Wednesday of the fourth week in Advent:
1 “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many mansions;[a] if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.[b] 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And where I go you know, and the way you know.”
N. T. Wright has raised the stakes concerning what happens to us after death: he insists that the ultimate end is that we will be raised from the dead and given renewed bodies so that we can dwell on the renewed earth with God. The goal is not, he insists, “to go to heaven when you die.” Most memorably, he says that when God tells us that our salvation waits for us in heaven, that is like telling a child that his birthday present is in the cupboard: the child is not supposed to expect that when his birthday comes, he will go to live in the cupboard, but rather that the present will be taken out and unwrapped and enjoyed in the living room.
But this passage of John makes us wonder. On its face, it appears to be telling us that Jesus is going “away” to prepare a place for us so that we may be “where He is.” And that sounds very much like the usual “go to heaven” scenario.