The Father’s House
This is the first article in a series on prophetic subjects by brother Naismith. In the will of the Lord these will continue monthly. While each is complete in itself, together they present one continuous study.
The thirteenth chapter of John’s 1 Gospel forms a dark background to bring into relief the bright foreground of chapter fourteen. Christ had indicated, “One of you shall betray Me”; and Judas Iscariot was that treacherous person. Of him it is stated, “he … went immediately out: and it was night.” That was truly a tragic night for him: a night that would never be followed by a sunrise!
Now that the deceiver has gone from the company of the disciples, the Lord is free to unbosom Himself to His own. He allays their fears and pours the balm of His consolation into their troubled and perplexed spirits saying, “Let not your heart be troubled.” This message had been ringing down the ages with freshness and fragrance to many disconsolate souls as it conveyed the sympathy and comfort that tried and tempted believers have needed in their hours of crisis. Though the words were addressed to eleven men, they have proved to be pregnant with meaning to many anxious souls; and they have brought consolation to many troubled breasts. Such words afford an opportunity of “casting all your care upon Him, for He careth for you”: and of casting our burdens upon the Lord, to experience the veracity of God’s Word, “He shall sustain thee.”
With fears allayed and hearts encouraged the Lord proceeds to make this observation, “Ye believe in God.” To the superficial reader of divine truth this may seem enigmatical. These eleven men were not only converted men, they were attracted to their Lord, and many wonder why Christ should have made the statement, “Ye believe in God, believe also in Me.” Had they ever seen God? No! For “no man hath seen God at any time” (John. 1:18; John. 4:12; 1 Tim. 6:16). Patriarchs of old said, “I have seen God face to face” — such a revelation was what is commonly called a Christophany: when the Lord took a tangible form to visit His servants to communicate certain facts to them. This might be confirmed by an examination of Micah 5 verse 2, “Whose goings forth have been from of old from everlasting.” His goings forth have been from of old, or from times past, from days of eternity. 1 Timothy 6:16 is often quoted as referring to Christ, but the context will not permit such an interpretation — “it is God in the abstraction of His essence: God in His proper immutability” — J.N.D. Unclothed Deity shall never be gazed upon — “no man hath seen, nor can see”: yet the redeemed of the Lord shall see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. Though we by such a vision today are metamorphosed into the same image from glory to glory as by the Lord, the Spirit: it is through a glass darkly, but then face to face that we shall behold Him.
The words, “Believe also in Me” do not raise a doubt as to the faith of the eleven disciples; but such words must be interpreted in light of the context. They believed in God whom they had never seen: so Christ virtually says, “I am going to be the invisible Christ at God’s right hand, and when you do not see Me, believe in Me.” Invisibility tests us! To confirm this, one should read Exodus 32:1. Moses had been on the mount with God for forty days and forty nights and this prolonged absence irritated the children of Israel on the plains below the mount. They, with unanimity, cried, “Up, make us gods, which will go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.” There are many adages in the English language, and some are contradictions of others. One states, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” While another contradicts it thus, “Out of sight out of mind.” The challenge of this portion of the Word is whether of the twain is applicable to us today? Can we truthfully say, “Whom have I in Heaven but Thee, and there is none upon earth that I desire beside Thee?” and again, “Whom not having seen, ye love?” Or are we saying, “My Lord delayeth His coming?” One of these attitudes characterizes every saint of God on this earth today.
“In my Father’s House are many mansions” — this word ‘mansions’ is the plural of the singular noun used in verse 23 and translated ‘abode.’ There is a common notion in the minds of some of God’s dear people that in the Father’s House some saints will be granted a palatial mansion, while others will have to be content with a small thatched cottage. Nothing is further from the truth than that. The Father’s House is the abode of love. One said “I shall be content if He grants to me a seat behind the door.” My Father has no seats behind the door: He will have all His children in the nearness of an indisoluble relationship. We shall be in the circle of God’s favour —circle of the Father’s love, where all is rest and rest forever: and all is perfectness above. He will have us enjoy that nearness that to be a hair-breadth away would seem a tremendous distance. If we have never known nearness, we shall never feel distance: and to enjoy His nearness throughout the pilgrim journey is a delectable foretaste of the joys of the Father’s House.
Though the Lord had alluded to “My Father’s House” in John 2:16, those who were auditors to His comments that day realized right well that He alluded to the Temple where Jehovah had placed His name and where He dwelt between the cherubim: and spake from off the mercy seat to Moses of old, when the ark was in tents and curtains. The reference here to “My Father’s House” could have no possible application to the Temple where the glory of God illuminated the sanctum sanctorum. It should be observed that the Father’s House of John 14 is a realm outside this scene altogether; for it necessitated the going away of Christ from this world to prepare a place for His own ere an entrance to that sphere could be ours.
The statement which follows is calculated to bring comfort to the souls of His own: “If it were not so I would have told you.” The Lord would assure His followers that He would never dream of carrying them on through the three and a half years of His public ministry and then dropping them at the end.
“I go to prepare a place for you” is a promise which thrills the souls of the saints. At present He is not busily engaged in the preparation of the place for us: His one entering in made the place ready; and presently we shall follow Him there. He is “the forerunner” and as such has entered within the vail.