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SCRIPTURE REFERENCES » John 14:1-3

Sermon: John 14:1-3: I Go To Prepare A Place For You

Old Testament Reading: Ezekiel 37:15–28

“The word of the Lord came to me: ‘Son of man, take a stick and write on it, ‘For Judah, and the people of Israel associated with him’; then take another stick and write on it, ‘For Joseph (the stick of Ephraim) and all the house of Israel associated with him.’ And join them one to another into one stick, that they may become one in your hand. And when your people say to you, ‘Will you not tell us what you mean by these?’ say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I am about to take the stick of Joseph (that is in the hand of Ephraim) and the tribes of Israel associated with him. And I will join with it the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, that they may be one in my hand. When the sticks on which you write are in your hand before their eyes, then say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will take the people of Israel from the nations among which they have gone, and will gather them from all around, and bring them to their own land. And I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. And one king shall be king over them all, and they shall be no longer two nations, and no longer divided into two kingdoms. They shall not defile themselves anymore with their idols and their detestable things, or with any of their transgressions. But I will save them from all the backslidings in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them; and they shall be my people, and I will be their God. My servant David shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd. They shall walk in my rules and be careful to obey my statutes. They shall dwell in the land that I gave to my servant Jacob, where your fathers lived. They and their children and their children’s children shall dwell there forever, and David my servant shall be their prince forever. I will make a covenant of peace with them. It shall be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will set them in their land and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in their midst forevermore. My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Then the nations will know that I am the Lord who sanctifies Israel, when my sanctuary is in their midst forevermore.’”(Ezekiel 37:15–28, ESV)

New Testament Reading: John 14:1-3

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 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.” (John 14:1–3, ESV)

Introduction

Brothers and sisters, I want to begin to our consideration of the text before us by remembering things that happened long ago. It will eventually become clear why it is that I am introducing this sermon in this way. We should begin our consideration of John 14 by first of all remembering that “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth”, that is, all things visible and invisible. The scriptures tell us that “the earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” (Genesis 1:1–2, ESV) I think you would agree with me, this was no place for man to dwell. This empty and chaotic darkness was by no means suitable for man. There was no place for him in this dark and chaotic abyss.

And so God began to bring the earth into shape. He began, by the power of his word, to form and fashion the earth into a realm suitable for his creatures.  “God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness.” (Genesis 1:3–4, ESV) He then divided the waters below from the waters above – the sky and the sea were created. And then he separated the seas from the dry land, and the dry land produced vegetation. These realms God created so that they might be filled with their proper rulers.

And that is in fact what God proceeded to do. Now that the earth was brought into shape – now that suitable realms had been created – he proceeded to fill those realms with things that would govern them. The scriptures tell us that on day four of creation God created the sun, moon, and stars. These were placed within their proper realm in order to rule the day and the night. In like manner God, on day five, created the flying creatures and the sea creatures, and they were placed within the realms created for them on day two. They were to multiply and fill the sky and the sea. And on day six we are told that God filled the land, which was created on day three,  with “the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.” (Genesis 1:25, ESV)

The creation account of Genesis 1 follows this pattern: realms were created, and then those realms were filled with creature kings. A place was made – light; the sky and the sea; dry land – and then those places were filled with God’s creatures who were given the task of governing in one way or another.

But you say, there is more to the creation story! And you are right! In Genesis 1:26 we hear of the pinnacle of God’s creation:

“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’ And God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.’ And it was so. And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.” (Genesis 1:26–31, ESV)

Much can be said about the creation account of Genesis 1, but what I want you to see is that at the heart of it is this idea: God made a place for man. He created all things visible and invisible by the power of his Word. He then, by the power of his Word, brought the earth out of its formless, empty, and dark state. And he did so until there was a place where man could dwell.

Genesis 2 tells us the same story but from a different vantage point. It zooms in upon man. Man, we are told was created directly by God. He was created from the dust of the ground. God breathed into him the breath of life. And the woman was taken out of man. After man was created by God he “put the man whom he had formed” into the garden paradise that he had created (Genesis 2:8, ESV).

Church, there is a question that we must answer before we move on. And the question is this: what made that garden paradise, paradise? Have you ever considered that? We might be tempted to think that it was the climate, or the lushness of the place? Perhaps it was the abundance of food? Or maybe it was the absence of sickness and death. These things certainly contributed to man’s enjoyment of paradise, but may I suggest to you the thing that made paradise, paradise, had nothing to do with the physical creation, but rather had everything to do with the fact that it was there that man walked with God. Eden – the original creation – was like a temple where man enjoyed unbrokenunhinderedunmediated, fellowship with the God who made him. Adam and Eve walked with God. He was their God, and they his people. God tabernacled with man there in that place. God is what made paradise, paradise.

