John 14:1-2 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.”
Jesus’ disciples were experiencing some painful emotions when he spoke these words to them. He had announced that he was leaving them. Where he was going, they could not come–at least not yet. In less than a day, he would be dead. Grief, and confusion, and denial were starting to overwhelm them, so he tells them, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” He invites them not to be afraid, but to believe. “Trust in God; trust also in me.”
Though sometimes Jesus confronts his disciples for their lack of faith, that is not his point here. This is an invitation, a promise. He is saying, “You can believe in me. I am here for you, and I will not let this hurt you.” As he tells us in so many other places, trusting him does so much more than make us feel better. “He that believes and is baptized will be saved.” “Whoever hears my words and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned. He has crossed over from death to life.”
Trusting him settles our hearts. Eventually, every human helper will fail us. They will be powerless to make any difference. Even for the doctors it is only a matter of time. But Jesus? He never fails. He offers something so much better. It is the ultimate reason to trust him: He is preparing our true home.
“In my Father’s house are many rooms.” You may know and love the King James Version because it used the word “mansions” here. We should say something about that. People like that word mansions because it makes them think of a place full of comfort and luxury. Today the word “mansion” is defined as a home that has at least 8000 square feet. Wow! That’s many times bigger than the house I live in.
The Bible certainly assures us that heaven is a place of luxury compared to the world we live in now. You know the pictures: streets paved with gold, gates made of pearl, foundations made of precious stones. Everything is perfect and pleasant. It comforts us to think we will upgrade from a simple house, or perhaps a single room in a hospital or nursing home, to a residence billionaires would envy.
While the size and accommodations in heaven will not disappoint us, that is not Jesus’ emphasis here. The old English use of the word “mansion” referred to little more than a place to stay. You have seen mansions before. I have toured some of the royal palaces of Europe. For all their impressive size, gold trimmings, marble floors, and priceless art work, the places seem cold and hard for a place to live.
Jesus is describing not so much a fancy house, but our true home. All our life in this world has been nothing more than a journey. All our houses, rooms, or apartments were nothing more than an inn or hotel. We stay for one night or maybe many. But these places aren’t home. They were stops along the way. Each day we pack up our things and move a day’s journey farther down the road. We travel a day’s journey closer to our real home. It is the house of my Father, a place he calls heaven.
What makes heaven our true home is not more and better stuff (though we have it on God’s own word it has both). Heaven is our true home because our true family lives there. Our hearts are reunited with hearts who shared our faith. There Jesus, who made himself our brother, is waiting and welcomes us. There is the place where we are loved, because it is our Father’s house.
This home is waiting because Jesus prepared it for us. When he told the disciples he was going to prepare a place for them, he wasn’t just referring to his ascension into heaven. Preparing our place cost him everything. He went to the Garden of Gethsemane, to sweat blood in prayer, and to be betrayed. He went through beatings and insults, mocking and whipping, in the courts of the high priest and Pontius Pilate. He went to crucifixion and death for the sins of the world.
He did it to prepare a place for us. And then he rose from the grave in triumph over death so that we could be sure a room is ready for us in his Father’s house. He wants us to be sure it is our Father’s house, too.