“We will come to him and make our home with him”
John 14:23 (NIV)
The Jewish people wrote in a very rich and three dimensional manner. We who are Gentiles do not often speak in such vivid language as they did. For example, in the Old Testament, when the prophet wanted to speak of the action of an earthquake they might say, “the earth opened its mouth” Numbers 16:32 (NIV). Or in speaking of joy they might say “the trees of the field will clap their hands” Isaiah 55:12 (NIV). It is certainly a dramatic and engaging manner in which to speak and readily captures the reader’s imagination.
Our Lord employed this form of speech in His public ministry and we benefit greatly from His imagery as He taught eternal truths. In John 14 Jesus is seeking to comfort the disciples regarding His departure and also to equip them for their life’s work of proclaiming the Gospel to the whole world as they knew it. Numerous times in this chapter Jesus refers to places where the disciples will live with Him forever.
In the King James translation of our passage it uses the word “mansions” in John 14:2. From this word mansions people have long thought of their place in heaven being some spectacular piece of real estate. Imaginations run wild about the architecture of the homes we shall have in heaven. Some spiritual songs have been written about our mansions in heaven.
I am sorry to put a pin in anyone’s balloon but the Greek word that the King James Version translates “mansions” simply means a dwelling place without regard to the majesty or glory of the place. In the King James Version it translates the same Greek noun in our verse for today as “abode”. That is quite a come down from the idea of mansions. So Jesus really means that each disciple of His shall have a place in God’s house.
Now for those who feel let down by the idea that they will not have a mansion in heaven let me state that I am not saying that our places in heaven will not be spectacular. Indeed I believe that our imaginations cannot go far enough in thinking of the glory and wonder of what we will see when we arrive in heaven. All I am saying is that Jesus did not say they would be mansions, He just said they would be “dwelling places”.
You see, if you truly love Jesus and wish to see Him, the real estate we will have there is unimportant. Only the immature among us wish to be dazzled with the spectacular. Those who really know Jesus recognize that it is Jesus himself that is the centerpiece and glory of heaven. We will not be overwhelmed by the real estate we shall possess but rather by Jesus Himself.
How many people today live lonely and tragic lives in fabulous mansions. The annual property taxes on some of their homes amount to more than a lot of us earn in a year. We drive by these estates and muse on what it would be like to live in such a place. Perhaps we laugh and say that we would need a road map to navigate our way through them without getting lost.
What really will make heaven, heaven for the believer is not the “mansion” or “abode” but the person of Jesus Christ. It will not be a case of what we have but Who we have that will cause us to rejoice and be glad.
Anna Ross Cousins has put it well in a poem where she wrote:
The bride eyes not her garment,
But her dear bridegroom’s face,
I will not gaze at glory,
But on my King of Grace –
Not at the crown He giveth,
But on His pierced hand;
The Lamb is all the glory
Of Immanuel’s land.
Is Jesus your great hope in heaven? Are you longing for His coming to take His people home to their dwelling places? Is the best thing about heaven for you the sight of Jesus Himself?
It is my supreme desire today that you be in love with this Jesus and that you desire His presence more than anything this world or the one to come can offer. Oh, yes, the places God’s people will live in, in heaven shall be spectacular enough. But their glory will fade when we look on the Saviour who died for His people and rose again to win them for Himself.
Seek Jesus for yourself today. Pray to Him and ask for His forgiveness for your self centered way of life, for ignoring Him in the past, for rejecting His offers of forgiveness. Come to Him and see that He is everything anyone could want in this life or the next. If you seek Him you will discover that He has already sought you. He will come and make His home with you. Come and come now.