January 15, 2023
Emotions. We all have them. One study says that there are just six basic human emotions: sadness, happiness, fear, anger, surprise and disgust. Another says there are 27 human emotions: admiration, adoration, appreciation, amusement, anger, anxiety, awe, awkwardness, boredom, calmness, confusion, craving, disgust, empathy, entrancement, excitement, fear, horror, interest, joy, nostalgia, relief, romance, sadness, satisfaction, sexual desire and surprise. What surprises me about this second list, is that one of the six basic human emotions I just shared is missing from this second list: Happiness. That’s surprising because most of us want to be happy. But the reason most of us are not happy all the time is that all of our emotions are quite fickle. For they are often impacted either positively or negatively by the circumstances of life.
For example. When Becky and I left home around noon on Christmas day, we were excited. We were going to hop a plane to Oregon to celebrate Christmas with our daughters, their husbands and our three grandsons. And everything was going pretty well. We’d made it through check-in with one minor delay, we got to our gate in plenty of time. I’d just enjoyed a tasty turkey and bacon club sandwich for my Christmas dinner – when all of a sudden Alaska announces our flight’s been canceled. Immediately, I’m no longer excited to see my kids. Instead, I find a mixture of disgust, confusion and a bit of anxiety invading my soul. What are we supposed to do? How are we getting to Oregon? Four hours later we’re finally rebooked for Tuesday morning on a different airline. And as much as I was trying to keep it together, another emotion wass knocking at the door of my heart. Let me just say it wasn’t admiration or joy.
Obviously, there are some circumstances when you and I can do a fairly good job at managing our emotions. We can hang in there. We can patiently endure. But then there are other times when circumstances can trigger emotions that overwhelm us: like the death of a spouse or a child; or hearing a doctor say you have stage 4 cancer; or having a friend betray you; or worrying that inflation is eroding your retirement savings. When these things happen to us, we can find ourselves overwhelmed by sadness or anger, anxiety or even fear. And when that happens, we can let our emotions paralyze us and steal the confidence we once had in walking with Christ.
The truth is not everything works out the way we want. And sometimes circumstances can derail our joy and confidence in God. And as we come to our passage today, this is precisely what was happening with Jesus’ followers. Jesus has just told them he was going to be betrayed and he was leaving them. This unexpected turn of events not only caught them off guard, but it left them greatly troubled. They were anxious, fearful and confused. And Jesus knew he had to do something. This night was supposed to be about preparing them to continue his mission upon His departure. But before he could do that, he needed to help them regain their confidence in him so they could stay the course no matter how bad things might got. In so doing, Jesus shows us how we can regain our confidence in Him, when circumstances of life overwhelm us. So, if you brought your Bible this morning, let me encourage you to open it to John 14:1-6, where Jesus is going to show us how to regain our confidence in the midst of chaos.
And it all starts with obeying His Word. Simply put, when life overwhelms you, when you’re feeling anxious or afraid by the uncertainty around you, Jesus has a command for you to obey. And that command is this: Stop Stressing Out That’s precisely what Jesus says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” John 14:1a Do not allow anxious thoughts or what ifs to enter your thinking. Stop letting your emotions get the best of you. Stop toying with worst-case scenarios. You know what I mean? Have you ever found yourself thinking the worst-case scenario when you’re not sure of the future? This always happens to me when Becky is late coming home. For example, when she tells me she’s going to be back from Courtney’s around 8:00, and she’s twenty minutes late… Where does my mind go? I immediately think of worst-case scenarios. Maybe there was an accident. Maybe her car broke down. Maybe she ran out of gas. Maybe she’s the one who got in an accident. Do you ever do that? Do you ever play out worst case scenario’s when you don’t know what the future is going to hold?
This last Thursday morning, I’m sitting there ready to lead our prayer gathering and I look at my phone. It’s 7:57. I immediately think, “Oh no, no one’s showing up today.” Two minutes later everyone came pouring in the door and we had a full house. “Oh, ye of little faith.” But that’s what we do. And what Jesus is telling is to do right here is that when uncertainty or confusion about the future throw us for a loop, we’re not to let our emotions control us. We are not to go there. We are not to let uncertainty trip us up. We are not to become anxious or worried. We are to obey Jesus’ command, to not let confusing, uncertain circumstances trouble our hearts. Stop stressing out.
This is a command. And it’s in the present tense. That means these disciples were already stressing out. They were freaking out. So, Jesus wants them to stop an action that we’re already doing. You are already troubled. You are already anxious. I know you’re stressing out. Stop it. Put an end to it.
You see, Jesus wouldn’t give us a command like this if we couldn’t do it. So, this command teaches us something about ourselves that some of us may have never realized, and that’s this: we are in control of our emotions. Even when we feel overwhelmed by them. This eliminates the excuses we make. We hear people say all the time, “I can’t help it.” “That’s just the way I am.” “I’m freaked out.” “I can’t handle it.” “I don’t know what to do.” But Jesus says otherwise. Jesus would never give you a command that was impossible for you to keep. So that leaves us with a question: If Jesus commands me to stop being stressed out, to stop letting my heart be troubled – how do I do that?
