“Let not your heart be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in me. 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. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”
The last solemn Passover supper that was ever to be eaten by divine authority had just been celebrated by our Lord and his disciples; the last lingering moments of the legal dispensation were ebbing away; Judas had received the sop, and Satan had entered his heart and taken the helm of his covetous, traitorous, perfidious mind, and he was at this moment negotiating with the priests and rulers of the people to betray the Son of man. The hour had arrived beyond which divine justice could defer his claim for vengeance no longer. The lowering clouds had gathered thick and darkly around the dear Redeemer, his soul, oppressed with sorrow, was bowed within him as the sin-bearing sacrifice now about to be offered; yet painful as was the bitter anguish of his holy soul, his thoughts were turned to his disciples, and amidst his stifled groans for what was now crushing his own soul, he said to his disciples, “Little children, yet a little while I am with you.” And that little while the golden moments were closely occupied in fortifying their minds for the dreadful scene which they were about to witness. Every moment was fully occupied, from the eating the Passover and institution of the supper, to the time of his arrest, in instructions to the disciples, and in communion, prayer and intercession to the Father. The substance of all these instructions and prayers is recorded in the thirteenth, fourteenth, fifteenth, sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth chapters. Let them be often read and solemnly considered by all who love the Lord and hope in his salvation. On such an occasion how deeply interesting and vitally important are the words which we are about to consider. Never was there such an occasion before, never can there be again, to try the faith and confidence of the saints of God. How suitable and how consoling the words: “Let not your heart be troubled.” Although these words were addressed to the eleven, and through them to all the church of God, but one heart is recognized; he does not say hearts, but heart, for the primitive disciples were of one heart and one mind. “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” Not the heart of stone on which the Sinai covenant with Moses and the whole commonwealth of Israel was written, which was the center of their national vitality, by which they were embodied in distinction from all other nations, but that heart of flesh which was given to the mystical body of Christ, for Christ in his church is the center of spiritual vitality, of love, of unity and identity. He is the life and immortality of the church, which is his body. This Spirit of Christ in the members of his church is but one spirit, or heart, sending its vitality to every member. This heart was to be assailed by a dreadful trial, which was now about to fall with such crushing weight upon them. But, as though at once to let them know that he was fully aware of the approaching trial, and to give them a comforting assurance that it should result in their good and his glory, the kind, sympathetic words of encouragement are graciously spoken, Yield not to despair; let not your heart be troubled. “Ye believe in God, believe also in me.’~ The trial now approaching was peculiarly calculated to test their faith in him as the true Messiah that was to come. Although it might not shake their confidence in God, or lead them to fear that there is no God, was it not calculated to make them fear that Jesus was not the Son of God and Savior of his people, as they had understood him to be? It certainly did have that effect. They said despairingly, We verily thought it was he that should redeem Israel. But alas, that confidence was shaken when they saw him crucified and his lifeless body laid in the grave. Still, though fearing that they had been mistaken in regarding him as the Son of God, they betrayed no lack of faith in God. Now these words of assurance seem to imply that there was in all they should witness, if properly understood, nothing that ought any sooner to be allowed to shake their confidence in him as the mediatorial Head of the church than to shake their faith in the eternal Father. Again, the same faith which recognized the Father, also must necessarily recognize the Son of God as one with the Father, for none can know the Father but by revelation of Christ, and none can come unto the Father but by him. Our faith cannot be so divided as to believe in God and disbelieve in Christ, for there is but one faith, as we have proven, and he that has by that one faith seen the Son, hath seen the Father also, for the Father is in him, and he is in the Father; he and the Father are one.
