Many Mansions Series: What Jesus is REALLY Preparing
“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.” (John 14:1-3, NASB)
Let me tell you: This verse has been a process within my heart this week, so I guess the best place to start is the inspiration for what is shaping up to be a series centering around our key verse for today.
I am writing to you at my work desk on my first day back from a girls weekend trip to Asheville, North Carolina. On my first day there, my mom and I decided to take on the big tourist attraction in the area:
the Biltmore Estate. For those who don’t know, this colossal mansion and its surrounding acres of property are known as the largest private home in the world. Built by the Vanderbilt family (yes, the shipping and railroad empire you learned about in high school American history), it’s one of the best looks we have back into the lifestyles of the rich and famous just before the turn of the century. As a history geek and a museum lover, going through the gardens and the house was an amazing experience that makes you simultaneously realize your pockets will never be as deep as to imagine a life like that and make you wish you could’ve seen this place in action.
But throughout the day, as we wandered from the rose garden to terrace, from library and music room to sitting room and indoor pool, I kept hearing the Holy Spirit whisper to me, “... in my Father’s house there are many mansions…”
And I’ll admit, every time I heard it, I was equally in wonder and perturbed.
The wondrous part of me marveled at the goodness of the Lord. What an awesome promise to give us, His creation! What an utterly unbelievable claim to make, especially in light of the fact that if an earthly mansion could be so altogether beautiful and awesome, how much MORE could one in heaven be? And then to go and create one for all those who stake a claim as His child? That part of me felt so incredibly blessed and in awe of the vast goodness of Jesus.
The perturbed part of me, however, was aware of the larger conversation over the actual meaning of the word “mansions,” that some translations in the Bible use. For instance, the King James Version uses “mansions,” which is why that version of the scripture is so well-known, but the NIV, ESV, and NLT all substitute “mansions” for “rooms.”
The truth is, the original Greek word is “moné,” which better translates to rooms better than mansions, but it’s not just the small, cinder block dorm room that might come to mind when you hear that word. It’s more so a room like the Cenacle or the upper room that Jesus took the Last Supper in– a room that, in ancient Jewish standards, was seen as comfortably furnished and suitable for entertainment or a celebration.
But since English is all about its connotations, for me, neither “mansions” nor “rooms” do the original Greek word justice. More appropriately, moné would translate to “abode,” or like the NASB translates, “dwelling place.”
So maybe you were taught as a little kid that in Heaven, we’d all have these mansions and be showered in riches or enjoy lavish streets of gold and marriage feasts. The thing to keep in mind is this: Heaven, no matter which way you slice it, is going to be so incredible, we cannot fathom it into earthly language. Those who have seen and experienced heaven through visions, dreams, and near-death experiences, can only describe what they saw with the confines of what they know on earth. Even Jesus knew that some eternal things we’d never understand without basic terms– hello, parables!
At the end of the day, would eternal comfort and riches be nice to experience? In my imperfect, fickle, human mind, of course, it would. But in the end, the riches aren’t about gold, mansions, or status. The riches we’ll enjoy– the riches we’ll put stock in and rejoice in– are far deeper than that. They are the person of God the Father. They are Jesus, Himself.
That’s why “mansion” or “room” aren’t deep enough to cover what Jesus is actually saying: He’s not promising us a heavenly AirBnb or telling us that He’s breaking ground on new real estate in Heaven. When Jesus says he’s preparing a place for us in Heaven, he’s not talking about Chip and Joanna Gaines. He’s talking about preparing a home for you in Heaven; He’s talking about giving you a dwelling place in the presence of the Father– the abode you’ve been searching for your whole earthly life. An abode that can only be found in the person of Jesus.
And the promise Jesus gives us in just a few words is just far too deep to unpack in one week– which is why we’re going to spend the next few together, exploring each layer to these awesome verses.
For this week, be encouraged by the distinction that we’re not talking mansions, we’re talking homes. In our Father’s house, there are many homes. There are many places to sit at His feet and enjoy Him for who He is. We’re not chasing material, we’re chasing eternal. We’re not seeking to be impressive, we’re seeking to be servants.
And there is a place for you. If it were not so, He would not have told you.