Happily Ever After: Part One
Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 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 (John 14:1-2).
In his last meeting with his disciples before his crucifixion, Jesus spoke words of encouragement and admonition. John chapter fourteen begins with a command from Christ to his disciples to remain faithful, to "not be troubled."
We read this and think nothing of it but the truth is Jesus is asking quite a lot of his disciples. The opposition to Jesus had escalated in the last days of his earthly ministry and the apostles were rightly concerned about the future. Rightly concerned from a human standpoint, that is. They will soon see their Master arrested, tortured and crucified. Then, after he rises from the dead and ascends to heaven, they will be confronted with violent opposition as they begin to preach the Gospel to all the world. Men like Saul, made havoc of the church, breaking down doors, entering homes to drag people off to prison (Acts 8:3). So they had more reason to worry than they even knew. Yet, Jesus Christ is telling them that God's plan is unfolding just as it should. Therefore he tells them to refuse to panic. He tells them to simply embrace the truth that he has taught them, indeed that he has embodied before them. He tells his disciples they must not be tempest tossed. He commands them that no matter what happens they need to be at peace and at rest in him.
But this admonition to stand fast in faith is not given in a vacuum. Jesus tells them to recall their declaration of belief in God. To believe in God is not simply to acknowledge his existence; it is to believe everything he says. It is to take hold of Scripture and claim it as absolute truth and to rest in that.
Jesus expands on this idea when he tells his disciples to believe in him in the same way they believe in God. In other words, it's not a mere belief in his existence. They saw him as he reclined at the table with them, speaking to them. So it is much more than belief in the physical existence of Jesus Christ. It is a belief in his equivalency to God. He is not the father but the father is in him as he is in the father. He is the eternal son. He is the one whom all of Scripture pointed to and declares as the one in whom all of God's promises are realized. Moreover, to believe in Jesus Christ is to understand what God promised to the fathers. It is to understand the covenant and to understand how it is that all of God's covenant promises are yes in Jesus. This is to believe in God and his Christ.
One of the things they needed to believe in is the immensity and security of God's domain. The whole of creation is encompassed in the kingdom of God. And in this vast domain there are many places for rest. The Greek term mone is often translated "mansions." The word refers to a "restful dwelling place" and is used by Greek writers to describe the tents of soldiers. Christ is not talking about the opulence of the dwelling places throughout God's domain but about the security of those abodes. In other words, Jesus is reassuring his disciples and giving them further reason to be at peace. Albert Barnes paraphrased Jesus' words in this way: "The universe is the dwelling-place of my Father. All is his house. Whether on earth or in heaven, we are still in his habitation. In that vast abode of God there are many [dwelling places]. The earth is one of them, heaven is another. Whether here or there, we are still in the house, in one of the [dwelling places] of our Father, in one of the apartments of his vast abode. This we ought continually to feel, and to rejoice that we are permitted to occupy any part of his dwelling-place. Nor does it differ much whether we are in this [dwelling places] or another. It should not be a matter of grief when we are called to pass from one part of this vast habitation of God to another. I am indeed about to leave you, but I am going only to another part of the vast dwelling-place of God. I shall still be in the same universal habitation with you; still in the house of the same God; and am going for an important purpose - to fit up another abode for your eternal dwelling" (brackets added).
Jesus further urges his disciples to accept what he is saying. If it were not so, I would have told you. For, if it were not so, Jesus might still be the comforter, sympathizer and friend. If it were not so it would not have meant failure for Christ. Therefore, Jesus says he has concealed no truth from them. He allowed them to cherish the hope of eternity because it is true. If not, he would have set them straight.
Indeed, their participation in eternity had long been decided. [God] chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love (Ephesians 1:4). Jesus was not rushing off to tidy up the guest room. His preparation was found in the fulfillment of the covenant stipulations. But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption (Hebrews 9:11-12). Jesus went before them to conclude the requirements of the old covenant and to inaugurate the new covenant dispensation. That was the required preparation. The restful dwelling place of eternity had been there forever. It's occupancy was awaiting the fulfillment of the Abrahamic promise.
Therefore, the disciples were to be at peace in Jesus Christ. They were required to recognize his fulfillment of the covenant. They were enjoined to see the events unfolding before them as the final steps in preparing for their entry into eternity.
Please understand, we live in eternity now. Jesus Christ prepared a place for us 2000 years ago. If we are in Christ, we have a place in heaven upon death, but the fulfillment of the covenant requirements affect this realm as well. It is because of Jesus' successful conclusion of the old covenant that we can be at rest - here and now. We have no reason to be troubled. We need not be tempest tossed by the difficulties of life. If we believe in God and believe in Jesus Christ we are safe and secure. You see, if we believe in God we understand his covenant promise of world wide dominion by the seed of Abraham. If we believe in Jesus Christ we understand he is the seed of Abraham, the one who reigns now, in eternity, as the eschaton Adam.
Hence, regardless of our circumstance we are equipped to conquer. We have been given everything we need to bring our arena of activity under the Lordship of Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:2-3), working out our salvation now and in eternity (Philippians 2:12-13). There is no reason for us to be troubled. All things are working together to bring about the realization of the kingdom of God in Christ. Amen
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