Having finished a wonderful and much too brief time focusing on Holiness in our summer sermon series we now find ourselves coming back into our regular sermon series in John’s gospel. And as we return to it I am reminded of the troubled world we live in. It is a consequence of living in a fallen world that we fear and are troubled by both what is and what may come about. One of the many ways this troubled heart comes through in us is that we have troubled dreams. For me particularly, I’m not speaking of nightmares but of a specific recurring dream I have. This dream won’t happen for a long time but when it comes it comes on strong as an ox. In this dream I am preaching. I don’t know where and I don’t know who is seated before me, but I know it’s a moment I should’ve been prepared for but…I’m not. Looking down at the pulpit I find no notes and no Bible. Because of this I become greatly alarmed, and in this alarmed state I begin preaching. Fumbling through my words trying to make sense of something but just can’t quite do so. Like a large ocean wave I feel the tide of failure rush over me, and every time this happens I end up waking to a sweaty fretful panic thinking it was real or is about to be real in an upcoming sermon. But then the moment comes where I am deeply reassured as I remember…it wasn’t real, it was just a dream! And being troubled no more I usually end up falling back to sleep.
Something like this is presented to us in our text today. Both Jesus and His disciples are troubled at the beginning of John 14 and in this present troubled state He deeply reassures them. This brings them a glad comfort in their present predicament. Let’s see these things unfold before us.
A Heart Untroubled and Trusting (v1)
We need to remember something about our Bibles. When John first wrote this gospel he didn’t include chapter and verse numbers. None of the biblical authors did this, these numbers came later in Church history in order to aid us in locating certain passages and in memorizing them. Sometimes as we’re reading through Scripture it’s hard to decipher why they put the numbers and divisions where they did. Such is the case with John 14. v1 isn’t the start of a new section, it isn’t the description of a new event, and it isn’t a new teaching. Rather it’s a continuation of the same conversation Jesus was having with His disciples in chapter 13. Because of this we must remember what has just been said at the end of chapter 13 to understand what is said at the beginning of chapter 14.
So recall, in John 12:27 and 13:21 Jesus mentions He is troubled (same word in 14:1) in spirit not only because of what awaited Him at the cross but because one of His own was about to betray Him, paving the way toward the cross. Then in 13:33 He dropped a heavy load of reality on them saying, “Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek Me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’” Peter chimes in, and in v36-38 we hear a conversation that shows how troubled the disciples were. Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow Me now, but you will follow afterward.” Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.” Certainly speaking out of a troubled heart for all the disciples, Peter learns two things that trouble Him even more. First, he cannot follow where Jesus is going, and second a trial is coming which will cause him to deny Jesus three times.
Think about these things. All the disciples had just heard that…first, Jesus was troubled because of Judas’ betrayal. Second, Jesus was about to leave them and they couldn’t follow Him. And third, Peter was about to deny Him. Taken together these three consecutive announcements would have sent Peter and the rest of the disciples into a full blown panic. Why would any of them betray Him to death? Why would Jesus, knowing they’ve left all to follow Him, now leave them and go to a place where they could not follow? And more so if Peter was about to deny Him three times, does that mean a trial greater than they could imagine was about to occur and cause them to deny Him also?No wonder why Jesus’ next words in John 14:1 are “Let not your hearts be troubled…” Yet, see something astounding. Even though Jesus is deeply troubled about what’s before Him in His betrayal and cross, and even though He knows these things will soon trouble His disciples even more than they currently are, see how He encourages and comforts His disciples. There is room enough in His large heart for the sorrows of His people as well as His own. He has deeper grief than we do and yet He knows our griefs, He is the Man of sorrows and yet He feels our sorrows, takes them into Himself, and sets His heart to alleviate and warmly comfort the very ones who will soon abandon Him in the hour of His deepest need and sorrow.If this is not a preview of gospel love I don’t know what is. Jesus Christ who once knew no trouble is willingly troubled by His people’s trouble, and by Him bearing our trouble for us we’re set free from any trouble that could befall us in life.
