Let Not Your Hearts Be Troubled (John 14:1-6)
Sermon by Egan Yip – March 4, 2018
I’m going to start off today’s message with something that sounds a bit morbid. The idea of it, however, is not something we always think of as morbid. It’s something that is often portrayed in fiction, like… maybe in action movies. Imagine we have this scene: there’s a “bad guy” or villain who has trapped the “hero” and has him right where he wants him. Perhaps the hero is dangling from the edge of a tall building with the villain staring down at him. Or maybe the villain has a gun pointed straight at the hero, and there is no escape, no place for him to run or hide. What does the villain say? What does he usually say? He usually says this: “Any last words?”
This is not very realistic of course. Why should the villain care about the last words of the person he wants to hurt? It shouldn’t matter to him. And even the viewer knows that the last words don’t actually matter… because we know that the hero is not going to die. When the villain says, “Any last words?” this is what some of us would call an “event flag.” And event flag means that once a certain event has been set off, something inevitable will follow. The moment the villain says, “any last words” something will happen for the hero to escape the situation—maybe friends will come to his aid, maybe something will explode randomly and distract them, maybe something will just fall from the sky. Something will happen to change his fate, for the sake of the story.
In that fictional situation, it’s not morbid at all. But what if it was a real situation? Let’s think about it in this way: If you were put in that spot, and you knew you could die at any moment, and someone asked you for your last words, what would you say?
The idea of “last words” intrigues me. Can you imagine it? You’re dying. You’re about to die. In a few moments, there will be nothing else more you can do in this world—nothing else more that you can say. These are your final moments—the very last opportunity to make a difference, to offer something to the world that you will soon leave behind.
What would your last words be? What would you want them to be?
They have to be significant. They have to be meaningful. These are your last words. Every word should be precious.
You don’t want them to be: “Tell my children… I forgot to lock the front door of the house.” That’s important, sure, but not important enough for your last words. I mean, you can say that as your last words if you really wanted to. That’s up to you. But I think it is more likely in a situation like that, for you to say something much more heartfelt and meaningful. “Tell my children… that I love them.” “Tell him that I’m sorry for the time I did that.” “Tell her that I forgive her.” It’s dramatic but it’s not the time to worry about that. It might be time to finally open up, to express your feelings that you’ve kept hidden for a long time, or perhaps to try to rebuild the broken relationships that plague your past.
The thing is… we usually won’t know when we will reach our last moments. Many have passed on without a chance to say their last words. And many will withhold such words due to the uncertainty of life and death.
We may not have that ability. But there was one person who knew the exact time and date of His death, and that person is Jesus Christ our Lord. Jesus knew when He would die. He knew how He would die. And so Jesus created a perfect opportunity for what could be called his “last words” even though they were certainly not his last. He gathered his disciples together the night before he was betrayed and told them all they would need to hear before he died, and he did it during the important Passover Feast. These words of his before he died on the cross are known as the Farewell Discourse.
As believers we recognize that all of Christ’s words are important. We are to cling to every word that comes from the mouth of God. How much more attention then must we pay to what would be considered his “last words” leading up to the crucifixion? The fact that he arose should not diminish its importance because he still departed from his world soon after. These are the heartfelt words He had left for His disciples. These are the precious last words of Christ to them and to us. And we are to read it with that in mind.
Please turn with me to the book of John. We will be reading just a small part of the discourse for our message today. Let’s begin from verse 1 of chapter 14.
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God;[a] believe also in me.
Let not your hearts be troubled. After all that Jesus had said and done up until this point, how could they not be troubled?
At the beginning of their Passover Feast, Jesus begins by washing the feet of all of the disciples. All of their feet! That’s a lot of feet! I don’t even want to wash one pair of feet, and yet Jesus goes ahead and washes twelve! If you’ve never really read the Bible or read this particular book, you may either think “Oh, that’s kind of weird” or “Wow, that’s very nice of Him.” But the disciples should have been shaken up by this. When this happens they should be shocked or disturbed. They say that one of the warning signs for someone planning on attempting suicide is a significant change in attitude and behavior. Indeed, even if someone isn’t planning on committing suicide, we are immediately on edge and worried whenever someone does something completely unexpected—like if someone is being way nicer than normal. You get suspicious. Something is wrong.
Jesus was showing love and compassion all the time. But even that has its limits. Jesus did not go out of his way to wash the disciples’ feet every day. We would have a very, very different picture of Jesus. He had more important things to do! The busy Jesus, who only had 3 years to travel far and wide to preach the Good News, took time to do something so humble and—may we call it—humiliating. Peter even protested at first, saying, “You shall NEVER wash my feet.” It was troubling to them. What was going on? Why was Jesus acting this way?
If his actions were not troubling enough, Jesus then tells them two very concerning things: in a short while… He will be betrayed, and He will have to leave them. Their hearts were troubled.
You know how sometimes people ask, “Do you want the good news first, or the bad news first?” Jesus didn’t give them a choice. Here’s the bad news. But now, as we just read, He comforts them with these words. Let not your hearts be troubled.
And he continues with a command: Believe. Believe in God. Believe in Jesus. That’s because everything starts with faith. People don’t do things they have no confidence in. They have to have a certain measure of faith to do anything at all. If you knew without a doubt that a chair would break, you would not sit on it. People who buy lottery tickets may not believe that they will win, but they believe that they, at least, have a CHANCE at winning. Otherwise, why bother? Everything starts with faith. And for the believer, everything starts with faith in God.
Now let’s read verses 2-3.
2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that 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 will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.
People like to try and figure out what Jesus meant by this. There are a number of ways people have interpreted this. However, I think we should just focus on what it simply says on the surface. We don’t always need to dive deep to understand what Jesus wants to tell us. Jesus will prepare a place for us in His Father’s house. He will come again specifically so that we will be together with him. To put it simply, one day we will be with Christ in a wonderful place, in the presence of God the Father.
