Let not your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in me.…
From these words we learn —
I. The MAGNITUDE of heaven. Christ's going away would naturally seem to them pure loss. Death, as a natural event, always seems so. But Christ says death is not a closing so much as an opening — not a going away so much as a coming home. It is the passing of a pilgrim from one mansion to another, from the winter to the summer residence, from one of the outlying provinces up nearer the central home. This is not a chance expression, far less a mere figure of speech. There are many others. "The third heavens"; Christ has "passed through all heavens"; "heaven, even the heaven of heavens," a place evidently of inconceivable grandeur, for even that cannot contain the infinite presence of God. This idea of immense capacity is a real relief from some of the more popular conceptions of the future life, as that of a temple, etc. The population of this world is something tremendous. It has been yielding immense numbers to heaven in every age. Thus "a great multitude which no man can number," has been passing, and will pass, in ceaseless procession. And we cannot help wondering how they are all to be provided for!
II. Out of the idea of vastness arises that of an endless VARIETY. The variety existing in God's works here is one of the principal charms of the natural world. So as there are "many mansions," the adorning of them will be very various. One will not be as another. We do not go to heaven to lose our natural tastes, our sinless preferences, but rather to have all these gratified in a far higher degree. Otherwise heaven would be plainer, poorer, and less interesting than earth. And unless our own nature were pressed down into some kind of mechanical exactness and shape, weariness would ensue. There would be a sighing for the lost seasons of the earth, its withered flowers, its light and shade, its many countries, and its encircling seas. But no! There will be places, pursuits, and enjoyments for all.
III. Then, lest this vastness and variety should seem too large to our thought, we have also in these words a sweet assurance as to the HOMELINESS of heaven.
IV. REALITY. ''If it were not so, I would have told you." This life in itself is shadowy enough. We speak of "long days," and of "long years." But when the awakened immortal soul looks at those spaces of time in the light of its own eternity, how short and shadowy they seem I In those times we feel that everything depends on the reality and permanence of the future life! No man who has not long been untrue to himself and to his God can be pleased with the thought of annihilation. But who can tell him firmly where lies the realm of life, or whether anywhere? He asks philosophy, and she answers, "I see something like it, but I cannot surely tell. It may be land or it may be cloud." He asks his own reason, and the instincts of his heart, and they answer "yes" today and "no" tomorrow, according to the mood, and the aspects of outward life. Then, turning to Jesus Christ, he asks by his sorrow, by his hopes, by all the struggling instincts that will not die, by that upward look in which the soul is "seeking a city with foundations," whether such a city is builded — whether such a life is secure. And the answer is here. Conclusion: The love of heaven has been derided by some as a selfish passion. No doubt heaven may be represented and desired by the mind as a place of escape from conflict, of mere ignoble rest. But if we take it just as it is projected to our view in the Scriptures — in its relations to earthly labour, and suffering, and desire; and as the place where our higher toils and nobler enjoyments shall begin: — then the desire of heaven is the noblest and purest passion we cherish.
(A. Raleigh, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.