By: Lelonnie Hibberd ©2008
Many years ago, Jesus was with His disciples and followers; ordinary, mostly uneducated young men and women. Many of them had been poor fishermen, having to rely on what the sea yielded for their food and their daily needs. Some had known Jesus for nearly 3 years and this night they were having a meal with him.
They were all feeling a bit anxious; the past few days had been strange and difficult. One minute their Master had been riding a donkey through a crowded street where the children had been shouting praises. But then the religious leaders had been shouting disapproval. The next minute Jesus was in the famous Temple driving out all the business people with a whip, causing the religious leaders to get even angrier with Him.
His disciples knew there were people who wanted Jesus imprisoned, maybe even killed and they did not feel safe in the city. But they also trusted their Master; they had seen enough miracles to know He was able to keep them safe. Oh how well they remembered the storm at sea, or the time in Nazareth when Jesus had miraculously escaped from a crowd who was trying to stone Him.
The Lord seemed to know their thoughts because He began to speak straight to their fearful hearts:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled” He told them, "do not give in to fear or worry. When you are with Me, anxiety doesn’t have to control or influence you. You can say 'No!' You do not have to let fear fill your hearts.”
Jesus continued; He now had the disciples' attention! “You believe in God, My Father” He said, “you have believed in the God of Israel since you were children – you have heard and believed the true stories about His power and mercy towards your forefathers. You have heard of His fame and you have believed what you have heard.”
“Now believe in Me, believe all the words I have spoken to you over these past 3 years; believe what your eyes have seen and what your ears have heard. Believe me when I said I came from the Father. Believe me when I said if you’ve seen Me you’ve seen the Father.”
The apostles' eyes opened wider! Some could feel a sense of hope rising from somewhere deep within; others relaxed under the familiarity of His voice and the authority with which He spoke. This was their Master, this was their Friend!
There was no doubt that they had seen amazing things, like the day He had brought a little girl back to life or the day He fed 5000 people from just a few loaves and fishes.
Jesus continued; the warmth of His voice catching their attention again, “In my Father’s house are many mansions…”
Jesus’ followers were simple living folks and He spoke in a way they could understand. So the Father had a dwelling place; a place where He lived. That dwelling place was large enough that it had many other homes in it; spacious and rich. Jesus told His followers He was going to His Father’s house and there He would prepare a place for them.
Some people feel that Jesus was going to Heaven to make a place for us there and that is partly true because people who have died since the time of Jesus have gone to be with Him in a place we call Heaven. But that was not the full truth as we will soon see. There is more than just being with Jesus in Heaven; much, much more. That is a story for another day.
Back to today's story, what must this news have been like for Jesus’ followers; that God had a house and that Jesus was preparing a place for them! What did the apostles feel, how clearly did they understand Jesus’ words? Jesus didn’t give them time to think about things, he continued to speak to them,
“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again…”
A clamor arose, as they all spoke at once! “What? Where are your going? For how long? Jesus we cannot do without you! Why do you have to go away? What will happen to us?"
You can just imagine the progression of their thoughts, "What?? You…will come again? You will return to us? We’ll be together again?”
Reading this story in the Bible, one can sense the relief filling the air. Maybe all that some of the disciples could think about was that Jesus was coming back again. Maybe some of them were still worried that He was going to leave them. They had no idea of the sadness and sorrow they were about to face, or the awful events that were about to overwhelm them in the next few hours. The disciples probably had very little idea of the importance of the promise of Jesus spoken in just a few words, “I will come again.” They did not know how they and dozens of generations after them would hold onto that promise and long for its fulfillment.
“I will come again”
(Continued next week...)