Let not your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in me.…
Sorrow needs simple words for its consolation; and simple words are the best clothing for the largest truths. Note in these words —
I. THE "FATHER'S HOUSE," AND ITS AMPLE ROOM. There is only one other occasion in which our Lord used this expression: "Make not My Father's house a house of merchandise." Its courts, its many chambers, its ample porches, with room for thronging worshippers, represented in some poor way the wide sweep and space of that higher house.
1. How sweet and familiar this conception of heaven!
(1) There is something awful, even to the best souls, in the thought even of the glories beyond. But how it is all softened when we say, "My Father's house." Most of us have left behind us the sweet security which used to be ours when we lived as children in a father's house here. But we may all look forward to the renewal, in far nobler form, of these early days, where the shyest and timidest child shall feel at ease and secure.
(2) And consider how this conception suggests answers to so many of our questions about the relationship of the inmates to one another. Are they to dwell isolated in their several mansions? Surely if He be the Father, and Heaven be His house, the relation of the redeemed to one another must have in it more than all the sweet familiarity and unrestrained frankness which subsists in the families of earth.
(3) But, further, this great and tender name has its deepest meaning in a spiritual state of which the essential elements are the loving manifestation of God as Father, the perfect consciousness of sonship, the happy union of all the children in one great family, and the derivation of all their blessedness from their elder Brother.
2. The ample room in this great house.
(1) There was room where Christ went for eleven poor men. But Christ's prescient eye looked down the ages, and some glow of satisfaction flitted across His sorrow as He saw from afar the result of the impending travail of His soul in the multitudes by whom God's heavenly house should yet be filled. Perhaps that upper room, like the most of the roof chambers in Jewish houses, was open to the skies, and whilst He spoke the innumerable lights that blaze in that clear heaven shone down upon them, and He may have pointed to these as He spoke. Ah! brethren, if we could only widen our measurement of the walls of the New Jerusalem to that of the "golden rod which the man, that is, the angel" applied to it, we should understand how much bigger it is than any of these poor communities on earth. If we would lay to heart, as we ought to do, the deep meaning of that indefinite "many" in my text it would rebuke our narrowness.
(2) That one word may also be used to heighten our own confidence as to our own poor selves. A chamber in the great temple waits for each of us, and the question is, Shall we occupy it or shall we not? The old rabbis said that, however many the throngs of worshippers who came up to Jerusalem at the Passover, the streets and the courts were never crowded. And so it is with that great city. There are throngs, but no crowds. Each finds a place in the ample sweep of the Father's house, like some of the great palaces that barbaric Eastern kings used to build, in whose courts armies might encamp, and the chambers of which were counted by the thousand.
(3) There is only another occasion in this Gospel in which the word here translated "mansions" is employed — "We will come and make our abode with Him." Our mansion is in God; God's dwelling place is in us. When prodigal children go away from the father's house sometimes a heartbroken parent will keep the boy's room just as it used to be when he was young and pure, and will hope and weary through long days for him to come back and occupy it again. God is keeping a room for you in His house; do you see that you fill it.
II. THE SUFFICIENCY OF CHRIST'S REVELATION FOR OUR NEEDS. "If it were not so, I would have told you."
1. He sets Himself forward in very august fashion as being the Revealer and the Opener of that house for us. There is a singular tone about all our Lord's few references to the future — a tone of decisiveness. He stands like one on a mountain top, looking down into the valleys beyond, and telling His comrades in the plain behind Him what He sees. He speaks of that unseen world always as one who had been in it, and who was reporting experiences, and not giving forth opinions. Very remarkable, therefore, is it that with this tone there should be such reticence in Christ's references to the future. But my text suggests to us that we have got as much as we need, and, for the rest, if we needed to have heard it, He would have told us. Let the gaps remain. The gaps are part of the revelation, and we know enough for faith and hope.
2. May we not widen the application of that thought to other matters? In times like the present, of doubt and unrest, it is a great piece of Christian wisdom to recognize the limitations of our knowledge and the sufficiency of the fragments that we have. What do we get a revelation for? To solve theological puzzles and dogmatic difficulties; to inflate us with the pride of quasi-omniscience: or to present to us God in Christ for faith, for love, for obedience, for imitation? Surely the latter, and for such purposes we have enough.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.