Directing the Anxious
Not the Best Way
Not the Best Way
What is the shortest route between two points? A straight line right? Well, depending on where you live, the best route is more likely going to take you zig zaging through the country side.
When we moved to NE Ohio, I found that most people have no shortage of opinions about the best way to get somewhere. Especially if they grew up in this area. Whenever I ask someone how to get somewhere, I usually get about 4 different answers about what the best way might be.
Veronica and I have discussions like this every time we go to Deleware. Since she grew up there, she knows all the back roads… and when I’m driving following one route… as my bride, help meet… and locally grown GPS… she regularly encourages me that there are a few other ways that would have been much better....
I get it… everyone has their favorite route… Everyone has their own opinion of which way is best.
As we return to our study through the Gospel of John… and we return to the discussions that Jesus is having with his disciples in the upper room.... Jesus Himself is going to challenge our thinking today and force us to face our anxieties by telling us that out of every path in life that claims to lead to a higher plain… Jesus, Directing the anxious hearts of his disciples, will reveals the shocking truth that Christianity is not the best way .
Let’s open our Bibles to a very familiar passage found in chapter 14 of the gospel of John.
It’s been a few weeks since we were in John, so let’s remind ourselves of what is going on in the storyline....
Jesus and the 12 are in the upper room…. Jesus has just washed his disciples’ feet, demonstrating to them how a follower of Christ is to serve….. and Jesus has just given them this new commandment to love just like he loves…. instructing them how they are to live and minister to others.
In the midst of that conversation Jesus reveals that someone will betray him… He indicates that it is Judas… Judas leaves in the night…. and then as chapter 13 draws to a close Jesus tells Peter that even he… the bold and outspoken Peter who has said that he would follow Jesus anywhere and lay down his life for Jesus… will in the near future deny Jesus 3 times.
As Chapter 13 ends... things are getting real for the disciples and their nervous anxieties can be concealed no longer.
The week began with singing and shouting as Jesus triumphantly entered the city… now the hearts of the disciples are growing more and more troubled and anxious… knowing that Jesus is preparing to leave.... betrayal is in the air.... and if Jesus really leaves… how would they know what to do next… and which direction to go?
You can imagine the level of anxiety and uncertainty that the disciples could have been feeling.... the center of their world was getting ready to leave and life as they knew it seemed like it was getting ready to fall apart.
We know what that is like… right? Something in life changes and then all of a sudden the security we enjoyed yesterday… is now replaced with anxiety and uncertainty of what will happen tomorrow.
Many of the people that we interact with every day have troubled hearts....
In this text, Jesus is going to comfort troubled and anxious hearts as He reveals truth about the future of every born again believer. If we understand and apply this passage properly.... it should be one of the most comforting passages in the Bible. It is good medicine for our troubled hearts… as we live life in a world that is constantly changing and full of anxiety.
Let’s stand together this morning as we read this familiar passage together.
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 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. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves. “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.
The Words of Jesus provide for us both the Comfort of Belief and the Reality of Assurance.
First, let’s discuss how the words of Christ provide the comfort that all people are so desperately in search of.
I. The Comfort of Belief
In this passage there are two questions that are going to help guide our discussion. The first question is voiced by Thomas in verse 5, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”
What provoked Thomas to ask that question?
Let’s look back at what Jesus said in verse 1
I love the way Jesus approaches his disciples. He knows they are anxious… he knows that they are unsure.... he knows that they have doubts. From Jesus’ words, we can be comforted by seeing that even Christians are not immune from troubled hearts and imperfect faith.
So, he reveals truths to them to help calm their anxieties… and comfort their troubled hearts.
“Let not your hearts be troubled” (vs. 1a)
These words of Jesus carry the firmness and conviction of a command, but are delivered with the kind of gentleness that one would use to hold a new born baby.
Jesus is painting a word picture.... the idea is, ‘Don’t let your heart shudder. Friends… it might look like your world is falling apart… and it might seem like all is lost… and the darkness is going to overcome you.. but, don’t let your hearts be heavy… don’t let them tremble with fear… don’t let them be troubled.’
Jesus doesn’t just leave them with a pithy platitude.. no, in the rest of verse 1 he tells them how to "not be troubled.”
