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Date: Dec. 24, 2017

Author: Jimmy Mei

John 14:1-4

Key Verse: John 14:3

My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?

Merry Christmas! It brings me great joy to be here with you today as we remember the good news of Jesus Christ, who came to be with us on Earth through his incarnation, becoming a man, to live with and ultimately die, to save us. I hope you have all experienced true joy this advent season. We celebrate this joy, but this is not the end of it; rather, this is just the beginning of our faith. What do I mean by this? Well, think about each of our last 3 Sundays. We heard about the joy that cannot be taken away from us, given to us by Christ from Dan. We heard about the Emmanuel, God with us, from Mike. We saw how the Son of God became man to be with us, understand our suffering, and helped us to understand God through Mark Vucekovich. But think about it: at the end of the day; where did you go after you listened to these messages? Eventually, I’ll bet you went home. So, I’m going to bring it home for you today as well. We’ll take a look at what home means and the way to get to God’s house from todays’ passage.  Let’s pray…

Here at IIT, we are a student ministry. Students, and anyone who has ever been a student: what do you look forward to the most? I’ll bet it’s not your 7:30 lab class or the deadline of your next paper/project. I’ll bet it’s something along the lines of: the end of finals, winter break, or graduation. If you’re not so far-sighted, maybe you’re just looking forward to Friday each week. Either way, I think students, better than most, understand that they are in a temporary, transitional phase of life; a part of life where you work hard to finish your degree so you can go on to a successful career. In other words, there’s light at the end of the tunnel. When I was in college at Ohio State, I was on a quarter system, so even if it was a ‘hard’ class or a class I didn’t particularly enjoy, I knew it was only 10 weeks that I had to endure and then it would be over. Doesn’t sound so bad right?

But you guys are not just students, but you are Christian students; in other words, you are disciples of Jesus. Now, consider your life as a Christian. If you don’t believe in God and don’t believe in eternal life, then you have to accept that this is it; you have this one chance to try to experience everything you want and then, it all goes away and turns to dust after you die and your body decays. However, if you believe the good news of salvation that Jesus brings, then you know that your life here on earth is just temporary. And, like your temporary student status, you know that this is not the end goal, but rather, there is something else awaiting you. And your BIBLEs are your Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth. And if you are going to be leaving Earth, do you know where you are going? I mean, you should be prepared and have a plan, right? Even if you knew you were only leaving to go on vacation, you wouldn’t go before you researched it, arranged a place to stay at, and prepared some sort of itinerary of what you were going to do there. So, it is as well with our life on Earth. Do you know where you are going? If you believe Jesus’ words, then you are going home to God’s house.

In fact, verse 1 implores us to do just this (believe Jesus): “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.” The first thing Jesus does is tells us to believe in him, to trust him, to place our hope in him. Why is this such a big deal? Because Jesus knows that our eternal fate hinges on our decision here. Unlike, the short amount (and it really is short, especially compared to eternity) of time that we spend on this earth, after we die, we will either be brought to Heaven or suffer in Hell for the rest of eternity. This seems rather extreme and people don’t like to think about it, but this is the truth and reality of things. There is no period of penitence to serve for our sins before entrance into heaven if we don’t accept Christ. There is an eternity. The consequences of sin are permanent and Romans 6:23 tells us that the wages of sin is death. This is why Jesus is so adamant that we believe in him and trust him. He offers us the ultimate alternative. 1 Peter 1:3-4 tell us, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy, he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish spoil, or fade. This inheritance is kept in Heaven for you…” Jesus promises that he will take care of us if we let him, if we believe him, and trust him.

