14 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.”
(John 14:1-4 NIV)
As we begin chapter 14, the mood in the room is somber. Jesus has told the disciples that someone will betray Him. Jesus said He is leaving, and they cannot go with Him. Jesus has just told Peter that he will disown Jesus three times.
John slows down his clock again. The events taking place have gone from years to months to days to hours and now have moved to minutes.
Jesus senses the angst in His disciples. They don’t understand what Jesus is saying, and they don’t want to lose their best friend and teacher and Messiah. What are the disciples going to do if Jesus leaves them?
Jesus quietly says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” The word “troubled” (Greek – “tarassō“) means “to strike one’s spirit with fear or dread”. Jesus is saying, “don’t be terrified by what I am telling you. You believe in God; believe also in Me.”
Jesus then moves to familiar language in the Jewish culture. Jesus uses the language of love and preparation, the voice of the bridegroom engaged to his bride and is now going off to build a place for them to live.
In the same conversation, Jesus mentions the Father’s house having many rooms. In Jewish housebuilding fashion, the father (the patriarch) would build his house in the center of the compound, with the area in front of his house being the center of all family activity. The sons would then build their houses next to the father’s house, with common walls between them Each son would build his house next to his father’s house, laying the stone, crafting the wooden door, gathering the thatch for the roof. Each construction step was a labor of love, often with the father and the son working together to complete the project.
The father had the final say as to when the project was complete, and thus when the son could call for his bride. The building process often took six to eighteen months, depending on the size of the house and the availability of building materials. The bride still lived with her parents and did not know when the groom would come for her. She had to trust that the bridegroom was working hard to make a home for them and would come when everything was ready.
In verse 3, Jesus reminds His disciples that if He is leaving, that He will come back to get them, just as the bridegroom returns for his bride so they can spend the rest of their lives together. A few days earlier, Jesus had alluded to heaven when He told His disciples the parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25:1-13). Now Jesus is saying it’s time for Him to leave to build the house. The location of the house? Heaven.
As we’ll see in the rest of the chapter, the disciples still have considerable fear and uncertainty about everything. They just don’t understand what Jesus is saying. But they trust Him, so they have to see how the events play out.
From our point in history, we have the advantage of seeing the “other side of the story” from the empty tomb and resurrected Savior. Think about it for a moment – if a typical house building project took a maximum of eighteen months for a grand place, how fabulous and magnificent must heaven be since the Son and the Father have been building for over 2,000 years? They created the heavens and the earth and populated it with plants and animals and people in only six days.
Prepare to be wowed when we arrive at our new home.
Time to worship in thankfulness now for our future provision and look forward to the Bridegroom’s call!