The Father's House.

John 14:1-6.

There is no portion we are more familiar with than this John 14. Surely there is no part more frequently read, and turned to for comfort - and rightly so. "Let not your heart be troubled." The Lord anticipates the disciples being found in circumstances of sorrow and trouble. Of course He refers mainly to His own going away; but when He comes down to verse 27, and has spoken of His going away, and of giving the Holy Ghost, He again says, "Let not your heart be troubled."

It is one thing to be saved by Christ, and another thing to throw in your lot with Christ. Every true-hearted servant of Christ, or Christian, would say: "If my Saviour died for me, if He came from God's eternal presence down to the cross, if that was the measure of His love to me, the only answer I can make is, to cast in my lot with Him." Then he is prepared not to expect anything down here. We have no expectations here, where Christ was rejected; and a place is opened out to us up there, where there is no rejection. But there is rejection here, and no person can enjoy John 14 who does not accept rejection with Christ. For why is not Christ here? The fact is (and nothing requires more pressing), that Christ has been rejected, cast out, refused here; and God came in, in the riches of His grace, and turned all that into the fullest blessing for us. Christ has been refused; they would not let Him remain here. He had a title to everything here, but He accepted this place of rejection. He was the Son of God, the blessed Saviour; and as long as the disciples had the shelter of His wing, they knew what it was to dwell under His shadow and have a place of refuge. Whatever opposition and trouble they met with, they had One to whom they could go and tell their sorrows: they "went and told Jesus." No one can tell what it was to those disciples to walk in the Saviour's presence here. Who can tell what it was to them to hear His voice, to have His ear ever open to them, and to know His care and His presence? Remember that God was there manifest in flesh. Think what it was for these poor simple men, who walked in the company of the Son of God in this world, to hear Him say that He was going away, and that He was going to leave them in a world where He Himself met with nothing but rejection. He said He would not leave them comfortless; but they, for their part, looked at the terrible blank the absence of Christ would make to their souls. We must place ourselves in the very circumstances the disciples were in at that moment in order to understand it.

Nothing is plainer than that "the foxes had holes, and birds of the air had nests, but the Son of man had not where to lay His head." He had not a place here, but He was going to speak to them about heaven, with which He was perfectly acquainted. He knew all that was there, though it was an entirely new revelation to the disciples. Where can you find in Scripture anything before about the Father's house? There had never been anything unfolded about it before, and now we speak about the Father's house as a place we have heard of all our lives! But think of the Lord going away, and leaving these dear ones He had drawn to Himself; ignorant perhaps, but they loved their Master. If you ask me what is the striking characteristic of these men, I would say, their affection for Christ; they really loved their Master. Because in an earlier day (John 6), when the Lord had been speaking of His rejection, and some went back (men who had been outwardly near to Christ, and had seen what they had never seen before, but had no real link in their souls, with Him; merely a passing interest, and when the moment of testing came, they parted company with Christ), yet still these disciples were true to Him, and when He said, "Will ye also go away?" there came that beautiful answer, "Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life." They could answer in all the certainty of what they had learnt from Christ, and they could answer rightly. They were not intelligent perhaps, but where a person's heart is true to Christ, everything else will follow rightly.

Christ has gone to prepare a place for those that are His in this world. It is one thing to have a place prepared outside this world, and another thing inside. In the gospel God does not propose to prepare a place for us in this world; there is the unfolding of that which is heavenly, and not the giving us a place or anything down here in this world. That which marked the Master must mark the servant. Some people say: "I would like to understand the truth of the Church of God." You never will, unless you take part with Christ in rejection. You may read a book about it, and have it all in your head, but if you have not broken with the world you don't know what the Church is. You must be in the company of Christ, as well as be saved by Him, in order to know what the Church is. Christianity gives you the most wonderful circumstances outside, but it does not propose to give you anything in this world - it will not set things in order around you.

"Ye believe in God, believe also in me." You have God before you as an object of faith. The invisible God they had believed in; now the Lord was going away, and He was to become an invisible object likewise, but He claims their faith. I do not know anything more beautiful than that in sacred Scripture. He has a right to claim your faith, and you know very well whether He has it or not. Christ came from heaven and walked down here for thirty-three years, died for you, and because He died for you he has a claim over you. Do you know Him? Has he gained the confidence of your souls? The Saviour who stood upon this earth is now up in heaven, but He is just the same Lord Jesus, and in the midst of your sorrow you can know how real a thing it is to be brought into personal acquaintance with Christ in heaven. I ask you, What is the greatest favour that God can give to man? "Well," you say,. "He watches over us, and He gives blessings, such as health and strength." Yes, He does; it is God's own special mercy. But what is His greatest favour? The revelation of Christ in heaven - that is His greatest favour. For what do you bless God most? That ever He brought me to bow at His blessed feet. He claims your faith.