Well, look at the text. Jesus doesn’t give us this command alone; he pairs it with a second command. He says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me.” John 14:1 In other words, the way to stop stressing out… the way you can live confidently when the world seems to be falling apart around you is this:
Keep Trusting in Jesus! Jesus is simply saying, “Keep the faith!” Jesus links their belief in God with their belief in Him. They just need to keep doing what they’ve already been doing. He’s saying, “You have believed in me; now keep believing, keep on trusting, and keep on relying on me.” Don’t stop believing. And now he gives us four reasons to keep trusting in him. The first reason is
Because of who He is: Again, Jesus says, “You believe in God; believe also in me.” Had they been trusting in Jesus up to this point? Absolutely. Had they had trusted him when they were hungry, and he told them to find something to eat. Yes. Jesus then fed the 5000 and he fed them too. Had they trusted him to calm the stormy seas? Sure. Did they continue to trust in Jesus when many walked away? Absolutely. Peter even confessed their faith saying, “You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” John 6:68-69
And we need to keep trusting Jesus too. There are going to be times when you’ll need to remember who Jesus is. He is your Savior. He rescued you from sin when you couldn’t save yourself. He can rescue from what you’re going through. He is your Shepherd. He’s cared for you in the past. He will care for you in what you are going through. He is your great High Priest. He intercedes for you daily. There’s nothing you are going through that He isn’t keenly aware of. So, keep trusting Him even when your feelings are reeling.
There may come a day when the world pulls the rug out from under your carefully crafted life. You may never lose your financial security, but you may lose your health. You may never lose the comfort of your home, but you may lose the companionship of your spouse. You may lose your freedom to worship, but you’ll never lose your freedom to follow Jesus. So do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, keep trusting in Jesus.
Your faith in Jesus is the greatest gift God has given you to live with confidence in this world. So, cultivate your faith. Stay near Jesus, keep gathering together with your brothers and sisters. Follow Jesus with others. Study Jesus, walk with Jesus, keep trusting in Jesus. So then when life throws its worst at you, you won’t’ have to be overwhelmed. You can stop stressing because you know who you are trusting. Keep trusting in Jesus because of who He is. That’s the first way to regain your confidence. Now, the second. Keep trusting in Jesus…
Because of what He’s preparing: “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?” John 14:2 Jesus now tells them where he is going. He’s going to His Father’s house. God’s Son is going home. I don’t’ know about you, but there’s something special about going home. Ever since I was a little guy, home was a place where you were safe. Home was a place where you were loved. Home was a place you could be yourself. There was always a sense of security tied up with going home. Now when you think of all the best aspects of the homes, we create for ourselves on earth, think about how much greater home will be if Jesus is the one is preparing a home for you in the Father’s house?
Think about His plans for you? Before you were ever born, the Father wanted you to belong to Him as His child. The Bible tells us that, In love He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will. Ephesians 1:5
It has always been God’s will to bring you home to be with Him, to enjoy life with Him forever. That’s why He adopts you when you believe in Jesus. And now Jesus tells us that he is leaving is to go and prepare you a room in the Father’s house. And what a home that will be. Not only will you have a dwelling in the Father’s presence. But your place in heaven will be beyond anything you can imagine here on earth.
One of the things Becky and do on occasion is to watch HGTV. There are all kinds of shows on that network doing the same thing – preparing rooms to live in – living rooms with vaulted ceilings and architectural windows, kitchens with waterfall islands and butler pantries, bedrooms with cosey fireplaces and boutique inspired closets. Now, if you’ve got the means, you can build the home of your dreams today. But the homes we build for ourselves pale in comparison to what Jesus is building for us right now.
Jesus shared this truth with His disciples to give them hope. He may leave them for now, but they’ll always have a home with Him in heaven. This promise of heaven was given to protect them (and us) from the temptation of feeling forgotten. The devil likes to use that against us when chaos swirls around us, saying, “God has forgotten you. If Jesus really cares about you, why would he leave you alone in this broken world?” But Jesus’ promise of a home with the Father was meant to shield us from the assaults of the evil one. This world is temporary. This world is not our home. We are not citizens of earth, but members of God’s household.
