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Better Than Mansions
Many homespun preachers have suggested, “Jesus, as the master carpenter, has spent thousands of years handcrafting your eternal home.” It sounds beautiful. The promise of an eternal and opulent mansion, waiting for us in glory, feeds our hope. It probably also feeds our greed.
Inside, I shake my head when I hear people speculate about fishing in heaven or playing golf on the universe’s best course. Will heaven merely be an extended, and lavish, retirement? The idea is supposed
to be “Since I have a mansion waiting for me, I don’t have to worry about getting all I can now.” But, have you noticed how aggressively we pursue the riches of earth anyway? If our view of heaven were different, I wonder if it would change the value we place on pursuing similar things on earth.
You’re probably already countering, “But the gospel promises
mansions.” John 14 quotes Jesus during the Last Supper: “In My Father’s house, there are many mansions.” Later, Revelation speaks of pearly gates and streets of gold. It only makes sense for our mansions to line those streets and be ensconced behind those protective gates.
Consider some thoughts with me: the word sometimes translated “mansions” can actually mean “dwelling places,” a place of abiding, or simply “home.” Jesus might
have been saying, “In My Father’s house are many places you will call ‘home.’” Does that violate your American dream? If you knew heaven had no gigantic houses with sharply manicured lawns, would you feel cheated?
Jesus’ next words are key. “I go to prepare a place for you. Then I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. “Place” is a similar word to “house” and “mansions” in that it refers to a habitation. It is, however, a limited word, a specialized
place for a specific purpose and person (or possibly group of people.) It can also be translated as an “opportunity.” In our vernacular, Jesus was essentially promising a “reserved spot.”
His next destination of significance was the cross. When you put it all together, Jesus could just as easily have been saying, without the veiled language He preferred at this time, “I am going to the cross to prepare a reserved spot for you, a place in heaven you will call ‘home.’”
A little while later, Jesus ended His high priestly prayer, echoing His words in John 14. “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory
, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”
was Jesus’ priority – that we would know Him and be with Him. He was not concerned that we be eternally happy because we attained a reward that is actually the fulfillment of our earthly dreams. This meshes well with Jesus’ conclusion in John 14. “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by Me.” We think of this as a phrase of exclusion. It is. We are not allowed to get to heaven except through Jesus. But it is also a statement of gracious inclusion. Jesus is the point of heaven
. He is the way and
the destination. There is no other reason to go there except to be with Him, to see Him in His glory as He prayed, to worship Him perfectly, and to serve Him. Even if heaven were empty – and gratefully it is not – it is still infinitely worthy because we will be with
the One of infinite worth.
was what was important to Jesus. This
was the gift He wanted to give to His friends. The primary call of a disciple, according to Mark 3:14, is to be with Him. Jesus spent His last free moments, before the cross, with His friends. Before ascending to heaven, Jesus again spent time with His followers. The reason I don’t need to pursue wealth on earth is not because I have a mansion waiting for me in heaven. It is because I have something of far greater value waiting for me in heaven, something I can begin pursuing right now.
The grand dream of heaven is the same as the grand dream of earth. Paul summarizes the only difference in 1 Corinthians 13:12. “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” Think of the difference, on earth, if each of His children began pursuing Him, instead of a heavenly reward.
Article submitted Friday, April 27, 2012 & read 472 times.
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