Believing in Jesus has never been easy though. I think that’s why Jesus led with “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” Even in the beginning of the Bible, in Genesis, I think about Noah building that massive ark in the desert and what people around him must’ve been thinking. Perhaps your personal faith is not on quite such a scale of public display today, but I think our faith as a whole still is. All you have to do is look to the media and Christians are mocked repeatedly for their archaic beliefs, judgmental actions, and hypocritical lives. Trust me, I definitely don’t believe in God because it’s the cool thing to do. But I do believe in God because of who he is and what he’s done. In fact, I just want to remind you that this is the entire point of Advent. Prior to Jesus, people looked forward to the coming of a Savior. Now that he has come, we look forward to his second coming, when he comes to take us to be with him, to be with God. Jesus’ credibility comes from God and comes from fulfilling all the prophecies and promises that God gave us through the Bible. I don’t think he’s about to ruin his spotless record and not fulfill this last promise of his Second Coming.

Okay, so if you get past this first part to decide to trust Jesus, to save you from eternal punishment and give you eternal life, where do we go afterwards? Well, this passage is almost like an FAQ page about that. Let’s take a look:

Q1:  Okay, I’ll believe and trust Jesus. Where is Jesus taking us again?  

A1:  The first three words of verse 2 tell us: “My father’s house…”

This tells us a couple things. First, this shows that God is Jesus’ Father and Jesus is the Son of God. That means he has the authority to bring us there. You wouldn’t let a stranger invite you into a house that’s not their own right? But Jesus is no stranger; Jesus is the Son of God. Second, we are going to God’s house, or in in other words, his home. But why would I want to go there? I see two reasons why people would ask this. First, my home and my family here are so awesome already; why would I want to leave and go to God’s house? Well, even if your family is awesome, I’m sure that there is still some suffering; people inevitably get sick, fall on hard times, and eventually die; things on earth don’t last forever. But God’s house is permanent and will not suffer from degradation. The other reason is for this question is, perhaps, home isn’t a place I want to go to; my home is filled with abusive and neglectful people and is a constant source of pain. But God’s house is perfect and free of these deficiencies. Regardless of what situation you are in, God’s home in Heaven is better because it is perfect; there will be no more suffering. Revelation 21:4 tells us that, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death, or crying, or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” What an amazing world that would be: a permanently perfect world.

Q2:  Okay, I want to go there now. Is God house big enough for all of us? (mine definitely isn’t)

A2:  Jesus says that it “has many rooms,” here in this passage.

Revelations gives us an even more glorious description of God’s home. 21:21-25 says, “And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the streets of the city was pure gold, transparent as glass. And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day – and there will be no night there.”

Q3.  That sounds amazing. Do I have a spot reserved for me?

A3.  Jesus answers in the remainder of verse 2, “if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?”

He reminds that his Word is the Truth and here he also tells us that not only has he reserved a spot in heaven for those who believe, but Jesus is going there personally. Well, I can’t get into Heaven until I die right? So, if Jesus is going there, is he going to die? Well, of course he did; we celebrate advent because he came and he came to die on the cross to redeem us from our sins! But if he dies, how does he fulfill his promise? Well, he came back to life; by coming back to life, he defeated the power of death and shows us that there is hope because he has already done it. Not only did he come back to life, he is still alive and he is in Heaven preparing a place for you. He isn’t ordering his angels to go and tidy up a room in the house for you; he is going there to take care of every detail personally!

Q4.  Great, great! How do I get there?

A4.  Verse 3 tells us, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you may also be where I am.”

Again, Jesus doesn’t go up to Heaven to sit there and just wait for us to get there. He not only went there to prepare our room for us, but he is our personal guide to Heaven. No need for you to book a flight or make your own travel plans; Jesus is the way and he won’t risk letting you get lost. Which brings me to the last question on this FAQ:

Q5.  How do I know this is true?

A5.  Verse 4 says, “You know the way to the place to the place I am going”

In summary, Jesus just says, “You know.” If you are a little less than enlightened by this answer, don’t worry; you are not alone. I know it’s a little beyond the scope of this passage, but in the very next verse, Thomas, one of his disciples, says “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” One of the most famous verses in the bible, John 14:6 then tells us, “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” And no one comes to the Father except through Jesus because Jesus is the only one who can guide and bring us to God’s house. He is the Son of God, who fulfilled all the prophecies, and who created all things. In fact, if we do try to make our plans and do it on our own, we will fail. We celebrate this advent season because we received this good news of great joy: that He came down to earth; to suffer and die to pay for our sins; to rise again to defeat death and give us hope; to go and prepare a room for us in heaven; to come again to bring us there, so that we may finally be with God, permanently, and in a world without suffering or mourning.

