A TURNING POINT
John 13 is a pivotal chapter in this book. This chapter is very wonderful. We should not understand it as merely a chapter on foot-washing. It is not that simple; rather, it is very deep. In this crucial chapter as the turning point of this book, the Lord did one main thing; that is, He washed the disciples’ feet. He did not wash other parts but only their feet, the part that is constantly in contact with the earth. This was to cleanse them of their earthly touch. Although it is easy to become dirty by the earthly touch, the Lord has a way to cleanse us.
CHRIST GOING THROUGH DEATH AND RESURRECTION TO BRING MAN INTO GOD
After washing His disciples’ feet, the Lord told them that He was going to leave them (v. 33). The disciples were bothered and grieved when they heard that this wonderful One was going to leave (vv. 36-37). Following this, John 14 begins the second main section of this Gospel.
Christ’s coming and going are matters not of places but of persons. Christ’s intention in coming to the earth was not to come to the earth as a place but to come into man. He was incarnated to live not on the earth, strictly speaking, but in man. Man, the person, is the focus. If Christ were not in man, He would not live on this earth. Christ’s coming was to be in man.
In principle, it is the same with His going. Christ’s going was not a matter of bringing us to another, better place. His going was to bring us into another person. We must be clear about this basic concept. Christ’s going was not to bring us to heaven; it was to bring us into another, wonderful person, the divine person, God the Father Himself. Just as His coming was to bring God not merely to the earth but into man, so His going was to bring us not to heaven but into God. If Christ desired to bring us into heaven, He Himself would have to remain in heaven, but at the end of the Gospel of John this wonderful Christ is not only in the heavens but in and with His disciples on the earth (ch. 21).
The Many Abodes in the Father’s House
John 14:1 says, “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe into God, believe also into Me.” It is rather difficult for us to understand what is meant by “believe into God, believe also into Me.” This word signifies that Christ is one with God, and He is God. If we believe in God, we must know that the Lord Jesus is God and that He is one with God. Here the Lord seemed to be saying, “Since you know that I am one with God, you should not be troubled by My going.”
The Father’s House Being the Habitation of God among His People
The Lord continued in verse 2, “In My Father’s house are many abodes.” What is the Father’s house? Some say that this refers to heaven. Even J. N. Darby, one of the great Bible teachers, taught in this way. However, we must follow the principle that the Scripture must be interpreted by its own words. In the Gospel of John the phrase My Father’s house is used twice. The first time it appears is in chapter two verses 15 and 16 which say, “And having made a whip out of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, as well as the sheep and the oxen, and He poured out the money of the moneychangers and overturned their tables. And to those who were selling the doves He said, Take these things away from here; do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise.” Since My Father’s house in chapter two refers to the temple, could the same term refer to heaven in chapter fourteen? This is not the proper, logical way to interpret the Scriptures. The Father’s house does not refer to heaven.
Many Christians expect to go to heaven, using mainly John 14 as their basis. They say that according to verse 2 a wonderful mansion is prepared for us in heaven. For two thousand years the work has been going on and still has not been finished; therefore, they say, how wonderful that mansion will be! At least one Christian hymn tells us that of all the mansions prepared in the heavens there is one for me. According to the Gospel of John itself, however, there are no such mansions. The mansions in heaven are merely of people’s imagination.
The correct meaning of My Father’s house is the very habitation of God among His people on this earth. The principle of the temple is that on this earth among God’s people there is a dwelling place for God. Verse 19 in chapter two says, “Jesus answered and said to them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Although the Jewish people destroyed “this temple,” the Lord raised it up in three days. This temple refers to the Lord’s physical body, which He raised in three days (v. 21). However, according to 1 Peter 1:3, all the believers were regenerated through the resurrection of Christ, and Ephesians 2:5-6 says that we were made alive together with Christ and raised up together with Him. Therefore, we also were raised up on the third day in resurrection. Christ not only raised up Himself, but He included all His believers in His resurrection. Therefore, after Christ’s resurrection, God’s temple is no longer Christ Himself alone. It includes all of His members, His people, as His corporate Body. This is the temple, and this is the house of God (1 Cor. 3:16-17; 1 Tim. 3:15). It is also God’s habitation (Eph. 2:21-22) and “My Father’s house.” Strictly speaking, the Father’s house is the church, which was raised up in Christ’s resurrection.
(General Sketch of the New Testament in the Light of Christ and the Church, A - Part 1: The Gospels and the Acts, Chapter 5, by Witness Lee)