On the night of his betrayal, Jesus spoke these words to his disciples:
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” – John 14:1-3
These words were intended to bring them and us much needed comfort, and they do. We rightly anticipate the return of Jesus and the culmination of all things as we enjoy in all of its fullness, what has been prepared for us. But what if part of that reality is intended to be more immediate than just some far off obscure day relegated to the future? What if there is both a “now” and a “not yet” in Jesus’ words?
I have long thought that Jesus’ words, “I go to prepare a place for you” have more to do with his death on a cross than him busily working away somewhere preparing a place for us to hang with him. In other words, I think his death and resurrection are themselves, the preparation for our inclusion – “I go…to prepare.” This is especially true in light of the fact that our heavenly inheritance has been prepared since before the foundation of the world (Matt. 25:34).
If that is the case, this promise has both a now but not yet flavor to it where we get to taste now, what awaits us in its fullness later in the new heavens and the new earth. If Jesus’ death on the cross is the final preparation for our entrance into the Father’s house, then that final work of preparation is finished (Jn. 19:30) and Jesus’ invitation into rest (Matt 11:28-30) means we’re in the Father’s house now. It’s this affection of the Father that Jesus came to show us in the first place (Jn 14:8-10) that draws us into the Father’s house. Jesus showed us a Father who isn’t mad at us and one who delights in showering us with affection in the here and now. Christian, the Father cherishes community with you. You’re already in his house. You just can’t see it yet.