The Building of Godby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In 14:2 the Lord said, “In My Father’s house are many abodes; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.” What is the Father’s house in John 14? We must expound the Scriptures with the Scriptures; this is the safest way to expound the Word. To know what the Father’s house is in John 14, we need to refer to chapter 2, which says that the Father’s house is the temple (v. 16). Furthermore, according to verses 19 through 21, the temple signifies the mystical Body of Christ, including all the members of Christ, as the dwelling place of God (Eph. 2:21-22). It would not be logical to say that the Father’s house in John 14 is something different from the Father’s house in John 2. In John 2 we are clearly shown that the Father’s house was the temple, which signifies the mystical Body of Christ as the dwelling place of God. Thus, the same term used in chapter 14 also implies the Body of Christ.
The King James Version and several other versions of the Bible render John 14:2, “In my Father’s house are many mansions.” However, the Greek word translated “mansions” is actually monai, which is the noun form of the verb abide. This verb is used in 15:4-5, which tells us to abide in the Lord so that the Lord may abide in us. Thus, the Greek word in 14:2 is properly translated “abodes.” If the Father’s house is the mystical Body of Christ, and within this house are many abodes, what are these abodes? Clearly, the abodes are the many members of the Body. We must realize that as members of the Body, we are all abodes because Christ is dwelling within each one of us. This is proved by 14:23, in which the Lord says that He and the Father will make an abode with those who love Him. Thus, the many abodes are the many members of the mystical Body of Christ.
The Lord continued in verse 3, saying, “If I go and prepare a place for you, I am coming again.” The Lord did not say “I will come” but “I am coming.” This means that the Lord’s going was His coming and that He was coming to the disciples by going. Some have said that this coming is the Lord’s second coming in the future. However, we must declare that this interpretation is incorrect. The Lord’s coming in this verse was His coming back in resurrection. The Lord was telling His disciples that He was going to die. Because of this, the disciples’ hearts were troubled; they thought that He was going to leave them. They did not realize that by going to die, the Lord could come in another form. At that point, the Lord had come but not to a full extent. He had come through incarnation but was able only to be among the disciples. He was not able to enter into the disciples. The Lord had completed the first step of His coming, which was His incarnation. Through His incarnation He came to be with the disciples. However, a second step was needed so that He would be able to enter into the disciples. In this second step He needed to go in order that He could come again. His going was His coming.
We may illustrate these two steps with the following story. One day some parents bought a watermelon for their children. When the watermelon was put on the table before the children, the children looked at it and appreciated it very much. Then the parents said, “Sorry, we must take the watermelon away.” This caused all the children to cry because they thought that they were going to lose the watermelon. However, the parents told them, “Don’t be worried about the watermelon. Don’t be sad. We must take the watermelon away in order to cut it into pieces. Then we will bring it back for you to eat.” The first step was the buying of the watermelon. However, after the watermelon had been bought, it could still only be among the children; it could not be in them. Thus, there was the need of a second step. The watermelon had to be “killed.” Then, after being “resurrected,” it could be put on the table in another form, a form that was easy for the children to receive. Thus, the watermelon’s going was not its leaving but its coming.
The Lord Jesus had come to His disciples through incarnation, but He was not able to enter into them. He had to go to the cross, be killed and buried, and then be resurrected. After passing through these steps, He came back to the disciples as the Spirit (20:22; 1 Cor. 15:45b). Thus, the Lord’s going was His coming.
John 14:3 says, “If I go and prepare a place for you, I am coming again and will receive you to Myself, so that where I am you also may be.” The word Myself is a very strong word. It indicates that the Lord was going in order to receive the disciples into Himself, causing them to be in Him. He also said that they would be where He was. Where was the Lord when He spoke these words? He was in the Father (vv. 10-11, 20). Furthermore, the place where the Lord was going was actually a person—the Father (vv. 12, 28). Then in verse 4 the Lord told the disciples that they already knew the way to where He was going. Thomas asked how they could know the way. Jesus answered, “I am the way” (v. 6). The place where the Lord was going was a person, and the way by which the disciples could go there was also a person. The destination was the Father, and the way to reach the destination was the Son. This is evident from verse 6, which says, “I am the way and the reality and the life; no one comes to the Father except through Me.” Thus, we are going not to a place but into a divine person—the Father, who is God Himself. Also, the way to get into God the Father is through a person—the Lord Jesus. Thus, through the Lord as the way, we can be where He is, that is, in the Father.
Verses 10 and 11 say, “Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak from Myself, but the Father who abides in Me does His works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; but if not, believe because of the works themselves.” Many people teach that the Lord is in heaven, and since we are destined to be where the Lord is, we also will be in heaven. However, this interpretation is absolutely incorrect. The Lord never tells us in this chapter that He is in heaven. Instead, He tells us again and again that He is in the Father and that He is going to prepare the way that He may bring us into God. The Lord declared that on the day of resurrection we would know that He is in the Father, that we are in Him, and that He is in us (v. 20).
At one time we were separated from God; there was a great distance between God and us. This distance was due to sin, the world, the flesh, and the self. We were far off from God, separated by many hindrances and obstacles. But through His death and resurrection the Lord Jesus eliminated this distance between God and us, thus bringing us into God. The Lord’s death and resurrection paved the way for us to enter into God and gave us access to contact God. Through His death and resurrection, the Lord brought us back to God and into God.
John 14 makes it clear that the place where the Lord is and the place to which we have been brought is not a physical place but a divine person. Many Christians use John 14 to say that they will go to heaven. However, there is no such thought in the Scriptures. The central thought of the divine mind is not that we are going to heaven but that God is being wrought into us and that we are being wrought into God. God’s central thought is that He is working Himself into us and is working us into Him. The dwelling place of God is not a physical place devoid of life but a composition of living persons; likewise, our dwelling place is the living God Himself. In Psalm 90:1 Moses prayed, “O Lord, You have been our dwelling place / In all generations.” The Lord is our real habitation; we are abiding and dwelling in Him. Not only so, we are the Lord’s habitation and dwelling place.
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