Jeff

John 14:1-4 excursus: What is the ‘place’ Yeshua was going to prepare?

What did Yeshua mean by, “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places … I go to prepare a place for you” (Jn. 14:2, 4)? It’s about what God promises to do in transforming us along with the world at some later time and about what God promises to do in transforming us now.

“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way where I am going.” (Jn. 14:1–4)

We have the hindsight to know how this story resolves. We know about His resurrection, and His Ascension, but the disciples don’t know this yet and are feeling quite scared and apprehensive. 

What did Yeshua mean by, “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places … I go to prepare a place for you” (Jn. 14:2)?

Not yet

This promise is for the future, the physical return — “revelation” and “coming” — of the Messiah and the “end of the age.” Yeshua and The Apostle Paul give more specifics in John 6:40 and 1Cor. 1:7 are a little more specific about what this place is that Yeshua is preparing for His people (see also 2Thess. 1:7; Matt. 24:3). 

“For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.”(Jn. 6:40)

“… so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ ….” (1Cor. 1:7)

Now

This promise is for now.

“After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also. In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.” (Jn. 14:19–20)

“If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.” (Jn. 14:23)

This “coming to him and make Our abode with him” is part of the “place” Yeshua said He was going to prepare.

Just so they didn’t misunderstand that that following commandments in and of themselves is the goal, in John 14–17 Yeshua instructs and prays for the 12:

“ ‘This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Iesous Christou Whom You have sent.’ ” (Jn. 17:3) 

This isn’t just about obeying God, it’s about knowing God. The point of all this is to know God and to know Him like a friend. 

We get more insight in this “now and not yet” is found in the book of Romans. It is a methodical book. Every point builds on the prior point. It’s dangerous to randomly drop into the text to try to make some kind of point. 

In Romans, Paul expands on the need of everyone, Jew and Gentile:

  1. to have God declare “not guilty,” i.e. justify. We are toast if God leaves us in guilt. 
  2. to “die” to the old life and its condemnation “under the law” by way of the death of Yeshua.
  3. to start on in a new life via the resurrection of Yeshua and the leading of the Spirit of God. 

One of the main themes of Romans is that righteousness from God is available to Jew and non-Israelite, i.e., “gentile.”

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘but the righteous man shall live by faith.'” (Rom. 1:16–17, quoting Hab. 2:4)

Even the gentiles who live in the middle of nowhere know that there is a God, as is recorded in Rom. 1:18-32. For example, the Greeks had the idea of a “prime mover” something that started the entire universe moving in a particular direction. This is an inking that all people have that there is a Creator. As you go into Romans 2-3, the gentiles were worshipping idols fashioned as animals and human beings and they should have known better, but the Jewish people, who had the oracles of God had even less excuse to worship idols. 

Is God someone who changes you from the inside out or is He just like a book on a library shelf. We are all accountable to act on what we know. If we know little, we are to act on what we know, if we know much, we are to act on how much we know. We have no excuse not to follow the truth as far as we know it. 

The answer is to follow God where He is taking the world. We have the Torah and the Prophets, and they all talk about a coming Messiah. What expectation are we living under? Are we following the teachings we learn in the Feasts? For example, Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) teaches us we don’t earn righteousness, rather the High Priest does all the work to discharge our sins — throw out the evidence against us. 

These big words like justification and sanctification come into Romans 6-8. We have to show evidence of a change in who we are. We don’t continue on the path we were on before. The “new covenant” prophecies Jer. 31:31-34 and Ezek. 36:25-27 shows us that we need God’s law on our hearts and His Holy Spirit in us. 

“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.” (Rom. 6:1–7)

In being baptized, from βαπτίζω baptizō G907, which means to submerge or dip, we are immersed in the blood of the Passover Lamb and pulled back out, i.e., who we were before God “dies,” and we are “resurrected” as new people before God. Our old way of life dies. 

“What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be!” (Rom. 6:15)

When we put our trust in God as the one who will save us, and that Yeshua’s atonement is what takes the sin away forever. Our old way of life has to leave out of town, just as the goat that is sent away. Changing the locks on the door of your heart is a spiritual discipline. The patterns of the old way of life have to stop. We have to know what our triggers are and what lead us away into unrighteousness. We have freedom From the Law’s condemnation even though we are not yet sinless . 

“Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. 5 For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death. 6 But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter. 7 What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law ….” (Rom. 7:4–7)

The pagans don’t know much about the Law but they know enough to know there is a Creator and that bowing down to the creation (such as the Sun, Moon, Stars, animals, etc.) doesn’t bring us closer to that creator. 

“… for sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. Therefore did that which is good become a cause of death for me? May it never be! Rather it was sin, in order that it might be shown to be sin by effecting my death through that which is good, so that through the commandment sin would become utterly sinful.” (Rom. 7:11–13)

Do we want to live under the instruments of unrighteousness. We have learned that there is a better way of life, through the Torah and the Prophets, who point us to the Messiah. That is the better way of life, the new way of life. 

Just as drooling over a travel book doesn’t get you on the plane to take that voyage, leaving your Bible on the shelf and not reading is not going to get you closer to living the life that God wants you to live. 

God gives us victory over the flesh through life in the Spirit. 

“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.” (Rom. 8:1–9)

God’s law and God’s words are showing us the new way and the new life. If we continue in our old life, we aren’t going to get there. A drunk will not be sober by continuing to live as a drunk. If we are slaves to Egypt, we can’t really leave. Those ties are strong but we have to consider those prior connections dead. We have to disown our old life. We have to leave the old life behind. 

Access to the new life and distancing ourselves from the old life is a huge change. We have to do the words of God, not just hear them (Rom. 2:12–13; James 1:21–25). 

We have to be patient with those who don’t know as much as we do. That is the message of Romans 14. Those who are “strong” need to be patient with the “weak.” 

Speaker: Jeff. Summary: Tammy.


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