But there’s a particular direction He points them and us to in order to be calmed in our trouble. “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me.” The direction Jesus points toward is belief…faith. Christians then are to be realistic about our troubles, and realistic about the power of our faith.This isn’t mere positive thinking, it’s faith. Faith in God, and faith in Christ. “Believe in God” would’ve been something they’re familiar with. Since childhood they’ve been aware of this and would’ve been eager to do it. They have known truths like Exodus 34:6, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness…” They have known truths like Psalm 46, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns.” They have grown up knowing and believing in this God, the God of Israel, who is infinitely wise, infinitely powerful, and infinitely good to all. This they know and this they already find great comfort in.
But Jesus calls for more. “…believe also in Me.” ‘I am the I AM, I am the One who has tabernacled among you, you have seen My glory, I am the One who will willingly die, who will victoriously rise, who will triumphantly ascend, who will powerfully reign forever next to My Father, who will visibly return, and who ever lives to make intercession for you. I am the One who never changes, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Yes, believe also in Me.’It’s one thing to trust in the God they’ve known and been taught about for ages, it’s quite another to trust in God as He stands before them in the Person of Christ. Jesus calls them to trust Him, not just alongside God, but as God Himself. On this Martin Luther comments, “Here you see plainly that Christ Himself testifies that He is equal with God Almighty; because we must believe in Him even as we believe in God. If He were not true God with the Father, this faith would be false and idolatrous.”After all, since the disciples have seen Jesus work the wonders of God and since the disciples have heard Jesus speak the Words of God, shouldn’t the disciples therefore trust in Jesus as God? Indeed they should, and indeed so should we. And by believing in Him, clinging to Him, trusting in Him their troubled hearts will find rest.
A young St. Augustine learned this as well. Growing up chasing after the latest philosophies, all kinds of wicked pleasures, and a life devoted to his own desires, he found nothing but restlessness until He picked up Romans 13:13-14 and read, “Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarrelling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” In looking back on his conversion later he said this about what he found in Christ. “Because You have made us for Yourself, our hearts our restless till they find their rest in You.”Many have called this quote one of the greatest gospel sentences ever written. It has two parts. The first part is the objective fact, and the second part is the subjective experience. The ‘therefore’ connects the two parts and shows us wonders. Our hearts are restless until they rest in God because God has made us for Himself.Jesus teaches this here in v1. We’ll see how the disciples handle this truth later as chapter 14 continues, but I’d like to ask you sitting here today: how do you handle this? Do you know these fundamental facts? That God made you for Himself? That your heart is naturally restless and will continue to be restless if you look to find rest in yourself or any other action or object? That your naturally restless heart will find the rest you’ve always longed for if you look to Christ? Do you know these things? Or are they strange to you? Hear me plainly…all that that the heart of man could ever long for is found in Jesus Christ…born like us, lived for us, crucified for us, risen for us, ascended over us, coming again to retrieve us, so that we’ll be with Him forevermore.
A Place Prepared and Promised (v2-3)
“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? 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.”
Jesus comforts the disciples troubled heart not only with a call to a true faith in v1 but with a promise of what’s to come in v2-3. Yes Jesus will leave soon and go to a place they cannot follow now, but in that place Jesus will be preparing them a place, and will one day return to take them to that place.
He calls heaven His Father’s house in v2, and says within it there are many rooms. Rooms that are less like individual estates or mansions but more like dwellings or suites within a larger house. That’s more of what the Greek word here is getting at.There is no need to worry of overbooking in this most pleasant of all accommodations, for Jesus says there are many of these rooms in His Father’s house and that speaks of the vastness of heaven; that it will fill the whole earth; that there is plenty of space for all believers from all time in all places to lodge there for all eternity. There is no need to worry about reservations getting lost, missed, or forgotten. Though He doesn’t explain here in v1-3 how He prepares this place for us we know He has made this reservation for us and sealed it with His blood and once we place our faith in Him, no one cancel that reservation. Eden was the garden prepared for Adam, Canaan was the Promise Land prepared for Israel, so too Heaven is the place prepared for the Church.When that day comes when we arrive at this place we will be greeted by a Trinitarian Host, we’ll see the Father’s smiles over us, the Son’s wounds for us, and the Spirit who so empowered us.
