Voice of the bridegroom

The familiar passage from John 14 brought to mind thoughts about heavenly mansions.

Taken from John 14:1-3 in the New Living Translation, the Verse of the Day for December 29, 2015 is a familiar passage that expresses great comfort:

[Jesus, the Way to the Father] “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.

Recently this well-known passage from the King James Version was recited at a funeral or “home-going” service for a dear friend and fellow believer.

In discussing these verses, Bishop KC Pillai, converted Hindu and prominent Bible teacher whose areas of expertise are Eastern customs and manners known as Orientalisms, points out that this particular passage is more appropriate for a wedding than for a funeral. The words that Jesus speaks to his disciples are actually spoken by the bridegroom when he departs to literally prepare an apartment or dwelling place for his bride, according to the customary wedding ceremony during Biblical times. Pillai goes on to explain in more detail:

In New Testament Bible days a wedding ceremony lasted ten days. On the tenth day the bride and groom are declared husband and wife. For the first 12 months of their wedded life the two young people just learn to understand and live with each other. (Not a bad idea.) They live two months with the groom’s parents, then two months with the bride’s parents. They commute back and forth between the in-laws every two months, concluding their first year of married life in the home of the bride’s parent’s.

At the conclusion of this first year of marriage there is a unique religious service, with all the people of the town present. The husband brings forth his wife, appearing before all the village people. He stands his wife in front of him, facing himself, with the best man on his right side and the virgins that attended the wedding on his left hand, and with loving authority the husband says to his wife before them all, “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. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.”

In thinking about those “many mansions” that God has prepared for us, I recall the lyrics to a gospel song referring our dwelling place as “a building not made with man’s hands.” Those lyrics were the inspiration for this poem that includes a reference to the opening verses John 14:

Not Made by Man’s Hands

Lord, keep my day by day,
in a pure and perfect way.
I want to live, I want to live on
in a building not made by hand.

Traditional gospel song

I recall the poignant words of the Lord Jesus Christ,
Words of the Bridegroom to reassure his Beloved:
“I go to prepare a place for you, that where I am
There you may be also, and if I go and prepare
A place for you, I will come again and receive you
Unto myself that where I am, you may be also.”
Though my dwelling place is furnished just to my tastes,
Will I need an office where I can compose my thoughts?
Is there a kitchen for me to prepare meals that bless?
Or will Christ make his servants sit down and enjoy
Sumptuous feasts prepared to satisfy the appetites
Of those who hunger and thirst for more than food or drink?
I know I will enjoy my custom-crafted mansion,
Exquisite design from God’s mind, not made by man’s hands.

Listen to the Scripture song based on John 14:2, 3: In My Father’s House are Many Mansions:

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