“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 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” (John 14:1-3). In these verses Jesus promised to return to His disciples. Why did he make this promise? Jesus had told them He was leaving them (John 13:33) and that Peter would fail Him (13:36–38). This undoubtedly disturbed them all, for they looked to Peter as their leader. Jesus spoke this promise to them so that their hearts would not be troubled. Let us look more closely at the promise.
Firstly Jesus did not reveal the time of His return. People who are “date-setters” have no Biblical basis for their claims. It is mere speculation and should be avoided because it damages the testimony of Christianity. In fact, not even Jesus Himself knew when He would return as He had surrendered this knowledge to God the Father and only He knows the day and the hour of Christ’s return. Mark 13:32 says “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (see also Matthew 24:36). Secondly Jesus made it clear that He is returning to take believers to heaven. According to verse 3 it is to take believers to where He was then going. Since Jesus was then going to heaven, the purpose of this coming is to take the believers to Heaven (not to earth). Thirdly Jesus was going to heaven to prepare a place (abode) for His children. What was the reason for this preparation of a place or abode in heaven? To understand this we need take a brief look at the Jewish marriage system which was present in that day because it serves as a backdrop to answering this question. There were four steps in the marriage process:
- The father of the groom made arrangement for the marriage and paid the bride price.
- The bridegroom would fetch the bride a year or more after the first step.
In connection with this step, two other things should be noted. First, it was the father of the groom who determined the timing. Second, prior to the groom’s leaving to fetch the bride, he must already have a place prepared for her as their abode.
- The wedding ceremony.
- The marriage feast.
Isn’t it interesting that the promise of Jesus’ return in John 14:1-3 follows the same pattern found in the process of the Jewish wedding system? First, God the Father made arrangements for His Son and paid the bride price, which in this case was His own blood shed on the cross. Second, God the Father decides the timing and Jesus has gone to prepare an abode or dwelling place for His bride (This is the church according to Ephesians 5:25-27) before He returns for her. Just as a long period of time often transpired between the first and second steps of the Jewish marriage arrangements, this has been the case. Almost 2000 years have now passed since the first step occurred. Jesus is coming back to fetch His bride. After Jesus has fetched His bride the marriage ceremony will take place in heaven.