By Pastor Robert L. Donnelly
WORDS OF JESUS – “I Go To Prepare A Place For You.”
The Words of Jesus for today's consideration, are found in John 14:2-3 – “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. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” These words were spoken to the eleven disciples just before the crucifixion, and they are written for our instruction and encouragement.
The first thing we see in this statement is that the events which are to follow swiftly, in the next few hours, were all foreseen by the Christ of God, and His plans were all made to take advantage of anything the enemy could do. Jesus foresaw the Cross, and spoke of it as a “lifting up” – as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness. Death to Christ was just a means to an end, and not the end. It was not only the way out, it was the way up – not something to be feared, but faced and turned from tragedy into triumph. But it's what happens afterward that we are interested in today.
It isn't the “dying” that matters so much, it's what happens after the “dying” is finished. After a funeral service a few years ago, I went to the home of the deceased, and in conversation with the members of the family, one of the young men said that, as far as he could see, there was nothing to fear about death – it was the afterward that he was concerned about.
Jesus is the first of all the children of Adam who could announce beforehand, what He was going to do after death; and His ministry then (after death) was to follow the same pattern as before.
His life before the Cross was lived for others, His death was to be for others, and afterwards He would go right on working in the interests of those who had believed in Him in life and in death. Jesus said, “I am going away, and the purpose of My going is to prepare a place for you.”
You will notice that all the earthly ministry of Christ had that fervent “forward” look. Everything He did and said was with eternity in view. Even when He washed the disciples' feet, He said, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.” (John 13:7). His ministry on earth was a preparatory ministry. Since there is a future to humanity that outlives the grave, there must be a suitable preparation for that future; and because Jesus knew better than anyone else, what that future would be, He was abundantly qualified both to speak of the future and to prepare us for it.
But in our lesson today, He speaks of “preparing a place.” And I do like that word “place.” There is something definite and comforting about it. Some would have us believe that heaven is not so much a “place” as a “state of being,” where disembodied spirits float on clouds of ether, having neither reality as to being or location. All such supposition is neither desirable nor Scriptural. There IS a reality to the Person and Teachings of Christ that are much too practical for anything less than a real place where real people will have their everlasting home. Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you.”
You will remember – the story of creation, in the first two chapters of the Bible, informs us that man was the last act of God on the 6th day. Everything was in readiness to receive, from the hand of the Creator, this one whom He had made in His own image; all of which teaches us that the world was made for man, and not man for the world. And now, the very same Person (the LORD Jesus Christ) who brought the world into being, and placed man therein, said, in effect, “This place, where you now live, is all spoiled and corrupted. I am going to prepare another place for you.”
Years later, the Apostle Peter said, “Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13). Many long years have gone by since He made this promise, and went away; some maintain that nothing has been heard from, or of, Him since; but that's not true, because 60 years afterward, Apostle John was given a little insight and preview into what was going on in that “place” which was being prepared for these disciples of Jesus. Human language breaks down, trying to describe it, there’s nothing in this world that adequately compares with that place called “Paradise.”
It is written, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9). We might wonder, at times, why He should be so long in getting it ready; but the Apostle Peter tells us it's because He is “longsuffering” to us-ward, “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
The place that He is preparing for those who love Him is so wonderful, that it would be an everlasting tragedy for the doors to be closed, if there was any hope of even one more person entering in. Remember the parable of that one lost sheep, when all the activity of Heaven was directed toward the finding of it – nothing else mattered until that one was brought back to the fold.
This goes out with the prayer that someone who has not yet accepted Christ – not yet made their plans to enter that place He is preparing for us, might be convinced today – that nothing in this world could ever be as important as to prepare for eternity, and – that now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation.