A certain young man, upon hearing of his father’s grief over his recent shameful behavior, said, “Dad, why do you care where I go, or what I do?”
With measured words, his father answered, “Because you take me with you everywhere you go.”
Each of us bears our father’s name, and we take that name with us wherever we go, whether to do good or to do mischief. And we who claim to know the Lord also take His name with us wherever we go. Oh, that we would never take the name of the Lord our God in vain!
But these are written, that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you might have life through His name.John 20:31
Where you go, I go (vv. 20-22)
Jesus and His disciples have recently had supper. Afterwards the Lord arose from the table and humbly washed the disciples’ feet, demonstrating to them what genuine love and true greatness look like. When He had their full attention, He predicted Judas’ betrayal. They did not understand what He was talking about just then, but they would know in time, and remembering back to this moment, they’d realize that Jesus knew along what was going to happen. With heaviness of heart Jesus said again, this time more plainly, “One of you is going to betray Me.” Again, this went over the disciples’ heads. Obviously, Judas had everyone fooled—everyone but Christ, that is. They could not imagine anyone in the company who could do such a thing.
In between these two statements about the treachery that would soon take place, Jesus said something that seems completely unrelated: “He who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.” I believe this isn’t unrelated at all, but very much on topic. I believe Jesus is talking about how we take His name with us wherever we go. If we in the name of Jesus do what is right, and others praise us, that praise extends to both Christ and the Father. But the reverse is also true. If we who are associated with Christ partake in foolishness, then those who see it will mock us; and in so doing, they also mock both Christ and the Father. Dear friend, never forget that if you are in Christ, you don’t do anything alone. You take Christ with you everywhere you go. This is not to be a source of fear or dread, but of joy and comfort. Yet it’s also an admonition to make sure your steps are right so that others will see Christ and the Father properly reflected in you.
Where I go, you cannot go. . .not yet (vv. 33-38)
Judas was the one person in the room who would never go to heaven, because he had rejected Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. He, like many others of his day, wanted a Messiah to rescue the nation from Roman oppression; he was not interested in a Messiah who came to save souls from eternal damnation.
But Judas had been excused from the table. When he was gone, Jesus turned His attention back to the remaining eleven disciples and began to tell them more heavy news. He was going to be leaving soon, and where He was going, they would not be able to follow—at least not yet. Jesus was talking about His death on the cross and His subsequent burial, resurrection, and ascension into heaven. True, He was paving the way for the disciples—and even you and me—to follow Him eventually, but that time was not yet.
Have you ever wondered why God doesn’t choose to take us to heaven the moment we receive Christ as Savior? It’s because He has work for us to do here on earth. Jesus Himself had work to do; and when His work was finished, He returned to the Father’s side and to His full glory. Just like our Master, we too have work to do, and we will not go to Glory until that work is finished. For some, this takes only a little while; for others, it takes decades. But you may rest assured that when your loved one is called Home, whether they be young or old, it is because their work on earth is finished. God’s timing is always perfect, in our lives as in our death.
Although at the moment the disciples could hardly comprehend what their Master was saying, He planted these seed thoughts so that they would germinate and grow later on, and so that the disciples would take comfort knowing that all had gone perfectly according to plan.
He also gave them instructions for how they were to continue after His physical presence was no longer there. The world already knew them to be disciples of Christ because they spent all their time with Him. But what about when He would no longer physically be there? How then would others know that these men still followed Christ? Jesus gave the answer: “A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so love one another. By this shall all men know that you are My disciples, if you have love one to another.” And that’s it, isn’t it? The world is characterized by selfishness. When we see someone acting with love and selflessness toward another, don’t we automatically assume that that person must be a Christian? Granted, there are folks who don’t know Christ but who are naturally benevolent. Yet I believe their bent toward benevolence is the image of God shining through them. We are all created in God’s image, whether or not we receive His gift of salvation. But how much more ought we to love one another when the Holy Spirit lives inside of us, teaching and motivating us to let God’s love flow through us to those who need it.
Simon Peter, ever the outspoken one, asked Jesus, “Lord, where are You going?” When Jesus told him that he could not follow just yet, Peter impulsively responded, “Lord, why not? I will lay down my life for Your sake.”
This was true—but not yet. I believe there was sadness, and even pain in His voice, when Jesus answered Peter, “The cock shall not crow until you have denied Me three times.”
Wow! Those must have been hard words for Peter to hear! But it happened just as Jesus said it would. And Peter would follow Christ—in more ways than one. He would preach in Jesus’ name, suffer in Jesus’ name, and eventually die in Jesus’ name. But when the time came, Peter would close his eyes in death and open them in eternal life, once more in the physical presence of Jesus. That same future awaits all of us who follow Christ.
Are you going where Jesus has gone?
This week’s reading:
This week’s memory verse
Because I live, you shall live also.John 14:19b
Photo taken at Princess Beach in Destin, Florida, 2019