] For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. [11] For both he that sanctifies and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brothers, [12] Saying, I will declare your name to my brothers, in the middle of the church will I sing praise to you.
American King James Version×
). They promise us a wonderful future, one far different from the common misconception of lazily laying around in heaven for billions of years!

The same Elder Brother will greet us at the threshold between time and space and eternity and welcome us into His level of existence—thus keeping His promise to go and prepare a place for us. Unlike Columbus, we will know we have arrived at our ultimate destination—of eternal life in the family and Kingdom of God.

Which leads me to one last question for now: Why do we desire to experience eternity? Is it merely for the headaches and heartaches of this realm of time and space to be left behind? (That seems more than humanly reasonable!) Or is it to experience our ultimate encounter of oneness with our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ?

Consider that early Christian believers were not just looking for something to happen. They were waiting for Someone to arrive—to return! Think of making an airport pickup. Are you waiting at the airport just for a jet to arrive, or are you waiting for someone to step off that jet? Imagine if it’s someone you love and who loves you! You are there to see that person’s face, experience his or her smile and embrace. Sometimes you want to hold on and just not let go. Isn’t that what really matters?

Remember the connection Jesus made in John 17:3 John 17:3And this is life eternal, that they might know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
American King James Version×
between eternal life and our knowing God the Father and Himself.

At the end of the day—or, should I say, of time and space—framing eternity is not about applying a tape measure or watching a clock that has stopped forever, but about you and God. It’s about experiencing His love and in turn you answering Jesus’ probing question, “Do you love Me?” (as He asked of the apostle Peter in John 21:15-17 John 21:15-17 [15] So when they had dined, Jesus said to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, love you me more than these? He said to him, Yes, Lord; you know that I love you. He said to him, Feed my lambs. [16] He said to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, love you me? He said to him, Yes, Lord; you know that I love you. He said to him, Feed my sheep. [17] He said to him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, love you me? Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, Love you me? And he said to him, Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you. Jesus said to him, Feed my sheep.
American King James Version×
). He wants your answer as to whether He is enough for you. Only you alone, like Peter, can provide the answer as to your motivation toward eternity.

Life’s longing to be fulfilled

Before I close for now, Scripture describes that ultimate moment of encounter when the door of eternity swings wide open and God the Father steps out to embrace all of perfected humanity—not on an airport runway, but as the apostle John describes in Revelation 21:1-3 Revelation 21:1-3 [1] And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. [2] And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. [3] And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
American King James Version×
:

“Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away . . . Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle [or dwelling] of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself be with them and be their God.”

Revelation 22:3-4 Revelation 22:3-4 [3] And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: [4] And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads.
American King James Version×
further describes the incredible up close and personal encounter God’s faithful servants will have with Him, stating of the coming city: “The throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads.”

Moses was not allowed to see God’s face and live (Exodus 33:20 Exodus 33:20And he said, You can not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.
American King James Version×
). Yet he will see it then, as will all God’s faithful. For then will be the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8 Matthew 5:8Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
American King James Version×
).

We have only begun to peek into eternity, but the faithful of God know where we are headed, who will welcome us and what it cost to enter. We have come to understand through Scripture that the hallmark defining eternity is relationship. Now we can step further into this realm as we heed Jesus’ invitation of “Follow Me,” seeing more of what Christ has gone ahead to prepare.

In the next column we will delve into “Eternity on Display” as we continue our examination of this subject.

You might also be interested in...