Mansions? Really?

John 14 gives us a great plethora of words for us to ponder upon. I’ve heard this passage preached expositionally through the Gospel of John, we have these words in our hymns of the Free Will Baptist church, and I’ve heard them at funerals. These words of John 14 are of great comfort and peace. However, I believe these words are the most contextual regarding the second coming of Christ. John 14 comes after John 13 (funny how that works!) and in John 13 we see Judas Iscariot given over to the devil to betray Jesus (13:2), Jesus acknowledging the uncleanliness of Judas Iscariot (13:10), Jesus teaching about service (13:16-20), Jesus verbally communicating his betrayal to the disciples (13:21,29-30), Jesus giving the disciples a new commandment to love another as he has loved them (13:35), and Jesus foretelling Peter’s denial (13:38-39).

In this chapter, much is going on. Jesus is communicating his departure that will lead him to the crucifixion and the disciples are arguing in disbelief. We all see the disciples’ actions as overreacting, but we would all do the same. All of us would be saying the exact same things to Jesus. However, John 14 is a continuation of this conversation.

Jesus speaks in John 14 and says,

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 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?”

John 14:1-2, ESV

This is such an encouraging passage, especially when you know Jewish wedding customs.

In a traditional Jewish marriage, the groom would have to go through a multiple step process to simply marry a Jewish girl. The first step would be the traveling of the groom to the bride’s father’s house to pay the price for the bride. In the second step, the groom, after paying the price for the bride, would then go back to his father’s house and begin to build the living place for he and his new bride to live. The specific living space was called a mansion. The next step would be to travel back to the bride’s father’s house to marry his future bride. Finally, there would be the marriage feast, which could last as long as seven days.

So when Jesus talks about mansions, we get a different perspective whenever we follow this traditional way of marriage for the Jewish people. This new perspective gives us insight into the hope the disciples received from Jesus – and I’m not so sure they felt hopeful. But there is such eschatological hope in this passage! There is no greater hope than knowing that Christ is preparing a place for those who surrender their lives to His Lordship.

Let’s backtrack a bit.

When the groom would finish building his room off his father’s house, it would then be time for him to travel back and begin the festivities of the marriage covenant. Likewise, Jesus is preparing his disciples for his departure and by his metaphor he is giving his disciples an unshakeable hope. Just as the groom would prepare the mansion and then return home, Jesus has gone to prepare a room for us in Heaven with Him. Because Jesus is the groom and His bride is the Church, we are seeing these words unfold to their true meaning. We are waiting on Christ to return so we can unite with him forever. Because marriage is a forever covenant, so is your salvation.

Jesus is going to prepare a place for you, and when he has done so, he will come again and receive you unto Himself. Although your mansion will not be a “gold one that’s silver-lined,” it will be a room in the house of the Father and our salvation will be consummated.

Hallelujah to the Lamb that was slain for our salvation.

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