A favorite in my book collection is one that has no words at all. Artist John S. Goodall’s Above and Below Stairs is a series of water-colored paintings portraying the lives of the privileged in England from the Middle Ages to the early 1900’s. The book must be held horizontally. Each picture covers two full pages, separated by a half page which meshes into the original painting, but when turned, changes the scene from what was happening to the elite to what was happening to the servants and working people in the same time period. The “upstairs” may show a lovely formal banquet, but when covered with the half page, the picture changes to depict the cooks and servants working “below the stairs.”

Things have not changed much over the years. There are still some people who are born into luxury. They may live in massive houses with never a financial worry other than how to spend their money. Then there are those who live in modest homes and who sweat and toil to put food on the table and pay the mortgage. Finally, there are people who seem to encounter one significant set-back after another to the point where they wonder how much more they can take. These we may find in a homeless shelter, wondering where their next meal will come from.

The Promise of a Home

We know that this life is like a moment in eternity. It helps to maintain that perspective when life is hard and seems so long. James 4:14 reminds us that “yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” What comfort to know that our circumstances will be soon over. But what is next? Jesus answers that question in a part of his Farewell Discourse recorded in John 13-17. In John 14, the setting is the Upper Room where Jesus is only hours away from his arrest, trial, and crucifixion. To prepare his disciples, he tells them not to be troubled. Then, and here comes my favorite part: Jesus tells them that he is going to prepare a place for them and then come back to take them to their new home. Not just any place, but a place that has many dwelling-places. Growing up, I read the King James Version which renders that verse, a place with many mansions. So regardless of the homes we live in today, when Jesus returns, he will take us to a spacious setting, prepared just for us by Jesus where we will dwell with him. By his obedience in life and in death, Jesus has secured access to heaven—Jesus, who is “the Way” has prepared the way for you and me.

This is our comfort in life! The first question in the Westminster Shorter Catechism is “What is the chief end of man?” The answer gives us such great hope! “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” Forever! When a believer dies, he has total assurance that he will live again. He will live in a place prepared just for him, far better than anything he experienced on this earth. And he will live in the presence of Jesus where he will see him face to face. Jesus told his disciples directly, if this were not so, he would have told them otherwise.

Read the words in John 14:1-7:

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way? Jesus said to him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

A Room Prepared

Richard D. Phillips in his commentary on John says, “How wonderful it is to find a room prepared after a long journey. All who believe and trust in Christ can know that heaven has been prepared for their arrival. Our Mediator and Savior has carried our names into heaven and made a reservation there for us. No Christian will ever appear in heaven either unknown or unexpected, for Jesus has prepared a place there for each and every one of his own. Knowing and trusting in our prepared home in the Father’s house is Jesus’ antidote to the troubles and anxieties of life.” [1]

And we know the way to the Father’s house! The way has been made open to all who believe. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. He is the only way! He told us himself. In the Upper Room Discourse, John records this promise to the disciples. In a later letter, John records the promise to all believers; “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13).

Lord, thank you for the clarity of your Word. Thank you that we know the homes we use here on earth are temporary, as are our lives. You have promised eternity with your Son in the place He has prepared for us. Thank you that we can be confident in knowing He is the way, the truth and the life. Lord, this is my grateful prayer, that I am assured I will worship you and enjoy you forever in my eternal home.

[1] Richard D. Phillips, John, ed. Richard D. Phillips, Philip Graham Ryken, and Daniel M. Doriani, 1st ed., vol. 2, Reformed Expository Commentary (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2014), 199.


About the Author:

Sharon Rockwell

Sharon retired from a career first as a chemist and then as a regulatory affairs consultant to the medical device industry.  She has served on the women’s ministry team at Grace Presbyterian Church in her hometown of Yorba Linda, California, and has worked as the west coast regional advisor for the PCA.  She and her husband have 5 toddler grandchildren, current count girls 4, boys 1.  In her spare time Sharon enjoys cooking, traveling, bird watching and raising orchids.