It helps to know where you are going – whether on a walk, or a career or retirement plan. Stephen as he dies ( Acts 7:55-60 ) has a vision of Jesus in heaven, and knows that he is going to join him (which infuriates his opponents and seals his fate).
In John 14:1-14, Jesus speaks of going to prepare a place for his followers, but Thomas seems confused – and I imagine he is not the only one. Do you ever think of a door in heaven with your name on it? Think about it for a moment. Your place, ready and waiting. What do you think about that, what do you want to do as a result?
Thomas hasn’t yet understood what is going to happen to Jesus – why he must die and rise from the dead. Jesus will not push him faster than he can absorb it, but makes clear that he is central to everything, and Thomas needs to keep following. (We know that he does, and gets there in the end – see John 20:24-29 ).
Phillip is is danger of going off at a tangent. He would like to see God. Perhaps he has some idea of being like Moses on Mt Sinai, glimpsing God passing by. But Jesus is more important than Phillip has realised – Jesus shows God to us. Father and Son (and Spirit) work so closely together that to know one is to know the other. Not only do you have your room in heaven, you work for God!
“those who believe in me will do what I do – yes, they will do even greater things” John 14:12. We are invited to see where we are going – how Jesus, at the centre of everything, not only gives us a place in heaven, but also involves us in his work on earth. We are told to ask. What are we meant to be doing, what is most important, what comes first?
Alongside that, What is God’s purpose for me, individually, – or for you? How does that fit in with the aim for my congregation and wider Church? Perhaps we should be asking for particular gifts to use there in His service, or for openings to use the ones we know we already have. Perhaps we need the courage to offer them, or the energy to do it!
It helps to know where you are going – and heaven can’t be bad, and you won’t get lost by accident. Stephen knows where he’s going, but Thomas and Phillip are finding out – perhaps like us. Let’s make sure that we keep Jesus at the centre of everything, and work on realising his aims for us as individuals, and our church as his working group.