When Jesus was born, the Bible says His parents “wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7). The Promised One, foretold by the prophets and heralded by angels, arrived on time and on location for the purpose of saving the world, but there was no place prepared for Him! Even many years later, as Jesus traveled the countryside performing miracles and preaching with great authority, He would make the sad observation that “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head” (Matthew 8:20). From His first breath until His last, the world was never kind or accommodating to our Savior.
But Jesus’ promise to you and to me is that there is a far different greeting awaiting us in Heaven. Just before He would depart from this world, Jesus would say to His disciples, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father's house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? (John 14:1-2).
Wow! The God of the universe has gone before us to make sure that when we arrive in Heaven we will be well received! Unlike Jesus reception here on earth, there will be a place waiting for us, a place to lay our heads. This sublime promise provides great cause for joy and anticipation.
Concerning this house with many rooms, one noteworthy commentator remarked: "The image is derived from those vast oriental palaces, in which there is an abode not only for the sovereign … but also for all the sons of the king, however numerous they may be."
That would be you and me! We are the sons and daughters of the King. We have been promised a room in His house! And not just any room but one that is specifically prepared just for us! Prepared by Jesus Himself! How cool is all that!
As I pen these words, I’m listening to a storm outside. Strong winds are beating the side of my house. The weather report warns of an approaching and severe thunderstorm, but I am warm and safe and grateful for a sound roof over my head.
The approaching storm reminds me of the real purpose of a shelter. I live in a house because I have a body, and a physical body needs to be protected from the elements. This is why living in a home makes perfect sense here on earth where we are subject to sun and rain and storm. But if, as so many believe, we will be nothing more than disembodied spirits, why would we need a shelter? And why would Jesus think that it was so important for us to be assured that a home was waiting for us?
The God who intended that Earth should be our Heaven, and Who filled Earth with so many interesting, surprising, and challenging things, also made the place we now call Heaven. Yet, we have this static idea of a Heaven where the wind never so much as puffs. Is it possible that the promise of a shelter in Heaven not only indicates that we will have bodies, but that there might also be variations of weather there?
Could it be that the Bible describes fruit-bearing trees in Heaven because we will eat fruit there? Could it be that the Bible describes streets of gold in Heaven because we will actually feel those streets under our feet? Could it be that the Bible describes people praising and worshipping God in Heaven because we will actually have brains that are capable of processing thoughts and storing memories? Could it be that the Bible provides a detailed description of the materials used in the buildings and walls of Heaven because they are actually made of these things?
We assume these things can’t really be physical because we assume we won’t really be physical, even though the Bible goes out of its way to suggest otherwise. This is what is known as a non-sequitur, a Latin phrase meaning ‘it does not follow.” It refers to a conclusion that does not logically follow the information on which it is based. I’d like to suggest that the conclusion that many have come to about Heaven—that it is a ghostly place—does not logically follow the information the Bible has provided to us.
We also assume that it is possible to be human without a body. But Genesis tells us that, “… the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7). In other words, Adam did not become a “living being” until he was both body and spirit.
Even Jesus had to address this false assumption with His disciples after the resurrection. The last time they had seen Him, He was dead. So when Jesus first appeared to them after the resurrection, they were scared to death, assuming that He was a ghost. That’s when Jesus asked them an interesting question: "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds?” The same question could be asked of us. What causes us to think Heaven will offer us less than what we had on Earth? Isn’t this a result of the doubts that arise in our minds, just as they did in the minds of the disciples? But Jesus quickly addressed their doubts and false assumptions when He said, “Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have” (Luke 24:38-39).
God designed man with five senses that enable him to fully experience life. It is not wrong or sinful to enjoy the use of these senses. It is what God intended. God also filled Heaven with countless things that are clearly designed to appeal to our five senses. That’s because God loves us, so He has created a Heaven that is the perfect place for us, with a room in His great house that He has specifically prepared just for us! It’s not a ghostly place but a physical place where physical people will be warmly welcomed, not by a ghost, but by a physical Savior, with flesh and bones.
This was the joy and anticipation of the great king David when he wrote, “Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever” (Psalm 23:6, NASB).