IN MY FATHER'S HOUSE ARE MANY MANSIONS
"Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also." (John 14:1-3 RSV)
One often hears this passage misused at funerals, to reassure grieving family and friends that the deceased is not really dead, but has gone on to a better life somewhere "up there", where they are now supposed to be domiciled in one of the glorious mansions in God's "heavenly house". (Where they will be joined, sooner or later, by their friends.)
However that "comforting" use of the passage, plainly contradicts the real comfort offered by the Scriptures.
In 1 Thess 4:13-18, Paul offers comfort to grieving Christians, by reminding them of the Resurrection of the Body, as THE hope of those who have fallen asleep. (i.e. dead and without conscious existence)
Paul says that they can indeed expect to be re-united, not in Heaven when their own death occurs, but after the resurrection which will take place at the return of Jesus from Heaven.
These words of Jesus must not be used to contradict other plain Bible Teaching that the real Christian Hope of life beyond the grave, is not as intangible "immortal souls now", but in immortal bodies in the "Age To Come"
THE CONTEXT OF THE PASSAGE
These words were spoken by Jesus during His Upper Room Discourse on the night before His crucifixion.
He had just been speaking of His coming crucifixion in which God would be glorified by His obedience on the cross. He pointed to His own sacrificial love as the standard by which the world would be invited to measure true disciples. He told Peter in particular, that he was going where Peter could not presently follow, but would eventually be able to do so. (John 13:31-37)
Jesus was speaking of His crucifixion which was to take place the very next day. Peter was not ready for that yet. But the day was to come many years later when Peter would be ready to lay down His own life in obedience to His risen Lord.
It was at this point, when Jesus was trying to prepare the disciples for His death that He offered words of comfort for the grief that they would feel, in just a few hours time.
Yes ..... He was going away (His crucifixion the next day) but if he did, He would also return (His resurrection on the third day).
Notice that the purpose of going and returning was to receive them to Himself, that "where I am, you may be also." He was going to the cross, and returning to life again, to prepare the way for their own entry into the family of God.
When it was all done, they also would be able to become dwelling places for God, just as he already was.
LIVING IN GOD'S HOUSE
In God's house, it is God who lives in the rooms! We are not the tenants. We are the rooms in the temple of God, where God lives.
Jesus was not promising to prepare rooms in Heaven for disciples to live in. He was promising that disciples can become rooms in which God lives on earth .
In God's house there are many rooms in which God lives. In God's temple there are many people who make up the living temple. This is the language which Jesus uses later in this same chapter.
"If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come and make our home with him." (John 14:23 RSV)
The same thought is expressed by Paul.
"For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, "I will live in them and move among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people." (2 Cor 6:16 RSV)
When we commit ourselves to love Jesus and obey Jesus, He and His Father together, make their dwelling place in the temple of our bodies, by giving us the Holy Spirit.
(John 14:15 & 1 Cor 3:16)
We are promised the earth as our eternal abode ..... not heaven! "Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth." (Matt 5:5 RSV)
We are promised that when we die we shall be awakened from our sleep by the voice of the archangel and the sound of the trumpet of God. (1 Thess 4:16)
Only after that shall we be "always with the Lord". (verse 17)
If we understand these things clearly then the true meaning of Jesus' words becomes apparent.
Jesus has already "gone away" to fulfil His mission on the cross, and then returned from the grave.
By this He has reconciled us to God.
By this He has prepared a place for us to become rooms in the Temple of God, in which God can dwell for all eternity.
By this He has received us unto Himself.