Quarantine… Lock down… Look up

What began as a “self-imposed quarantine” a few weeks ago has morphed into a government-imposed quarantine.  In recent weeks and days, we have watched our super energetic environment come to a halt.  It is difficult to imagine how a robust economy, busy schedules, and demanding obligations, not to mention personal priorities, could be immediately halted.  COVID–19 threatens education, entertainment, economy, and ecclesiology, among other entities.

By now, several weeks into this pandemic, we are becoming accustomed to frequent warnings and threats.  On the one hand, we do not feel quite so vulnerable to COVID–19.  On the other hand, ambiguity and anxiety regarding the future still trouble us.  Economic and fiscal uncertainty continues to trouble us.  This has caused many of us to feel overwhelmed – troubled.

In a recent blog (04/03/20), we considered the 1st of Jesus’ 2-pronged approach to confronting trouble.  Remember Jesus is familiar with the feeling.  He has faced turmoil and gut-wrenching anxiety just as we do.  Would you like to know how he handled it?  His strategy is revealed in John 14.1 – 6.

Previously we considered the 1st prong: i1 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me…” In other words,Control your emotions by faith in God’s good providence and God’s redemption in Jesus.

Now, we consider the 2nd point: look up – focus on the bigger picture.

We desire to be with Jesus.  We want to see God.  We do trust in him; we believe in Jesus and deeply desire his presence.  We know that in Christ we have complete acceptance and we desire this in our relationships.  But

What we have is disappointment.  We feel like Peter:  why can I not follow you now?  We identify with Philip:  Lord, show us the Father and it is enough for us!

But the good news is that Jesus promises a wonderful future.  Consider the future blessings he promises.

Vs. 2-4 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 if 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. And you know the way to where I am going.”

Jesus is telling his followers: Control your mind by thinking about heaven.  These truths are also promises to ponder personally guaranteed by the Lord Jesus.

So, when you are gripped by fear and anxiety, look ahead to your brighter future.  Notice these nuggets of information about heaven:

Heaven is home.  What is home?  A home is not only where you live.  It is more than where you store your stuff or spend the night.  A home is where you are accepted and protected.  It is a safe place. 

Jesus refers to his future glory as my Father’s house.  Jesus almost always called God, his Father.  This is what makes heaven heaven!  Heaven is where God is, where God dwells.  So, heaven is the Father’s house. 

Many of us have known Christians who love Jesus and have an overwhelming desire to be with him.  Some of us have had friends or parents or grandparents who spoke of heaven as “going home.”  Perhaps they are just plain worn out from the rigors of life, or perhaps they have struggled with a disease or disability

They could identify with Paul when he wrote Philippians 3:20: But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ…

Those who are assured of their destiny long to go home to be with the Lord.

Heaven is a permanent place 

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 if 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.

Jesus speaks of heaven as a real place.  It is the actual place where Jesus Christ went to prepare for us.  We will consider how he prepared it for us in a moment.  But for now, think that heaven is a real place. 

It is a place with rooms.  Let’s think about this for a moment.  The KJV of this verse is well known.  In my Father’s house are many mansions (KJV).  The modern versions each translate rooms and it sounds like that perhaps we have been cheated.  Before we were going to get a mansion; now we only get a room.

The KJV’s translation follows the Latin Vulgate of Jerome and utilizes a Latin word, often meaning room or dwelling place that forms the root of our word mansion.  The actual Greek term is little used but refers to the place where one dwells or lives and does not imply size or lavishness. 

Some interpreters argue based on other usages of the term outside of the NT, that a permanent in contrast to a temporary dwelling is in view.  If this is the case, then Jesus is stressing our security and safety in the new heaven and new earth.  We look forward to a settled home in heaven!

I tend to agree with this, but regardless, Jesus speaks of something far better than a mansion.  Jesus says, In my Father’s house are many rooms… I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.  Our place in heaven will be in the Father’s house.  We will not only be in the same neighborhood.  We will be welcomed guests in the house of the great King! 

Heaven is a prepared place.

 …I go to prepare you a place.  Jesus spoke these words on the eve of his crucifixion.  His words tell us that he was going to do something only he could do.  (lit.) I myself am going to prepare for you a place. 

At the announcement of his birth, he was given the name Jesus, because he would save his people from their sin.  Jesus came to do what only he could do. Jesus was born to die.  He was born so that he could identify with us in our humanity.  He became a man.  While he did not cease to be God, the Second Person of the Trinity added to his divine nature all the qualities and characteristics of humanity.  Jesus became the unique God-man. 

As a man, Jesus lived under the curse of God against sin.  He faced and overcame every kind of temptation.  Indeed, he was tempted in every way as we are, yet was without sin. 

On the cross, he not only endured unimaginable physical anguish and punishment, but he suffered the greatest spiritual torment possible.  The one who had no sin would become sin for us so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 

Jesus prepared a place for us by his death on the cross.  He was the lamb of God without blemish, the perfect sacrifice, who offered himself on the cross to pay the penalty of sinners – for us.  He calls attention to the fact that he has prepared rooms.  In other words, there is enough space for all his people.  Everyone who calls upon the name of Jesus will be saved. 

Jesus died for whoever will call upon him.  Have you called on the name of Jesus for salvation?  Do you have reservations at the Palace of the great King?

If you have not called on him, will you do it right now?  He is the only way to heaven and he offers you a place now.

So far, we have reflected on 3 of 5 golden nuggets of truth Jesus revealed regarding heaven.

  • Heaven is home.
  • Heaven is a permanent place.
  • Heaven is a prepared place.

Next time, we will reflect on the 2 remaining nuggets.  Until then, use this field-tested approach of Jesus.  Face fear and anxiety head-on by trusting in God’s goodness and salvation through Christ.  Next, look forward to future blessings.

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