“Believe in God, believe also in me.” (1b)
You want to find the cure for a troubled heart? Believe in God and Jesus. The way it is written actually could be translated like this: Keep on believing in God. Keep on believing in me.
How does God help us to do that?
Listen to what the Psalmist had to say in Psalm 119: 67 & 71…
Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word.
It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.
When you find that your heart is troubled… or you are anxious about something… remember that God is using that troubling time in your life to bring you closer to Him and drive you to spend time with Him by spending time in His Word.
James gives us some more insight on the topic in James 1:2-4,
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
How can we get to the point where we see our trials, anxieties, and troubled hearts as joy?
When your heart becomes troubled… when you get anxious or are going through a trial, stop and think through the attributes of God (meditating on these truths) — his sovereignty, his omniscience, his omnipotence, his grace, his mercy, his justice, etc…
If we would do that more often, then we would find that our hearts would be troubled much less.
Jesus helps His disciples do this by the way that he answers Thomas’ question in verse 6.
Jesus provides another “I AM” statement, revealing more truths about who He is and why He came...
As we’ve gone through the gospel of John, we have seen Jesus proclaim that He is:
- The Bread of life: whomever comes to Him to be provided for and sustained will be filled. (6:35)
- The Light of the world: whomever follows Him will not walk in darkness but will have the glorious light of the Lord to lead them and light their path… they will not stumble in the dark but will have the light of life. (8:12)
- Before Abraham (I AM): Revealing that He is eternal… and has forever existed as God. (8:58)
- The Door : Anyone who enters through Him will be saved and will be led into the King of heavens pastures and will find rest. (10:7, 9)
- The Good shepherd: he knows all who belong to Him.. and his sheep know him. He not only knows his sheep… He loves them… and sacrificially lays down HIs life so that his sheep may live. (10:11)
- The Resurrection & Life: the only One who is able to promise and provide life to all those who are dying… promising that all those who believe in Him will not die and be eternally separated from God, but will receive life eternal. (11:25)
And now here in John 14:6, Jesus says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
The Comfort of True Christianity is in its exclusivity.
Throughout the gospel of John, the Bible is very clear what it takes to be forgiven of our sins and to receive God’s free gift of eternal life. — Belief!
Jesus is the way that mankind must follow to find forgiveness and salvation....
Jesus is the absolute Truth of God.... revealed to mankind.....
Jesus is living and active… near to those who respond in faith to Him.... and the very giver and sustainer for life itself.
There is One Way, One Truth, One life.. no exceptions!
You want to be with the Father? You want to be in Paradise? You want to be in heaven? Then believe!
Believe that Jesus is everything the Bible says He is and the only exclusive way through which we can find rest… hope.... forgiveness.... peace… and true life.
As John records this event.... It is almost as if he is pleading with his readers to believe by saying… “You want to be filled, freed from the darkness, given entrance, guarded and protected.... freed from death itself and and comforted for all eternity?
Then Believe in everything that this book says about Jesus!
Faith in Jesus is not the best way.... it is the ONLY Way!
Jesus provides a divine comfort to all those who would believe in Him as he shares with his disciples the exclusivity of Christianity. True Christianity… saving faith in Christ alone... is not the best way.... it is the Only way! And all those who truly believe will find comfort from their anxieties… and ultimate rest in the truths of who Jesus is… what he has done.. and what He will do for those who truly embrace and submit to Him.
Jesus not only reveals that true comfort is only found in true belief, He also shares with his disciples that He also has provided for them the reality of Assurance.
II. The Reality of Assurance
In verse 8, Phillip speaks up and asks a question, which is hidden within the statement, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.”
What Phillip is saying is, Jesus, we’ve seen you do miracles… we’ve heard you tell us all of these divine truths… and we think we understand, but… come on now… Just incase some of us weren’t listening.... just let us see the glory of the Father… let us have that experience.... and then we can be sure that all of this is true.
Sounds like us right? How many of us have had that conversation with God?
Jesus, just do this for me and I’ll dedicate my life to you..
Jesus, just show me this… and I’ll do that...
God, just help me feel this way… and I’ll know for sure that you are real...
