Jesus told his disciples, “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.” What Jesus meant by that may seem pretty obvious. Without context to help us, Jesus seems to mean he will prepare rooms for his us in heaven and will take us to heaven to occupy those rooms. However, what happens if we consider a bit wider context?
The Road to Glory
One of the major themes of the Gospel of John is the theme of “glory.” In the biblical context, “glory” refers to a person’s status, especially a status of royalty. When someone is “glorified,” it means he or she is lifted up and given a royal title or position.
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Throughout John’s gospel account, there are foreshadows that Jesus will be “lifted up” (John 8:28; 12:32) and “glorified” (John 12:16). By “lifted up,” Jesus isn’t just speaking of his ascension, but also his crucifixion (John 12:33). When Jesus was nailed to the cross and a sign was put above his head, reading, “King of the Jews,” Jesus had been “glorified.” He had been given rulership, authority, and dominion.
Yes, it seems pretty strange that an execution could be an exaltation, but that’s how royalty, importance, and glory work in the kingdom of God. The ascent to the throne is through the cross. There is no glory, no reign, no rulership without self-giving love and faithfulness.
Jesus knew that if he was faithful to the Father, the Father would give him glory, the Father would raise him from the dead and seat him at his own right hand. As soon as Jesus sent Judas out to betray him, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once.” (John 13:31–32, ESV)
In other words, God’s rule and reign would be established through Jesus’ self-giving love and faithfulness. God would be glorified, but God would also glorify the Son by raising him from the dead to co-reign with him as the “Son of Man.”
Sharing the Glory
Jesus makes it clear, all throughout John’s gospel account, he came from the Father and was going back to the Father. He was going back to share in the glory he had with the Father “before the world existed” (John 17:5).
But Jesus did all of this (came to earth, took on flesh, gave his life, ascended to the Father’s right hand), not so he could keep the glory to himself, but so that he could share it with us. Jesus prayed to the Father, “The glory that you have given to me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one” (John 17:22).
Jesus’ death accomplished not only his own glorification, but through him, the glorification of humanity (Romans 8:30). Humans are now represented in the Father’s house. Through the mediation of Jesus, humans now reign with God in the heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6). Jesus has made preparation for us to share in his glory.
Glory from God or Man
Let’s make sure we are clear: The glory God gives to the “Son of Man” isn’t just for him, but for all mankind. God desires to make all mankind co-heirs with the Messiah (Romans 8:17). He wants all of humanity to share in the Son’s glory.
However, many people choose to receive rulership, authority, or glory from people rather than from God. Many of the Jewish rulers believed in Jesus, but were afraid to confess their faith, because, “they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God” (John 12:43).
In other words, they would rather that people give them authority and make them rulers than they would receive that honor and status from God. Jesus, however, did not receive his glory from people (John 5:41), but from the Father. God is the one who gives Jesus authority, rulership, and glory.
A Status More Than A Place
So, with the theme of “glory” fresh in your mind, read John 14:1-4:
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. And you know the way to where I am going.
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Being in the Father’s house then, I believe, is about sharing in the Messiah’s glory, sharing in his rule and reign. It’s about having a place in God’s family, as John said in his prologue, “To all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).
When Jesus speaks of preparing a place for us so we can be where he is, I don’t believe he isn’t talking about whisking our spirits off to another realm to have a place up in the clouds. Jesus is talking about bringing us into God’s family, into the glory Jesus has with the Father. I know we sing about going “to glory,” but glory is not so much a place as it is a status.
One day, the veil of the sky will be torn away and the Messiah will be revealed. In that day:we will “appear with him in glory” (Colossians 3:4)we will receive the world as our inheritance (Romans 4:13; Matthew 5:5)we will be as Jesus is (1 John 3:2)we will share his glory under the supreme reign of God the Father (1 Corinthians 15:28)
Jesus has a place prepared for us, a place of glory, a status of glory, a position of glory. He has made it possible for us to come into the family of God and be seated—even now—with Him in the heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6). One day he will take us fully into that relational status so that where he is, we may be also.