Imagine someone asks you, ‘What is it you deeply want and desire that would make you the happiest you could be?’ — Before you answer however, imagine the person who asked the question is the wisest, most knowledgeable, most understanding, most loving and most good-willed person towards you, who knows you better than you know yourself. How are you going to answer the question, knowing this about the person who asked? Would you not be wise to answer, ‘Well, you know me better than I know myself, you’re wiser than me, your desires for me are better than mine, I know you love me and are good-willed towards me… could you please tell me your answer to your question?’
What Is Our Greatest Desire?
When it comes to the beauty, depth and wisdom in people’s desires, there are obviously different levels. As adults, we wouldn’t look to a child’s desires to discover what would be best and most satisfying for us. Likewise, a drug addict’s desires for us wouldn’t grab our attention much more. But do we have the best desires for ourselves? Or is there someone whose desires are better, more beautiful and more satisfying than our own? If that is the case, surely there is someone whose desires are the best and would be the best for us! What about the God who created us? What about the Son of God, the man Jesus Christ? Surely there could be no better, more purer and more loving desires for us than his? So what does Jesus desire for us?
“Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me from the foundation of the world.” – John 17:24
Before we consider the beauty of this verse, it’s important to note this: God Himself occupied the body and life of His Son Jesus Christ (“I am in the Father and the Father is in me… It is the Father living in me who is doing His work.” John 14:9-10); Jesus is the ‘exact imprint of God’ (Hebrews 1:3) and is named ‘God with us’ (Matthew 1:23). Therefore, the ultimate good news of being brought to God forever is also expressed as being brought to Jesus forever, for Jesus says himself, “I and the Father are on” (John 10:30). So then, do we know Jesus in such a way that, ‘being with him forever’ is what is most exciting? Do we love and want to be with Jesus above all else?
Only hours before he died, Jesus preached the greatest news to his disciples that they would ‘be with him’ again:
“In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” John 14:2-3
While he was dying on the cross, Jesus preached the greatest news to a thief who was dying beside him that he would ‘be with him in Paradise’:
“And he [the thief] said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.’” -Luke 23:43
After he was raised from the dead, Jesus preached the greatest news to the Apostle Paul that he would ‘be with him’. Paul saw this as the greatest thing and preached it to others:
‘My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better’ (Philippians 1v23);’We would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord’ (2 Corinthians 5v8); ‘For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord’ (1 Thessalonians 4v16-17).
Relationship With Jesus
Does our love finally settle upon the gifts that Jesus gives us, or upon Jesus himself? All the saving gifts of the Gospel – forgiveness, redemption, salvation, eternal life, the Kingdom of God – are ultimately good news for one reason: They bring us to God and Jesus for our everlasting enjoyment of being with them. Would we be happy being saved if we knew we wouldn’t be with them forever? The good news is not ultimately good because it gets people eternal life, but because it gets people eternal life with Jesus. Closeness with Jesus forever is the ultimate good news of the gospel, and whoever has the Son in this way ‘has eternal life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life’ (1 John 5:12), because ‘eternal life is knowing the Only True God and Jesus Christ whom God sent.’ (John 17:3).
To comment on our first question: Do you really know what would make you the happiest you could be? Are you sure that if you got what you wanted, you wouldn’t want something more afterwards? Jesus claims to know what you truly want, he says he wants it for you, and also offers it freely to anyone who will receive it – being with him forever.
Strikingly however, Jesus’ desire that I would be with him is not just what he wants for me, but what he wants for himself! Can you believe that? Jesus’ desire is that I would be with him forever – this is what he wants! ‘I desire that they whom you have given me may be with me where I am’. What he deeply desires for me is also what he deeply desires for himself – us being together. The Son of God desires to be with me.
Just think, one day we’re going to physically see God and Jesus. One day we’re going to be with them in “fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11). This is the ultimate good news of the saving work of the Gospel.