Archives For John 17

Mondays are not ideal for such existential considerations. However, if you’re anything like me and you’re a Christian, you’ve asked this question at least once in your life. And it’s worth asking today.

Logically, this plays out in my mind like this. I have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. God illuminates and resuscitates my dead soul by his Spirit and saves me because of Christ’s finished work on the cross. I’m now reconciled to the Father through my union with Christ. Shouldn’t I now just go to heaven? Why am I still here? God has rescued me, why can’t I just be with him now where I’m not plagued by the trouble of this world?

Paul considered this question in a different sense in Philippians 2:22-24, “If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.” While a number of considerations deserve attention, I’m going to focus on one.

In John 17, Jesus prays something wild. Verses 14-15 read, “I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.”

However hard one may desire to be in heaven, here is Jesus who is praying that he or she would not depart from this world. Why? J.C. Ryle offers a great response,

Nor is it difficult on reflection to see the wisdom of our Lord’s mind about His people, in this as in everything else. Pleasant as it might be to flesh and blood to be snatched away from conflict and temptation, we may easily see that it would not be profitable. How could Christ’s people do any good in the world, if taken away from it immediately after conversion? How could they exhibit the power of grace, and make proof of faith, and courage, and patience, as good soldiers of a crucified Lord? How could they be duly trained for heaven, and taught to value the blood and intercession and patience of their Redeemer, unless they purchased their experience by suffering? Questions like these admit of only one kind of answer. To abide here in this valley of tears, tried, tempted, assaulted, and yet kept from falling into sin, is the surest plan to promote the sanctification of Christians, and to glorify Christ. To go to heaven at once, in the day of conversion, would doubtless be an easy course, and would save us much trouble. But the easiest course is not always the path of duty. He that would win the crown must carry the cross, and show himself light in the midst of darkness, and salt in the midst of corruption.

In other words, we are still here for a number of reasons as Ryle suggests, like doing good in the world and being sanctified. But the pinnacle of it all is to glorify Christ. That may sound obvious, but consider it in response to the original question. You are here today to bring glory to the Redeemer. May such a simple truth liberate you.