Jesus, just let me experience (happiness, security, love, stability, et… ) , and then I’ll know that you are the real deal and that I am secure!
How does Jesus answer Phillip? In verse 9 he says,
Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
Phillip… I’ve been showing you the Father for the last 3.5 years! Can’t you see that!
Even in this one event.... if we were to go back and highlight in our bibles every time Jesus refers to the “Father” in verses 1-14, you would find that around 15 times in these 14 verses there is a reference to Jesus and His connection with the Father.
Vs. 1 - Believe in God, believe also in me
Vs. 2 - In my Father’s house are many rooms...
Vs. 6 - No one comes to the Father except through me
Vs. 7 - If you had known me, you would have known the Father.... you do know him and have seen him
Vs. 9 - Whoever has seen me has seen the Father
Vs. 10 & 11 - I am in the Father and the Father is in me
Vs. 12 - I go to the Father
Vs. 13 - The Father may be glorified in the Son…
Jesus was giving the disciples their source of assurance. The assurance of their salvation and source of their faith was not in their experience… was not in any task or tradition… but was founded on and flowed from the truth that Jesus is God.
And somehow while at the same time being God the Father and God the Son… Jesus had humbled Himself, taken the form of a man… so that these truths could be communicated to us.
If you are a child of God today… if you have responded in faith to Christ… trusting in Him alone to pay the penalty for your sins.... embracing Him alone to be your Savior and submitting to him with your whole hear to be your Lord… then Jesus has granted you entrance into His family… and with that comes the divine comfort and eternal security that only Jesus can sustain.
Jesus tells us in verses 2-4....
My father has a house with many rooms.... if you are part of my family by faith then one of those rooms has been especially prepared for you. You have a special and reserved place in the household of God.
I’m telling you so that you’ll believe it is true.... I’m going to prepare that place for you… and if I go and prepare a place for you… then it is guaranteed that I’m going to come back and get you so that you can be where I am… so that you can occupy your reserved room in the Father’s house.
Jesus tells his disciples, you know how to get where I am going.... you know the way. How? Because you know Jesus.... He is the Way!
Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.... all those who know Jesus… know the way of entrance into the Father’s house.
The Jesus that we embrace as Savior and submit to as Lord… is the very same God who created us… sustains our lives… keeps us in the palm of His hand… never to let us go..... has prepared a place for us to be with Him… has promised to return for us… and will take us to be with Him.
Jesus is our only source of true comfort and assurance.
Trust in Christ as savior and Lord…. depend on Him for everything… and rest in the joyous truth that your salvation has nothing to do with you…. but has everything to do with Jesus.
Most of us that are here today are saved. Praise the Lord! Remember Jesus’ words in verse 2: “Keep on believing in God. Keep on believing in Jesus”.
Let’s rejoice in the truths of God’s grace today… by reminding ourselves that:
You have done nothing to deserve or earn forgiveness and salvation. You have done nothing worthy of God’s saving grace
You can do nothing to earn God’s gift of salvation
You can do nothing to keep God’s gift of salvation….
Once you are saved, you cannot do anything to loose God’s gift of salvation
It is not about you!…. It is all about Him!
He paid the penalty for your sins. He has reconciled you with the Father. He has provided you entrance into His Kingdom. He has has granted you eternal life. He has given you His Spirit…. placed you into an assembly of believers so that you can grow and be transformed into His image…. for God’s glory…… Amen… and Amen…
The world is full of people with troubled hearts. Those troubled hearted people are working themselves to death trying to find the best way to find peace, rest, and fill the void in their hearts.
We don’t have to be among them. Why?
Because those of us who have a real and active relationship with Jesus know that Christianity is not the best way.... faith in Christ is the Only Way to calm anxious hearts, heal sinful souls, and be granted eternal peace and rest.
In a moment we are going to sing the chorus, I love you Lord. When we do, if you have questions about faith in Christ don’t leave here today without talking with myself or one of the other elders.
If you would like to talk to someone about what faith in Christ really means, please talk with us today.
If God is working in your heart, don’t leave here today without getting it settled. We can speak with you now as we sing, or would be happy to sit down with you after the service and help you work through what God is doing in your heart.