Friday, April 06, 2012

In My Father’s House

This week my wife and I were discussing the comfort of the promise that the Lord has a mansion awaiting us. As this age grows darker and more insecure, this blessed promise is very much on our hearts and minds.

The Lord Jesus gave this wonderful promise of assurance on the night of His betrayal, as He was preparing His disciples for the horrible things that they would soon witness, the things that would make this promise effective.

     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 unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. (John 14:2-3)

My wife asked me whether we will really have a mansion. “I don’t really want a mansion,” she said, “just a place to stay.”

In verse 2 the Lord Jesus actually employs three different words for what is reserved for us. His actual words as John records them are:

     In the house (oikia) of the Father of Me abodes (monai) many are. But if not, I would have told you. I journey to prepare a place (topon) for you-all.”

The Father’s house or household is established. God knows His own. He knows from eternity. In His household He has residences for all of His beloved children. No one has been forgotten. Jesus assures His disciples of this as He journeys onward to the public condemnation and rejection of mankind and to the torturous scourging and death of the cross and finally to the grave. This is the means by which they and all who look to Him in faith receive the guarantee of a place together with Him in the Father’s household. He resolutely looked to this throughout His life. He continually proclaimed this to His disciples. Now, they would see the fulfillment of all of the promises and prophecies of the Scriptures, but would not understand until after the resurrection. What they were about to witness would crush their spirits and drive all hope from their hearts, except for these words of promise. Apart from this assurance, they would not understand the words of Jesus on the cross as He would cry out in our place with the blindness of our sin, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

These words are our false perception that we have inherited from Adam on account of sin. Just as Adam falsely imagined that the Lord had forsaken him on account of his guilty and filthy conscience, so we stand imagining that God has forsaken us. But even in that moment of being made to be sin for us, even in that moment when evil moved in so powerfully and fully that the very sun was darkened, even in that moment as the Son of Man cried out with our accursedness, still the Father looked on in merciful love and comforted His Son and through Him comforted all of mankind with the assurance that He has not abandoned us. It is only our refusal to trust Him that separates us from Him.

This is why the author to the Hebrews writes:

     So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee. As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec. (Hebrews 5:5-10)

Christ Jesus was saved from death. Though He took our place and was crucified as a condemned sinner in our stead, though He was rejected by mankind and tortured and killed, though our sin stood between Him and the Father, nevertheless the Father remained with Him even as they are truly one from eternity. Though Christ died for us according to the flesh, He was nevertheless preserved from death by His union with the Father. And so, on the third day He raised Himself bodily from the dead so as to ascend bodily to the Father and take our flesh to the very throne of God to rule on our behalf as both God and Man forevermore.

This is why St. Paul writes to the Colossians:

     If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:1-4)

Yes, by His suffering, death, and burial Christ has secured for us our place together with Him in His everlasting kingdom, the household of the Father, in which there exists an abundance of residences for all of His children. By His resurrection and ascension Christ has given us the assurance of our place with Him even as through our baptism we have been joined with Him as everlasting communicants of His Holy Communion.

As I explained to my wife, a baby is perfectly content to sleep in a dresser drawer, if that baby abides in the parents’ love. A little child is perfectly happy to share a room and even a bed with multiple siblings, if that child knows that the household is one in which abides the assurance of love. This is the promise given to us by our Lord Jesus. We are loved and we shall forevermore dwell in the security of that love. Our place has been prepared and awaits us after all that must transpire in the current age has come to pass. For now we live in that blessed hope, reminded of the Lord’s merciful patience that moves Him to wait until the Gospel has been heard and received by every last person for whom a place has been reserved.

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