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A Place Prepared

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Sermon on John 14:1-4

Title:  A Place Prepared

Sermon Theme:  Christ as prepared a place for his people.

Goal: to assure Christians that Christ has prepared a place for his people.

Need:  Often Christians can worry and question what is on the other side of this life.

Outline:

  1. Introduction
  2. Trust in Christ
  3. A Place Prepared
  4. Return with Christ
  5. Conclusion

Sermon in Oral Style:

Congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ,

          There’s no place like home.  We all know that line from the movie The Wizard of Oz.  Dorothy wants to get home from the land of Oz.  So she taps her… what are they… ruby slippers together and says, “There’s no place like home.  There’s no place like home.

          Home should be a wonderful place.  A London news paper once had a contest that asked readers to send in their answer to this question.  “What is home.”  They received many entries.  Finally, they came up with a winning entry.  It went like this:  “Home is the place you are treated the best and complain the most.”  Maybe its true for many of us.

          A better definition might be what Robert Frost wrote one time.  “Home is the place that when you arrive there, you have to be taken in.”  I think that definition gets it pretty close to what I think of when I think of home.  The place that when you arrive, you have to be taken in.

          The notion of home is especially important, I would imagine to immigrants.  Where was home during the immigrant years?  Even though the journey had been made across the ocean, Canada wasn’t really home.  The houses people lived in weren’t homes.  Many people were deeply homesick.  They missed home… that place far across the ocean that was left behind.  That was the place you felt you would always be taken in.  Not in Canada. 

          But slowly, Canada became home.  And slowly the houses lived in in Canada became family homes.  Slowly, many started to feel a little better about these new homes.  Usually the stories of our life are written in chapters about each home we have had.

          Time marches on.  Some of us, even though we haven’t changed houses lately are starting to homeless.  Our same old houses just don’t feel the same any more.

          Some where in our lives we start thinking less and less about our earthly homes and we start thinking a lot more about if there is a home beyond this one for us.  We start wondering if this is all there is for us, or truly is there something else better.  Will there be a new home?  Will it be all its been cracked up to be?  Is heaven for me, and is it worth it?

          The disciples are wondering a little different thing at the time when Jesus says what he does in the passage.  He has just told his disciples where he has to go, to the cross to defeat sin and death, they cannot go, but later they will follow and be persecuted and die for their faith.

          That’s what worrying the disciples.  Why can’t they go along right now?  Why is Jesus saying they are going to fall away?  Why did Jesus say Peter is going to disown him?  They are very worried about this.  If Jesus sees ahead and sees that they are going to really mess up this being-a-disciple thing, what does that mean for their place in their eternal home with God?

          Jesus says in verse 1
1
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.[1]

          His response to their worries and to our worries is a simple one. He says, don’t let your hearts be troubled.  Don’t worry about it.  Don’t fret about it.  Don’t let your insides get all twisted up when you think about the next life.

          He says Trust.  Trust in God.  And Trust in Jesus.

          We usually think of trust and faith of being the things that guarantee our salvation and guarantee our place in the new creation.  Here Christ says, trust is the way to be sure about the home yet to come.  How do you keep your heart from getting terrified over the end of this life?  You do your best to trust in God and in Jesus Christ.

          We need to trust that he knows every single sin we have ever committed.  We need to trust that in spite of all of that, while we were still sinners, he died for us. 

          If ever you wonder if those terrible things you did in the past are going to stand in the way of your eternal home, remember the disciples.  Here they are being told that they will share eternal life with Christ and Jesus knows that they still are going to commit some of the worst sins.  They are going to abandon and deny Jesus when he needs them the most.  This sorry bunch of sinners are already marked for eternal life.  That sure comfort this sinners heart.

          Jesus Christ does the same to us today.  When he died on the cross, he was already looking ahead, bearing the weight of all our sins.  Being welcomed to eternal life is not about what you have done, but whose disciple you were.  Have you been Christ’s disciple.  Then do not let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God.  And trust in Jesus Christ.

