Summary: Jesus went to heaven to prepare a place for us to go to when we go to our heavenly home. Going home fulfills the longing we have for God. Only God can fulfill the emptiness of our souls.
“Let not your hearts be troubled. You 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 to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know and the way you know.”
Isn’t that comforting? It is not surprising that these words are often read at funerals. Jesus said these words to his disciples shortly before his arrest and crucifixion. He knew that they would be upset by his death and ascension, and he wanted to comfort them.
These words are part of his farewell discourse as written in John 13-17. Jesus was preparing his disciples for his departure. Jesus came to earth from his father, and now he was preparing to go back to his father’s house. It is the same house all believers will go to one day.
These same words comforted the early Christians, especially when they were being persecuted. They also give us comfort today. When something terrible happens, we often ask “Where is God?” This is only natural. Jesus asks us to trust him in the midst of our confusion. The special comfort is to believe and trust in Jesus. When life gives us hard knocks, we can let go of uncertainties and believe that Jesus has prepared a place for us in our heavenly home because we can trust him.
The phrase “Do not let your hearts be troubled” might seem a little ironic to us as we gather for worship. After all, whose heart isn’t troubled? All of us have had turmoil in our lives at one time or another. It doesn’t matter if the turmoil is caused by problems within our family, at work, among our friends or even within our churches. I know, because my mother and I have been dealing with some personal trouble this week. My brother had to undergo surgery in Edmonton to deal with a couple of blockages in his veins. Needless to say, it has been a couple of difficult days for us, but we have been praying to God, and God has been with us. I’m pleased to report that that the surgery went very well and my brother is recovering nicely
Jesus has already made many dwelling places for us here on earth. Some of these places are places of worship such as this building. Here we can be unburdened from past wrongs. Here we can be ourselves and get help carrying life’s burdens. It is at times like these and in places like this building where God shows us unconditional love, mercy and surprises.
These places are tailor-made for all of us, both as individuals and as a faith community. They remind me of the words of a song that was popular in the late 1970’s. It was recorded by Peter Frampton and is entitled “I’m In You” It describes how Jesus comforts us here on earth. The first verse goes like this:
I don’t care where I go
When I’m with you
When I cry you don’t laugh
‘cause you know me
I’m in you, you’re in me
I’m in you, you’re in me
‘cause you gave me the love
Love that I never had
Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament teachings that there is only one way to God and one way to see God. Jesus’ ministry and character reveal and reflect God’s character of love, forgiveness and grace. God works through Jesus and he works through us thanks to the Holy Spirit that lives in us. We, like the disciples, can do even greater works than Jesus did thanks to the Holy Spirit.
The disciples could do works that would be greater than the works Jesus did because they could go out into the world. Each and every one of us can also do great works because we can go out into the world and do what Jesus and the disciples did. The disciples had the privilege of working for God and knowing the purpose for their lives. We can also have the same privilege and purpose. Jesus will guide us in the direction he wants us to go. He will help us to “keep our eyes on the prize.”
The reason why Jesus went away was to secure our future. He prepared a heavenly home for us. Jesus is the only way to heaven. Most people today, if asked why they think God will let them into heaven, would say that God will let them into heaven because they try to be good and go to church. They also believe that if their good deeds outweigh their bad deeds then God will let them into heaven. Man’s pride believes that God somehow owes him a place in heaven or eternal life as a reward for good deeds, earnest effort or sincerity. We can’t earn our way to heaven. Belonging to a particular church or a particular denomination won’t get us into heaven. Jesus is the only way to salvation. Jesus is the only way to heaven.