"I am the way, the truth, and the life." There is no other way to God. The fact of Christ saying He is the way, declares that man has lost the way. What man wanted was a way back to God, to the Father; and Christ says, "I am that way," And He is "the truth" as to everything, the truth in relation to God, in relation to man, in relation to time, in relation to eternity; and if you do not know Christ, you do not know the truth about anything. Your judgment of things in this world is a false judgment if Christ is unknown to you. And is He not "the life" too? He claims these three things for Himself. It was claiming to be a great deal, was it not? Is it too much? Do you admit that Christ is the way, the truth, and the life? and have you proved it for yourself? The great thing is for your souls to be brought into association with it. There is no approach to a difficulty on God's side, but on your side there may be difficulties. There is no difficulty about your forming an acquaintance with Christ now. It is a great thing to be able to say you know a Saviour at God's right hand in heaven, and if you do not know Him, you can go to Him now, as you are, and where you are, and say, "Lord Jesus, I should like to know Thee as my Saviour." The man that sets out for God and Christ in that way may say, "Well, I do not know much about doctrines, but I know I have a soul that must live for ever; and, Lord Jesus, I want to know Thee as my Saviour." The heart of Christ is delighted with every soul that turns aside to Him; and not only at the first moment, but a deepening acquaintance must delight Him and you too. All blessing depends on it. The first thing is to know Christ, to come to Him, to say, "I desire to bow before Thee, to receive Thee as my Saviour." Christ is either inside or outside your hearts; you have opened the door of your heart to Him, or it is shut against Him. Your blessing in this world depends on a deepening acquaintance with Christ. To think that the Son of God in heaven loves to increase the acquaintance of your soul with Him! There is no company Christ so delights in as the company of those for whom He died. And is your answer, "I delight to be with the Lord Jesus Christ?"

Having claimed their faith He speaks of His Father, a new thing to them. Who can tell what the Father's house is? It was home to Christ. Home is home everywhere. Christ had not a home here; He came from heaven, and He measured things here by it. He saw the poverty, the sorrow, the ruin, and death here, and He came down from heavenly glory to tell us what the Father was in Himself, to open up the way to Him, and to speak of the Father's house. Is not that a divine reality? Supposing it were possible to annihilate the opening verses of John 14, would you feel a blank as to the future? Supposing you had never read them before, what a revelation it would be to you! What could be more wonderful than that the Saviour should tell us all about it? It is as if He said, "I do not propose to find you comfortable nests down here, and to guard you from every anxiety, but I open up a place for you in heaven." A place! That is the whole thing in this chapter. No place here, but a place in heaven, a place for man, a place in the Father's house. And when the soul has learnt that, it has got hold of divine possessions, of surroundings which God has given for our comfort in this world. The place which Christ prepared for them is prepared for every believer in Christ today. Our place was prepared the moment Christ went in as a Man. If Christ is your Saviour, where He goes you go. Christ never goes anywhere that the believer has not a place with Him. As a Man on the ground of accomplished redemption He goes up into glory, and there prepares a place. We have a place in heaven, not amongst men, but a place, a present place, in heaven. The moment Christ is our Saviour, God is our Father, and in virtue of what Christ has done, we are brought into the family of God, and that which is proper to the family is the home. You never get into the thought of verse 2 unless by meditation and prayer before God. The Father's house, it is greater than the glory of the kingdom. If I had been there in that day, what would have comforted my heart? He tells what there is for us; He knows what there is; a place, many abodes, a rest, and the Spirit of God is given us as the only power to sustain us here. We should go to the wall completely but for the Spirit of God. Our only power is in the fulfilment of, "And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever."

A Christian is a person who can stand in this world and say, "I am ready at this moment to step into the Father's house." As surely and as really as Christ stood on this earth, and told them what He was going to do, so surely did He tell them He was coming back. Do you believe Christ is coming for you? I do not mean, Do you believe in the second coming? but, Is it Christ coming for you? If you believed it, it would settle ten thousand things for you. It is so blessed! It is the heart of Christ which will find out in this world every loved one, wherever they are; the heart and eye and hand and almighty power of Christ will gather them out of this world. That, next to the cross, will be the greatest expression of divine affection. Do you know that may take place now? There is not a word of Scripture to be fulfilled ere He come, and before another hour has passed Christ may be here. We do not know what the circumstances of the rest of our pathway may be, but we do know Christ is coming.

Have you weighed and measured everything connected with you in the light of God's eternity? Can you say, "Thank God I have a Father, and a place in the Father's house, and thank God I have a future so brilliant and so blessed that nothing can touch or disturb"? Is it not wonderful? That Christ is really for us; that, notwithstanding the poverty of our testimony for Him, His heart has not grown cold, and He never loved His people more than at this moment. He was never in greater activity for them. You can look up to heaven and say, "Christ never loved me more than at this moment, and He is only waiting to have me with Him for ever." One moment we shall be here, and the next moment up there, received unto Himself. Then there will be no separation from Christ for ever. Is it not beautiful? And that is our future! I trust that we may honour Christ by the expectation of Him. When Christ has displayed this most magnificent future, could anything be more sorrowful than that we should treat it as a fable? The moment Satan has got anything in between our souls and the coming of Christ, it has no power over us. If the coming of Christ is a near thing to you, it has power. Make it tomorrow, and its power is gone; you cease to wait and to watch. Christ has been refused here, but He is accepted there, and the weakest saint that ever looked to Him is dear to Him, and He will come and fetch that one.

May God make His coming the next thing to us! E. P. C.