“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” Matthew 24:35
We often think of living in two planes: earth in this life; heaven in the next. Jesus calls our attention away from this dichotomy, away from the linear progression from earth to heaven. Jesus calls us to an eternal message that spans heaven and earth, life and death, then and now.
In the Shakespeare play “Hamlet,” the protagonist famously ponders, along with his friend Horatio, the meaning of life and death while holding the unearthed skull of Yorick, a jester Hamlet loved as a child.
“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,” Hamlet says, “than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
Even as he holds the detritus of death, Hamlet concludes there is more to our existence than what we can dream of in this life.
Jesus, in our passage from Matthew, tells us all our concepts of this life and the next, all we think we know about heaven and earth, will fall away in the Kingdom of God. Our concepts of heaven and earth, then and now, will be stripped away as all is united in one.
In Luke, Jesus tells us our concepts of where and when heaven will be are amiss: “nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.” When we embrace the Kingdom of God within us, our concepts of earth here and now, and heaven there and later, pass away, and we begin to live for the realization of the Kingdom everywhere and always.
The constant in all this — in heaven or earth, life or death — is The Word. Jesus Christ, who “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,” remains with us. The Word dwells in us, waiting for us to tear down the barriers between heaven and earth, to invite in the Kingdom, where all that separates us from God passes away.
Lord Christ, help us to live by the power of your Word, not alone for heaven tomorrow or earth today, but for the realization of the Kingdom, in which The Way of truth and love overcomes every barrier that separates us, from each other and from you. Amen.