I do not know whether we are very clear as to whom we shall see when we go to heaven. Perhaps you say, “Shall we not see the Father?” Yes, but in seeing Christ we see the Father. He was not when here the Father personally, but all that the Father is came out in Him—“He that has seen He has seen the Father”—the fullness of the Godhead dwelt in Him; the Father dwelt in Him in testimony, and the Holy Spirit in power. The words that He spoke were the Father’s words; the works that He did were the Father’s works, it was the Father He set before men; so perfectly did He do this that He could say, “They have both seen and hated both Me and My Father.”
In John 13 the hour was come when He should depart out of the world unto the Father. He had won the heart of His disciples; they had been drawn to Him of the Father; He had their affections. He had given to them the Father’s word, and the world had hated them. They had lost the friendship of the world; they had lost all that was dear to them as men by their connection with Christ, and now He was leaving them.
What about these disciples of His? Had His love waned? No. “Having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them to the end.” That does not mean merely that He loved them as long as they would be here—which is perfectly true—as it is also perfectly true that His love is eternal, that He will love them for ever; but it also means He loved them in spite of every obstacle He would have to surmount, there was nothing that lay in the pathway of that love that He would not go through to possess those disciples. The judgment of God lay upon them on account of their sin; they were sinners like every one else; there was no difference between these disciples and you and me as to our natural condition. They deserved nothing at the hand of God but eternal banishment from His presence but they had been drawn to Christ, He had loved them, and they had loved Him.
And now, what was He going to do with them? No longer could He have part with them. He came forth from the Father, now He was leaving the world and going back to the Father and leaving them in the world. His love led Him to bear all that lay upon them in order to have them as His, but His desire for His own left in the world was that they might have part with Him in the place where He was going.
He could not have part with them any longer, could not associate with them as He had done. They had gone out and come in with Him, kept company with Him here in this world. What a wonderful and blessed thing for these disciples to go out and in with God manifest in the flesh, be in His company, and not only see His works of power, but share in them, for He gave them power to perform wonderful works. But He is leaving them and sorrow fills their hearts; and so the Lord seeks to lift their eyes from earth to heaven.
He was going to the Father, and He wanted to occupy them with that place. They were occupied with earth, and never really lifted their minds from earth, not even when He was raised from the dead. They never travelled in the affections of their heart into heaven until they got the Holy Spirit; they could not rise above the earth until they got the Spirit of God. Even when Christ was in resurrection they inquire about the kingdom. They were far more occupied with the place that Christ was leaving than with the place to which He was going; but He wanted to fix their gaze on the place to which He was going, and detach them from the world He was leaving. His desire was that they might have part with Him now He could no longer have part with them. He was going to the Father, to a far better place than the best place on earth, “If ye loved Me, ye would rejoice, because I said I go unto the Father: for My Father is greater than I.” It would have been a great joy to them if they had understood all that this involves. They truly loved Him, but they were not able to take in what it meant for Him to return to the Father. They thought He had come here and was going to abide for ever, and they never really took in the truth that He had to die and rise again and go to the Father.
Let us beware of grovelling on the earth; we also are called to have part with Him whilst still here. When we go to be with Him we shall actually have part with Him; there will be no difficulties then, nothing to hinder our enjoyment of those joys into which He has entered. The difficulty is to have part with Him now, to enter in mind, thought, and affection into the blessedness of that place into which He has gone: for where He has gone is really our place; we have no earthly place.
In chapter 14 He tells them plainly that He was going to the Father. He says, “I go to prepare a place for you.” It was according to the eternal thought of the Father that man should be in that place, but then Christ had to go in first as our Forerunner, His entrance prepared the place. What prepared the place was the entrance of Christ as Man into the presence of the Father in the Father’s house, and He would have us know that that place is ours.
The only sense in which we have a place here is that of witnesses in testimony during His absence, despised and rejected of men as Christ was, lights shining in the midst of the darkness, heavenly people walking here upon earth. Our feet in the wilderness, our affections in the home where He has gone, occupying for our absent Lord till He come.