************ Funeral Sermon on John 14:1-6 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on September 27, 2014
Darwin Houtsma Memorial Service
Hanging on the wall in Darwin's house is a retirement plaque from his kids with a hammer and the words of Jesus:
(Mt 7:24-25) Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. (25) The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.
Darwin, as you know, was a builder. His kids remember building plans everywhere. In fact, Darwin still has some building plans hanging around the house. Madeline and the kids joke that Darwin always took the long route anywhere because he wanted to look at buildings and construction sites. I remember when we were building the education addition to the church – Darwin came by almost every single day. And, he asked to look at the plans for the house my wife and I were building and gave a number of valuable suggestions.
We know Jesus, like Darwin, was a builder (Mk 6:3). He grew up working with wood and plans. He grew up building things. Our text indicates Jesus continues to build today: "In my Father's house are many rooms ... I am going there to prepare a place for you" (Jn 14:1-2). Let me explain the image Jesus has in mind.
When a young Israelite man was engaged to be married, he went to his father's house and got a place ready for his bride. Usually, this meant adding a room or a suite of rooms to the father's house. So, the groom and his brothers or servants would labor. They would add on to the father's house. Dirt would be packed, a foundation would be poured, bricks would be laid, a roof would be raised, doors and windows would be installed, and the inside would be finished. During the entire building project the bridegroom eagerly anticipates the bride's arrival; he can hardly wait for the time when they live together as husband and wife. When the room is ready, the groom would get his bride and bring her into their part of the mansion. For the bridegroom and the bride this is a time of great joy. The moment they have been waiting for has finally come to pass.
"In my Father's house are many rooms." Older brothers and uncles have already added their rooms to the father's house. In fact, the father's house is no longer a simple home; it is more like a many-roomed mansion. It is no longer a single family dwelling; instead, it is a community, even an entire village. The bride will be taking up residence in a portion of a large mansion and will join a throng of people who are already there.
"In my Father's house are many rooms." This reminds me of the old song: "I've Got a Mansion Just Over the Hilltop." There is a mansion up there. Filled with people – a whole host of brothers and sisters. Rooms were added for the patriarchs, for the prophets, for the faithful in exile, for the apostles, for the early martyrs, for the Reformers, the father and mother and siblings of Darwin. Room after room has been prepared by the heavenly bridegroom as He eagerly awaits His bride.
A room has been added for Darwin Houtsma as well. Last week Friday he was taken by the Bridegroom into the Father's mansion. From the point-of-view of Jesus and Darwin, this is a time of great joy. The bride has been taken into the house of many rooms and the bride and groom are finally living together in the joy of the marriage relationship.
"I am going there to prepare a place for you." Jesus is the bridegroom. The church is His bride. He ascended into heaven where He is getting a room ready for the bride's arrival. And, like a bridegroom He awaits the bride's arrival with great anticipation.
"I am going there to prepare a place for you." This implies a plan. This implies blueprints. The bridegroom doesn't just add a room or a suite of rooms anywhere. The bridegroom doesn't build over the fire pit or over the well. He has a plan so the whole building blends and holds together.
"I am going there to prepare a place for you." This implies a foundation because no one builds without a foundation. In particular, this implies the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone (Eph 2:20).
"I am going there to prepare a place for you." This also implies work. Hard work. It doesn't just happen. The hard work was done by Christ upon the cross and in the grave. And, it continues to be done by His Word and Spirit.
Now, do you notice how Jesus starts off this passage? "Do not let your hearts be troubled." That's the problem, isn't it?! When someone dies we often let our hearts be troubled. We mourn that Darwin, a husband and father, has died. And, our hearts become troubled when we think of Madeline as a widow for a second time. "Do not let your hearts be troubled." "Do not let your hearts be disturbed or upset." This word describes King Herod when he heard that a King of the Jews has been born (Mt 2:3). This word describes the disciples when they thought the Lord Jesus was a ghost walking towards them on the water (Mt 14:26). This word describes the stirring of the water in the pool of Bethesda – all mixed up (Jn 5:7).
"Do not let your hearts be troubled." Stop being upset. Stop being disturbed. Stop being all stirred up. Yes, Darwin has died but he is now in the mansion with the heavenly bridegroom. That is not a reason for trouble but a reason for joy.
Now, I need to tell you, the family and friends of Darwin, that not everyone is given a room in the Father's mansion. If you don't believe in Jesus, you are not given a room. That's why Jesus talks about trust or belief in the opening verse: "Trust in God; trust also in me."
When Thomas heard Jesus was leaving to prepare a place, he wanted to know the way to the Father's mansion. Jesus said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (Jn 14:6). Unless you believe Jesus is the WAY, the only way, you have no place in the Father's mansion either.
How is Jesus the way? Don't forget when Jesus says this. Jesus says "I am the way," just before He hangs in pain upon the cross. He says "I am the truth," just before the lies of evil men nail Him to the tree. He says "I am the life," just before He Himself is placed in the tomb and rises from the dead.
Jesus is the way to the Father's mansion because He suffered and died and arose from the grave. He is the only way. And, you need a personal, living relationship with this Lord Jesus in which you love Him with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. It is not enough to know about Him. Instead, you must personally know Him and love Him and pray to Him and worship Him.
Darwin knew this. Darwin put his trust in Jesus. So Darwin has been taken by the heavenly bridegroom into the Father's mansion. Today he is experiencing life with Christ in a way that is not possible on this earth.
Every death is a good time to look at yourself and ask: when I die where will I end up? Do I trust in Jesus? Do I trust in Jesus alone? Do I know in my heart that He is the only way into the Father's mansion?
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
Back to Index of Sermons Page