The Promised Home!
Francis Bourdillon, 1864
"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And 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. You know the way to the place where I am going."
Thomas said to him, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?"
Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you really knew Me, you would know My Father as well. From now on, you do know Him and have seen Him."
Jesus Christ said this — therefore it must be true. For He knew everything and could do everything, and He never deceived anyone. If He could not have done what He said — then He would not have said it. He spoke these words to His disciples, John and James and Peter and Thomas and the others, who always used to be with Him. He was going away from them now, and they were very sad. What could they do when He would be gone? It was He to whom they came when they were in any trouble; it was He who helped them and taught them and comforted them. They looked to Him for everything. No wonder they were sad, to think He was going away — sad and anxious too. He knew they were, so He would comfort them. "Let not your heart be troubled," He began. What happy words, coming from His lips! Their hearts were troubled, and He knew it; but He said, "Let not your heart be troubled." He would not have them be sad and anxious; He would have them put away their fears.
Ah! It is easy to speak like this to people in trouble, but it is not so easy to take their trouble away. Do we not all feel that, when we want to give comfort? Yet even a kind word often does give comfort. But sometimes when a person is very full of sorrow or anxiety such as he feels that nobody can relieve, it makes him almost angry to be told not to fret. "What is the use of telling me not to fret?" he says; "I must fret while things are as they are."
But how different it was when Jesus Christ was the speaker! His words were not the words of one who wished to help, but could not. He not only spoke comfort, but could give comfort. What was the comfort that He gave at this time to the disciples?
First, He said, "You believe in God — believe also in Me"; bidding them believe in Him, just as they believed in God the Father; and well they might, for He was the Son of God. If they did not believe in Him, they would not believe what He was going to say; and then, of course, His words could give them no comfort.
Then He went on to tell them that, though He was going away, yet He was not going away forever. He was going to a far better place than any place in this world, and some day they would go there too. There was plenty of room for them in that happy place. "In My Father's house are many mansions." He was going there first, to prepare a place for them; if He did not go, they would never get there. But He was going; He was going quite soon; and, after a while, He would come back and fetch them, and then they would be with Him forever in that happy place and never part again. Did they understand what He said? Some of them did, for He said, "And where I go you know — and the way you know."
But there was one at least who did not. Thomas, who was always slow in faith, said, "Lord, we do not know where You are going — how can we know the way?" He was very sad and desponding. All looked dark to him. He could not at that moment turn his mind to what Jesus had taught him before about the happy place; and as for the way to get there, he could not see that at all. He could see nothing then, but fear and gloom. Was Thomas right? No, he ought not to have been so fearful and desponding — he ought to have had more faith.
But Jesus answered him kindly; not rebuking him, but telling him the way quite plainly, and bidding him fix his hopes on Him: "I am the way, the truth, and the life." Oh, what happy words! So plain, so sure, so full of meaning! Happy words for Thomas, happy for us. For He who was the way for Thomas — is the way for us also: the way, the truth, and the life; so that, if we seek to go by Him, we shall certainly reach the Father's house; and if we trust and follow Him, we shall never find ourselves mistaken; and if we are joined to Him by faith, we shall live for-evermore.
But He said more: "No man comes unto the Father, but by Me." Jesus Christ is not only the way — but the only way. There was no other way for Thomas; there is no other way for anybody. He is the only way. It is of no use trying to get to Heaven by any other way. But Christ is so true and sure a way, that he who goes by Him cannot fail to reach the Father. He will not only reach Him at last and get to Heaven when he dies and be taken to live in one of the "many mansions" — but he will be able to reach the Father even now, in his heart.
"If you really knew Me, you would know My Father as well. From now on, you do know Him and have seen Him." All who know Christ by faith — know the Father also. They know Him as a reconciled Father in Christ Jesus. They can draw near to Him without fear, through Jesus their Mediator and Advocate. The wall which sin had made between them and God is broken down, now that their sins are washed away in their Savior's blood. They never knew God before — as they know Him now. They used to know something about Him. They knew that He was just and holy and great and true. But now they know that He is love. They used to have a fear of Him — but now they have learned to love Him. They used to dislike to think that He always saw them, but now they delight in the thought. It is because they know Jesus — that they know the Father thus. They have come to the Father by Him, and have found it to be as He said: "I am the way, the truth, and the life."
Here is comfort indeed — comfort in all troubles, poverty, sorrow, sickness, and pain; and even at the time when death itself is near. This was the comfort that Jesus gave to His disciples — and this is what He will give to us. This is how we may live — trusting in Jesus, washed in His blood, with all our sins forgiven, praying to God continually and knowing that He hears us, and looking forward with joyful hope to finding a place prepared for us in the Father's house and to being with Jesus forever where He is.
What are troubles to one who has such a hope? What are sickness and pain to him? The pain may be sharp — but it is short. The sickness may be wearisome — but the end is in view. Already there is much comfort, even in the midst of trouble — the Savior's presence, the Father's love, the Spirit's help, and the blessed hope — and the end will be Heaven! Oh, what an end! How happy, how glorious, how near! And this is what Jesus promises to every humble believer: "I am going to prepare a place for you."