This is the cure to what troubles us. This world is a mess. It continues to get worse. You would think that wealth would bring more peace. You would think that technology would make lives better and more satisfying. Isn’t that what we expect? Isn’t that what we hope for? We have all these advancements and all these “improvements” and things are constantly getting more and more convenient. We’re fixing everything around us and making things better.
Shouldn’t the world then be a better place? But it’s worse! After the 9/11 incident people were so scared about terrorist attacks. The extremists could come here and attack us on our soil. They were finding gaps in our defenses. They could hurt us and kill us. We need to be prepared. We need to protect ourselves. There was a lot of discrimination and fear in those days.
Now? There’s no point in trying to pinpoint who’s dangerous because the reality is that anybody can be dangerous and they can attack anyone. We had the shooting in Las Vegas a few months ago by a just some 64-year-old man that no one really knew about. We still don’t even know the motive. No one could have imagined that something like that would happen. But it did. We have school shootings often and they are done usually by teenagers. They’re supposed to just be kids, and yet it’s actually scary how school shootings feel commonplace now. It’s not an army we have to defend against, it’s ourselves. It’s every one of us in society. Whether it’s young or old, poor or rich—the people are suffering, and they bring their suffering to others. We can fix everything around us, but we can’t fix ourselves.
True peace cannot come from this world. True comfort cannot be found in this world. It sounds so full of despair.
But we should not be troubled by this. Let not your hearts be troubled. We should not let ourselves be troubled by anything in this world. Not because everything in this world is going to be fine. I mean, that’s what we always say, right? That’s our instinct to say: “Everything is going to be fine.” Someone is hurting. “Everything is going to be fine.” But will it really? Not everything is fine. Not everything is going to be fine.
But look ahead, look far, far ahead. If you believe in God, you can believe that we will be in the comforting, wonderful, blissful presence of the Lord God Almighty one day. Then things will not just be fine—they will be amazing. But we have to believe.
Now let’s read verses 4-6, and I will be ending with this.
4 And you know the way to where I am going.”[c] 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
In the previous chapter, Jesus told his disciples that where he is going, they cannot come. But now Jesus tells his disciples that, even though they cannot yet follow him, they already know the way. The disciples are confused, and rightfully so. Jesus does not openly declare where He is going. He does not tell them: I am going to heaven. He does not tell them: I am going to Paradise. He is just going. He just says “I’m leaving.” That sure bites at us when someone doesn’t mention the details and we want to know. That tends to be a big communication issue in general. Parents may ask their children, “How was your day?” And they reply, “Fine.” We want details, especially when something is important. If we want directions, we want more than a single direction. When you ask for directions, you don’t want to hear: “Go north and you’ll eventually get there.”
So when Jesus tells them you already know where I am going, and he doesn’t say anything else about it, they are dying to know. Where are you going? How are we supposed to know the way if we don’t even know where you are going?
But the disciples are still thinking in terms of our physical reality. Even if Jesus told them where he was going, there’s no way to normally get there. See if you can input “Heaven” in your GPS. I can assure you it’ll get you nowhere. Even if it can somehow give you directions, you probably shouldn’t listen to it. After all, it’s not about where it is, but how to get there. And we can’t get there by our own strength or knowledge. It’s impossible for us. Yet the answer is simple, which is why Jesus told them that they already know.
The way is staring them right in the face. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. There’s no other way to the Father.
During New Testament times, when the Romans first talked about Christianity—it was not yet an official religion recognized by the Romans. Official religions were protected by the law. Early on, Christianity was not protected. We get a glimpse of the turmoil and confusion that Christianity brings in the book of Acts. Since it was not an official religion, people didn’t really know what to call it. And we find that one of the first names that the Romans gave Christianity was “The Way.” How did they come up with that name? We give nicknames to things based on what catches our attention the most. So the idea of Jesus being the only way must have been the most distinguishing feature the Romans noticed. Jesus is the only way. The only way to what? To God. To salvation.
For those of you here today who believe in God and believe also in Jesus, this is an encouragement and a call to remain faithful to the truth that is salvation in Jesus Christ because that is our hope and that is our comfort.
Many people do not want to hear that there is only one way to heaven, especially in this country. We’re in the land of opportunity, the home of the American dream. People come here from all over the world because they think that this is the land of dreams. Anyone can do anything, and anyone can be anything as long as they work hard and remain focused. People want to hear that there are many ways to life, and many ways to success. So we want to think the same of the after-life. Surely anyone can make it!
But Jesus says: No. We may be in a free country. But the way to Heaven is not free. It came at a price, the price Jesus had to pay. This is the way, and it’s only through him. For people who don’t believe, this is worrying. But for those who believe, this is our peace.
Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in Jesus. This world is a mess, and it will only get worse. But we should become afraid. We should not worry. That’s because the way to everlasting peace has already been revealed to us, and it is found in Christ Jesus our Lord.
14 「你們心裡不要憂愁，你們信神，也當信我。 2 在我父的家裡有許多住處，若是沒有，我就早已告訴你們了，我去原是為你們預備地方去。 3 我若去為你們預備了地方，就必再來接你們到我那裡去，我在哪裡，叫你們也在哪裡。 4 我往哪裡去你們知道，那條路你們也知道。」 5 多馬對他說：「主啊，我們不知道你往哪裡去，怎麼知道那條路呢？」
6 耶穌說：「我就是道路、真理、生命。若不藉著我，沒有人能到父那裡去。 7 你們若認識我，也就認識我的父。從今以後，你們認識他，並且已經看見他。」
Jesus Comforts His Disciples
14 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God ; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that 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.”
Jesus the Way to the Father
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 know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”