And this truth Jesus gives us today, is meant to give us security in an insecure world. God’s Word is clear on this. The Living Bible spells this out saying, Once you were less than nothing; now you are God’s own. Once you knew very little of God’s kindness; now your very lives have been changed by it. Dear brothers, you are only visitors here. Since your real home is in heaven, I beg you to keep away from the evil pleasures of this world; they are not for you, for they fight against your very souls. 1 Peter 2:10-11
So, remember what Jesus has promised you. Whenever life here on earth seems a little shaky, whenever anxiety, fear, confusion or loss seeks to rob you of security – remember this world is not all there is. This world was never meant to bring you complete security, joy or happiness. For the world can never give you what the Father gives. For what the Father gives is His unconditional love, His complete acceptance, His powerful security and the hope of life with Him. You see, sometimes we forget the hope we have of heaven. Don’t let the stress of this world steal your hope. Keep trusting in Jesus, for He’s preparing something far better for you than what you’ll ever find in this world. And if He’s preparing a place for you, then that means he will come back for you. That’s the third reason why we need to keep trusting in Jesus:
Because of what He promises: “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. You know the way to the place where I am going.” John 14:3-4 Here’s His promise. If Jesus has left to prepare a place for us, He promises to return for us. Jesus is coming back. He’s not talking here about coming back to judge the earth. That day will come. But before that day comes, Jesus will come back for His Church. Jesus will come back for the faithful – those who follow Him; those who are trusting in Him. This is “our blessed hope.” For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, while we wait for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession who are zealous for good works. Titus 2:11-14
Jesus is coming back. His return could be any time. He could come by the end of this message. But the point of this promise is that one day He is the one who will bring us home. And at the heart of the home will be life with Him. to be with Him. I don’t know about you, but this is the best kind of hope. For it’s not just hope for a home in the Father’s house; it’s a hope of the best kind of relationship; it’s a hope of knowing and being known; it’s a hope of transformation – where every hope we’ve ever had on earth will be fulfilled in the presence of Jesus. As John will write later: Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when He appears we shall be like him, because we shall see Him as He is. 1 John 3:2
This is why Jesus commands us to keep trusting in Him. There are going to be times when life beats you up. There are going to be days when this world becomes darker and eviler than it is now. There may even be days where you are persecuted and hated for your faith in Jesus. But take heart from what Jesus says: “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.” Jesus is coming back for you. So, whenever your circumstances trip you up, whenever your emotions overwhelm you – don’t let them. Remember the promise of Jesus and keep trusting in Him. He hasn’t forgotten you. He’s coming back for you. And He’s coming soon. That’s the third reason to keep trusting in Jesus.
Finally, the fourth reason: Because He is the way to the Father: Jesus now tells reveals the way home. He has told them He’s going home to His Father. But somehow there’s still some confusion in the minds of the disciples. So, Thomas speaks up. He asks what all the disciples are thinking: Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:5-6
Jesus makes it clear with this one statement, that He is the way, so we would no longer work so hard and trying to make our way to God. In fact, this is the truth for every man, woman and child who has ever sinned: the way to God is blocked. And we can’t make a way to God by our own good works, by taking last rights, or by being painstakingly religious. Because the way to God is blocked by our own sin.
So, on this night, Jesus announces the good news – that He is the way to the Father. Only Jesus can bring us into God’s presence. He is the only one qualified to do so. For when Jesus went to the cross and gave His life for our sins, He made the way. The moment Jesus declared on the cross, “It is finished” and gave up His life, His death for our sins unblocked the way. For at the moment, the veil of the temple was torn in two – the veil that was meant to separate sinful man from a holy God was destroyed. And a way into the very presence of God was made. It was made by Jesus. And now, when you or anyone else puts their trust in Jesus, it is Jesus who brings you home to God. That’s why Jesus is the only way to God.
He is the way to God, because He is also the truth of God and the life of God. Jesus is the truth, because he embodies the supreme revelation of God – He himself ‘narrates’ God. He has said as much all the way through this Gospel. Jesus says and does only what the Father gave Him to say and do. He came to reveal what God is like. So, now, when you look at Jesus you see the true image of God. He is God’s gracious self-disclosure, the Word made flesh. John 1:14. Jesus is the truth.
And because Jesus is the truth… Jesus is the life. Jesus has declared that he has ‘life in himself’ (5:26). He has called himself as “the resurrection and the life.” John 11:25. And because He is the truth and no lie comes from His lips, Jesus is the way to God because when you trust in Him, He gives you the life of God. This is good news. For apart from Jesus, we have no spiritual life. We are spiritually dead. We cannot save ourselves. But when we put your trust in Jesus, He gives you eternal life. He indwells your life with His life. And now you can know God.
So, Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. And now he says, “No one comes to the Father except through me.” Many people are shocked that Christians insist that Jesus is the only way to God. But we didn’t invent this claim. Jesus himself made this claim. So, in this sense Christianity is exclusive in that Jesus claims to be the only way to God. But the good news is that Christianity itself is not exclusive because of who it lets in. For Jesus himself says, “Anyone may come to him.” John 7:37
And for those of us who have come to him and put our trust in Him, Jesus says: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, keep trusting in me.” For Jesus is our Savior, our blessed hope; and He is the way home to our Father. So don’t let the chaos of this world stress you out but keep trusting in Him. For one day, He will come back to bring you home with Him.