In the world of the Bible, the image of the ‘house of the Father’ conjures up images of blessing, protection, provision and inheritance. Just like in the movie Secondhand Lions, in the end, when the two great-uncles die, the boy they raised receives everything the two eccentric and fabulously wealthy uncles owned: “the kid gets it all” so reads the (very brief) will following their deaths.
So when Jesus begins to ‘read His will’ or ‘farewell speech’ to the disciples (John 14-17) in John 14:1-14, He essentially says, ‘you get it all.’ The “Father’s house” and the “rooms” (John 14:2) are a picture of Heaven (2 Corinthians 5:1). Jesus is the One that has prepared the way to get there (an image taken from Isaiah 40 and picked up by John the Baptist in the Gospels, “prepare the way of the Lord”). However, whereas Moses was “a servant in God’s house” (Hebrews 3:1-6), Jesus is faithful as the “Son”. When Jesus says, “I am the way the truth and the life” (literally, I, I am the way), He is equating Himself with the Great I AM, the LORD, Yahweh in the Old Testament (Exodus 3:12-14; see John 8:58). Yahweh led the Israelites to the Promised Land. Except now the Promised Land is an inheritance in Heaven and Jesus is the One that can lead anyone there. He has paved the way and He is coming back to take His disciples with Him to Heaven (John 14:3).
This is the first dimension of believing: He is the only way, the exclusive access to God, the Father. In a culture that enshrines unconditional inclusivity (actually a false claim; you need to pass a driver’s test to drive! entrance exams are requirements for many schools, etc. etc.), Jesus boldly claims that He alone is the way to Heaven. Thomas, representing all of us, has his doubts about God’s guidance but the death and resurrection of Christ (witnessed by more than 500 people, 1 Corinthians 15:6) represents powerful circumstantial evidence it happened. Jesus forged the way like no other man ever has, or ever will. As the God-Son, He fulfills the ancient dream of every king. He lives forever, not in a pretend form like the mummified kings of Egypt, but seated at the right hand of the Father in His temple/house/palace in Heaven (Ephesians 1:20).
The second dimension of believing is that Jesus and the Father are One. “I am in the Father and the Father is in me” (John 14:10). In fact, Jesus says the Father dwells in me (‘remains’ or ‘abide’ see John 15:4). What this means is the blessings associated with the inheritance of the Father are found in Jesus. Paul in Ephesians says that in Christ, we “have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3). So the house of the Father is both a place (God’s house/temple/palace in Heaven) and an inheritance. The locale of the inheritance is in heaven.
The third dimension of believing adds the weighty language of “truly, truly” (literally,’ amen, amen’): “whatever you ask in my Name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:13). The real challenge of belief in Jesus, therefore, is to actually believe that if we believe in Him, we are the beneficiary of these heavenly blessings, that as we pray in His name and according to His will (rather than listing our requests like a list of wishes and desires to further our own agenda and/or comforts), we receive the full measure of His blessings. If we get that part, then the floodgates of heaven are open to us. The spiritual blessings that the Lord wants to pour out upon us become ours: “If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.”
Thoughts for the week:
In what ways do we cultivate unbelief in our lives? The constant test of this life journey in the wilderness provides plenty of opportunity for discouragement: opposition, loss of job, persistent illnesses, disabilities, financial woes, relational setbacks, and, yes, unanswered prayers. There are a lot of ways we can allow unbelief to creep in. To all these Jesus reassures us, “Do not let your hearts be troubled, believe in God, believe also in me.” We know the destination. He knows the way because HE HIMSELF is the Way and He has prepared a place and an inheritance for us. We do not need to fear the journey ahead of us.