Read John 14
Focus on verse 2-3
The biggest house I ever lived in was twenty-two thousand square feet. We had five living rooms and too many bedrooms to count – I’m going to guess about sixty or seventy – and there was a fifteen-person hot tub in the basement. I also shared that house with about ninety other men and, truth be told, only about three hundred square feet of the building was considered my personal space. It was in fact, a men’s dormitory at the college I attended, and my wife and I occupied the caretaker suite in exchange for doing the house cleaning. It was a big, big house with lots and lots of rooms (as the hit song by Audio Adrenaline (1993) would put it), and it reminds me of what Jesus said in today’s reading.
In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to my self, that where I am you may be also. (v. 2-3)
Jesus was attempting to encourage and assure his disciples so that they would not become discouraged at what was to come. In the hours that followed this conversation, Jesus would be arrested, dragged about the city of Jerusalem from the High Priest to the Roman Governor, to King Herod, and back to Pontius Pilate before He would finally be condemned to death by crucifixion. Jesus knew His death was imminent; His disciples did not know and were very confused by it when it happened. It was not until after Jesus resurrection that the pieces of the puzzle began to fit together in a more sensible way.
This reference to His Father’s house, and it having many rooms, is one of the many direct references Jesus makes to the afterlife. It is modeled after some of the aspects of a Jewish wedding. When a couple became engaged, the young man would begin building a house on his father’s property. In many cases it was more like a room annexed on to his father’s house. When the room was complete, it was time for the wedding, but it was the father not the groom who determined when the house was ready. Then when the groom’s father would give the word, the groom would lead a processional to the brides home, where she would be waiting for him. The wedding ceremony and subsequent celebration would last several days after which the bride and groom would occupy the new room.
This is the same imagery that Jesus uses to describe His departure, the preparation of rooms in His father’s house, as well as the uncertain time of His return. Only the Father knows the time when Christ will return to take his bride – the church – to the place He has prepared for her.
In the mean time our posture – as members of that bride – should be one of hopeful expectation. I am grateful for the opportunity to have lived in the new men’s dormitory many years ago. I look forward even more to the new room Jesus is preparing for me in His father’s house, and I am waiting expectantly for the day that He will return to take me back with Him to that place.