Is Jesus Building You A House In Heaven?
I'm sorry to tell you but no, despite the myriad of gospel songs about a mansion over the hilltop, or the mansion in glory, Jesus never said he was building one.
John 14:2-4, “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. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know." (KJV).
What is this about? Essentially Jesus, according to John, said, "In my Father's household/dwelling/family it encompasses everyone and demonstrates THE place that all dwell.
The “Father’s house” is a common phrase in Hebrew thought that means the “family”. The “house of David” didn’t mean his brick and mortar building. It meant the dynasty of family. So Jesus said, “in my Father’s family…”
Next he is talking about how wide this family is, so much so that it encompassaes all creation. In my Father’s family are many… The word is: 4183 polýs – many (high in number); multitudinous, plenteous, "much"; "great" in amount (extent). 4183 /polýs ("much in number") emphasizes the quantity involved. 4183 (polýs) "signifies 'many, numerous'; . . . with the article it is said of a multitude as being numerous" (Vine, Unger, White, NT, 113,114) – i.e. great in amount.
He is speaking of the fact that the Father's household/family is large and spacious so everyone is included. Paul notes this in Ephesians 3:14 saying, "I bow my knee to the Father from whom the WHOLE family in heaven AND EARTH is named/identified." There is one human family all whose origin is the Father according to Paul.
Or as Paul says in Eph. 4:6, "one God and Father OF ALL who is above ALL, through all and IN ALL."
In my Father’s house are many “mansions”. The word for mansions in Greek just means places to dwell, hang out, be or abide: 3438 monḗ (from 3306 /ménō, "to remain, abide") – an abiding dwelling-place (i.e. not transitory). 3438 /monḗ ("an individual dwelling") is only used twice in the NT (both times by Christ). In God’s vast all-inclusive family there are many abiding places to hang out, to learn, to grow, to know. You can know what divinity is like in a million places.
So “in my Father’s family” includes a multitude of shapes, sizes, types colors, belief systems, etc or as Paul said the whole of creation is the family of God. Paul said too that the love of God is beyond knowledge and prayed they would know how deep and high and wide and long it was. It is deep so that no matter how deep a person went in even the grave, sheol, God was there. Wide to include all. High even into the highest heavens. And long as far as eternity. This is Jesus’ point.
DOES THE BIBLE TEACH THAT EVERYONE WOULD KNOW GOD?
First, let's look at a very misunderstood passage. Jesus is with his disciples in the upper room, teaching them before he is betrayed and goes to the cross. He says to Philip: “I am the way, the truth, and the life."
Pay attention please to the fact that Jesus never mentions heaven anywhere in John 14. This is not really about going to heaven when you die. And even more so did you notice that Jesus did NOT say he was the way to heaven? Always look at context. Jesus claimed He was the way to know the Father, the truth about what the Father was like compared to the Law, and Jesus demonstrated what life was like if one knew the Father. He is not saying believe in Jesus so you can go to heaven when you die anywhere in this passage.
According to John, Jesus said no one comes to know by experience what the Father is like except by the way I do it and show it, ie by love, by my deeds, so…
THE DIVINE IS ALL AROUND US…THIS IS POWERFUL
7 “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him... 9He who has seen Me has seen the Father...11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.
Follow the line of thought... "Philip, when you know what I'm like OR when you see the things I do, in how I treat people, how I love self-sacrificially, how I give, how I speak the truth.. you are seeing the Father. NOW Philip FROM NOW ON you DO know him and you HAVE seen him because you see the works themselves."
THE WORKS THEMSELVES. Do you know the implications of this? The world sees and experiences love, patience, acts of kindness, grace, self-control, healing, mercy and even miracles. The problem is that like Philip, they don't REALIZE that is “God” and what he is like. They know him but don't know that they know him.
Remember the word "know" in the Bible is not like we use it in Western English. We think "know" means I have an intellectual understanding of God. But in Greek it means to know by experience.
SO IN MY OPINION EVERYONE "knows" by experience what GOD is like. From now on, Jesus said, this is how you will know what God is like. He is the "God and Father of all, who is above all, through all, and in all" (Eph 4:6). Like Philip everyone knows or has had experiences with the Divine but they don’t recognize it or realize it.
What they see OUTSIDE of them, is also what is WITHIN them.
Even the author here saw the foreshadowing of this for their day: Hebrews 8:11, “None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for ALL shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. 12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”
Jesus’ lesson is that just like you can know the Father by seeing the good in me, you can also know the Divine by seeing the good anywhere in anyone.
THAT WHERE I AM YOU MAY BE ALSO?
Finally, this passage in John has been so abused that we read things into it that aren’t there. I’m not saying a heaven doesn’t exist. I am revealing to you how Jesus isn’t a building you a 4 story house by the beach. And John 14 isn’t about believe in Jesus so you can go to heaven when you die. In fact the word “saved” isn’t used here in these passages either.
Again the word heaven isn’t used, but some may ask about this portion, “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.”
How so? From Jesus perspective, the point of his death was still to reveal the Father. God didn’t punish him there (there are no scriptures to that effect). Jesus said if you have seen me you have seen the Father. He believed part of his purpose was to reveal what God is like. To Jesus, to die on the cross forgiving enemies was the way for others to know God. So, “I go to prepare a place for you to see what God is like, that where I am in knowing the Father is where you can be too. By trusting that revelation I can come and take you with me into the knowledge of God.”
There is way more to that and I don’t want to get off track. Needless to say, the entirety of this passage isn’t about going to heaven when you die, it is Jesus teaching that they were to know what God is like by his life and his death.
If that disappoints, then just wait till we explore what heaven is like from the testimony of the Bible and other sources. Really fascinating stuff.
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