Q. In John 14 Jesus tells us that there are many mansions, or rooms, in His Father’s house, and that He is going there to prepare a place for us. I assume that the place Jesus is preparing for us is the New Jerusalem. Is this correct?
It has been suggested to me that souls will not immediately go to be with the Lord after the body dies because Jesus isn’t finished preparing us a place. Supposedly, the idea is that there would be no place for them to stay, and it wouldn’t be fair for them to see or be in the unfinished place before the rest of us see it.
Do you understand Jesus to be saying there are already mansions/rooms in heaven, or am I misunderstanding? And, if I am correctly understanding, who do you think might be in those rooms now?
A. I think it’s always best just to take the Lord at His word and not try to read anything into what he says. The only exception to this would be when He’s clearly telling a story or parable. In John 14:2-3 the Greek word for mansion refers to a dwelling place. Jesus said He was going to His Father’s house to prepare a place for us and then would return to take us there. I believe He was referring to the New Jerusalem, which will be the Church’s eternal dwelling place. There’s no reason to believe anyone is currently living in the New Jerusalem, and Rev. 21:27 says only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life can enter there.
When believers die their bodies are buried and quickly decay. They don’t get new ones until the rapture / resurrection. In the mean time they exist in the spiritual realm with the Lord. The New Jerusalem is a physical location meant to be inhabited by physical beings, not by spirits. So whether it’s ready for habitation or not has nothing to do with whether our spirits go to be with the Lord when we die. Paul said to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:6-8).