“Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.” - John 13:36
Waiting is difficult. I have young children, and it’s not uncommon for them to ask for something they can’t have until they are older. “Not yet,” I have to tell them.
The night before his death, Jesus said something like that to his disciples. They had followed him through many things, but they could not follow him to the grave or to his coming glory in the ascension—at least not yet.
Peter raised an objection, but he didn’t understand what Jesus had to do. As Peter’s actions show later (John 18:15-18, 25-27), our impatience can often lead us away from our Lord. But Jesus promises a strength that sustains us as we wait. He has loved us. He has given his life for us. The love of Jesus informs the way we live now, as we wait until the day when we will journey beyond death to live with him in the glory of God’s presence forever.
After the resurrection and ascension, Jesus’ followers remembered his words. Jesus did not tell us how long it would be till he returns, but he did tell us how to wait. With love, we can share his grace with fellow sinners. We can give to help bring life and joy to people who are poor and marginalized. As an old song puts it, “They’ll know we are Christians by our love.”
The ascension shows us that we do not yet follow Jesus to glory, though we will someday. But it also reminds us to love one another as we wait.