Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Ascension: Receiving Us Unto Himself

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, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. (John 14:2-3)
Some Christians, when they hear the word “mansions,” think of large estate houses, one for each believer. Then they begin to speculate, even fantasize, about what their houses will look like. But that misunderstands what Jesus was saying. The Greek word for “mansions” actually refers to abodes, rooms, dwelling places. Jesus was not talking about a bunch of houses scattered across the countryside; He was speaking of one house only — “My Father’s house.” It is a house of many abodes, enough for everyone who receives the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus told the disciples, “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” Many Christians think He was talking about the Second Coming, that Jesus is now busily preparing our place in heaven with Him, and that one day He will come and take us there.

But that, I believe, is a misunderstanding also. Jesus is not preparing a place for us — He has already prepared it. We are not still waiting for Him to receive us to Himself — He has already received us. The coming He spoke of is not the second coming, but the resurrection. Don’t get me wrong — I do believe that there is a Second Coming, but that is not what Jesus was talking about here.

When Jesus spoke these words, the crucifixion and the resurrection were still future, although they would very shortly come to pass. It is by these great acts of redemption, salvation and victory that Jesus has prepared a place for each one who comes to faith in Him. He has not only cleared the way for us, but He is Himself the way (John 14:6). He died, was buried, and on the third day God raised Him from the dead. On the evening of that third day, Jesus came to His disciples and received them to Himself:
So Jesus said to them again, Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” (John 20:21-22)
Jesus so thoroughly identified Himself with the disciples that He gave them His peace and commissioned them with the same commission He had received from the Father. The He gave them His Spirit. They were now dwelling in Him; He was now dwelling them.

This giving of the Spirit is something Jesus had spoken of only days before, in John 14-16, in the context of His going to prepare a place and coming again to receive His disciples. Now it had been fulfilled.
He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. (Acts 1:3)
On the fortieth day of His resurrection, Jesus told the disciples to wait in the Jerusalem for the promise of the Father — the Holy Spirit coming upon them in power. The Spirit of God had been in them, but now He would be on them. After leaving this instruction, Jesus ascended to heaven.

The apostle Paul clearly understood that Jesus has prepared a place for us and received us to Himself, for he wrote that God “has raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6). This may seem hard to understand, but if God says that is where He has seated us, then that is where He has seated us. It is not a future expectation, but a present reality. This is the place Jesus has prepared for us, and He has received us to Himself, for we are seated there in Him.

Are you abiding in the abiding place Jesus has prepared for you? If you have received Jesus, Jesus has received you. Contemplate what it means to be presently seated in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus, in the place of ruling and reigning with Him.