Those of you familiar with the Bible are aware of the fact that Genesis 1and 2 are followed quickly by Genesis 3 which tells us of man’s original sin, the fall. The consequence of the sin of our first parents was that paradise was lost. The wages of sin is death. Sickness and suffering became the norm. Man was put out of the garden paradise, the way to the tree of life being blocked. But more than all of this we should notice that man lost his place before God. No longer would he walk with God in an unbrokenunhinderedunmediated way. No, he was now a sinner. He was a child of wrath. He stood guiltily before God – condemned.

But as you know, God showed mercy to fallen man. In an act of sheer grace he promised to redeem. He promised to defeat the evil one. He promised to send a Savior. God promised to make a way for fallen man to dwell with him. The Bible, as complicated as it may seem, is really quite simple – it is the story of God making and keeping his promise to save a people unto himself through Jesus who is the Christ.

With that in mind let us now move from our consideration of the creation and fall forward through the history of redemption. Let us pass by Able and Seth, Enoch and Noah. Let us move past Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And passing by Moses and David let us now fix our attention upon Jesus, who is the Christ, the Promised one from long ago.

Picture him there in the upper room with his disciples. He had walked with them for over three years. He taught them many things. He preformed miracles before their eyes, and in the sight of others. They believed that he was the Christ, the Savior of the world, and they expected him to remain forever. But now he is talking about going away. In John 13:33 we hear Jesus say, “Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’” (John 13:33, ESV)

The disciples were troubled at this word. They were greatly distressed. They were bothered at the thought of their Master going away. After all, they expected him to remain forever! They thought to themselves, why does he need to leave? Where does he plan to go? Will will see him again? And how will we possibly get along in this world without him? These were the thoughts that were troubling the disciples of Jesus.

Notice that Jesus brings comfort to his disciples. That is what John 14 is all about. Jesus is comforting his disciples concerning his departure. And not only did he comfort the 11 who remained with him in the upper room on the night of of his betrayal and arrest, but he, by way of extension, also comforts you and I who live in this age between Christ first and second coming.

And how does Christ comfort those who are his who will live in the time between his first and second comings?

Christ commands us, saying, “let not your hearts be troubled.”

Look at verse 1. Jesus says, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.” (John 14:1, ESV) Isn’t this like our Lord! We know that he himself was “troubled in spirit”, and yet, even with with the weight of the world upon his shoulders, his gives himself to the task of comforting his disciples with the words, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.”

These words were originally for the 11 disciples who remained, it is true. But they are also for you and me. Jesus says to all who are his who live in this world between his first and second coming, “Let not your hearts be troubled”.

Christian, do you see that this is a command? “Let not your hearts be troubled”, Jesus says. It is an imperative in the Greek.  And as a command it is something that we are to obey. When our hearts are anxious – when our hearts are troubled with the cares that come with living in this world – we are to hear the command of our Savior saying, “let not your hearts be troubled.” And upon hearing his words, we are to obey them.

Christ urges us, saying, “believe in God, believe also in me.”

Thankfully there is substance to the command. There is weight behind it! You and I might say to one another, “don’t worry”, or “be happy”, but there is little substance to that. We might respond to encouragement like that saying, but why should I not worry? Or, why should I be happy? Jesus gives us a reason. He says,  “let not your hearts be troubled”, but he does not leave us with and empty command. He directs our attention to God and urges us to take comfort in him! “Believe in God; believe also in me”, he says. I can think of no greater reason to refrain from fretting than to remember the God who made us and love that he has for us in Christ Jesus. And that is where Jesus directs our attention. “Believe in God”, he says. And “believe also in me”

And so what are we to do when our hearts are filled with angst? We are to heed the command of Christ! We are to run to God and place all of our trust in him. We are to follow the advice of Peter who urges us to, “[cast] all [our] anxieties on [God], because he cares for [us].” (1 Peter 5:7, ESV)

Christ encourages us, saying, “I go and prepare a place for you.”

But Jesus goes further than this as he comforts his disciples assuring them that he his departure is for good a reason. It was not a purposeless departure, but a purposeful one. His departure was for their benefit as he would go away in order to prepare a place for those who belong to him.

Verse 2: “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?” (John 14:2, ESV)

When I hear these words the image that comes to mind is that of a husband going away to prepare a place for his bride. Now there is a vast difference between a husband leaving his bride for no good reason, and a husband going away in order to prepare a place for her. In both instances the bride will undoubtably experience a measure of trepidation concerning the departure of her husband, but the two things are entirely different. In the one the departure is for no good reason and to no good end; in the other the departure is for a good purpose – a purpose that will eventually benefit the bride. When a husband separates from his wife for a time in order to prepare a place for her, the wife ultimately rejoices, for she knows that his leaving is essentially good, though it may be difficult for a time. His leaving will bring about something better than what currently is.

