#0012 In My Father’s house are many mansions…
1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
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.
3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
4 And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.
5 Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?
John 14: 1-5 (KJV)
This is a popular and a very wonderful scripture in Christian culture; but its deeper meaning is often missed. The common interpretation of it is taken simply as a description of what heaven will be like; but Jesus is actually disclosing a deeper and much more intriguing concept here. He is talking to His disciples (and therefore to any who read the account) about His Father’s Kingdom. The word He is substituting for Kingdom for here is house. Both house and kingdom are symbolic for God’s realm. There are a few aspects of this message that I want to point out which are relative to the last posting. But before I get into those I want to make it clear why it is that Jesus isn’t referring to heaven here. The religious renderings of heaven are almost always portrayed in two-dimensional and static imagery. In this regard heaven is not unlike a trophy offered to any and all contestants who have proved that they have earned such a reward when they reach the finish line (the pearly gates) at the end of the race (death). If we consider the words of Jesus in this John passage—this is clearly NOT what He’s talking about.
- The first aspect we need to ascertain from this exchange is that it’s close to the time when Jesus will be crucified and will no longer be physically with His disciples. In verse one, He reassures them that He is indeed the Son of God and that if they believe in God (the God of Abraham, Isaac and Moses) that it is good and wise for them to believe in Him the same way—He and God are on the same page!
- In verse two, Jesus says two things of significance. First He tells them that in His Father’s realm there are many mansions. We can get the impact of the imagery being used if we harken back feudal times and the societal structure they used. At the pinnacle of the structure stood the manor house and the lord of the manor who occupied it. A great expanse of land owned and controlled by the lord, surrounded his manor or mansion. This land was divided into sub parcels with much smaller hovels built upon each where the peasant tenants were allowed to reside. The peasant tenant and his family would plant crops and raise some livestock on his allotted parcel returning a portion of their harvest, etc. as payment on their place. The accumulation of crops and goods provided a copious income for the lord of the manor. The deeper meaning for us comes as we contrast Jesus’s version of this monarchical model; instead of hovels to live in, they all have mansions. This image quickly conjures up something highly incompatible with the workings within a monarchy or hierarchy. Jesus then says if the conditions within God’s realm weren’t like this, I would have informed you about it by now. In other words, I have been preaching this perspective of God and His Kingdom since day one; Every time I would begin a story with: “The Kingdom of God is like…” this is the kind of thing I was talking about. “I go to prepare a place for you.” what sort of preparation might Jesus be planning on here? If we remember Jesus is talking about the Kingdom, it would make sense that the preparations He is mentioning would probably have to do with doing Kingdom work from His (God’s) side of the project.
- In verse three Jesus continues with more words of comfort which contain prophetic underpinnings relevant to the us latter day reader as well. He says that at some future time, He will return for them (and us) and at that time things will be different, in that the Kingdom will be fully manifested by then. One of these Kingdom manifestations is revealed in the next bit: “…and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. 4 And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. What Jesus is describing here is some sort of a transformation that has taken place. What exactly happens and how Jesus doesn’t specify; but He does say that the change will be so profound as to affect their (and our) understanding of Him (and God) to the extent that everything They know, we will know (Wherever I go, you will know as well as how to get there).
- As if to underline What Jesus just got done saying, Thomas asks, How will we know? The knowing will evidently be a fruit of Jesus’s preparation efforts…when those preparations are completed He will come for those who will have the desire and the premonition (the fore-knowledge/the knowing) to go with Him.
There is more that I want to talk about on the topic of mansions in God’s house as I wish to contrast the structure this image infers with the hierarchical structure of the church as it is described in Revelations as the MOTHER OF PROSTITUTES who is riding on the back of the red dragon. We’ve been talking about this in the last posting and an earlier posting so these comments should help to tie those posts in with this one; however I am running short on time today and it feels like there is yet much to be said about this.