Day 315: Rooms or Mansions? (John 14:1-3)

Biltmore House, the largest private home in the United States

14 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 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? 3 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.

Through the Bible: John 14-17

Like many of you, I grew up hearing about having a mansion in heaven. My only concept of “mansion” came from the Beverly Hillbillies, and so that’s what I imagined my mansion in heaven would be like. Complete with a diamond doorknob and a cement pond.

The Greek word translated mansion by the King James Version, however, does not necessarily mean mansion. In fact, mone in the Greek is not even a noun. It’s an adjective, best translated as “a staying or an abiding.” It is used only one other time in the New Testament—later in chapter 14 when Jesus says “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home (mone) with him (14:23).”

So while it could mean a separate dwelling, it more likely describes a dwelling place or a place to live within the Father’s house (oikos), rather than separate from it. This would be more consistent with Jewish betrothal and wedding customs of Jesus’ day. Listen to how Rachel K. Taber-Hamilton, Rector of Trinity Episcopal Church, Everett WA, describes it:

After the betrothal ceremony, the bride returned to her mother’s house, while the groom departed to his father’s house. This period of separation lasted about a year, providing time for the groom to add additional rooms to his father’s household in order for him to prepare for welcoming his bride into the household of his father. Although the bride knew to expect her groom after about a year, she did not know the exact day or hour. He could come earlier or later than was expected. For this reason, the bride kept her oil lamps ready at all times, just in case the groom came in the night (Matthew 25:1-13). It was the father of the groom who gave final approval for the time for him to return to collect his bride.

When the time came, the bridal procession was led by the sounding of the shofar to the home he had prepared for her… At this time, the groom, with much noise, fanfare and romance, carried the bride onto the property of his father’s home. … Now in their home, the bride and groom lived out their covenant of marriage – the traditional Jewish version of “and they lived happily ever after.”

What an amazing picture of the love our Bridegroom (Jesus) has for His Bride (the church)! No matter how elaborate I could imagine my own mansion, it can’t compare to having a room in my Father’s house! And to know that Jesus has been working on that room for two thousand years now, I have a feeling it’s going to be WAY better than anything I saw on The Beverly Hillbillies!

Read more about traditional Jewish wedding ceremonies here.

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