Last week we began our study of John 14 by focusing on what Jesus said to His disciples, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.” The disciple’s hearts were already troubled when Jesus spoke those words. We spent quite a bit of time last week looking at those times when Jesus’ own heart was troubled. Three times in the Gospels we find the same Greek word that Jesus used, “???????” (tarasso), which is translated as “troubled” in John 14:1, to describe the condition of Jesus’ own heart. Jesus’ heart was troubled at the tomb of Lazarus, it was troubled when He spoke about one of His disciples betraying Him, and He was troubled when He contemplated the Cross that was drawing near. Jesus’ heart didn’t stay troubled and our hearts, though they will no doubt be troubled at times during our lives, do not have to remain troubled either. This morning I want us to continue in our study of John 14:1-7. In these verses Jesus gives us reasons why we can look beyond the troubles of this life to the assurances of God for His people.
The troubled hearts of Jesus’ disciples are understandable aren’t they? For three years they had traveled with Him, watched Him do what no person had ever done and teach like no person had ever taught before. Jesus had been the focus of their lives for three years and now He was making it crystal clear that He was preparing to leave them–He was going to die. In the Upper Room, after washing the disciple’s feet and letting them know that one of them would betray Him, Jesus said,
33 “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come. (John 13:33 NIVO)
The thought of Jesus not being with them any longer was more than troubling so Jesus sought to counsel and comfort them with the promises of God. Let’s read John 14:1-7 and then we’ll see what we can learn.
1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” 6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” (John 14:1-7 NIVO)
It is one thing to offer simplistic, cliched, or naive counsel to those who are troubled. Jesus goes beyond one liners and offers His disciples, and you and me, the promises of God. Let’s take a look.
Trust God; Trust Also in Me
The first thing Jesus said to His disciples is not one of the promises of God, but it is foundational to believing the promises of God. Jesus said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust God; trust also in me.” Without trusting God the promises of God will mean absolutely nothing to you and me. The troubles of life will come and come often, but the man or woman of God who puts their trust in God will not be paralyzed by their troubles. We will become troubled, but we will not remain in a troubled state if we will place our trust in God.
The word that is translated, “trust” in the NIV is translated, “believe,” in the English Standard and New American Standard Versions. “Trust” and “believe” are translations of the Greek verb, “???????” (pisteuo). It’s an action word. When troubles come we can’t let our troubling emotions rule our minds, we must believe God, trust God, and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He alone is Sovereign and fully in control of everything in our lives. Regardless of how troubling things may become we must go on trusting and believing God.
It’s interesting that Jesus says, “You trust God, you believe God, now you must trust me, you must believe me also.” There are two reasons why I find this so interesting. First of all, Jesus is placing Himself on the same level as God. He’s equating Himself with God. A little bit later in John 14, Jesus will tell Philip, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9 ESV) God has been faithful without fail. He’s never broken one single promise. Therefore God is worthy of our trust. What can be said of God can’t be said about any of us. We’ve broken promises, we’ve been unfaithful, we are not worthy of anyone’s absolute trust, but Jesus is. Jesus, while He was walking the hills of Israel, was God Incarnate, God come down to humanity. He never broke a promise, He never uttered a word that was not true, and He has proved Himself worthy of our trust. We can trust Him.
There is a second reason I’m interested in Jesus’ statement; “Trust in God; trust also in me.” We always have to study God’s Word in context. We can’t read God’s Word apart from it’s original setting and audience or we will oftentimes read into the story things that aren’t there or miss some priceless lesson that is there staring us right in the face. This urging of Jesus is a great example. Remember, He is speaking to His disciples who are troubled because He is leaving them and going to the Cross. Jesus says, “You trust God; now you must trust me also.” Then He goes on to tell them what’s going to happen. If they will trust Him then what He is about to say will calm their fears and reassure them that God’s got a plan.
