My Father’s House
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
John 14:2a (Holman) AIn My Father=s house are many dwelling places. . .@
By calling Heaven AMy Father=s House,@ Jesus added to the place a personal loveliness, a gentle touch. We tend to think of Heaven as a place of golden streets, beautiful buildings, gates of pearl, etc. To Jesus it was home, the place adorned with Father=s presence, and lit by the light of His smile.
We have heard “My Father’s House” so often that its beauty has been dulled for us. We need to reconsider the wealth of meaning contained in this phrase.
One, “My Father’s House” softens the blow of death. The phrase allowed people for the first time to dare to think of death as a going home.
Our fear of death, a physical instinct wisely given to preserve life, is subdued but not destroyed by faith. Our morbid feelings about dying physically tend to squelch the positive thoughts we are to have about the good life beyond.
The glory we anticipate is entered only through death’s darkness. None of us has experienced what is behind the veil. Silence and distance fall on our beloved dead, putting an ominous cloud over the thought of eternal future blessedness.
Jesus softened the blow of death by helping us see it leads us homeward. Death is not a closing as much as an opening, not a leaving as much as a coming home.
We will feel at home in Heaven. Surrounded by familiarity and ease, we will be able to relax. Bad tempers, crabby dispositions, tension, frustration – all gone.
Jesus called Heaven His Father=s “house,” not kingdom, domain, or territory. House softens the blow. It means security, defense, provision, rest, love, warmth, companionship. Of all our ideas of comfort, home conveys the sweetest.
During our Civil War, Union and Confederate troops were once camped on opposite sides of the Rappahannock River. The Union band played patriotic melodies, and their troops cheered. The Confederate band played ADixie@ and their troops cheered. When one of the bands played AHome, Sweet Home,” the other band joined in, and on both sides men wept and cheered.
Thinking of Heaven as home comforts us. It lets us think of death as our home-going.
Two, “My Father’s House” loosens our ties to Earth. Our true home is there, not here. This earth is not our element. In this world we are fish out of water. We are pilgrims, trudging through difficulties, but every step draws us nearer home.
We are not ramblers, wandering aimlessly. We are pilgrims who know exactly where we are going — toward Heaven our home.
Let’s not be unduly troubled, or too delighted, about earthly things. “Set your affection on things above” (Colossians 3:2).
Let our minds bring down Heaven in order to bring up Earth. When weary of Earth, and the road is tough, think of Heaven. Grab its golden bars and draw yourself onward. Think of it as our permanent residence.
Our attitude toward dying can improve. Is it sad to reach home after a toilsome journey? Is it defeat to wear a crown after a fierce fight? Is a deceased Christian only in a coffin in a grave? No. Believers gone on are at home in the Father=s house. Their funerals marked only the death of frailty, sorrow, and sin.
Three, “My Father’s House” teaches us Heaven is a real place. It is a realm not of shades or disembodied spirits, but a place where God’s children live in strong indestructible forms, active, loving, celebrating.
Heaven is not merely a condition or a philosophical invention. It is a real place, an actual location. When Jesus left here, He went somewhere.
At death, believers go to a real place called Heaven. Dr. Samuel Maddox, missionary to Brazil, told of a dying girl who asked her mother, AWhat=s it like to die?@ The mother changed the subject and quickly left the room to weep and to pray for God to give her wisdom. When the girl repeated her question, the mother said, ADo you remember how that sometimes you go to sleep on the couch and daddy then carries you to the bed? You never know he did it. So it is with death. You will go to sleep here and wake up in Heaven. Jesus will carry you there.@
Four, “My Father’s House” tells us in Heaven we will enjoy permanent abiding places. God’s house will last forever.
A Roman who took a visitor on a tour of the Imperial city boastfully asked the tourist, AWhat does this city lack to make it perfect?@ The terse reply was, APermanence.@
No dwelling in this life has the trait of permanence. Every house is transitory. But in Heaven, no one will turn us out again. Our dwelling there comes with an everlasting lease.
Five, “My Father’s House” implies a warm welcome. There=s ample room in Heaven for all. It has “many” dwelling places B Heaven’s door is open wide for all willing to enter by faith. Come one, come all, there=s room enough.
If we sat by the Pearly gates, and saw a small group of mighty prophets and revered martyrs entering Heaven, we might be hesitant to join them. We would instinctively know we didn’t deserve to join this parade.
But be not discouraged. Behind them comes a throng stretching as far as the eye can see, led by Mary Magdalene and the dying thief. Discouraged by the first group, we are reticent to ask if we can join with them, but all fears are relieved when Mary and the thief say, AWe are sinners saved by grace. We have room among us for anyone trusting in Jesus.@ That=s us! There=s room for us.
In Heaven, no believer is counted a stranger, foreigner, peasant, or outcast. We enter the richest house in the Universe as the adopted children of its Owner.
The prodigal was astonished when he received the best robe, ring, fatted calf, and rejoicing. Our surprise in Heaven will also be overwhelming.