In John 13:33, Jesus told the disciples, “I will be with you only a little longer.” Peter almost immediately asked, “Lord, where are you going?” To what was probably a circle of worried faces, Jesus said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled…I will come back.” Jesus couldn’t leave, they thought. How would they get along without him?
- At times we tend to ‘sell’ people on heaven by listing benefits— golden streets, no death, mansions. (Translators believe a phrase like “my Father’s house has plenty of room” is more accurate than “many mansions.”) What one feature of the future life did Jesus mention in verse 3? What do you most look forward to in being with Jesus?
- John says Jesus promised the disciples a “comforter” or “advocate” (Greek Paraclete, literally “one who stands with”). In verse 18 he said the Holy Spirit’s presence was the same as his: “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” How have you sensed Jesus with you through the Holy Spirit’s work in your life?
As the GPS indicates this portion of John was once translated as “many mansions” there are songs and everything that picked up that theme. So attractive is the thought of having your own mansion that when the translation was changed to many dwelling places, or plenty of room, an older church member protested that they would not return to church until they got their promised mansion back!
It sounds silly, but I am afraid we fall into this type of thinking way to easily. Jesus becomes a means to an end… believe in Jesus and you get your mansion, believe in Jesus enough and you will never have troubles… Jesus becomes a thing, a talisman for good luck.
Jesus though doesn’t operate this way, he operates on the level of relationships, which is why having plenty of room in his Fathers house is preferable in the long run to your own mansion. When there is plenty of room, room is being made for you because you are valued and loved. There is a sense of making space because you are present, and that is a very cool thing. This relational aspect is highlighted at the end of our reading today “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.”
If it were just a mansion in the sky, you could make your own arrangements, pick up your keys at the pearly gates, and move yourself into unit 1484932832 on Goldenbrick Drive West. That is not how it works though Jesus will come to get you and bring you into the Fathers house where there is plenty of room for you, made for you because you are loved. No awkward adjustments, no wondering if you are really suposed to be there, this is where you are meant to be it has been prepared just for you by the Son himself. Welcome Home.