God Has a Home With a Place for His People
The first promise of God is this: God has a home and there’s a place for all of His people there. Oh, there’s no place like home is there? Jesus said,
2 In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. (John 14:2a)
We long for a place to call “home.” Paul Tournier was born in Geneva, Switzerland in 1898 and is known as the 20th century’s most famous Christian physician. His father was a pastor, but he died when Paul was just three months old. His mother died of breast cancer when Paul was just six years old. Orphaned at six, he was taken in by his aunt and uncle. He had a very difficult childhood. He became a Christian when he was 12 years old, graduated from high school, went to university, and then received his medical degree from the University of Geneva. At some point in his medical practice he had an encounter with the Lord that radically transformed him. It impacted him so deeply that he wrote a letter to all of his patients and told them he had to change the way he practiced medicine. Dr. Tournier believed that science had separated out the physical, psychological, and spiritual aspects of persons in the healing process. He no longer believed in that separation. From that day forward he called his practice the “medicine of the whole person.”
Dr. Tournier wrote many books, traveled the world lecturing, and worked with thousands of patients during his life. One of his books, “A Place For You,” has impacted many lives. The premise of the book is that the basic desire of the human heart is to have a place of our own, a home, a place where we belong, and know ourselves to belong. The problem is that many of us never find that place and so we spend our lives wandering.
It’s so true isn’t it? We can live in a nice home and still feel all alone. We can be surrounded by people and still feel all alone. We can have a wonderful family and still feel all alone. We can land the job of our dreams and still feel all alone. The truth is that for all of us, even though there may be times when we feel a sense of belonging, when we feel “at home” in this world, those times don’t last for prolonged periods of time.
I believe there are two reasons why we experience this restlessness, a feeling of disconnect in this world in which we live. First of all, we weren’t fitted for this place that we now call “home.” Last week I shared a quote with you from Albert Camus. If you will remember Camus believed that this life is utterly meaningless and that trying to find meaning is absurd. He said, “This world is not our home. It doesn’t meet the basic needs of our heart.” C.S. Lewis said that our restlessness, our lack of satisfaction in this world, is an indicator. He wrote,
Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing. If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or to be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage. I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that country and to help others to do the same. (Lewis, C.S. Mere Christianity. Book III, Chapter 10, “Hope.”)
That which this world promises to bring satisfaction will prove fleeting at best, disappointing in time because the satisfaction we are ultimately yearning for is not to be found in this world. This world is not our home. There is a powerful word from Paul in his letter to the folks in Philippi which illustrates the point I’m trying to make. He writes in Philippians 3:18-21.
18 For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. (Philippians 3:18-21 NIVO)
Some live for the satisfaction of this world, “Their mind is on earthly things.” We are citizens of heaven even though we now live on this earth. Our minds are not on earthly things, our minds are on our heavenly home.
There is a second reason for our restlessness, another reason for our wandering, and it is sin. Let me explain. Sin alienates. Sin alienates us from God, alienates us from one another, and the sin within us leads to that feeling of disconnectedness even within ourselves. This is true of believers, the followers of Jesus, as well as unbelievers. It is only when we surrender our lives to Jesus and experience His redeeming power that we can find our place, but our place is not to be found in a certain neighborhood, a beautiful scenic location somewhere in the world, but our “place” is in Christ alone. Our place, the place where we belong, is in Christ and yet let’s be honest there is still that nagging thought in the back of our minds, “There must be more. There has to be more to life than what I am presently experiencing.” Now, those of you who think I’m suggesting that there’s more to life than Jesus, let me stop you before you get too far down that road. Jesus is our Redeemer, He is our Savior, He is Life, Our Shepherd, our Living Water. There is nothing more than Jesus. He is our all in all! Yet, you and I live on a fallen planet, among fallen, sin-scarred people, and the affects of sin still plague us on a daily basis. The Psalmist said,
11 You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. (Psalm 16:11 NIVO)
In His presence we will know the fullness of joy, but we have never experienced His presence like we will experience it when we move into the “room” that God has for you and me in His heavenly home. Until then, those who have trusted, placed their faith in Jesus, can experience purpose and trust that God is at work even as we experience life in this world that is broken, dark, and scarred by the effects of sin. It’s not the just the world around us that is suffering from the affects of sin, we ourselves see it within ourselves as well. Stop and think about that with me just for a moment. We see death and decay each and every day. I go to nursing homes and hospitals most every week where I see the pain and suffering of humanity. Some of those I go see are godly men and women who are suffering. Paul says, “outwardly we are wasting away,” and it is so true isn’t it? Listen to Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18.
