In My Father's House
"In My Father's house are many mansions."
-John 14:2a, emphasis added
Christ's promise to us in John 14:1-6 comes in the language of the Bible, and it is bound by culture and time. Therefore, understanding the Scriptures involves more than knowing what the words mean. We need to understand those words from the perspective of the people that God chose both to write them and to have those words communicated to them in the New Testament world. Therefore the people God chose as His instruments, the people to whom He revealed Himself, were Hebrews living in the Near East. We can't divorce ourselves from that context or we won't fully understand God's Word. Remember the world is divided into Oriental and Occidental-we're Occidental, a western culture. They are Oriental-an eastern culture-so they think in terms of concrete reality. The western world thinks more in ideas and an abstract mode rather than the concrete mode, which the Hebrew and Greek languages use. Their language was one of pictures, metaphors, and examples rather than ideas, definitions, and abstractions.
If we were to have a little concert of worship in today's church vernacular, someone might say, "Oh, God, I praise Your mighty omniscience!" Or another might say, "I am so grateful for Your omnipotence!" But you wouldn't hear those kinds of words in a Hebrew prayer meeting. A Hebrew preferred to pray: "The Lord is my Shepherd." Do you know what that means to the Hebrew? "The Lord is all-knowing; He never slumbers or sleeps; He is all-providing; He watches over us night and day, and leads us." They are saying that God is the One who is not only with them but also provides for them.
Now look at the concrete imagery of John 14:1-6 as we go through this passage:
- "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me."-Jesus is speaking to His disciples, who don't know what's ahead.
- "In My Father's house"-That is a description of heaven!
- "are many mansions"-These are dwelling places, nests, places of rest-an innumerable amount of rooms are there.
- "if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you"-Heaven isn't an idea, or merely another dimension; it is a place. Jesus is saying, "I am going away to prepare a special place for you, so be sure that you have your room reserved!" He is preparing a place for all those who make prior reservations before they leave this earth (that is what salvation is about).
- "And if I go and prepare a place for you"-"A place" speaks of an individual room for each of His children.
- "I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know."-If you search the Scriptures, you know all about this because heaven covers the Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation. And what beautiful pictures they are!
- "Thomas said to Him, ‘Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?'"-Thomas is speaking here for all of us!
- "Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life.'"-Jesus told them, "I am the Way to heaven, the Truth about heaven, and the Life that you long for because you will have My unbroken presence!"
- "No one comes to the Father except through Me."-Coming to the Father is the same as going to live in the Father's house, and Jesus is the Door through which we must enter.
Heaven is the unbroken presence of God forever, the unsoiled shores of Paradise, the unending enjoyment of the Living and True Almighty Lord of Heaven and Earth. Thus heaven has always been the source of comfort, hope, and focus of God's servants.
When Christ's disciples felt extremely distressed in their hearts because He told them He was going to die, and not be with them anymore, Jesus comforted them with heaven. Heaven is what those in the Coliseum clung to as they went to their death in the arena. Thoughts of heaven gave enduring hope to those in the dungeons, going through the fires of persecution, and dying for their faith. They all clung to heaven as their secure hope for the future. We, too, should cling to heaven because Jesus intended that heaven be our comfort as we walk His path on earth.
The early church lived in such a way that they looked every day for Christ. When they saw the sun rising their thoughts turned to: When morning gilds the sky my heart awaking cries, may Jesus Christ be praised-perhaps today He will come . . . That is what those early believers lived, which is so often remote from our culture. We plan our lives so far in advance that if the Rapture happened this week it would ruin our plans. We should be planning according to His plans! Yes, we need to prepare wisely for the future, but the real need we have is to long for heaven. That should take precedence over any personal agendas. Long for your Father's house, but most of all, long for Jesus!
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