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John 14.1-3 – “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 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.”
What does Jesus teach about his Father’s house?
What exactly is Jesus saying to us here? I see four ideas in these verses.
(1) Just as we trust God, we trust Jesus to tell us the truth about life, both now and beyond the grave. Jesus said, “If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” (verse 2).
(2) In God’s house, there are many places where we can live fully in an abiding relationship with him. Jesus told us, “In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places” (verse 2).
(3) In approximately 24 hours from the time Jesus spoke these words, he was going to be arrested, put on trial and executed on the cross. This was the way he prepared our heavenly dwelling for us (verse 2).
(4) For each of his children, there comes a time when Jesus comes for us to bring us into his immediate presence in heaven. Jesus promised us, “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” (verse 3).
What is it like to be in heaven?
One image that I greatly appreciate paints an image of heaven as living in an atmosphere that is dominated by the character and nature of God. Please use your imagination and think about heaven, as you read the following verses from Galatians.
Galatians 5.22-23 – The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Put all of this together and think about it. What is heaven like? People in heaven live in an atmosphere that is filled by God’s love, joy and peace (plus six other of God’s characteristics).
Like fish in the ocean, people in heaven are totally surrounded by God’s love, joy, peace and more. There is never a second where people in heaven are absent from the most magnificent experiences of all of the attributes of God.
One more thought about heaven.
For some silly reason, heavenly beings are sketched in some pictures as plump baby-like things, floating on clouds with harps. Dallas Willard reminds us that if God intended heaven to be like this, then he would have included “harp” lessons in his instructions for the church.
What kind of instructions has God given his church? He has given us clear direction to join him in his work. If heaven is a reflection of what God has already given us to do on earth, then heaven will be a continuation of the work God has given us on earth.
I have no idea what joining God in his work will look like in heaven. Yet, I am certain of this. It will be the most stimulating, life-giving experience possible. It will be creative, because we are working alongside of the Creator of the universe.
Imagine heaven with the most dramatic, exciting and wonderful thoughts that you can consider. Then, remember Paul’s words below and understand that you can’t imagine heaven big enough!
“Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard,
And which have not entered the heart of man,
All that God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1 Corinthians 2.9)
What is the way to the life Jesus offers?
John 14.4-6 – “And you know the way to the place where I am going.”
5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”
6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Throughout the Gospel of John, Jesus’ disciples misunderstand his statements. Their misunderstandings usually open up greater understanding for people like us.
Thomas didn’t know the way, and was possibly assuming Jesus that was going to walk somewhere but that he didn’t have the directions.
Jesus did give directions, but they were far beyond a place to travel on a map. In fact, Jesus doesn’t use maps. His life with us is very personal. He takes us by the hand and personally leads us to life, both abundant and eternal life.
There is no way to find the way or the truth or the life apart from a relationship with him. Even though the Bible speaks about the way, the truth, and the life, these properties are only found in a personal relationship with Jesus, because they are exclusive to him.
A children’s sermon with a big impact
Years ago, I began teaching a simple lesson to children. I ask a child from the audience to be my partner. Let’s say the name of the child is “Mary.” I pretend to be Jesus and explain to the kids that it is a big “pretend” for me to be him. Mary and I act out the following three scenes.
Scene #1 – I ask Mary to walk away from me and to not come back to me when I call to her. As she walks across the room, I call out to her several times, but she keeps on walking. Kids love it and usually laugh at Mary walking away from a big preacher, who is pretending to be Jesus.
I tell the kids that this is a picture of sin. God calls out to us, but we pretend that we don’t hear him. We just keep going on our way, like God never existed.
Scene #2 – I ask Mary to walk away from me, but at some point to turn around and come back to me. I remind the kids that I am pretending to be Jesus. As I call out, Mary finally turns around and starts back to me.
At that point, I tell the children that this is what is called “repentance.” Repentance is turning away from going our own way and living apart from God, and turning to walk with God. Note, repentance is a turning “away from” sin and a turning “to” God.
Scene #3 – In the last scene, I walk up to Mary and don’t just give her a “high five,” and walk away. Once again, I remind the kids that I am pretending to be Jesus. I take Mary by the hand and the two of us walk together across the room as friends. In a very real way, Jesus wants to take us by the hand and walk with through life as his friends.
These three scenes tell the story of how people like you and me become followers of Jesus. A Christian is someone who has turned from a life of walking away from Jesus. This person now begins walking as a friend of Jesus and starts learning to live what Dallas Willard calls “the Jesus-kind-of-life.”
When someone who has walked with Jesus in his or her life reaches the end of life on earth, what happens to our walk with Jesus? Surely, Jesus doesn’t drop our hand and say, “It was fun, but it’s over now.” No! Rather, he takes our hand and leads to the next dimension of abundant life, heaven.
If you are walking away from Jesus, today is a great day to stop in your tracks. Turn to Jesus and ask him to take your hand. Begin walking with him.
If you have been walking with Jesus for a while, you may want to take some time to thank him for all he did to make your walk with him possible. Thank him that during a very difficult time in the history of the world, you are able to hold on to his unchanging and powerful hand.
Dear Jesus, how can we express to you our abundant praise for the gift of being able to walk with you through every aspect of life. Thank you for the abundant life we have now and the assurance of heaven. We receive the gift of walking with you in a friendship-relationship. Praise you name!