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIVO)
Here’s the difference for those who trust, believe in Jesus. We know that life is full of troubles, we know that we are getting older and suffering from the effects of the breaking down of our bodies and minds. Those who follow Jesus are not naive, we haven’t subscribed to some pollyanna philosophy, we know full well how broken we are, but we focus not just on what “is,” but on what is to come! God has a home and in that home He has a place with your name written on it.
We believe that we have been redeemed through Jesus’ death on the Cross and His glorious resurrection, but we also know that we await our full redemption on that day when Jesus will return to take us home. Paul wrote about this in Romans 8:18-25. Read along with me.
18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. (Romans 8:18-25 NIVO)
The whole creation is groaning and “we ourselves groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” That day is coming and it is the promise of that great and glorious day that enables you and me to live as people of infinite hope as we trust in the promise of God.
Jesus Is Coming Back for His People
I’m sure that I could break down even further these words of Jesus into additional promises, but our time is limited so I only want to share one more with you. Jesus said,
3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (John 14:3 NIVO)
We live in a world that mocks the idea of Jesus’ return. I can understand the skepticism of unbelievers for two reasons. First, it’s been 2,000 years since Jesus made the promise that He would return and we are still waiting. Secondly, there have been misguided followers of Jesus throughout history who have picked a date that they were sure Jesus would return and they have all been wrong. I remember one of those people who sold tons of his little booklet, “88 Reasons Why The Rapture Will Be In 1988.” Edgar Whisenant was a NASA engineer and student of the Bible when he wrote the book. It sold 4.5 million copies. When he released the book he said, “Only if the Bible is in error am I wrong, and I say that unequivocally. There is no way biblically that I can be wrong; and I say that to every preacher in town.” He was wrong. There have been countless people like Edgar Whisenant and they are still with us today. All they do is heighten the skepticism of an unbelieving world.
Generations have come and gone waiting on Jesus’ return. Predictions have been made in every generation and none of them have materialized. Yet, I trust that what Jesus said is true. He’s never failed on one single promise so why would He start now? Jesus said, “I will come come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” The Early Church was looking for Jesus’ return and there were skeptics in their day as well. Peter answered the skeptics in 2 Peter 3:8-9.
8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:8-9 NIVO)
The slowness of Jesus’ return isn’t due to His inability. The delay of His coming is because He is patient. I lived for years without acknowledging the Lord. I lived life according to my terms, doing what I wanted. People tried to talk to me about Jesus, but I didn’t have time for Jesus. I had more important things to do. I’m so grateful for His patience with me. I’m overwhelmed with gratitude that the Lord was patient with me so that I might come to that place where my eyes were opened to my need and His provision. He has changed my life. He has given me hope. He has given me purpose in this life and the assurance of one day taking up residence in the place He has prepared for me in the Father’s house.
I don’t know if Jesus will come for me when I draw my last breath in this life or when He splits the sky at His Second Coming, but I know my longing will finally be fulfilled when He comes. Until that day I’ll work and wait. There is a longing in the human heart. It’s been there since Adam and Eve sinned against God and were ushered out of their home. We long for home. We can’t create our own map of how to get there, Jesus is the Way. I hope you will recognize your longing for home this morning and open your heart to Jesus.
Britton Christian Church
922 NW 91st
OKC, OK. 73114
April 9, 2016