I’m reading John 13-14 and thinking about the disciples’ love for Jesus. For some reason, when I think of their following Jesus, I usually think only of their wanting a Messiah to save them and lead Israel, but that’s not the picture John paints here. At the end of John 13, after Jesus washes His disciples’ feet (a profound act of humility and servanthood for the God of the universe), Jesus tells the disciples He’s going away, and when they’re upset by this, Jesus gives them these words of comfort:
Do not let your heart be troubled: believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.
The way Jesus chooses to address their distress over His leaving reveals the nature of their distress. His focus isn’t on assuring them that He’ll come back to save them (either as a nation or as individuals), or that they will still go to Paradise. Rather, He says He’ll come back to bring them to Himself. The emphasis is on being with Jesus. That was their concern. He was leaving, and that’s why they were upset. They wanted to be with Him because they loved Him, not because of what they hoped He would do for them.
Contemplating this really affects me. It personalizes their love for Jesus. It makes their following Him about their love for Him. It centers everything on Jesus as a Person. It moves Christianity away from a system of salvation and towards personal worship of a Person. As it should be.