“If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 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.” In other words, Jesus will not allow His disciples or any of His people to commit themselves to a myth or a legend or anything that is false or untrue. No, He desires us to understand that this place in v2-3 is not only prepared for us but promised to us as well. It doesn’t say He might come again, or that He probably will come again, no, He will come again, and when He comes again the clouds will be rolled back like a scroll, the trump shall resound, the Lord shall descend, even so it will be well with our souls! In this moment He will return to take us where? To the place He prepared for us? To our individual royal suite within the larger heavenly hotel? Yes, that is right and correct to think that, especially from taking v2 into account, but it’s not what He says. Where will Jesus take us when He comes again? “I will come again and will take you to Myself, that where I am you may be also.” Don’t miss this Church. The reason heaven is heaven isn’t because of the place. Heaven isn’t heaven because of how wonderful it will be. Heaven isn’t heaven because of the reunions we’ll have with loved ones already gone on ahead of us. Heaven is heaven for one reason and one reason only – because Jesus is there. He is our chief pleasure and to be with Him forever is heaven.
Such a thought is deeply comforting, and ought to do much to untroubled the troubled heart of any believer in any age in this fallen world. But is it one you believe in?
For those of you who aren’t Christians and are here today I’m sure much of what you’ve heard in this message has seemed to you to be something like misplaced hope. Something false that merely helps Christians get through the difficulties of life. We would ask you to think deeper on these things. Everyone longs for something greater than what we currently experience, have you ever asked why this is so? Have you ever thought this is present in the soul because God put it there? C.S. Lewis called this man’s inconsolable longing. J.R.R. Tolkien said his aim in life was to find where all the beauty came from. Do you not also find in yourself the same desires urging you to do the same? If you’re honest I think you do. All that you long for is found in Christ, and those who believe in Christ experience that here in this life and will experience it forever in the age to come. This is no misplaced hope. It does help us get through life’s difficulties, but it is far more. It is truth straight from the lips of Jesus Himself that all men must reckon with.
For those of you who are Christians here today, I would also ask if these heavenly truths untrouble your troubled heart. If it does great! Keep pressing into it, and enjoy the eager anticipation sure to be building up within you. But if these things don’t seem bigger than your troubles, you need to reorient your heart back to it. Think, why is it that we plan so much, and craft such detailed schedules for trips to we’ll take with our families and friends to places we’ll only spend a few weeks in? And why is it we spend so little time preparing for heaven? Shouldn’t we be much more concerned about the destination we’ll spend eternity with Christ in? We should!Oh that you would think long on heaven! That you would remember Christ who went there to prepare it for us by His blood and remember that if we trust in Him and are washed by His blood and surprisingly find ourselves prepared for heaven too! I hope this sermon has done something toward reorienting your heart back to where it ought to be.
Let me end by quoting A.W. Pink. On this passage he said, “Here then, is the Divine curefor heart-trouble; here, indeed, is the precious consolation for one groaning in a world of sin. First, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Second, the assurance that the Father’s house on high will be our eternal home. Third, the realization that the Savior has done and is doing everything necessary to secure us a welcome there and fit that home for our reception. Fourth, the blessed hope that He is coming in Person to takeus to Himself. Andfinally, the precious promise that we are to be with Him forever…Here is solid ground for consolation, conclusive arguments against despondency and depressionin the present path of service and suffering, the Savior lives and loves and cares for us! He is active, promoting our interests, and when God’s time arrives He shall come and takeus to Himself!”
Peter Kreeft,https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justin-taylor/an-analysis-of-one-of-the-greatest-sentences-ever-written/,accessed on 8.2.18.
The reason many believe this to be mansions is because the KJV, built on the Latin Vulgate word mansiones, translates this as mansions. The original Greek word monedoes not carry this meaning. Something more of a room in a large house is in view here.