          The next part of the passage continues this comfort to the disciples.  Verse 2 says, 2 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.[2]  If you noticed a few words being different, its because I read you the verse as you find it in the New King James version of the Bible.  The King James Bible that many people think is the English version that Christians should still be using, uses this word “Mansions.”  The New King James version kept the word Mansions, but puts a little footnote by it.  It says, the Greek word, “Literally means dwellings”

          I wonder if the translators of the New KJV put a footnate because they realized that the word Mansion today gives a little different picture than Christ was actually bringing across.  The word Christ uses would be better called dwelling, or room, like we find in the NIV Bibles that we use in our church.  Mansion gives you the picture that Christ went to prepare these lavish homes with all the extras.  A million dollar home. 

          Jesus wasn’t saying he was going to prepare an expensive place.  It will be wonderful, no doubt about that, but Christ is going to prepare a room, a dwelling for us.  It could be a broom closet for all we know from the word Jesus says here.  But it would be better to dwell in the broom closet of the house of God, than in mansions anywhere else. 

          That is really the point.  Christ went before us so that the house of the Father would have a place ready for us.  He is giving us that assurance that we won’t be homeless.  We are at home in this life.  And we have a home in the next life.  We have a place where we can go that, because of Christ’s grace, we cannot be turned away.  Do let your hearts be troubled, there is a place prepared for you.

          Then Christ gives one more point of assurance that there is a place for those who believe in him.  Verse 3 says, “3And 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.

          Its interesting that Jesus leaves it in an if… then sort of statement.  If I go and prepare a place for you, then you can be sure that I will come again and receive you to myself.”  Jesus says it this way, not because he is going to leave the possibility open that he might not have gone to prepare a place.  “Oh oh… maybe I did, maybe I didn’t go and prepare a place.”  It is a sure thing that Christ has done this.  But, if we place ourselves in the disciples place where the last work of Christ was yet to come.  It would leave us in suspense.

          We know the disciples must have been horrified to see Jesus die on the cross.  They would be especially horrified that each of them basically let him be taken away, refusing to stand up for him.  Then as they watch him breathe his last and go into the grave, hopefully this phrase is resonating with them already.  If I go . . . I will come back.  And then as they watch Christ ascend into heaven, these words will ring loud and clear for them.  “That’s what Jesus was talking about.”  If I go to prepare a place, I will come again.  Now we know.  He is gone from us.  He has give us the holy spirit.  He is away preparing that place for us already.

          By leaving it as an “if” it holds off the comfort for the disciples until the time that Jesus is actually gone from them.  When he is gone from them, it is proof that he is making a place.  Proof is such a great comfort.

          People of God, we can claim the same comfort for ourselves.  We can look and see.  Jesus died.  He rose again.  And then he ascended into heaven.  We can feel the Holy Spirit at work in our hearts.  He left another, like he promised.  The faith that comes from the Holy Spirit is a guarantee for us that Jesus is busy getting our room ready in God’s house.  And we can be sure that he is going to come back again.  And when he comes again we are going to be at home with God for all eternity.  Do not let your hearts be troubled.  If Christ has gone, he is going to return to bring us to the place prepared for us.

          Doubt is nothing to be ashamed of.  Wondering if we will have a home in the next life is not sinful.  It is soemthing that we all deal with from time to time.  But let the words that God left with his disciples sink in and give you assurance today.  Home is the place where when you arrive you have to be taken in.  God’s house is our home.  We have a room prepared for us.  In the new creation at the second coming of Christ we will go to our new and eternal home with our triune God.  We have homes in this life, but the final chapter for us will be, without a doubt, an eternal home that’s been prepared for us by Christ.

This is the assurance from God’s word.  And all God’s people say.  AMEN

         


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[1]  The Holy Bible : New International Version. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984

[2]  The New King James Version. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1982

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