Sermon on John 14:1-12
Text: “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.”
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.”
8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”
9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. 12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”
The departure of someone near and dear to your heart is often very difficult. You can see that when a little one watches as Mom and Dad leave for the evening. Often, they will cry and may hold on to the leg of one of their parents, hoping that they will stay. As we get older, we may not react in such an open way to someone leaving us. Yet, there is usually sadness. There may be loneliness in the days that follow. This is especially true when you do not know when you will see them again. This morning, as we study God’s Word, we will hear about something that sounds completely foreign to our ears. We see THE DEPARTURE THAT BRINGS COMFORT 1. For Eternity, 2. For Certain, and 3. For Others.
Jesus begins by saying, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” The idea behind the word “troubled” is water that is churning or stirred up, like a rough surf. Jesus tells the disciples to stop letting their hearts be stirred up. What was causing this unrest in their hearts? Jesus and his disciples were in the Upper Room on Maundy Thursday evening. Just previous to this, Jesus had told them that one of their own would betray him. He had also told them that he would be leaving them soon. The news of the Lord’s departure had filled the hearts of the disciples with fear. As long as Jesus was with them, they were strong. Peter even said that he was willing to die for Jesus. However, the news of the Lord’s departure would leave them in dismay. This news was more than what they thought they could handle.
What is it that is troubling your heart right now? What has you all churned up inside? Many of us look so calm and so serene on the outside, while inside there is a storm that is causing us to fear. It may be a family issue. It may be a situation at work. There are financial difficulties. There are health concerns. Our loving Lord tells us the same thing that he told his disciples. ‘Stop letting your hearts be stirred up. Stop being troubled.’
Jesus does not just tell us to stop. He also gives us the reason why we can do so. He says, “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? 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 told his disciples that his departure was necessary so that he could go and prepare their rooms in his Father’s house. There is comfort in the idea of a room in our Father’s house. Jesus did not go to set up our tent. Rather, it is a room. There is a permanence there. So much of what we face in the world today is constantly changing. This shifts in our lives and that changes. From the world stage of nations and kingdoms to our own little corner of the world, nothing stays the same. The fact that we have a room in our Father’s house gives us the calm assurance of permanence.
In addition, we are in our Father’s house. Generally speaking, there is something nice about being at home. You are gone on a long trip and, even though you had a great vacation, you are glad to be home. This is even more the case, if your vacation was one disaster after another! You pull into your driveway. You open your door. You go to bed in your own bed. It is nice to be home. How much more so when we will get to our Father’s house, where there is true peace and perfection. All of the things on our life’s trip there that were so difficult will all be gone. Those things that are churning up inside of you will be forgotten. The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 8:18, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Jesus had to depart from this earth, so that he could prepare your room for you. Your name is right there on the door. It is there waiting for you. This is why Jesus said to his disciples on that Maundy Thursday evening and why he says to you, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” What you face on this earth is only temporary. What waits for you is eternal. More than that, Jesus promised that he would come again. We have not been abandoned on this earth. Our dear Brother will come back and take us to be with him for all eternity. Jesus’ departure brings us comfort for our now and for our eternity.
After Jesus said that he was going to his Father’s house, he continued, “You know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas replied, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Thomas thought that Jesus, literally meant that he was going to go on a journey and the disciples would know the road that he was taking. Rather than scolding Thomas for his lack of understanding of what Jesus had said so often in his teaching and conversations with them, Jesus gives them the reason that they could be certain, even when he would leave them. He said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” We note very carefully what Jesus says here, because the words give us a certainty that we so desperately need. Jesus did not say, ‘I will show you the way,’ like a second Moses, who gave the Law to the people. ‘Do this and you will live.’ Rather, Jesus said, “I am the way.” Jesus did not say, ‘I have the truth,’ like a second Elijah, who seemed to stand in a land that had completely forgotten who the true God was. Rather, Jesus said, “I am the truth.” Jesus did not say, ‘I will lead into life,’ as the apostles would later do as they went into all the world with the good news of Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “I am the life.” Jesus does not just possess them. He is the personification of them.
This statement also brings us great comfort. It assures us of our salvation. Jesus is the way, the only way to the Father. We cannot find this path on our own. Our sinful nature likes to try different paths. We try to do that which makes us happy, rather than God. We listen to our sinful natures and run after those things that the world around calls good, which God has condemned. We try to fool ourselves into thinking that we are not as bad as others, so God will grade us on a curve and we can get right with him. We try to cover our ears and not listen what God says, choosing instead our own paths. Yet, the Scriptures say, “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.” (Proverbs 14:12) There is no other way than that which Christ provided. Jesus’ sole purpose in coming to the earth was to do his Father’s will, which meant that he would live a perfect life in our place. He would further carry out his Father’s will by going to the cross where he would suffer and die to pay for our sins. He rose from the grave to assure us that the way to the Father had been opened to us. He is the one way to heaven. He is the truth in opposition to the lies that the devil, the sinful world and our own sinful natures tell us. He is the life. He gives us eternal life. He also gives us our hope and comfort for this life. The fact that Jesus ascended into heaven assures us that he completed everything that he had been sent to do. It also assures us that he is whom he claimed to be, the Son of God. Since he is the Son of God, we can be sure that all he has promised us will happen just as he said it would.
When Philip heard Jesus say, “If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him,” he responded, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” Philip thought that, if Jesus would show them the Father, that would be enough. If Jesus was going to leave them, a showing of the Father would hold them over until Jesus returned. Philip seems to have forgotten that he had just walked with God for the past three years. Jesus reminded him of that fact when he said, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” Then, Jesus points them to what he had spoken while he was with them, “The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.” Jesus underscores the unity that exists between the Father and himself. He then encourages Philip by saying, “Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.” Jesus offers the proof that he is whom he claims to be. He says that, at the very least, he should look at the evidence provided by the miracles that Philip had seen Jesus perform. Jesus continues further, “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”
What greater things would the apostles, will we do, than the miracles that Jesus performed on the earth. After all, he made the leprous clean. He gave sight to the blind. He raised people from the dead. How can he say that we will do even greater things than these? The fact is that we, through the working of the Holy Spirit, can accomplish even greater things. As we proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ, those who have the sickness of sin are made clean in the sight of God. Those who have been walking about in the darkness of sin and unbelief see what Jesus has done for them. Those who are spiritually dead are made alive through the faith which the Holy Spirit creates in their hearts. The miracles that Jesus did, for the most part, helped people with their physical afflictions. God allows us to be the tools in his hand to tell others about how they can be set free from the spiritual afflictions. We know how to get rid of the guilty conscience. It is not through what we do, but what Christ has done for us. These are the greater things that we have the opportunity to do.
Our Savior has given us this task. Elsewhere, Jesus said, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” (John 20:21) We are his representatives here on this earth to tell others what Jesus has done for them. This is why Jesus does not just take us to heaven just as soon as we are brought to faith. We are here to tell others. This is why we exist as a congregation and as a church body. We are united to share the good news of salvation with all people, both here at home and around the world. Jesus’ departure from this earth gives us the confidence that we are doing what he wants us to do. His name continues to be proclaimed, though he is in heaven. We continue to proclaim that name until he comes again. May God help us to be willing ambassadors for him.
Departures can be difficult to go through. There is sadness. There is loneliness. Yet, Jesus has not left us on our own. He continues to be with us through his Word and the Sacraments. He continues to care for us and provide for us. He has promised that he will never leave or forsake us. He has promised that he will come again at the end of time. That is why we can take comfort in his words, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.” May God continue to strengthen our faith in him, so that we are not troubled by what happens in our lives. May we find our comfort in his continued love for us. Amen.
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