Home of Simon Peter’s family, Capernaum, Israel. Photo property of Galen Dalrymple.
DayBreaks for 1/19/16: Holy Land Lessons: My Father’s House
I attended a church in my early years where we often sang the song, I’ve Got A Mansion, and the words to the first verse and chorus went like this: “I’m satisfied with just a cottage below, A little silver and a little gold. But in that city where the ransomed will shine I want a gold one that’s silver lined.
Chorus: I’ve got a mansion just over the hilltop, In that bright land where we’ll never grow old, And some day yonder we will never more wander, But walk on streets that are purest gold.”
Let me go on record here that I never liked that song (but we sang it a lot in the churches I used to attend!!!) because it essentially says something to the effect of I’m miserable now, but someday I want You to make it up to me for all my sacrifice and suffering and give me a mansion and that’ll make it all worth it!” I think it misses the point entirely. The glory of heaven won’t be a shiny home – for God Himself is our very great reward – to be with Him and enjoy Him forever – not to live in a sparkling, huge, gold and silver home! Listen to what Jesus said to us (and I’m sure someone’s imagination took this out of the Hebrew/1st century context in which Jesus was speaking and came up with the idea of shining, metallic mansions): John 14:2 (KJV) – In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
That’s how the King James put it. Unfortunately, it is a lousy translation and totally misses the point of what Jesus was saying as I learned during our journey to Israel this month. Fortunately, newer translations get to the core of what Jesus was saying. For example: John 14:2-3 (ESV) – 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.
Here’s the point: in today’s picture that I took in Israel, you can see a “family home”. This just happens to be the home of Peter that is located in Capernaum (authorities are nearly 100% certain it is the actual home of Peter). The inner circle was Peter’s primary area, but there are other circular structures outside of the inner circle that were divided by stone walls, but still part of the overall complex. Here’s the point: people back then didn’t have individual homes (unless they were very, very rich). They had communal or “family” homes. There were walls made out of stone dividing out the rooms, but all the people of the extended family basically lived in the same home. As the family grew, another room would be attached to the same basic structure – it just expanded to include family. They had their own rooms, but not their own mansions. So when Jesus said he was going to prepare a room for us (not a mansion!!!!), he was referring to the typical homes in which close, intimate family would reside.
What is Jesus saying? We will not live in our own mansion…we will live in HIS very own house, in a room of our own, but part of the intimate gathering of his family. We will be His children there, we can crawl up in our Father’s lap, we will join in the story-telling, the singing, the joyful feasting – and we won’t miss a minute of it because we will be RIGHT THERE.
Now, isn’t that far better than a gold and silver mansion? If you want a mansion somewhere on the edge of the New Jerusalem, I’m sorry if I’ve burst your bubble. But God has something far greater and more glorious than that in mind for you and me: Psalm 23:6 (ESV) – Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell IN THE HOUSE OF THE LORD forever.
There, we shall find all our hearts and souls ever longed for (and more!!!) – forever!
TODAY’S PRAYER: Jesus, thank you for giving me a room in your house. I can’t wait to settle in and be part of the family that literally gathers at your feast table and sings and laughs together forever! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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