Gone to Prepare a Place
Reformed Free Publishing Association
This meditation was written by Rev. Jason Kortering in the May 15, 1966 issue of the Standard Bearer.
"In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself; that where I am there ye may be also." John 14:2, 3
Saying goodbye is always hard.
That's especially true for those who love each other.
It's part of dying, it's separation.
The bleakness of such a moment is felt when you leave loved ones behind and move away. A congregation and minister encounter that pain when it's time for farewell. Parents stand helplessly silent as their son boards the plane for battle. The tension is most acute at the bedside of our dying loved ones.
It's hard to say goodbye. We desire the presence of the person whom we love. We're afraid that we may never see them on earth again.
Our text could be called a lover's farewell.
Jesus was saying goodbye to his bride. That little band of eleven represented his church. Since he knew the pains of farewell, Jesus also knew that only one promise would console her, "I go…I will come again." To make certain that she understood, he sent angels at the triumphant moment of his ascension to re-affirm his promise, "This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven."
The Bridegroom was saying goodbye to his bride.
He was about to leave her to get everything ready for the wedding.
According to Jewish custom, the husband-to-be was responsible for providing a place to live with his bride. When everything was ready, his fellows would gather around him and they would parade down the darkened street, his companions bearing the torches, to the place where his bride lived. With jovial song they would troop to the house where his bride was waiting, take her and her companions along, and together make their way to the house he had prepared, the house that was to become their home. There they would feast and there he would take his bride unto himself.
As the bridegroom, Jesus now said unto his bride, "I go to prepare a place for you." That place is described as "Father's house of many mansions".
Scripture uses many phrases to describe heaven. It is called in Revelation the new heaven and new earth. In harmony with the Old Testament it is called the heavenly Canaan, or a country which is heavenly. The Bible speaks of it as the New Jerusalem, the city four-square. But, Jesus here speaks of it as a house. That is quite in harmony with his farewell. We, as the bride of Christ, are not first interested in the earth as such, nor the country, nor the city, but the house! The house is the place of the most intimate life for a new bride. It is there that the Bridegroom takes her unto himself.
That house is very beautiful. It has many rooms—places for each one to dwell. It is located in Jerusalem, glorified with golden streets and pearly gates. The city itself will be refreshed with the water that flows from the throne of God, graced on either side with the tree of life. There will be no sounds of wailing in her streets, for tears shall be wiped from our eyes and our hearts shall sing forever. A house in that city is indeed most blessed. Most of all however, because that house will be home! Jesus our bridegroom will not take us unto his house, he will take us unto himself within that house. Still more, it will be unto the glory of our Father! That house is Father's. He planned it, he, designed it, he provided for his Son a bride, he sent his Son to prepare it, and he will finally give his Son in marriage so they can live in it. It belongs to Father, and the glory of the marriage will be forever unto him.
Jesus must needs say goodbye to the earthly manifestation of his bride, in order that he may come as the bridegroom and take his bride in marriage. You understand that when Jesus said, "I go to prepare a place for you," he does not simply mean that house as such will be prepared, but, "I go to prepare everything for our wedding."
Jesus was "betrothed" to his bride, or as we speak in our day, was engaged to her. His Father had publicly announced it in the splendor of his heavenly throne. By his decree of election, Father had officially announced that Christ would become married to his bride, the church. Father had acquainted him with all the names of "his own" who together would be his bride. For us, the joy of election is that we know that we are betrothed to Christ; we are destined to marry him.
Marriage is legal. To become married one must have a marriage license. Before God there is no "common-law" marriage; a man may not simply live with a woman as husband and wife. The law must be satisfied, a license must be secured. This was supremely true for the only begotten Son. Christ Jesus was about to purchase that license.
Our text sets the scene. Jesus was in the upper room with his disciples. His soul was exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death. He had assured his bride that he must needs go away! He had come to her only for a little while, to speak to her, but especially to secure the license, the right to marry his bride according to the law of God. He had to go away from his bride; it was part of the price. He had to sign that marriage license in his own blood. That was the only way. "I go away."
It is this truth that humbles us to the dust. As the bride of Christ we are not arrayed in "white apparel." We are guilty of spiritual whoredom. The wonder of the love of Christ and the love of Father to give Christ in marriage to us is this: Father and Son loved spiritual whores! Blush if you will, but that is true. Did not the prophets of the Old Testament cry out, "How long go ye a whoring after other Gods, oh Israel?" We are sinners! The righteous God has set a price on the marriage license of his own Son; he must pay for our spiritual whoredom! He must endure the affliction by bearing the sins of many. He loved his bride even unto death. In Gethsemane he prostrated himself upon the earth and cried, "Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me, nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt." The answer came clear and strong, "The right to marry thy bride can be secured only through the dark caverns of hell; my righteousness must needs be fulfilled!" In humble obedience, Jesus went the way of the cross; he went through the darkness of the wrath of God, and signed the marriage license with the drops of blood that flowed from Calvary's skull.