So it was with Christ’s death, burial, resurrection, and assertion to the Father. He would leave his disciples on earth for a time, but for good reason. He departed in order to prepare a place for those who belong to him – he has gone to prepare a place for us.

Clearly, Jesus was talking about heaven. He refers to heaven as “my Fathers house”. Heaven is the place where God dwells. It is true, there is a sense in which God is everywhere – he is omnipresent. But heaven is that place where his glory dwells. In the scriptures we are, from time to time, given a glimpse into heaven – that is,  of the third heaven – where God is worshipped day and night by the heavenly hosts and the saints who have passed from this world into glory. Jesus here refers to this place as “my Fathers house”.

I suppose it can also be said that Jesus ultimately has in mind the new heavens and the new earth that those who are in Christ will enjoy for all eternity at the consummation. This is ultimately what we should have in mind when we hear Jesus say, “I go to prepare a place for you.” Ultimately, the place that Christ will prepare for us is the new heavens and the new earth.

John describes this place for us at the end of the book of Revelation, saying,

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away… And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’ And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’” (Revelation 21:1–5, ESV)

This is the ultimate and final place that Christ is preparing for those who are his – that is, for his bride, the church.

Jesus tells us that “in his Fathers house their are many rooms.” Are we to think of heaven (as it is now), or the new heavens and new earth (as they will be at the consummation) as giant apartment complex, then? A mansion with many individual rooms in which the people of God will dwell? No. It seems to me that Christ is using figurative language here. The point is that Christ is going away to prepare a place for those who belong to him, and that in that place there is ample room for his people.

There is a reason why I began this sermon by rehearsing the creation account. When thinking of the new heavens and the new earth we ought to have in mind the original creation. In the end, the original creation will be restored. In the end, the people of God will possess that which the first Adam forfeited. We will possess what the first Adam forfeited by trusting in the second Adam, who is the Christ, who accomplished salvation for us. Just as God created the heavens and earth in the beginning (making a place suitable for the first Adam to dwell), so too Christ will usher in the new creation at the end of time (having prepared a place suitable for those united to him to dwell).

The difference between the first creation and the new creation is that in the new creation there will be no possibility for rebellion. We will enter into consummate rest – secure rest – everlasting rest. The first paradise could be lost. The second paradise cannot be lost, because it has been earned (paid in full!) by Jesus, who is the Christ, the second Adam. This is difference between Eden and the eternal state.

The similarity is this: in both the original creation and the new creation, the central and significant feature that God dwells in the midst of his people. The people of God will enjoy unbrokenunhinderedunmediated, fellowship with the God who made them. This is what makes paradise, paradise. 

When talking about heaven people are accustom to speaking of pearly gates, streets of gold, and mansions on hills. We speak often of no more sin, sickness, or death. And it is true that we long for these things. But we are amiss – terribly amiss – if, when thinking of the new heavens and the new earth, we fail to see “God with us” as the most treasured feature of all. He is what makes heaven, heaven. He is what makes paradise, paradise. He indeed is our life.

It was true of the first creation, and will be true of the last. We will walk with God in the cool of the evening.

When the prophet spoke of the glories to come this is very thing that they emphasized – God with us! Remember Ezekiel 37? The promise was this, “But I will save them from all the backslidings in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them; and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.” (Ezekiel 37:23, ESV)

Again in verse 26,

“I will make a covenant of peace with them. It shall be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will set them in their land and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in their midst forevermore. My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Then the nations will know that I am the Lord who sanctifies Israel, when my sanctuary is in their midst forevermore.” (Ezekiel 37:26–28, ESV)

These things have already been fulfilled in part at Christ’s first coming, but they will be fulfilled fully at his second coming.

And the book of Revelation paints the same picture for us, doesn’t it? The voice that John heard, said, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.” (Revelation 21:3, ESV)

This is what makes paradise, paradise – God with us. We will indeed enjoy unbroken, unhindered, unmediated, fellowship with the God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.

Do you see that this is precisely what Jesus emphasizes in John 14? He says, “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.” (John 14:3, ESV)

Oh church, are you not comforted by these things? Are you not comforted by the fact that, though we may struggle here on earth in the time between Christ’s first and second coming, he has prepared a place for you?

What you and I deserve is to be cast from the presence of God into utter darkness – into the void if you will. But just as God made a place suitable for Adam, so too Christ as had made a place suitable for you and me through his obedient life, his sacrificial death, and his resurrection.

And he has promised to return for us! He would depart for a time. But this separation will not be final. He will return for his bride at the end of time so that where he is we may also be.

Posted in Sermons, Joe Anady, John 14:1-3, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Sermon: John 14:1-3: I Go To Prepare A Place For You


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