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My Fathers House

December 9, 2007

John 14: 2-4

2In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4You know the way to the place where I am going.”

Although the above passage is not especially difficult to grasp what is being communicated there seems to be more to it than I previously understood.  A book I recently read added a whole new dimension for me to why the text was written the way it was. 

As the book explained, in the first century when a young women became “of age,” her father would begin to entertain offers from fathers of young men who were interested in marrying her.  Once an offer was accepted by the father a celebration would take place to announce the engagement of the couple.  During this celebration, the groom would offer the young women a cup of wine to drink.  But, she doesn’t have to drink it.  She could reject the offer which would signify her rejecting the offer for marriage.  If she accepted the cup then that was the same as saying yes.  This would signify that they are only engaged.  They still are not married yet. 

Before they could be married the groom would have to go home and build an addition onto his family’s home.  This would be the place where he and his bride would start their new family together.  So he would work like crazy to build this place they would eventually call home.  Here is what is really interesting about this, he doesnt know when he will be finished.  He doesn’t have the final say on when it is considered ready to be occupied.  His father makes that decision. 

So, his father would periodically inspect the work his son was doing to see if the work he was doing would properly honor the future bride.  If the father has many sons and they have all married then the father has a considerable number of additions and his house is getting quite large.  There are many rooms in it.  If the father had built his additon onto his fathers home then this has become a large dwelling with room for alot of people. 

Meanwhile, the bride is at home, learning how to run a household.  She also does not know when the work will be done, so she is preparing herself for a date that is coming, she just doesn’d know when.

So, then the day arrives that the father inspects the new additon and tells his son it is ready.  The son will gather several of his friends and they set out for her house to get her.  Then there is a giant procession back to his house where the party starts. 

Going back to the acceptance of the cup of wine.  When she accepts the wine and drinks it  the groom would say to her: “My father’s house has plenty of room; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.  You know the way to the place I am going.”

It seems that Jesus used the wedding mataphor to assure his followers that their future was secure.  They would have heard this engagement language many times in their life already.  To describe heaven, Jesus used an event they had all experianced essentially saying, “it’s like that.”

Which brings me to this thought,  to fully comprehend the intention of the scripture maybe we need to understand the text in which it was originally written and the culture surrounding it. 

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