The last time we visited Israel, our tour guide kept on saying that the area around the Sea of Galilee was ‘home’ for Jesus during his years of ministry. I was thrilled to stand in Capernaum on the very site of the synagogue where Jesus delivered and healed a man (Luke4:31-37). We walked on the shore where some of the disciples must have been working on their nets when Jesus called them to follow Him and become fishers of men (Luke 5:1-11).
We climbed the hill which must have been very close to where Jesus spoke to the disciples and the crowds, in what we know as the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5, 6 and 7). We were amazed at the rescued remains of a fishing boat that had been excavated from the mud at the bottom of the lake – a boat that is proven to have been in use on the lake at the same time as Jesus lived. Who knows, He may even have been in that very boat?!
These were the places where Jesus spent much of His time – for Him they were ‘home’, the familiar places He loved so much and to which He returned at regular intervals.
It then struck me that there was a day when Jesus left Galilee, when He knew that his journey from ‘home’ to Jerusalem would be the last time he’d be making the journey. Only He knew that He wouldn’t be returning along those familiar pathways with His disciples. He must have had some very mixed emotions as He left the lake behind, and all the places He was so familiar with, and headed south towards Jerusalem, where His eternal destiny was soon to be fulfilled and the cross awaited Him.
Even though He would never again be physically at ‘home’, anywhere on earth — in a much more important sense His journey to the cross was actually a ‘stopping place’ on the way to His eternal HOME — the place from where He had come, and to which He knew that one day He would return. After the cross, the resurrection and His ascension to glory, His place at the right hand of the Father was secure for eternity. And there He was going to prepare a place for all those who would come to know Him as the way, the truth and the life (John 14:1-6).
So, whenever and wherever we travel – whether it’s locally to the shops or to the other side of the world, there are two homes that matter to us. We love our earthly home, it’s precious to us and we’ll always be glad to return to it. But we know that one day we’ll take a journey from which we will never return, because we have gone to our other HOME! The one that has been prepared in eternity for all those who love Him.
In the earthly sense it doesn’t actually matter if we don’t come ‘home’ – but what matters more than anything else in the whole universe, is the fact that when we know the One in whom we have believed (Jude 24 and 25), we can depend on the fact that He will be waiting to welcome us HOME at the end of our final journey!
It’s the assurance that we have a HOME to go to which gives us the freedom and the energy to keep on going places, and pressing on with the calling and work of the Kingdom here on Earth. We wouldn’t want to be doing anything else!