Custom-made beats mass-produced any day. Vision is necessary, but attention to detail brings life and color into a dream. Molding, rewiring, and refining are painful, but birth unique and enduring beauty. In the land of “I want it now”, patience and endurance builds something beautiful.
I can’t write these words without thinking of Robby. Robby prefers places of solitude, wouldn’t hesitate to give you his last penny, and would take a bullet for the ones he loves. He carries a heavy (might I add glory-filled) anointing to create with his hands. I always knew he was a master builder, but I really discovered this when Robby and his wife, Brandi, set out to build the house of their dreams – a modern farmhouse filled with warm, rough sawn wood, barn doors and the most fitting rooftop weathervane.
Robby’s heart for a unique and desirable dwelling outweighed the labor he knew lay ahead. Day by day, Robby measured, sawed, hammered, and faithfully nurtured his abode. He carried no concern for the time that passed till her completion, but saw the finished product and stayed steadfast. He tarried until every nail, tile and handcrafted light fixture was in its proper place. He built the entire house – every inch has his signature.
Oh how His image bearers reflect His beauty! In Mark 6, scripture reveals that Jesus inherited the family trade of carpentry. Before He was appointed to start His ministry, Jesus would have labored diligently over the work of his hands. At first glance, one pictures Jesus constructing with wood, however, the Greek word for carpenter contains the broader idea of one who builds. It is probable that Jesus actually worked more with stone, as stone was a wider used material in 1st century Israel. In fact, the temple (the Jewish place of worship), the place that Jesus named His Father’s House, was made of stone.
In the second chapter of John, we find Jesus consumed with zeal for this house. Angered by dishonest monetary gain and coupled with a desecration of the Gentile’s only place of prayer, Jesus drives out animals and turns over tables within the courts of the temple. Appalled, the religious leaders question His authority. Jesus responds, “Destroy this Temple, …and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19). At the time, this claim was absurd, impossible, and quite ridiculous. How could this Nazarene carpenter rebuild God’s glorious place of dwelling, let alone in three days?
Fast forward to Jesus’ final night with His disciples. The anticipation of Passover was in the air, and the disciples had shared the sacred seder* meal with their Messiah. It is this night that Jesus washes their feet, reveals His betrayer, promises a Comforter, and reminds them of His coming death and resurrection. Within this discourse, Jesus refers to His Father’s House. Let His words to the disciples settle in your heart and reaffirm the intense desire of His heart toward you.
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in Me. In My Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to Myself, so that where I am you may also be.” -John 14:1-3 (TLV)
This portion of scripture often loses its fire of passion coming from the Father to the Son and igniting our hearts in intimacy toward Him. Most English translations use the word mansion rather than dwelling place. This generates the idea that Jesus has left the earth to build mansions for us to occupy one day in the heavens, however, the Greek word expresses not a physical mansion, but a place of staying, abiding, dwelling.
Where is He going and what place is He preparing or building? It is highly likely that in their grave confusion, the disciples immediately thought He was referring to the temple. After all, Jesus had identified the temple as His Father’s House more than once. Furthermore, within the temple, there were several dwelling places reserved for working priests. I can imagine the disciple’s thoughts, “Is Jesus saying He’s going to the temple to reserve a room for us? We’re fishermen, not priests!” The Master Builder, however, had much more in mind.
He wasn’t going to the temple in Jerusalem. And He isn’t referring to heaven. He was going through the cross, through death and resurrection, to prepare a place of dwelling for us with Him and the Father. His perfect sacrifice paves the way to perfect communion with the Father, Son, Holy Spirit and His beloved bride. The Father’s House is much more than a house built with hands. It’s the place of staying, abiding, dwelling. It’s a pure house, a pure communion with the great Lover and His objects of mass affection. Inhabiting you is what He is after. The cross was worth it.
It wouldn’t be until later – after His resurrection – that His friends would understand the glory of His Father’s House. Indeed He would rebuild the temple in three short days. This glorious house, this place of presence, was the person of Jesus. Though humiliated and brutally murdered, He removed the sting of death and in three days, He did rise again. This humble carpenter, this worker with stone, is described intentionally by His companion, Peter.
“The stone which the builders rejected—this One has become the chief cornerstone.” -1 Peter 2:7 (TLV) (Peter is referencing words from Psalm 118:22)
Can’t you picture Peter reflecting on the temple of international grandeur as he pens these marvelous words? He once marveled at its great height, beauty, and its prestige among the ancient world (Matthew 24:1). Now his eyes beheld her beauty in the person of His friend, Jesus, whom he describes as the Cornerstone. A structure cannot stand without a cornerstone. It is the central component in which a building or house is built and sustained. What house is this Cornerstone upholding? You and me! This new temple, The Father’s House,is a spiritual house filled with believers – of all tribes and tongues – growing in complete unison with Him. Peter validates this truth in the same chapter of his letter.
“As you come to Him, a living stone rejected by men but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house – a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Messiah Yeshua*.” -1 Peter 2:4-5 (TLV)
Does it get any better? The Cornerstone makes us living stones – living stones being built intoHis body. This is indeed a glorious dwelling – a oneness too sacred for words.
It’s this union that makes a house a home. Brandi loves that her house is custom-made, suited to her taste, and outright beautiful. But the real reason Brandi loves her house is because it’s embedded in the fingerprints of her husband – the one she loves. This one is the one who dedicated himself to uniquely and intricately building their dwelling of desire. He endured labor, sweat, and pain to ensure he could share a home with his bride. In the same way, Jesus never counted the cost when He took up the cross. He knew what He was building. He was constructing a new temple, consisting of handcrafted living stones, each beautiful and uniquely known. We find our Jesus dissatisfied to stay within the walls of an extravagant, ornate temple in the Holy City. He wasn’t even content to remain in the glory of Heaven. There was no place in heaven or earth that could fulfill His longing. He was after a dwelling of desire – a dwelling like you and me.
“You have been built on the foundation made up of the emissaries and prophets, with Messiah Yeshua Himself being the cornerstone. In Him the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple for the Lord. In Him, you also are being built together into God’s dwelling place in the Spirit.” -Ephesians 2:20-22 (TLV)
*Seder: Hebrew word for order. Also the name of the Jewish ceremonial dinner commemorating Passover
*Yeshua: the Hebrew word for Jesus, meaning salvation
Today’s writer is Jill Sazera, WoCo’s Director of Faith. From Georgia and currently living right outside D.C., Jill spends her days flying the friendly skies. When she’s not on an airplane, you can find her discovering new coffee shops, mingling in music, and going on long drives. She’s a lover of all things fall, could break out in dance at any moment, and gets her fuel from long mornings with Jesus. You can reach Jill by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.