JOHN’S DREAM HOME
Today it is our task to examine John of Patmos’ dream home, the destiny and destination to which he has been pointed in his vision and to which he points us. John knows that God has put in the heart of every human a homesickness, that can only be cured when one enters the new Jerusalem. Stuck on a God-forsaken island, in exile from home and hearth and friends and family, John dreams a big dream of an eternal home, a dream home that was once in heaven, but shall become heaven on earth when Christ returns. It is not a surprise that when John describes this place, this home, this final destination that he thinks of both a beautiful garden like Eden unspoiled, and a grand city, like Jerusalem untainted by sin and sorrow and suffering, free from disease, decay and death. He does not see our destination as an escape into a safe haven far away from humanity like a wildlife sanctuary or a monastery, but rather a pilgrimage into the midst of a city full of people which also contains a garden.
It is as if the monastery and the wildlife sanctuary have been incorporated into the city successfully. In other words, it is as if, finally, the harmony between nature and human nature, the peace between human beings and God has finally been achieved in the presence of the radiant Christ, the bridegroom. But that is not all, for not only does the bridegroom come walking down the stairsteps of heaven to meet the bride, but the heavenly city, the saints and all that is in it comes with him. Heaven comes down, and glory will fill our souls. Our ultimate destiny is not, nor has it ever been to live in a disembodied condition in heaven forever and ever amen. Our ultimate destiny is to be fully conformed to the image of Christ by means of resurrection, and thereby made fit to dwell in the new Jerusalem, the holy city, in which there will be no more sin or suffering or sorrow or disease or decay or death, or war or weapons or violence.
Think of it— a home town with no need of hospital, no need of police, no need of walls save for ceremonial purposes, no need of firemen or insurance agents, no Temple in its midst for the division between the sacred and the secular will be obliterated forever– all the land will be our Father’s land, and all the city will be holy and light, and in it there will be no shadow of turning, no darkness at all, for in Him there is no darkness at all. It will be the ultimate family reunion, the ultimate marriage celebration, the ultimate triumph of all that is good and true and beautiful and loving over all that is wicked and false and ugly and hateful. We will not study war any more, we will not need a Homeland security division, we will not need politicians to tell us what is best, we will not need to be pointed toward God for we will be dwelling right in his midst- Immanuel. Faith will become sight, hope will be realized, and perfect love will cast out all fear. Don’t you want go home? Don’t you want to be there? John is saying to us ‘Don’t sell your ticket to the final destination for the lesser good of dying and going to be with Jesus’.
Eugene Peterson puts it this way “Many people want to go to heaven the way they want to go to Florida– they think the weather will be an improvement and the people decent. But the Biblical final destination is not merely heaven, it is new heaven and new earth. It is not a nice environment far removed from the stress of the hard city life. It is the invasion of the earthly city by the heavenly one. We enter this final destination not by escaping what we do not like but by the sanctification of the place in which God has placed us.”(Reversed Thunder). We enter this final destination by finally being fully conformed to the image of Christ by means of a resurrection. Then, then indeed we may talk in the full sense of Christian perfection, nothing less than the full conformity to the image of Christ in body as well as in mind and spirit and emotions. Don’t you want to be there? Don’t you want to go home?
This home is not achieved, it is to be received. It is not accomplished, it is entered by grace through faith. It is a city in which God himself condescends and there is a corporate merger between heaven and earth, and God in person will personally wipe away every tear from every eye. The future is so bright we will all need shades, as we are told there will be no more night. The future is so bright, that in this city we will not only have all we need, we will have all we want and want only all we have. The future is so bright that there will even be the healing of the memories as is symbolized by the medicinal trees meant for healing in the golden city. And we will reign forever and ever on earth with our God and with his Christ.