One of the things that I appreciate the most about our ministry is that we do have a strong focus on sharing Jesus with students. And as we’ve seen this advent season, one of the most amazing things is that He came down to us to be with us so that he could share in this life with us. The students on this campus come here from all over the country and all over the world. Many of these teenagers are leaving home for the first time to come pursue their academic dreams so they can go off into the world and make a difference (or at least, a living). But during the holidays and seasonal breaks, they go home to their family and friends. It is an honor for us to be able to share the word of God with students when they come to us; but the truest honor is for the word of God and Jesus to go home with them and be shared with their family and become part of that family. In the same way that it was great to have someone as awesome and wonderful as Jesus come visit us here on earth; but the real gift and blessing is that Jesus has invited us back to God’s house to be with him as part of his family.

According to Google, home is the place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household. Therefore, when you accept Jesus’ invitation for him to bring you into God’s house, you are being accepted as part of God’s family. Imagine that: how amazing it is! We, who are sinners, and who are enemies of God, are welcomed into his home, not just as guests, but as family! Reflecting on how God has shown me his love in my life, this is exactly how he softened my heart to accept his truth. I started coming to church in fifth grade, but if I’m going to be honest, it wasn’t attending service that converted me. It was going over to Benji’s house afterwards and playing games. It was having dinner with and sleeping over at the Timlins’ house. It was Len bringing us over to his house to hang out before every Sunday service. It was Mike taking care of us and making sure that to not only teach us the word of God but teach us how to be men, how to serve, and how to be generous and compassionate. It was their love, their service, their willingness to come and personally bring me everywhere. It was being welcomed into a family that I had no business being a part of; it was that continuous sharing of God’s love that convinced me God must be real. How else do complete strangers welcome me into their homes, into their families? When I accepted God’s love for me, shown to me through his servants, I accepted Jesus, and I accepted Jesus’ invitation for me to be a permanent addition to be part of God’s family.

The wonderful thing about this promise though, is that it begins now. I know when we talk about Heaven and inheriting the Kingdom of God, we think it mostly in the context of after we die. So, most of us, since none of us think we’re going to die soon, push this off until we do think that we’re closer to death. But can you imagine if the servants of God that I had met in my life didn’t show me God’s love because they didn’t think they were going to die soon? I would still be lost in my sin and my hope would still be in the worthless things of the world. But because, I experienced and continue to experience God’s love daily, I already experience the joy of being with God and being part of God’s family. I’ve been catching up with Len lately and I always tell him, I’m still so amazed that people like you and Mike Mark, and Paul Lee, wanted to spend so much time trying to take care of bunch of ungrateful and annoying kids. Didn’t you have anything better to do with your time, especially on weekends? (I’m sure the answer is yes ^_^) He told me those were some of the most enjoyable times of his life.

So, through God’s love being shared with me, I already experience a taste of Heaven, and it makes me want to share it with those around me as well. I don’t stand and judge; I try to be with, listen, and understand. I open up and share the love of God with those around me; I give my testimony to anyone who wants to listen and I hope that God uses these small offerings to soften someone else’s heart to receive him and his promise of eternal life as well. As our sins deserve eternal condemnation, Jesus offers us eternal salvation, so if you make a difference in the life of one person, you made an eternal difference. As we close advent, I want to offer one last reminder of Jesus’ personal invitation to you: an offer of eternal salvation from our sin, everlasting life in his Kingdom, and true joy and peace on earth as we look forward to his Second Coming and share his love and this good news with those around us as we wait. Come Lord Jesus; bring us home.

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Key Verse: 7:8b

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