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 myself, that where I am you may be also. John 14;2-3
These famous words of Jesus were spoken to the remaining eleven disciples during what is known as the upper room discourse. They have traditionally been understood to refer to the promise that we believers will go to heaven when we die. However, I am convinced that they do not primarily refer to this wonderful reality. This is why.
Jesus was speaking this promise first and foremost to these specific eleven men and not to believers in general. (He was ministering to their anticipated "separation anxiety"!) And...he told them that he would specifically "come again" to them to take them to himself to be with him where he would be. We tend to immediately jump to the Second Coming in our minds when we hear these words. However, these eleven men obviously died before Jesus' second advent, which has even yet to occur! So in what way did Jesus "come again" and fulfill his promise to them? Consider verses 18-19, 23 in the same context of chapter 14:
I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me...If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home (same Greek word for "room" as in v. 3) with him.
Jesus did in fact "come back" to them in that he appeared to them after his resurrection and also by coming to them through the gift of the Holy Spirit (which is a main theme of this discourse)! So maybe the traditional view of the promise of verses 2-3 has been an unfortunate misunderstanding? They could...and we can...be with Jesus where he is because he has come to us where we are! We are "in him" and he is "in us".
Maybe then this radically different view gives deeper understanding to what Jesus said earlier in John 12:26:
If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also.
So...though we certainly long for Christ's return and to be with him in the new heavens and new earth, there is a very real way that we are already united with him in intimate companionship in contrast to being separated from him and the Father and the Spirit. Let's not underestimate the wonder and power that this implies for our lives and ministries here and now. I fear that we have indeed done this in years gone by and we have thus lived below many of the privileges of our inheritance in Christ in this age. There is more for us to have and enjoy in Christ!
A VOICE OF HOPE
Michael Sullivant's Blog
I am a child of God, husband, father, grandfather, spiritual father, author, speaker and hope coach.