After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. ‘The time has come,’ he said. ‘The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!’Mark 1:14-15
One of the most common questions Christians are asked is about what heaven will be like. There is something in us that wants to know the detail of things unseen, things promised. What will heaven be like?
In may respects this is a valid question. Jesus himself wanted us to understand at least a little of the importance of this question when he taught us to pray, ‘your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’ Whatever heaven will be like we are being told to look for heaven on earth. It’s not just Christians who look for heaven on earth. Belinda Carlisle sang, ‘They say in heaven loves come first. We’ll make heaven a place on earth.’
The reason the details about heaven are so vague is because we can’t see heaven until we have passed through death. There is a barrier, no-one can see beyond. Jesus parable about Lazarus and the rich man highlights the severity of that barrier in Luke 16:19-31. Lazarus, a poor man who begs for crumbs from the rich man’s table dies and is taken to Abrahams side (heaven). While the rich man who, hadn’t been sympathetic to Lazarus in life, also died but he was taken to Hades where he was in torment.
When the rich man looked up and saw Lazarus at Abraham’s side, he wanted his brothers to be warned not to make the mistake he had made. He was told that was not possible. Everyone had the same warning, the same knowledge. There is a chasm separating heaven from earth – we cannot see into glory. The reason for this is that Heaven is made holy because it is God’s dwelling place, while we have made our world unholy because of our sin and so like oil and water the two cannot mix.
This chasm cannot be bridged, the unholy cannot cross to the holy.
To understand Jesus is to understand that to overcome this chasm the holy had to come to the unholy. Jesus came into our world; he became one of us. ‘The kingdom of God has come near.’
This is good news. Are you aware of your unholiness and unworthiness? Do you hang back from approaching God? Are you fearful about coming into the presence of a holy God? The good news of the gospel is that God knows how you feel. He understands your fears and knows they are well founded. Therefore, Jesus came into the world. He draws near to us because we cannot draw near to him. To understand Jesus is to understand he draws near to us because we can’t draw near to him.
The question this leaves us with is will be accept this good news and accept the invitation into Jesus presence?
Prayer Lord Jesus, what words can I offer to say thank you for how you have not only reached out to me, but you have drawn near to me. Thank you for breaching the chasm caused by my sin. Help me to come into your presence, to rest in your presence, knowing that you have invited me in. Amen