The Holy Bible is a victim of misinterpretation of Scriptures. Countless Scriptures are often taken out of context, being what has caused divisions and splinter groups in Christianity. But, I suppose the most misunderstood Scripture is John 14:1-3. Jesus is often interpreted as having said what He did not say. Bible-lovers are requested to approach this Scripture with extreme care.
“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 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.And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:1-3 KJV).
Of necessity is the debugging of the meaning of the Father’s house, a figurative term, describing unity. What does Jesus mean, “Father’s house?” God is Spirit, as not contained in physical mansions. Jesus was not talking about a physical structure, composed according to what applies to human imaginations. The best description of this figurative term was given by the apostle Paul:
“Now, therefore, ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto a holy temple in the Lord”(Ephesians 2:19-21 KJV).
Paul’s rendition shows that the Father’s house is a Spiritual organism, comprising those having been accepted into Christianity. His audience could not have had problems with that. The Ephesian Church, with whom Paul was communicating, was not the only group, moulded into that household. Every Christian is included, as long as appreciating what true Christianity entails.
Jesus had promised to receive Christians into His Father’s House (John 14:1-3). Hence Paul is expanding on that fulfilment, clarifying its significance. But the most important point is Jesus’s promise to come again, as to be with those disciples: “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (Verse 3).
It is saddening to listen to preachers referring to this Scripture when talking about Jesus’s Second-coming. When carefully following through this Scripture, one realizes that even His disciples struggled to understand what Jesus was talking about. Something is misunderstood in what Jesus said in that passage, yet explained within the same chapter:
“I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him and will manifest myself to him.”(John 14:18-21 KJV).
The reference of coming again, in John 14:3, is qualified in the above passage. His coming again cannot be witnessed by ordinary people, other than His dedicated disciples, who would not be left as orphans. They would not only see Jesus, but they would see His Father, as well.
John 14 is not intended for ordinary people. This was a communication directed to the disciples before they had received the Holy Spirit, (Acts 2). Its relevance is understood by those referred to in Ephesians 2:19-21. One of Christ’s disciples asked an important question, whose answer clarifies this point:
Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man loves me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me”(John 14:22-24 KJV).
Jesus points out that those who love him, identified by keeping his words, would then see Him. This “seeing” aspect has got nothing to do with Theology. This statement is understood by those believing in Him. This refers to those, wholeheartedly believing and applying everything that Jesus taught. The problem with many people is conflating the Spiritual significance with physical matter.
Jesus says He is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). To appreciate this, can only be possible when taking everything that Jesus taught, verbatim. The person gets guided to understand, spiritually. The disciples are the only ones who observed the mysterious presence of Jesus, as mentioned in John 14:1-3. But what about the physical Jesus, viewed by many, as having been resurrected?
“And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, ‘ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven’” (Acts 1:9-11 KJV).
Apparently, “this same Jesus” being described at His ascension, is different from the one promising to be with the disciples. The physical Jesus was observed by those of this world, although not recognizing Him as the Christ. The physical body of Jesus is simply, portraying His temple and not the Christ, who would come and dwell with His disciples.
The physical Jesus cannot be in Heaven, as nothing physical exists in Heaven. The question that ought to be answered is that of the location of the physical Jesus, at this present time. Where is the physical Jesus, who was resurrected, as no longer in His grave? The answer is right there, in Scriptures, but can only be understood by those able to keep His words.
“Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when saw we thee hungry, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?’ And the King shall answer and say unto them, ‘Verily I say unto you, Since ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me’ (Matthew 25:37-40 KJV).
Who are these righteous ones that Jesus is referring to? They cannot be those with whom Jesus said He would dwell. Nevertheless, those righteous ones would feed the brothers of Jesus. This implies that the righteous ones are not Jesus’s brothers, not known by those of this world, who could also not know Jesus:
“Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you”(John 14:17-20 KJV).
There is no point in randomly using the term “brothers of Jesus” to mean anyone claiming to be Christian. The righteous ones referred to in Matthew 25:37, are not, necessarily, the brothers of Jesus. On this misunderstanding, hangs all problems of Christianity. The reader is encouraged to take time to also review the following article: [Who are the brothers of Jesus].
It takes a willing heart to understand the teachings of Jesus. Otherwise, a person is stuck on what is commonly taught, yet without a Scriptural basis. Jesus is as available today, as he was available in the first century. The fact that ordinary people cannot see Him, should not be a reason for denying His existence.
Ordinary people could not recognize Him in the first century. They still cannot recognize him in the twenty-first century. It is a question of whether Jesus’s word is understood, or not. But what does Jesus mean “Since ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me?” Ordinary people would have not even imagined putting the significance of Jesus to those being helped with food, clothing or other necessities.
Ordinary people create their own imagination of considering the identity of Jesus. The Pharisees met Jesus, but they could not entertain the idea that He was the Messiah. Those who crucified Him could also not imagine that they were crucifying the Messiah. The man called Jesus can be found among those being rejected, even today. Before conversion, Paul persecuted the physical Jesus:
“Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’ ‘Who are you, Lord?’ Saul asked. ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ he replied”(Acts 9:1-5 NIV).
Those who lived with Jesus chose not to believe that Jesus could be associated with being the Christ. This is a common problem with humanity, arising from the proclivity to invalidate other fellow humans. People put their own opinions on other people, perceived according to previous experiences. Their stumbling block seems to be on Jesus having come in the flesh (1 John 4:2).
The people of this world cannot confer respect on those surviving in the flesh. If they could not recognize and accept Jesus in His fleshly condition, they can never accept anyone in a fleshly condition. Jesus was resurrected, but they still carry imaginations of what should constitute Jesus’s brothers. They denounce those being used by Christ, similarly to how they denounced Jesus.
Those who Jesus portrays as having had to be provided with food and clothing, cannot be regarded as befitting of Jesus’s brothers. The rejection of Jesus did not end at His resurrection. That rejection continues, as long as worldliness prevails. Those behaving differently, as attached to Jesus, are few.
The miracle of two men, appearing to the Galilean believers, stating that Jesus would come in like manner, was angelic. The ascension of Jesus was not necessarily associated with the gospel. This was intended to help nonbelievers to appreciate that God’s Kingdom would be installed physically. In the Book of Revelation, the apostle John highlights the dramatic event, at His Second-coming.
“I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice, he judges and wages war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron sceptre.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: King of kings and Lord of lords”(Revelation 19:11-16 NIV).
In his vision, John perceived what he later wrote, without alteration. The vision was a riddle, containing a message, not meant to be understood by nonbelievers. Its simplicity lies in that the term “King of Kings and Lord of Lords,” is referring to Christ, who currently superintends above those whom He calls His brothers.
The vision refers to that dramatic event when God’s Kingdom would be established on earth. Hence, the term, “King of Kings and Lord of Lords,” shows Christ reigning with other Kings and Lords, at His coming. Those other Kings and Lords are the ones identified as His brothers, in this life.
The physical Jesus is not different from true Christians, not recognized, just as Jesus could not be recognized, before the crucifixion. However, true believers cannot be mistaken, on who Jesus’s brothers would be. They cannot fail to recognize Jesus, in those whom Jesus would be using to do His work.
Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from the current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing relief to those having witnessed the strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long-awaited providential oasis of hope.
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