Fifth Sunday of Easter
Festival of the Christian Home
May 10, 2020
Ruth 1: 15-18
John 14: 1-14
TEXT: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there
are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place you?”
(John 14: 1-2)
It was a difficult decision to make. Emily put it off for as long as she could. But her mother’s safety and well-being were threatened by her living alone. So, it had to be done. Emily helped her mother Betty move into an assisted living home.
But before she took her mother into the room that would become her home, Emily wanted to transform it into “Betty’s room.” To do so, she had to go through her mother’s whole house and pick those things that would convert this room into her mother’s room. Obviously, what fills a house can’t fit into one room. Only a tiny fraction of what Betty owned could go. So, a couple of pieces of furniture, a few knick-knacks, a handful of books and photo albums and some of her own comfortable clothing were waiting for her when she walked through the door.
Emily had prepared a room for Betty. She knew what to do because Betty and Emily were family. And because of their relationship, it was important to Emily that Betty’s room be something special. Without that relationship, the bare necessities might have been enough. But Emily cared about where Betty would live.
Jesus had a relationship with his disciples. What he told them on this particular day was that they were a part of his family. He was his Father’s Son, and they were his brothers and sisters. The Father had opened his house to them, and Jesus himself would make sure that each of them had a room.
Likewise, he has prepared a room for each of us. The day will come when this house we call our body will no longer be our home. On that day we will have to move. Like Betty and the many other people who have to leave the place they called home and move to where they can receive the care they need, we will have to leave our earthly home, our body, and move into eternity. Jesus has already made a room available for you. Have you put in your reservation to stay there?
Jesus knew the importance of having a place to call your own. When a would-be follower said that he would follow Jesus anywhere, Jesus replied: “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” Even the creatures of the wild have homes, rooms to call their own, but Jesus knew his life on earth was temporary. To follow him, you have to give up any feeling of permanence. He was now telling his disciples not to be troubled by his impending departure because he was going on ahead to get things ready and would return for them.
When we were growing up, it was important to have a place where we could go just to “chill out.” It was usually our bedroom, a refuge where we could get away from the rest of the world. It was the place where we could rest and reflect upon whatever was going on in our lives. That room probably mirrored a lot about who we were. The pictures or posters that we put on the wall showed our particular interests. The furniture and the way that we arranged it might have exhibited our personalities and our priorities. Was the bed the focal point or was it the desk? Was it the closets full of clothes and dressers that stood out, or the presence of a television or radio? No matter what your room was like, it was yours, and there was no place like your room.
And just as important as it is to have your own room now, Jesus wants us to know that we will always have a room waiting for us in his Father’s house. He consoles his disciples by describing a room that is inviting and comforting. He wants them to feel welcome there as part of the family of God.
You, too, are to feel welcome. He has customized your room especially for you. He wants it ready for when you walk through that door. Because when you go home to that room, you will take nothing with you.
Jesus knows what we really need. Whether it’s in this world or the next, he knows what is best for us. We can trust that when we walk into our Father’s house, we will feel right at home. It will not only reflect who we were, but who we have become.
There will be many aspects of our old room that we will not be sad to leave behind. One day the preacher’s son proudly announced to his mother, “I’ve decided that I want to be a preacher so I can clean up the mess the world is in.”
“That’s just wonderful,” his mother said giving him a big hug. “Why not go upstairs right now and start with your room.”
We spend much of our lives cleaning up our rooms, both literally and figuratively. Our lives tend to get messy. Jesus has the patience to help us clean up. Like a parent directing his children, Jesus showed his disciples how to clean up their lives. But, like children, they were slow to learn, often stubborn and disobedient. Jesus’ preparation of our heavenly room begins long before we enter it. It began when we first allowed Jesus to enter our lives. It continued as we grew to know and understand his teachings, and will continue until the day we finally go home.
Your whole life could be viewed as moving between a lot of different rooms. Some are like hotel rooms. Your stay is noticeably short because you are just traveling through. Some are like classrooms. We are there to learn, and then move on. Some are like hospital rooms, places where we go when we need healing. But none of them is permanent. None of them is home.
There is a story that is told about Albert Einstein. Dr. Einstein was riding a train and quite preoccupied with his work that day. When the conductor stopped to punch his ticket, the great scientist began rummaging through his pockets, checking his briefcase and looking all around him somewhat bewildered. He could not find his ticket. “That’s okay,” the conductor said. “We all know who you are, Dr. Einstein. I’m sure you bought a ticket. Don’t worry about it.”
The conductor went on his way punching other tickets. Then, he turned to see Dr. Einstein down on his hands and knees looking under his seat and around the floor, obviously still looking for the lost ticket. The conductor felt pity and walked back and gently said, “Dr. Einstein, please ... don’t worry about it. I know who you are.”
Einstein looked up and said, “I too know who I am. What I don’t know is where I’m going!”
Some of us don’t know where we’re going. It’s like we have a key to a door, but we don’t know where the door leads. What good does it do us if we have a room waiting for us, but we don’t know where it is, or how to get there? Like Thomas, we cry out: “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus says that he is the way through the door.
We know two solid truths about life. First you are born; then you die. We don’t know everything that’s going to happen in between. And we don’t know what to expect on the other side of that door.
This is where it all comes down to trusting Jesus. He says that he is the truth. He won’t lie to us. He won’t deceive us. He tells us that he has a place for us in eternity. If he didn’t have a place for us, he would tell us just that. Our only preparation is faith - faith that what Jesus did when he died on the cross erased our sins forever and created the way to eternal life with his Father, our Creator.
The rooms we now live in will one day crumble and fall. They were not made to last. The room Jesus has prepared for us on the other side of the door is permanent. It will last forever, and we will never tire of what it has to offer.
Have you ever taken a trip and not made reservations for a room? You assumed that when you got to your destination there would be a room for you. But when you arrived you discovered that there were no vacancies and you were shut out. That’s poor planning, poor preparation.
Jesus has prepared your place in eternity. It is a deluxe accommodation and has everything you will ever need. And it’s yours for the asking. Are you prepared to ask?