It was quiet in the room.
There were ominous signs.
Events would soon overwhelm them and strike fear and confusion into their hearts.
The men glanced at each other but tried to conceal their anxiety.
This night was special. One that none of these men would ever forget.
Three years of an incredible journey had led to this. They would write about it; about him; about what they had seen and heard and handled.
They would never be the same. Neither would the world.
They would die for this – for him.
Jesus looked intently at the men around the table. He knew it was just the beginning. He would entrust all but one with the building of his church and the advancement his kingdom.
He had spoken to them that night with words of steel and velvet. Before supper he had washed their feet and set an example. He said that one of them would betray him, another would deny him. He told them he was going to leave them and they would not be able to come.
Not tonight. Not for a while.
He told them to love each other, that by doing this they would prove to the world the authenticity of their faith and their loyalty to him.
Whatever they were thinking by this time is hard to imagine. There was a moment of silence.
Then Jesus smiled. He knew what they were thinking and he knew what they were facing.
He loved these men. He had chosen each of them to be in his band of brothers. It was a band that before this night was over would be stretched but in the end even the gates of hell itself would not break it. Time and persecution would only serve to strengthen it.
Jesus had much more to say to them. He would tell them about the Holy Spirit, about the vine and the branches, about the world’s hatred and how, in the end, their sadness would be turned to joy.
But now he wanted to offer them hope and encouragement.
Reading their anxious spirits, Jesus told them, “Let not your heart be troubled” (John 14:1, KJV). If you believe in God, he said, believe in me.
Because he would defeat Rome?
Because he spoke the truth?
Because he would give them political victory?
Because he would defeat ISIS, Planned Parenthood and gay marriage?
Because he had all power?
Because right would inevitably triumph over wrong and good would defeat evil?
No. None of these.
“I go to prepare a place for you” (14:2, KJV).
This was the comfort he offered these men on this night of crisis.
Jesus spoke of a place.
It was a beautiful and wonderful place; a place that human eyes had never seen. It was a special and specific place filled with breathtaking glory and unimaginable happiness; a land of unspeakable joy and endless wonder.
“In my Father’s house,” Jesus told them, “are many mansions” (verse 2).
Years later, on his island of exile, the aged apostle John jangled together all manner of strange and conflicting metaphors as he tried desperately to describe the magnificence of his vision; the sights and sounds he experienced.
Words failed him – and they fail us – but they were all he had.
In the end, sadness, sickness and even death itself were all destroyed. John saw a new heaven and also a new earth – an earth spotless and perfected in all its glorious splendor.
The most spectacular places you’ve ever seen, multiplied by ten thousand.
And God wiped away all tears forever.
In this land we’ll never grow old. We’ll never have to say goodbye. We won’t go home – we’ll be home. No clocks, no calendars, no endings and no partings.
Heaven? Can’t wait!
We struggle and persevere in this world and in this life; we stand and we fight and we vote. We care deeply. We resist evil and pursue justice – not because we think heaven will come to this fallen and dying world – it won’t. This present world, shrouded in darkness and shackled by sin, is sick and doomed. It is passing away.
Some day it will perish. No nuclear deal will prevent that.
You and I live in hope. We work and pray for renewal and change right now because we know that every day leads us closer to our final destiny, to our continuing city, to our Beulah land.
To this place Jesus is preparing for us and has promised us.
We’re not marching on Washington. We’re marching to Zion, “beautiful, beautiful Zion”
As Paul reminded us, because of the hope of our glorious future, “your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (I Corinthians 15:58, KJV).
Jesus told his disciples that night that he would come back and get them.
“When everything is ready, I will come and get you so that you will always be with me where I am” (John 14:3, NLT, emphasis added).
He’s coming back for you and me too.
When our hearts are troubled, as they so often are these days, let’s listen to his whisper:
“Don’t worry. I’ve gone to prepare a place for you.”
May God bless you and your family.