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  • Rev. Diane Curtis

A Special Place

John 14:1-6, 27-28

New Revised Standard Version

14 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And you know the way to the place where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. 28 You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I am coming to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I.

Tom Wright tells the story of a group of teammates who, after an away soccer game had arranged to stay at one of the group’s houses since it was closer to the game location. His friends asked, “Are you sure there will be room for all of us?” He said, “There will be plenty of room for all of you, you’ll see.”

Most of the students lived in housing developments near their school. Cookie cutter homes with three or four bedrooms and two bathrooms. They were located on short streets or cul de sacs. The boys couldn’t imagine how all ten of them would fit in this house along with their friend’s family. Would they have to sleep on the floor?

When the two carloads of boys turned into the driveway, they realized they weren’t on an ordinary street like those in their developments. When they pulled up in front of the house, it wasn’t an ordinary house. It was a mansion! Their friend said shyly, “I told you there would be enough room.”

The boys climbed out of the cars and went in. The friend took them upstairs where they walked the long corridors with lots of rooms along them. They couldn’t believe it. The house was like a hotel. This was his father’s house.

This is the type of image Jesus uses to prepare the disciples for his departure. He knows they are anxious especially since they don’t really understand what Jesus is trying to explain to them. They hear his words about leaving and then coming back in three days but none of what Jesus tells them makes sense. All they want to know is where he is going and if they can follow him. Will there be a map to show them the way?

To ease their anxiety Jesus talks to them about his father’s house – the one that has a place for them.

The Father’s house was a phrase Jesus used once before in referring to the Temple. The Temple was the place where heaven and earth met – the place God dwelt. Priest presented sacrifices and interceded with God on behalf of the people. The Temple was their focus as the place where God lived.

Jesus is hinting at what waits for his followers. A place like the Temple but not exactly. It will be a new house in an eternal world where heaven and earth truly and finally meet. A place where there is room for everyone.

The picture Jesus tries to paint for the disciples is a hard one for us to see as well.

Home is big business. Television programs explain how to remodel your house. Social media, books, magazines, and websites are devoted to home design, landscaping, furnishings, and how to choose a good location for a new home.

Degree and certificate programs prepare persons to design homes, build them, remodel and/or renovate them, and landscape them. The appearance of a home has become as important or more so than comfort and efficiency. And, of course, location and local amenities matter.

What does the word home mean to you?

For most people, the definition of home goes beyond the physical place. Home is an environment of security and safety. A place of warmth where relationships matter. The place where someone can be their true self.

Jane Alexander, in her book Spirit of the Home: How to Make Your Home a Sanctuary, says this about home:

In our hearts we want to come home to a real home. A real home is a place that nurtures us on every level…it provides the safety and serenity that allows our minds and emotions peace and security. Above all, it nourishes our soul.

Consider your own home and what it means to you. Think about the memories that are there and the people who do/have lived there. Ask yourself if and how your home nourishes your soul.

We may think of our future home, our heavenly dwelling place as the ideal home. We may picture a mansion, a log cabin, a cathedral, or whatever image you have of a meaningful place to spend a joyful eternity with the Lord.

A special place. Our Father’s house.

The words in John 14, Jesus’ promise, are an assurance that even though he goes away, he doesn’t abandon us. Jesus goes ahead of us for our benefit – to ensure everything is ready for us.

These words from John are often read at funerals. They are meant to provide hope and assurance that there is a place waiting for us. They encourage those who, in the midst of their grief can’t see way ahead. Those who need to know that there is a way into the unknown future and to know they will be able to find it.

Jesus, here, lays out the pathway – “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” It is not a pathway of absolutes determined by human criteria.

Jesus himself is the path. Jesus who wept at his friend’s tomb, who washed disciples’ feet and told them to follow his example. He is the shepherd for his sheep – the one who finds the lost and is willing to sacrifice his own life for theirs.

Jesus says that we are to believe in God and believe in him as well. This is the vision laid out in the passage. Believe in who God is not who you think God is.

See me, see God says Jesus – this is the God to believe in. The one who prepares a place for you. The one made visible to us through Jesus. The God who has a place for you here. A special place – the here and now kingdom of heaven.

The God who prepares a place for you in his eternal home is also the God walks with you, talks with you, tells you that you are his own.

You are God’s own now; you are God’s own forever. Amen.

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