If It Were Not So...
By Dave Breese
A most wonderful thing happens when we walk with Jesus Christ.
Bill Gaither expressed it by writing The longer I serve Him, the sweeter He grows. J. Vernon McGee sounded the same note when he said, Please, let no one else write me to prove that the Bible is true, or that Christ is the Son of God. I have met Him and I love Him. The hymnwriter said, Still nearer every day I find my heart is closer drawn. Each of these expresses the common experience of every Christian, how fellowship with Christ grows better with each day that passes.
This has been true about each one of the writers of the New Testament, and on one special occasion, it called for a very choice remark from our Lord Jesus Christ as He spoke with His disciples just days before His crucifixion. He said to them, Let not your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in Me. In my Fathers house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you (John 14:1-2). In reading this familiar passage, I have long noticed that tender expression, if it were not so, I would have told you. Why these words? Why did Christ say such a thing to His disciples?
The answer can be instructive. Remember that the disciples had walked with Jesus Christ now for nearly three years. They had, as Browning said, learned His great language, caught His clear accents, made Him their pattern to live and to die. They had spent thousands of memorable hours with the Son of God. They heard His preaching, saw His miracles, observed His reactions to every occasion of life. They knew how He had resisted temptation, listened with detachment to praise, and ignored the threats to pain and ruin which had come from unbelieving and sometimes hysterical opponents.
In all of this, they asked the question, Who is this Man, this Being who has come to live in our midst? Finally, they came, except Judas, to the unshakable conclusion that this man is the Son of the Living and True God. The details of their faith were to be clarified later, but the foundation was formed in those moments of association with Him. They were sure that God was visiting man and that they, wonder of wonders, were the first to know of that heavenly intervention.
As a consequence, their hearts were drawn up and out of themselves. Their faith was formed to the extent that they could not leave Him, rather saying, To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.
But within them was also the disquieting question, Will all of this come to an end? Is this but a temporary association that one day will cease? Will the dark hour come when we will be without Him?
This is why Jesus spoke to them and said, Let not your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in Me. He then, knowing of their confidence that he was the Son of God, knew also that their hearts were being drawn to Him. They were beginning to believe that Jesus Christ was immortality in flesh, eternity in a human body, that forever they could and would be His. So, in effect, Christ says, Your attitude is correct, your anticipations are not groundless! I did not come to you to leave you, but to be with you always. Your sense that these days are a prelude to heaven is precisely correct. Dont stop! Continue to let your hearts be filled with bright anticipation, with a glorious sense of the future. You are not deceived. You are not mistaken. But you are pursuing the truth. If it were not so, I would have told you!
It is encouraging to remember that the exact subjects about which Jesus Christ encouraged His disciples to be filled with faith and anticipation were promises concerning the future. The disciples, believing that He was God, knew that surely He must have come from a beautiful place to be with them. God does not live in a tar paper shack somewhere, but must surely have a splendid home in the sky. Christ indicated that that conclusion was correct: In My Fathers house are many mansions.
This must be kept in mind today. There is a better place than this squalid earth, and there is a home that is better than the wretched hovels in the city of man. Heaven is a wonderful place, wonderful by an infinite degree above the best that earth can offer. It has ivory palaces, streets of gold, and mansions more magnificent than in Paris, London, or even Rome. You can count on it! is the reminder that Christ gives to us.
Quickly then comes the promise of Christ, I go to prepare a place for you. How encouraging it is to us to even contemplate the special preparation that Christ is even now making for us. He has been preparing that place for you and for me for nearly two thousand years. Surely then, we can exercise a sanctified imagination in contemplating the truth that Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love Him. In this, we are surely invited to think of the most splendid of earths circumstances and multiply them by infinity. Only then can we begin to contemplate the marvels of heaven.
It is thrilling, then, to see that Christ quickly makes to us a promise, If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself. While saying these words, Christ looked into the glistening eyes of His disciples, whose hearts surely leaped within them. We cannot doubt also that the heart of the Lord Himself was bright with anticipation of that moment in which He would be reunited with His disciples and those who would believe after them.
The promise that Jesus made to His disciples, is, of course, the same promise that He makes to you and to me. This separation from the Lord that we sense in this world is not forever. Yes, we walk by faith, but very soon our faith will give way to sight. Yes, there are just a few more days to be filled with praise, and then comes that moment when we go to be with Him. In that glad paradise, we will exchange our cross for a starry crown. There, we will lay our burdens down and will be with Christ forever.
Does your heart swell with anticipation of that glad reunion? Do you feel again the thrill at just contemplating being with Jesus Christ? Do not chide yourself for this anticipation. If it were not so, Christ would have told you. Do you look forward to the day when you will move beyond tears, beyond sorrow, beyond crying and be where the former things will have passed away? Be not embarrassed at this faith, for if it were not so, Christ would have told you.
Across the Church of our time is a rising tide of anticipation for the return of Christ. Along with this, there is a growing disillusionment with the things of time, a new sense of the futility of laboring in this world for a corruptible crown. Yes, the Church is beginning to look up for its coming redemption.
There are, of course, still some scoffers and naysayers who stand in pulpits and remind Christians about the unwisdom of being so heavenly minded that they are of no earthly good. Be sure that these voices are not the voice of Jesus Christ. Be sure that the remaining sentiment to mind earthly things comes not from the working of the Holy Spirit in our midst. The efficient managers of religious things still warn us against becoming sentimental over going to heaven, being with Christ, and enjoying the marriage supper of the Lamb, but alas, they are wrong and sadly unromantic. This world at its best is our light affliction which is but for a moment and it works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.
We have our Lords Word for it. Surely He would say again to the Church of our time, If it were not so, I would have told you.
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