John 8:21 (MEV): Again, Jesus said to them, “I am going away, and you will seek Me, and you will die in your sins. Where I am going, you cannot come.”
That simple truth is a stumbling block for many. Jesus said it to the very leaders of His chosen people, Israel. Their leaders were told that where Jesus is going they cannot come.
It wasn’t an outright prohibition to them, nor were these born condemned for that destiny. Quite the contrary, they were born Jewish, with all of the privileges that entails. (Paul outlines these in the first few verses of Romans 9.) Jesus was really saying… Where they could not go is heaven.
In this verse are some important things we can glean about salvation and election. Most importantly, they aren’t the same. Election doesn’t guarantee salvation.
Israelites are elect. They are God’s people. But clearly, being chosen isn’t enough to get one into heaven.
In the conversation preceding Jesus’ statement we’re considering, He is telling these Pharisees that they do not know the Father. Nor do they know Him. Consider that. The Father’s (and the Son’s) chosen didn’t know Him.
Furthermore, because they did not know Him they cannot know where He is going. He is going to heaven. They wouldn’t know where.
It’s not that Jesus condemned them to such a fate either. Jesus explained that succinctly to Nicodemus.
John 3:17–18 (MEV): For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned. But he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
The apparent condemnation Jesus proclaimed over these Pharisees wasn’t from Him. It was because they didn’t know Him. Not knowing Him means they would not know the Father. Jesus said so (John 8:19.)
Jesus told them He would go away. After He left, these Pharisees would seek Him but not find Him. They would die in their sins.
Many today are in that same condition… In danger of dying in their sins because they refused to believe Jesus. Many still seek Him. Some do it in vain, they never believe. Others believe and are saved.
Of which are you?
The ones who seek Jesus and never find Him, because one doesn’t believe they themselves have fallen short and are in need of rescue.
Of the redeemed, who know Jesus and the Father. They know where Jesus was going. Therefore they are going there, too.