"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?" Have you ever wondered what Jesus meant by "many rooms" here in John 14:2?
The verse is from the English Standard Version (ESV). If we look at other versions, they use the words mansions, places, dwelling places, and homes instead of rooms. One might think that this could be another one of Jesus' parables but if we look further into the context and culture of what He was talking about here, we'll be surprised by what we'll discover.
One of the names of Jesus Christ in the Bible is "the Bridegroom." He is referred to or is alluded as a bridegroom in at least 15 verses in the Bible.
In Biblical times, how a couple enters into a marriage is very different from what we do today. In fact, the whole process can take up to seven years! I won't attempt to discuss that but will only talk about what relates to Jesus' statement in the verse above.
There is a period of matchmaking between the prospective brides and grooms. The bride has the choice to accept or reject a possible match. The union of a bride and groom, however, will only ultimately happen if the bride's father agrees to the match. After the groom and the father of the bride signs the ketubbah, the bride and groom are considered legally married. The father of the bride ensures that his daughter's wellbeing is looked after in this legal document which contains the dowry, bride price, and bride's estate prior to the marriage.
Though married now, the bride and the groom continue to live in their respective homes and not see each other. This gives the groom time to prepare a dwelling place for his bride. He will build a room or an extension in his father's house that is of better quality than her current house. When the room is finished the groom's father checks it and once he deems it suitable, the go signal is given for the couple to move in.
The bride in the meantime stays under her father's charge and begins to make preparations for the time when the groom comes to take her into his father's house. She may have a time frame in mind when the groom will come but she doesn't know the exact day or hour. Wedding garments are made, lamps are prepared (in case the groom comes at night), and she remains pure until the day when her marriage to the groom will be consummated.
God the Father loved us so much that He gave His only Son Jesus Christ for our redemption and so that we can be with the Father. We "married" Christ when we believed and put our trust in Him because we entered into a new covenant with Him and the Father. That covenant carries with it more than 7,000 promises of God to mankind. We're definitely more than well taken care of.
Jesus left us temporarily to go to heaven so He can prepare rooms for each of us in the Father's house. The rooms will exceed our expectations of what our individual dwelling places should be because He will ensure that they will be far greater than where we live now. They will have to pass the standards of our Father which is of course par excellence. Once the Father determines that the rooms meets His standards, He will give the go ahead for Jesus to return to earth and take us, His bride. Incidentally, this is why Jesus said in Matthew 24:36, "“But concerning that day and hour [of Jesus' return] no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only (ESV)."
Waiting for the return
Just like the bride in ancient times, we're not sure when our Bridegroom is coming but we are making preparations. Jesus did not leave us helpless but asked the Father to send us His Spirit who is the One tabernacling or dwelling in us, and is teaching us everything and reminding us of everything that Jesus said while here on earth.
The Spirit is guiding us so that we'll be ready with our wedding garments which are our righteous acts or our godly ways. He reminds us not to fall asleep while waiting and to fill our lamps with oil. We can easily fall into complacency with our Bridegroom nowhere in sight. The longer we wait, the harder it is to remain committed to our Lord. The Holy Spirit however nudges us back on course so that we'll be ready to welcome Jesus upon His return. The Father calls us into the secret place purifying us and revealing His plans for us while still on earth. He is our shelter and if we allow Him, He'll show His love in ways we have never experienced before further affirming our sonship.
Today is the culmination of the Feast of Tabernacles or Sukkot and is known as Hoshana Rabbah, or the Great Supplication. Followers of Judaism wave palm branches calling out to God for salvation and recite Psalm 118 which emphasizes the coming of Messiah.
We join that celebration knowing though that the Messiah Jesus Christ, Yeshua Hamashiach, has already come and is returning as the Bridegroom to His followers, the Church who is His Bride.
So we say: