John 14:2-3 In my Father's house there are many dwelling places. 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, so that where I am, there you may be also.
Particularly at Easter time, but just about any time you can hear people talk about how Jesus died and rose again for the forgiveness of sins; and the way we talk youd think that that was all there was. It is primarily at funerals that we pull out this text and while it is comforting to know that Jesus will take the dead to heaven what does this text have to say to us who are still living?
When things are going good, there is a tendency not to think about going to heaven we may think about it when we are sick or suffering we may think about it when we are getting old but most of the time we dont think about it at all in fact, we live in a world where most people dont even what to talk about it. Why? Because they are afraid.
One of the chief reasons why people are afraid of death is not only do they not know what comes next, but they now know for certain, that they are not in control. These days there is a perception that the doctors are in control, and if one doctor cannot find the answer, then you look for another doctor our control, is sometimes limited to choosing a doctor and following his prescription but at least we can tell ourselves that soon we will not need any doctor, and we will be back in control, doing what we have determined we want to do.
And yet, if doctors really were in control then no one need die. But doctors are not in control, and no amount of research, and no new technology will ever give them the ultimate victory, the victory over death for the one thing that no medical doctor can conquer with his tools is sin and as we all know the wages of sin is death.
Sure, we know in our head that Jesus conquered sin, death, and the devil but often we live as though Jesus victory really doesnt mater and we look to other saviors for things we think we need. We may come to Jesus regularly to receive forgiveness for our sins, and for help in times of trouble but the rest of salvation, eternal life, is not something which is prominent in our thought or in our lives except as something which is our hope at the end of life.
Our text, while it does talk about something that is yet to come, talks about it as something that has impact on today. So that it is good to ask, why is Jesus preparing a place for us now, when we will not need it for years to come and what difference does it make in our lives?
This is what difference it makes while we regularly come for forgiveness and the peace of conscience it gives even though we have faith, even though we remember our baptism, even though we daily drown the old sinful nature that old sinful nature keeps coming back. We try to resist temptation we know God wants us to keep the commandments, but sin keeps coming back. And that is part of the reason why we are to long for eternal life to long for that time when the new life begun in Christ is finally brought to completion.
For that reason alone it is good for us to talk about death and the resurrection and to sing songs, such as "I am but a stranger here, Heaven is my home" to remind us that we are waiting for the work that faith began in us to be brought to completion, and for us to reach perfection.