“In my Father’s house are many mansions.” This is the affirmation of an existing truth, and a most glorious truth, and his ability to describe his Father’s house was an evidence that he was the Son of God. A stranger could not describe that house which is made without hands, and which is eternal in the heavens, but Jesus is the faithful and true witness. No man hath ascended up into heaven, but the Son of God has come down from heaven, and reveals all that is necessary for us to know of the house of God, and if there were anything more concerning his Father’s house which his children ought to know, he would have told them. The house of God is his dwelling-place, his place of permanent abode, where he makes his home. His house is figuratively set forth in types and shadows of the Old Testament as the tabernacle in the wilderness, as the temples in Jerusalem, and in a more spiritual manifestation made to the patriarch Jacob, where in rapture he exclaimed, Verily, God was in this place, and I knew it not; this is none other than the house of God, and the gate of heaven. The gospel church and kingdom of Christ is called the house of God. Ye are God’s building (I Corinthians 3:9). “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ (I Peter 2:5).” The house of God is frequentlymentioned in the Old Testament Scriptures, as Genesis 28:17; Joshua9:23; Judges 18:31; 20:18; Psalm42:4; 45:14; 42:8; 84:10; Isaiah 2:3; Micah 4:2, and in very many other passages, and yet we are informed that the Lord dwelleth not in houses made with hands. Figuratively he was said to dwell in the tabernacle in the wilderness, in the temples at Jerusalem, but all these were types, pointing to Christ and his church, or body, as the true spiritual dwelling-place of our God. “For the Lord hath chosen Zion: he hath desired it for his habitation. This is my rest for ever: here will I dwell; for I have desired it. I will abundantly bless her provision: I will satisfy her poor with bread (Psalm 132:13-15).” “His foundation is in the holy mountains. The Lord loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob. Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God (Psalm 87:1-3).” Therefore the holy psalmist could say, “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord (Psalm 122:1)” “How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts! Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they will be still praising thee (Psalm 84:1,4).” The psalmist exulted in the certainty of dwelling in the house of the Lord forever, because the Lord was his Shepherd. (Psalm 23:6) This was the fullness of his aspiration. “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple (Psalm 27:4).” This is the house which our Redeemer calls “My Father’s house,” in which he says “are many mansions.” Many opinions have been expressed in regard to the figurative import of the many mansions here spoken of, and to our mind the precise meaning is not as clear as we could desire. The true meaning, whatever it be, must be important, as we infer from the words of our Lord: “If it were not so, I would have told you.” A mansion, in the modem application of the word, is a dwelling-place, sometimes applied to a house, and sometimes to apartments or rooms of a house. In our text a distinction is implied between the house and the mansions. “In my Father’s house are many mansions.” The mansions are many, but the house of God is but one. So when other figures are used to express the same idea, one body and many members, or one city and many inhabitants, “There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the Most High (Psalm 46:4).” In the text last named, the city of God, which is but one, contains many tabernacles of the Most High. The same idea is expressed in I Corinthians 12:12-14: “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body; so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many.” “But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where was the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body (I Corinthians 12:18-20).” In changing the figures which represent the same kingdom, or church, from a house to a city, what in the former would be appropriately called mansions, in the latter would be more clearly expressed as houses, or tabernacles, and when a body is the figure, members of that body convey the same meaning. This to every citizen of the city of God is an appropriate dwelling, for “Jerusalem is builded as a city that is compact together: whither the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, unto the testimony of Israel, to give thanks unto the name of the Lord. For there are set thrones of judgment, the thrones of the house of David (Psalm 122:3-5).” There is in the house of God a place or mansion for every member of the household of God; thrones of judgment to be occupied by the apostles to sit upon, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. The sons of Zebedee could not change their allotted mansions or positions so as to sit one on the right and the other on the left hand of the King, when he should come into his kingdom, and as members of Christ, God has set each one in its appropriate place in the body of Christ as it hath pleased him. In the types of the ceremonial law the inheritance of each tribe was distinctly marked out and secured to each by an inalienable title, and so also in the positions assigned officially to patriarchs, prophets, priests, Levities, captains, kings and subjects. These types all pointed to the order of the house of God under the gospel dispensation, for in them were exhibited the patterns of the things of the heavenly kingdom, and although they were all confined to the worldly sanctuary and carnal ordinances of a fleshly, carnal Israel under the law, no doubt prefigured the heavenly places in Christ Jesus under the gospel dispensation in the true tabernacle which God has pitched, and not man.
