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Jesus can’t wait to see you either, Tim

Tim Keller’s son Michael has announced that his dad has very little time left, having been discharged from hospital to receive hospice care at home. Michael says that three nights ago, his father prayed:

‘I'm thankful for all the people who’ve prayed for me over the years. I'm thankful for my family, that loves me. I’m thankful for the time God has given me, but I’m ready to see Jesus. I can’t wait to see Jesus. Send me home’.

Keller cannot wait to see what he once described as ‘the most beautiful face in the universe’. [1]

It’s not unusual for us to think of the believer’s desire to be with Jesus. Surely every Christian, in their best moments, can say with the Apostle Paul: ‘My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better’ (Philippians 1:23).

As the Puritan Thomas Manton put it: ‘love to Christ is not satisfied with the present estate, it would be with Christ, and in that state and place where it may have most union with him’. [2]

But how often do we think of Jesus’ desire for us to be with him?

After all, just as believers approaching death pray to be with Jesus, so Jesus, approaching death, prayed that we would be with him.

‘Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am’ (John 17:24).

Indeed, commenting on that verse, Manton says things which I’m not sure I would have dared write:

‘Christ is not satisfied in his glorious estate until we be with him, till he hath our company, and we be beatified with the sight of him. Before his coming in the flesh, he delighted to be with the saints before the world was: Prov. 8:31. And when the world was made, before his incarnation, he took pleasure to come and appear in the fashion of a man, and converse with his people in human shape. In the days of his flesh, he delighted to spend his time and busy himself among them that are faithful. And when he was to go from us, he did assure us of returning, and cannot be quiet until we be with him’. [3]

Let that sink in. Jesus ‘is not satisfied in his glorious estate’ and ‘cannot be quiet’ until we be with him.

Manton’s fellow Puritan John Flavel speaks of ‘Christ’s ardent desires to have his people with him where he is’. Richard Sibbes says: ‘Therefore let us keep our communion with Christ, and esteem nothing more than his love, because he esteems nothing more than ours’. [4]

As Keller himself once put it – and as every believer can say – ‘the only eyes in the universe that count are delighted in me’. [5]

[1] Timothy Keller, My rock; my refuge: a year of daily devotions in the psalms (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2015), p. 195.

[2] Thomas Manton, Works, xx, 164.

[3] Ibid., i, 115.

[4] Flavel, Works, i, 400; Sibbes, Works, ii, 26.

[5] Keller, My rock; my refuge, p. 360.

Stephen Steele

Stephen Steele

Stephen is minister of Stranraer RP Church in Scotland. He is married to Carla and they have four children. He has an MA from Queen's University Belfast where his focus was on C19th Presbyterianism.

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