The Eternal Home - Rev Anne Hibbard John 14:1-14
Moving can have its challenges. Change can be exciting but also unsettling. How many times have you moved in your life? I lived about 22 years in one place. And then from the age of 22 to 35 years, I moved about 11 times. Most of these were with a husband and little children in tow. Some of those moves were good. But some were stressful. The hardest times of change where when we knew we had to leave and we didn’t know where we would move to until the last moment. At least during the isolation of coronavirus many of us have been reasonably protected in our homes isolating. But for some that’s not the case. We remember those who lost homes in the fires and floods this year in Australia. And now during the Coronavirus pandemic there has been much insecurity around the world. People have been unsettled in their own homes and even threatened with the risk of death. See for example, Newmarch House in Western Sydney where aged residents are at high risk in their own home of illness, death and closure of the centre. Around the world the uncertainty mounts during the pandemic, in refugee camps, those living on the street, and in crowded slums.
The disciples were with Jesus for about three years. They moved a lot in that time from one town in Galilee to another, and then finally the journey to Jerusalem. In that time what was secure wasn’t where they lived. Jesus told one teacher who wanted to follow him. “Foxes have dens, and birds have nests, but the son of Man has no place to lay his head.” (Mat 8:20). Rather, what was secure, and constant was Jesus’ presence with them. Their home was together with Jesus, wherever he went.
But now they have reached Jerusalem and he gathers with his disciples in an evening meal. He tells them that one of them would betray him (John 13:21). He goes on to say that he would leave them, and they couldn’t follow him now (John 13:26). Their security, Jesus himself, was separating from them and they dreaded asking how.
But then Jesus speaks comfort to them all. He says these famous words that speak to our own hearts too. “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms and I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:1-2a).
Whether we are transient or have been living in one place for many years, the house we live now in is only temporary. Change will occur whether through circumstance or death. But Jesus is preparing a place for us in the Father’s house. This is a permanent dwelling. We won’t have to move. Where we are now is only a shadow of that which is to come. Jesus assured his disciples that he would come back and take them to be with him and they knew the way to where he was going (John 14:3-4).
One of the disciples called Thomas was confused and answered back: “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” (v5). We too may ask; “how do we get to this room in the Father’s house especially prepared for us?” Jesus answers “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me” (v6).
There is only one way to our permanent home prepared for us for all eternity, and that is through Jesus Christ. In John 10, Jesus spoke of himself as the gate. Now he tells his disciples that he is the only way. Our Australian society and even parts of our church balk at Jesus’ words. We live in a pluralist society where every spirituality even ones that people make up themselves are just as valid as every other. There is no such thing as truth. Speaking of only one way to God the Father, is not tolerated.
Yet I beseech you brothers and sisters. Understand the huge impact that our western culture is having on our minds. It is very hard for us. Like the rest of the western world we are tempted to resist and even reject Jesus’ claims that. We find it not only hard to believe but intolerant when Jesus says that he is the only way, and that no one can come to the Father except through him. We may come to church still, and believe in Jesus of a sort, but it is a Jesus mixed up with our own thinking, one we have styled to suit ourselves, not the Jesus found in scripture. Rather it is the Jesus of our post-modern culture that says there are many ways to God and many ways to live. We can take a bit of Jesus, a bit of this spirituality and a bit of this religion too and mix them all together. All paths will get to this place prepared for us. It doesn’t really matter for there is no one truth. We can make up our own.
However, God can’t be manufactured to our own design. Rather he is our living creator, a God who has revealed himself in history as witnessed to in the bible. Even when humanity turned away from God, he never gave up on us. In the fullness of time he sent his son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to die on the cross, so that we can find our way home to the Father once again. The gift of an eternal permanent home doesn’t have to wait till we die. Even while we are here on earth, we can find our way home. It is that place where Christ is in the Father, and we are in Christ, and Christ is in us (John 14:19-20). It is that place where the Father and the son make their home with us (v23). When everything around us changes and shakes, our dwelling place in God through Christ stands firm. He never leaves us or forsakes us. For even as a pilgrim on a journey through the wilderness, we are home in Christ.
Heavenly Father help those who are suffering right now throughout the world in very insecure living situations. We pray for wisdom and success for governments in battling the pandemic, including our own. We thank you for Jesus Christ your son, who has made the way for us to have an eternal home prepared for us with you. Thank you that we can begin living there now, even while we are here on earth. Grant us the grace to accept this gift and empower us to share this wonderful news with others. In Jesus’ mighty name we pray. Amen.