|Create Date||May 9, 2020|
|Last Updated||May 12, 2020|
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Don’t wait for your mansion in the sky!
10 May 2020. Presented by Gordon Green
John 14:2. “In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you”
Has Jesus gone to prepare a place for you a mansion for you in heaven which you will inherit after you die? Is this what Jesus meant? One mistake we can make is to attempt to apply directly to our lives every word Jesus said, without considering his audience and purpose.
On the night before his death, Jesus and his disciples were together. The disciples were shocked at what they saw and heard. Jesus announced there was a traitor among them and declared that Peter was going to deny him – not once but three times. Jesus then talked about going away. And they didn’t have a clue where to. Everything sounded like times were going to turn nasty and Jesus would not even be around to calm the storm. Can you imagine how they felt? “This can’t be the Messiah. He’s talking about suffering, betrayal and death. We thought he was going to install a new kingdom and we would rule with him!” Confusion. Despair. Fear. Do you feel like that right now? There were shattered expectations. Into all of this Jesus speaks (14:1).He was letting them know who was speaking to them. If you had just been diagnosed with a suspicious spot on your heart and your mechanic slaps you on the back and says, “Don’t worry, everything is going to be just fine,” it probably wouldn’t go far in making you feel much better. But if your cardiologist sits you down and says, “Don’t worry, everything is going to be just fine,” you would be encouraged. We can take encouragement from this verse not just because the words on the page tell us to, but because we know who said these words. God himself in Jesus Christ is telling the disciples, and us today, not to let our hearts be troubled. If we are to be encouraged by such words, we would need to trust the person speaking to us. It’s possible your cardiologist doesn’t like delivering bad news or perhaps he has a malpractice history a mile long. In that case his words are no better than your mechanic’s. But Jesus doesn’t just say, “God says not to worry,” he says, “Believe in God.” Trust God with the unknowns of what’s troubling you. These were good words for the disciples, and they are good words for us. We trust that he knows best and he is working in our troubles for our good, even when it seems he is “away.” We can take heart when he says not to be troubled.
Believing in God’s word to us may be especially hard when we feel God has left us, as Jesus just told his disciples he was about to do. When we think God has passed us by, we may think his words are empty. But Jesus’ departure from them is not disconnected from his words to them. Think of a heart bypass surgery. If a heart is damaged because of a faulty artery, a doctor will “bypass” that artery and provide another way to restore health to the heart. When Jesus leaves the disciples is not because he is done with them. Rather, he is bypassing them in order to provide a way to heal their troubled hearts. Jesus was saying : “Don’t worry. Trust me.” He said. He wanted to strengthen them against complete collapse in the looming tragedy. He continued, “In my father's house are many mansions/rooms/dwelling places.”
What would the disciples have understood when they heard these words? The expression “Father’s House” as used in the gospels always refers to the temple in Jerusalem (Luke 2:48-50, John 2:15-17.) The temple had replaced the tabernacle which was the portable tent used by the Israelites to worship god. Within the tabernacle and separated by a thick curtain was a room called the Holy of Holies. This was God’s dwelling place (“tabernacle” means “residence” or “dwelling place” in Hebrew) in the midst of his people. Only once a year and only the high priest was allowed to enter this room and come into the very presence of god. Furthermore, the word “mansion” or “room” means a place where one lives and according to NT Wright, the word room was “regularly used in ancient Greek not for a final resting place but for a temporary halt on a journey that will take you somewhere else in the long run.” this was something different from being in heaven with God after death as heaven is often seen as a final resting place.
In John 14:1-2, I believe, Jesus is telling his disciples that he needs to go – to get out of the way – in order to make room for them (the church) to grow as he had promised. He was going to prepare a place for his disciples. Where was he going? He wasn’t going to heaven to build mansions but this was about what was to happen next and how to prepare for the coming persecution, torment, oppression etc. Where was he going? To the cross. In his death and resurrection he would prepare a place for them in his father’s house. It was as if Jesus was saying; “Everything is under control. What is going to happen looks terrifying but it is all part of the plan.” Then he promised, “I will come again.” In the context this doesn’t seem to be a reference to his second but we do know that Jesus went to the cross, rose from the dead and returned three days later. He also came again in the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. Jesus tells them that he goes to “prepare a place for [them]” and from there he will “come again and will take [them] to [himself], so that where i am, there you may be also.” Using the picture of the “Father’s house,” Jesus was letting them know that what appears to be his leaving is actually his work in being with them in a deeper way than they now understand. The cross is where all the betrayals, denials, and failures of our lives were defeated, bringing us into the presence and communion of the father. So, like a heart bypass surgery, what appears to be passing by their troubled hearts is in fact the very act that will save it.
Take you to be with me: “With” is the same word used in John 1:1 where we learn that the Son (the Word) was with God. By using this word to describe the relationship between the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit is telling us that theirs is an intimate relationship.
When Jesus died, the curtain in the temple was torn in half. This symbolised a new way had been opened into the presence of God. The temple wasn’t his home anymore. A totally new relationship with God was now available, and it is available to everyone! The Message Bible translates v2; “there’s plenty of room for you in my Father’s home.” In the Holy of Holies there was only room for one person, but now a radical change had taken place. God has actually made room for everyone in himself – in his house! This has been made possible because the Son became flesh, rescued us from the death and destruction of sin, returned to the Father and took all humanity with him (John 12:32) - into the very presence of God! On that same evening Jesus said; "Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them” (John 14:23). The word “home” in this verse is the same as the word “mansions” in verse one. Do you see what this means? What thoughts come to mind when you think of a good home? Peace, rest, joy, laughter, protection, instruction, forgiveness, provision, unconditional love, acceptance, hope etc. Not only did Jesus come to give himself to us he also came to share all these things with us so that we can experience the life he lives with his Father in the fellowship of the Spirit. The astonishing, unique, intimate relationship that Jesus himself had enjoyed with the Father is now open to us! “You can live where I live” Jesus says (verse 3 Msg). And where does Jesus “live”? “At the very heart of the Father” (John 1:18)
Life is not easy at this time. Many people are going through difficult, discouraging and depressing days, weeks, months…. These words of comfort from Jesus are for you. Just as Jesus wanted to strengthen, encourage and assure his disciples then, he is saying the same to you now: “Don’t worry. Trust me.” Don’t let your worries weigh you down but focus on Jesus and contemplate on what he says. He says that he went to the cross to take all our sins on his shoulders and nailed them to the cross along with himself so that everything that separates us from God and life in his house can be put to an end. But that’s not all. You have been drawn in love into the very Trinitarian life of God to participate in the intimate, face to face fellowship of the Father, Son and Spirit – in God’s very life. He wants to share himself and all he is and has with you now. God is saying to you, “I created you for life in my house!”