Message Presented Thursday morning, July 2, 2015
Of all the promises of Jesus, the one in John 14:1-3 is the most personal, comforting, and assuring. “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”1
What is Jesus saying here? Basically this: “I know you trust God; I know you trust also in Me. But when you no longer see Me, will you stop trusting? I am still leading you to your destination. Take My word seriously. I shall come again, and we shall be together.”
Do we trust the words of Jesus, even when He is not physically with us? Or do we have a bit of Thomas inside us? At the report of Jesus’ resurrection, Thomas sought a more rational basis for such an astounding report: “I am OK, my heart is OK, my faith is OK, everything is OK. But I have a problem: Unless I feel His wounds with my fingers, I just can’t believe.” A week later Jesus gave him that opportunity. The risen Jesus challenged the doubting disciple: “Touch Me and see.”
Thomas did just that, felt Jesus’ wounds, and surrendered himself: “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28).
The response of Jesus is one of eternal relevance in the journey of faith: “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (verse 29). The words of Jesus are as good as His presence. Even as we wait, His words “I will come again” speak of a certainty that admits neither doubt nor mockery.
The Gospel of John records a moving incident in chapter 4. In Capernaum the son of a nobleman was sick. The official has heard that Jesus is back again in Cana, where He had performed His first miracle at a wedding.
But Jesus is not limited to Cana alone. He is the universal man, a person for all people. He is the Savior of the world. His word commands life. So Capernaum’s nobleman hurries and travels some 22 miles (about 36 kilometers) southwest to Cana to find Jesus and tell Him about his son who “was close to death” (John 4:47). “Come down,” he pleads. “Come to my home, Jesus. Rescue my son from the clutches of death. You can heal him. I trust in You.”
Every thought and activity of our lives must be defined by that soon-coming climax of human history.
The Savior’s response is remarkable. “Go, your son will live” (verse 50). I don’t need to go with you, Jesus seems to be saying. You have My word. Trust in Me. My word is as good as My presence.
The nobleman took Jesus at His word and didn’t return home until the next day. When he finally arrived, “his servants met him with the news that his boy was living” (verse 51). The man found out that the healing had taken place at precisely the moment Jesus gave His word. His word never fails—be it in Cana, Capernaum, Bethesda, Jerusalem, San Antonio, or London—His word is as good as His presence.
And it is this Jesus who said, “I will come again” (John 14:3, KJV).
To trust in Jesus is to trust in something real, something concrete. “In My Father’s house,” that’s home! He was going home, and offered to share that home with those who place their faith and trust in Him. His return is to move us from a believing faith to an experience of concrete reality. When He returns, He will not say, “Touch and see,” but rather, “Enter into the joy of your Lord. Live with Me in My Father’s house. This is your inheritance prepared from the foundation of the world” (cf. Matt. 25:21, 34). That promise of living in His house is as real as Thomas’ experience of touching Jesus’ wounded side.
When Jesus spoke about a house in heaven, He was not only talking about its beauty, its vastness, or its desirability: He was talking about His Father’s home. That house is unlike any other house. It’s a place that love built. It’s a place where we can be the persons God created us to be, where we can come home, kick off our shoes, and relax.
That’s the house Jesus promised. We are accepted there; we are loved there; and we are those who belong to that place. And Jesus says, My Father’s house is your house as well. God’s everlasting bosom becomes our eternal resting place: to lean upon, to celebrate our enduring joy, and where we shout in triumph, “Never again will there be a separation between Him and us.” We are home at last.
Jesus used familiar images of His day to illustrate His return, namely, travel and a wedding. When dignitaries traveled, people were sent ahead to make all the arrangements for the rest of the company. Jesus is doing this for us; He goes ahead to prepare our place before we can travel home. While we await His return, we are asked to prepare a place for Jesus in the hearts of people around us so they can travel too.
In Israel, when a young man wanted to marry, he sought his father’s approval. Only when an extension to the house was prepared would the father agree for the wedding to proceed and the bride to be brought home. Our heavenly Father would like us to be brought home by Jesus Christ, His Son.
But how do we get there? The answer remains the same: Trust in Jesus. He is “the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6). No one comes to the Father, or to His house, except through Him. Whoever we are—male or female, Black or White, young or old, rich or poor, sick or healthy—what really matters is that we go to the Father through Jesus, and there is room for everyone in His Father’s house.
While the Vietnam War was raging, a soldier returned home. As soon as he landed in the United States, he called his parents. His mother answered the phone and was overjoyed to hear her son’s voice. Excitedly she exclaimed. “I’m glad you made it, son. This is the best gift one can have for Christmas. Come soon. Your room will be ready.”
The voice on the other end of the phone line was somewhat hesitant, and barely a whisper. “But Mom . . .”
Again that cautious voice: “I have a friend with me. Can I bring him along for the Christmas party?”
“Of course you can. Your friend is our friend.”
The son went on to explain. “But Mom, this friend is badly injured. His face is totally disfigured. In the war he lost one eye, one arm, and both legs. He looks weird. Not a pretty picture, and he may need some help.”
Silence seemed to descend on the other end of the line. After what seemed like forever, the mother finally said, “Son, why don’t you leave him at a hotel, and just come home? There is no room for him at the party.”
The son never made it to the party. The mother went alone for the Christmas Eve celebration. Around 4:00 a.m., as she arrived home, her phone rang. Quickly grabbing the phone, she heard the voice of a police officer. “Ma’am, we found a Vietnam veteran’s body in a hotel room, apparently a suicide. He had a disfigured face; he had lost one eye, one arm, and both legs. From his documents we believe he is your son.”
Our Father’s home is radically different. Coming to that home that Jesus has gone to prepare will be a joyous event. No one will notice any scar on anyone’s face or any impediment on anyone’s body. The mortal shall put on immortality. Christ Himself will be our perfection, and He will lead us into His Father’s house.
What can we do in anticipation of that moment soon to come?
We are challenged to live in confident anticipation of the coming of Jesus. Every thought and activity of our lives must be defined by that soon-coming climax of human history. It is Jesus who
is returning as the Lord of glory. The same Jesus who won the battle against sin will soon descend in the clouds of heaven to take us home. Hence Paul’s counsel: “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” (Col. 3:2). Our home is above.
With that as our focus, we are called to lead a life of watchful expectation and witness. “The end of all things is near” is the apostle’s counsel. “Therefore be alert and of sober mind” (1 Peter 4:7). Waiting for a home above may be dismissed by some as an utopian dream, but for those who believe in the words of Jesus, the event of His second coming is as historic as His first. Jesus will return in history, in time, and in space.
The event calls for unreserved trust in the One who gave us His promise. Trust in me, we can hear Him say. I shall return to take you to My Father’s house.
Living within that trust is our challenge today. “Let us behave decently,” Paul calls upon us in view of the approaching dawn (Rom. 13:13). We may live in the midst of darkness, but through the eyes of faith we must ever keep the approaching dawn in view and so live that we will not be taken unaware. The Second Coming must keep us awake and sober (1 Thess. 5:6), and must urge us to examine ourselves as to “what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly livesas you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming” (2 Peter 3:11, 12).
That, after all, is what matters in the end. Even as we hope, as we wait, do we live responsibly, lovingly, readily reflecting the character and mission of the coming Lord? Ellen White’s counsel is timely: “Watch for the Lord more earnestly than they that watch for the morning. Hope in the Lord. Walk in His way. Declare His truth. He is well pleased when His servants talk faith. . . . He is working for you and with you.”2