Father looked upon his obedient Son and beheld his perfect work. He marked how he loved him and loved his bride even unto death. Father was pleased and raised him from the dead, thereby sealing the marriage license with the official stamp of his divine approval. When Jesus arose from the dead, he arose in a heavenly body, fit for the dwelling place whence he would take his bride unto himself.
"I go to prepare a place for you."
There is more. Having triumphed over sin and death, yea even the grave, Jesus spent a few more days with his bride on earth. Even then, he constantly reminded her, "Touch me not, for I have not yet ascended unto my Father in heaven." No, he did not arise from the dead to dwell on earth, his place was not here, as some vainly dream; his place was “up there.” After instructing his bride concerning things that would yet take place, Jesus once again bade farewell to his bride. At the foot of Olivet, he gradually ascended before their eyes. Again the voice of Jesus floated over the hills, "I go."
So it must needs be. All things must be made ready for the wedding. More is necessary than to be engaged. More is required than a license. The bride must be prepared! She must be purified, so that her dress may be white!
Jesus paid for the guilt of the spiritual whoredom of his bride on the cross. All her transgressions are forgiven. Now, Jesus looked at his bride and saw that her former life would still be a temptation to her. Not only was it necessary for the bride to be liberated from the guilt of her sins, she must also be liberated from the power of those sins in her life. She must cease to be a whore! Surely Jesus himself must do something about that, for the bride herself is helpless. We know that, don't we. There are round about us all the temptations of the world, the pleasures and treasures of this world, for the prince of the world goeth about seeking to allure us into our former whoredom. Our enemies flirt for our affection, telling us that we are foolish waiting for our Bridegroom, we might just as well live it up a bit. They love to cast our way, "Where is the promise of his coming?" We are tempted, we need divine assistance.
Jesus knew this; he said, "I will come again to receive you unto myself." As soon as he left this earth and, the cloud took him out of our sight, he went to Father's right hand. Immediately he prayed for his bride, that he might receive the Holy Spirit from the Father and send him to her to comfort her and enable her to be faithful while waiting for his return. On Pentecost morning, Jesus returned in the Spirit to his bride. No, he does not dwell personally with his bride now, rather he sent his helper that he might dwell with his bride to give her strength and wisdom to continue in her calling on earth. By that Spirit, Christ fulfills his promise to his bride, "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world."
Our Lord Jesus, Christ is preparing our place for us now. Being exalted in the heavens, he has received all power in heaven and earth. By the power of his ruling arm he controls all things on the earth, all people, all nations, all events in nature, yea everything in order that it may serve his bride. He dwells by his grace and Spirit in the midst of his Church, blessing the preaching of the gospel both within the organic church and through her mission labors, using it as the means to call out of whoredom his bride and bring her within the pure and holy environment of the living Church.
He comes to each one of us when our purpose on earth is finished. Our Bridegroom said, "I will come again to receive you unto myself." This is the reality of death for the bride of Christ. Yes, we pass through the grave, but that is not separation from our bride; it is a transformation by which our souls are cleansed from all filth and our bodies await the resurrection, when they, too, shall be like unto his most glorious body. Transcending the lofty skies, we go to him to dwell with him in all perfection. He comes in death to claim his bride.
The most significant moment will be the wedding. The saints on earth are waiting, the saints in heaven are waiting. As soon as our Bridegroom has "the place, Father's house of many mansions" ready, he will personally come upon the clouds of heaven to take his whole bride unto himself to dwell in heavenly perfection forever. Both according to body and soul, we will be ready for the wedding. Having been judged righteous, we will be clothed with the wedding dress our Bridegroom has purchased for us; we will feel perfectly at home with him. We will sing praises to our Father forever.
Our Bridegroom is away from us. He has sent us his letter of love. Every time we open the Bible, every time we gather in church, we listen to our Bridegroom speak to us, either through letter or messenger. That thrills us, for then he is near to us!
What a day it will be when we will be married to him! He will take us unto himself; we will personally dwell with him. We will have fellowship with him face to face in Father's house.
May the Spirit of Christ dwell in us to keep us faithful, ever looking for the return of our Bridegroom.
Come Lord Jesus, come quickly.