By Ben Cachiaras
I had never been with someone at the brink of death. But now, as a young minister, I gently cradled the hand of a dear woman who was about to breathe her last. Stroking the ribbed veins on the back of her hand, I listened to her labored breathing and waited for her family to return to the room. She surprised me by speaking.
“I have to tell you something,” she said.
She slowly formed her words: “I feel as if I’m about to go. But I don’t know where.” Then she asked a haunting question: “Do you know?”
I don’t recall exactly what I said that day. But it strikes me how vital and hopeful are Jesus’ words in John 14, given as farewell promises to troubled hearts.
A Place and a Path
Though Jesus is the one departing, the promises are not about what will happen to him, but to us. He first promised a place where one day we may permanently abide with him in God’s house. The word translated “rooms” or “mansions” is the noun form of the word abide or remain. Jesus spoke about a place where we will abide together in an unending relationship of trust not unlike the one he shared with the Father.
I once led a group of eager students on a vigorous hike in the wilderness. Having forgotten my map, I did my best to navigate the trails using the sun as a gauge. Unfortunately, I got us good and lost and we had to backtrack several miles to find our way.
The second promise Jesus gave answered the question, “How do we get to that place?” What is the right path? Jesus made it crystal clear that he is the way to God. Any other gauge or path will waste our time and leave us backtracking. Some day, we will find ourselves in the same place that woman was—breathing our last. How reassuring to know that in Jesus we have a place and a path to get there.
Ben Cachiaras is the senior minister of Mountain Christian Church in Joppa, Maryland and past president of the North American Christian Convention.