"Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled"
BEGINNING with verse thirty-one in the thirteenth chapter of the book of John, we have the record of an extremely interesting and important discussion between Jesus and the eleven (Judas had just departed) which continues to verse twenty-six of the seventeenth chapter. Read all of these verses, if you will, that you may get into your mind the setting: the persons involved, the time (not long before His death), the circumstances, (context), before you continue with this article. If we get nothing else from that reading, it is essential that we understand that Jesus is addressing ONLY the eleven in all these verses.
Of course, these verses are like some others: some may have a two-fold application, so I am NOT saying that NOTHING in these verses can be applied to you or me. But many are confused, especially with verses that pertain to the action of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, indexation to his coming ONLY to the apostles. People make universal application to many of the verses under consideration. So, let us remember; even though we have some broad principles that CAN have as secondary application, we need to be careful in these applications because others, of the above disposition, may use that same reasoning in making their application. Let us always recognize the fact that PRIMARILY, first, the application MUST be made to the apostles.
Now, the verses that I am studying in this essay is the first part of John fourteen; "Let not your heart be troubled: ye 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. 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."
Ordinarily, these verses are used to comfort broken hearts in funeral sermons regarding a loved one who has departed and, once again, I would not try to detract from those serene, comforting words for the bereaved, but, I believe that that application would be only SECONDARY.
These eleven had already had some differences concerning who would be greatest in the kingdom. Peter had avowed his allegiance but wanted to know what they would get out of it. Well, Jesus lets them know, first of all, that there was room enough for everyone: ... in my Father's house are many mansions .." (Dwelling places.) But he is preparing a place especially for them.
Primarily, Jesus is talking with, and later, praying with and for, the eleven who, in just a while, will be his apostles (the ones who are sent). He has just told them of his departure. Their sorrow was immediate and extreme. Their leader was leaving. After a while he would make them understand that he was speaking of departure by death. But, if that were the case, where did that leave them? Their hope of a King and a Kingdom there in Jerusalem was dashed. Must they return to their nets and to the tables of custom? Just where did they stand?
So, in these chapters he is NOT telling them of their future in the hereafter, but he is preparing them for their great task, and reassuring them in regard to leadership, comfort, and authority. According to the contextual structure of these verses and in harmony with verses we glean from other places, I believe he is plotting their immediate future, not their distant future. Bear with me.
"In my Father's house ..." Where is the Father's abode, his dwelling? We would generally say "heaven" of course. Albert Barnes makes a pertinent observation concerning God's house, not based on Greek language, but based on what we talk about so very much but, then, fail to make application to what we say. God's house, his dwelling place, maybe, and is, anywhere and everywhere. "Is God not OMNIPRESENT? If he is, and I believe that he is, then why limit God to a particular "place" that we always put upward and call heaven. Certainly, "heaven is his throne,"but "the earth is his foot-stool." So, in my Father's house"could be anywhere in this area we mortals call "the universe." The Father is in his universal dwelling place.
But, we are more concerned with "the place" he is preparing. We have some interesting notes concerning the word "place" which in Greek is "topos." Thayer, even though he does not designate this usage for John 14:2-3, does define the same word "topos" as "the condition or station held by one in any company or assembly as in 1 Corinthians 14:16,"filleth the place of the unlearned" (RSV), or "the place in this ministry" (Acts 1:25). Harold Moulton in his book, "The Analytical lexicon Revised," page 407, defines this word as used in John 14:2-3: "a dwelling place, abode, mansion, dwelling, SEAT." It is thus used in Matthew 23:2: "Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat." Also defined as "room" or "position." The latter is the way I shall be using it. It is so used in John 11:48: "If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and takeaway both our place [position-BC] and nation." If you will check carefully, the word "place" is never used to explicitly indicate a dwelling place.
The common teaching is that he is preparing heaven for the saved when he says that he goes to "prepare a place," but heaven, even the third or highest heaven, was prepared long before he ascended. One writer said that he was "cleaning house" or "garnishing" it so as to receive guests. Another said, in a funeral sermon for a carpenter, "he has gone to help the Lord build the houses for the rest of us." Etc.,etc.
I believe he was reassuring these apostles of their "place" in the kingdom, their "seat" or "station" as per Moulton and Thayer. After he went away, they would be the "ambassadors" of heaven (2 Corinthians 5:20-21). They would be heaven's spokesmen (Matthew 16:19 and 18:18). They would speak with the power and authority of heaven behind them (1 Corinthians 2:4). They would have the "signs of an apostle" (2 Corinthians 12:12), hence, they could speak with authority (2 Corinthians 10:8), not by their own decisions but as heaven's messengers. Remember, also, that Jesus had told them of this "place" before, "Verily I say unto you, that ye which have followed me, in the regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye shall also sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Matthew 19:28). They were to be placed in a high position. And again, Luke 22:28-30: "Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations. And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel." Notice, particularly, the last part of that verse. And, "Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom judgment was committed" (RSV-Revelation 20:4).
All right, Jesus was going away--back to the Father. It was necessary for him to go away that their "place" might be made ready. He would ascend to the throne of David (Acts 2:33-36) which would be "the throne of his glory." That would let us know when the "regeneration" was. When he sat on the throne of his glory "in the regeneration." The regeneration was the time in which people would be "re" generated or "born again" (John 3:5 & Titus 3:5). Remember he said, "It is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you" (John 16:7).
"I go to prepare a place for you ..." The eleven and later, twelve. But, he said, "I will come again." Someone might ask, "Is this not his coming at the end of time?" I think not. Twice in our context he says that he is coming to them (14:18 & 14:28). So, he came to them, not personally, but representatively. "I will not leave you comfortless, I will come to you." "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send IN MY NAME" (vs. 26).
Finally, "that where I am, there ye may be also." In harmony with my other remarks, now that statement sounds a whole lot like Matthew 28:20, does it not? ".... and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world" and that is exactly what he is saying in our context under consideration. "Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us?" (vs. 22). "Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him." (vs. 23). "That where I am there you may be also." Where would he be? He would be on his throne, at his table, and they would be there with him. That's the place he was preparing for them.
by Bob Craig
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