The question may very naturally arise, If this be the sense in which our Lord spake of the many mansions of his Father’s house, why this special mention should be made of them on this most solemn occasion? All the words of our divine Lord were fitly spoken, well timed and full of vital interest to the saints. The organization of the gospel kingdom was now very soon to be manifested. The law and the prophets were until John; from the coming of John the kingdom of Christ was preached, that it was at hand, but the places in the gospel kingdom could not be attained until the last jot and tittle of the law should be fulfilled, until Christ should do and suffer all that was written of him in the law and in the prophets and in the Psalms, for he must suffer and then enter into his glory, in coming into which he would ascend his mediatorial throne, and when the Son of man should sit on the throne of his glory, the apostles who had followed him in the regeneration should also sit upon their twelve thrones. The deliverance of all his people should then be effected, and each should receive the mansion which was prepared for in him the house of God. Fully with Christ in his death all his members were quickened together with him, and they were raised up together and made to sit together in Christ Jesus. But in all this, as in all things, Christ must have the preeminence; he must go before them in sufferings and death, must be the first-fruits of them that slept in his resurrection, yet by vital union and identity of spirit bearing his sheaves with him. Hence the suitableness of his solemn occasion to speak to them of the mansions, or heavenly places so soon to be occupied by them, when he should remove the bars of death, by abolishing death, and bring immortality to light in his resurrection, when at his command the everlasting doors should be opened, and the everlasting gates should lift up their heads, and the King of glory should come in with all the trophies of his deathless victory, and by his triumph prove that to believe in God is to believe also in him, and that the throne of his kingdom should be as firmly established and forever continue as unshaken as the throne of his eternal Father.
“If it were not so, I would have told you.” They had been led to expect this and he would certainly have undeceived them if it were not so. Notwithstanding the terrible scenes immediately before them, which should so much try their confidence in him, the gloomy night of trial would soon be terminated, and the sable shades of darkness should be driven from their skies by the bursting light of his resurrection and the establishment of his kingdom and government as the Prince of Peace.
“I go to prepare a place for you.” From the explanation which he gave the disciples in this connection we learn that he was going to his Father, for he said to them, “And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.” And in reply to the inquiry of Thomas he said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” This agrees with what he said unto Mary after his resurrection, and commanded her to tell the same to his brethren: “I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God (John 20:17).” He had also informed them that he was going to receive a kingdom, and to return again unto them. “And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; that ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Luke 22:29,30).” This kingdom, which was appointed unto him of his Father, is the place which, according to our understanding, he was going to prepare for his disciples. Although as an inheritance of the heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ, the kingdom of heaven was prepared for them from the foundation of the world, according to Matthew 25:34, yet its manifest redemption and gospel organization awaited the resurrection and ascension of Christ. The God of heaven was to set it up in the days of those kings of whom Daniel had prophesied. “Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession (Psalm 2:8).” “For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee?” “But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows (Hebrews 1:5,8,9).” Thus it was written, and thus it behooved him to suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and then to enter into his mediatorial glory as the King eternal, immortal and invisible, the only wise God our Savior.
“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” The “if’ in this case is not to express doubt or uncertainty, for he had told the disciples that it was expedient for them, and that he would soon go away, and that his object in going away was to prepare a place for them where he would dwell with them uninterruptedly forever. Yet a little while and ye shall see me no more, and again a little while and ye shall see me. Whither I go thou canst not follow me now, but thou shalt follow me hereafter. It was necessary that he should first suffer, and be the first to rise from the dead, but he assures them that he will come again and receive them unto himself, that where he is, there should they also be. True and faithful to his words of promise, he came again unto them after his resurrection, and abode with them a sufficient length of time to demonstrate his resurrection, and after his ascension he came unto them by his Spirit on the day of Pentecost, organized his kingdom in its gospel order, and into it received his disciples to go no more out forever. And again will he come to them in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory, and in their final resurrection in his image will he receive them to himself, that where he is, there they may be also. It is the will of the Father that of all he has given to Christ he should lose nothing, but that he should raise it up again at the last day. And this is also the will of the Son, who in his intercession has said, “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory (John 17:24).”
May 1, 1865.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 6
Pages 184 - 190