“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way where I am going.” Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:1-6 NASB)
Many people want to argue about whether Jesus Christ says “mansions” or “houses” or “rooms” in this passage, but they are missing the real point of what Christ says. He is actually talking about making believers part of the royal family. Not the king or heir to the throne, but a prince, duke or duchess, something of that sort. It is a person who has royal access — to the throne room, the ball room, the royal yacht — and also royal responsibility. People in David’s kingdom were given royal responsibility. People in the royal household of England have responsibilities. Not all of the people we read about in the Scriptures or other historical accounts carried out their royal responsibilities the way they should have, but we have a better example and much better preparation and help available to us.
Thomas brings up that very point about preparation and help. He wasn’t exactly saying, in response to this, “We have no idea what you’re talking about.” He was saying that he didn’t feel prepared, or that he had enough knowledge. If Christ was indeed going to leave and go to that place he spoke of, did He expect them to be ready to follow, as well as to bring others? Thomas was pretty sure he wasn’t ready to do that.
In Egyptian culture, writings cover the walls of the tombs and are sometimes even inscribed inside the sarcophagus. These writings vary a great deal but are sometimes called “the book of the dead” and other times “the book of gates” or “gateways”. The pharaoh had a set of instructions for getting him through to the afterlife, and he also had the charge of returning to lead his people through. That these “return instructions” were flawed and incomplete is pretty clear, since no pharaoh ever returned to lead his people to bliss.
Jesus Christ is the King of Kings. He went, upon His ascension, to the royal palace in heaven. He promised that He was going to prepare it for us, not just to give us an eternal home, but royal access and royal responsibility.
To ease the troubled hearts of those like Thomas, who felt unequal to the task of being royalty, complete with royal burdens, He left behind two ways of understanding how to be prepared for His return and for that royal responsibility. The first is the inerrant Word of God. The second is the promised help and clarity given by the Holy Spirit.
Our instructions are pretty simple. We are to be prepared ourselves for Christ’s return, by study of the Word through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. That Word makes it clear that we are to lead others to follow Christ as well, and to be prepared to come along. After all, whether it’s houses, rooms, or mansions, there are lots of them. We can bring plenty of company, and we absolutely should.