Our Need for Peace

| John 14:1-7

The Point:  Jesus is the way to the Father, therefore, we can live in peace.

The Way, the Truth, and the Life:  John 14:1-7.

[1]  "Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. [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? [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. [4]  And you know the way to where I am going." [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. [7]  If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him."  [ESV]

[1-3]  Jesus sought to comfort His disciples after the Last Supper, saying, Let not your hearts be troubled [1]. Jesus said this because it was obvious that the disciples’ hearts were troubled. They were still trying to grasp the prediction of Judas’ betrayal and Peter’s denials. Moreover, in the midst of the dangerous and fearful situation in Jerusalem, Jesus now told them that He was departing and that they could not follow. Their lives had been so wholly focused on Jesus for three years that the sudden prospect of His leaving must have been devastating. But Jesus’ point was that there are nonetheless overwhelming reasons not to remain troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me [1]. According to Jesus, the cure for a troubled heart is belief in God. Jesus then continues with the command to the disciples, believe also in me. Jesus’ point is that the disciples should trust Him just as they trust God. This statement provides a clear affirmation of Jesus’ deity, since He identifies God and Himself equally as objects of the disciples’ faith. Jesus’ point is not merely that through faith we are saved, true though that is, but that by exercising our trust in God and His Son, believers gain comfort for their troubled hearts. The second source of comfort that Jesus brought before His troubled disciples was the belief that a place has been prepared for them in heaven [2]. If we know what He has taught about our future in heaven, Jesus states, this belief will overcome other troubles that beset us in life. We can glean four truths about heaven from Jesus’ teaching in this passage, truths that will replace the anxiety in our hearts with great joy. The first teaching is that heaven is the beloved home for the family of God. This is why Jesus refers to heaven as my Father’s house [2]. Most of us will admit that our hearts greatly long for home. We deeply desire a place where we fully belong, where we are safe and secure, where we are loved, and that we love in return. Jesus tells us that this longing for home will be met in His Father’s house in heaven. Second, we should know that heaven is our permanent and eternal dwelling. Heaven is filled with dwelling places that will endure for all eternity. Third, and Jesus’ main point here about heaven, is the spacious provision made there for Christ’s people. The Father’s house, Jesus said, has many rooms. There is plenty of room in heaven for all of God’s family. Fourth, heaven is where Jesus went to prepare a place for us. Chiefly, Jesus prepared a place for us in heaven by removing the obstacle of our sin. Jesus entered into heaven after shedding His blood on the cross for our purification. How wonderful it is to find a room prepared after a long journey. All who believe and trust in Christ can know that heaven has been prepared for their arrival. Our Mediator and Savior has carried our names into heaven and made a reservation there for us. No Christian will ever appear in heaven either unknown or unexpected, for Jesus has prepared a place there for each and every one of His own. Knowing and trusting in our prepared home in the Father’s house is Jesus’ antidote to the troubles and anxieties of life. There is yet another reason why Jesus’ disciples should not be troubled by fear and distress. Our third comfort is knowing that not only has Jesus gone ahead of us to prepare heaven, but He will return to receive us to Himself [3]. The book of Hebrews says that Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf into heaven [Heb. 6:20], appearing before God the Father as the founder and perfecter of our faith [Heb. 12:2]. Right now, Jesus is preparing heaven for us and preparing us for heaven. But in a day to come, Jesus will return to this world. The Bible calls this day our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ [Titus 2:13]. This is our comfort amid so many troubling threats in this present evil age. It is particularly wonderful that Jesus says, I will come again and will take you to myself [3]. Jesus is returning to take us with Him into heaven, but that is not how He phrases it. As Jesus sees our great future, He is coming to take us to himself. Hearing these words, we look forward to heaven not merely to escape our trials today, but to be with the Lord. We will be forever with Jesus. It is in anticipation of our great future with Him that Jesus says to us now: Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me [1]. To be a Christian is to be a realist about our present lives, but also to be realists about the promised future that we have in Christ. It is in the light of eternity that we gain our perspective on today, a perspective that should transform our lives. Let me conclude by noting some of the effects in our lives that should result from Christ’s promise about heaven and His soon return. First, we have a strong incentive to behave as followers of Christ, obeying His teachings and living in love. Second, we are greatly encouraged to witness boldly to the gospel of Christ. Jesus soon returns to judge the living and the dead, so just as now is the only time of salvation, now is also the time of urgent need for the spreading of the gospel. Third, our hope of heaven encourages us to labor for the building up of the church and the advancement of the kingdom of Christ. Jesus urges us to seek first the kingdom of God [Matt. 6:33]. Fourth, we are called by Christ to love one another as He has loved us. Finally, Jesus’ teaching provides an imperative to come to Christ in saving faith. The comfort of which Jesus spoke is only for those who have believed in Him. Entry into the Father’s house is only for those for whom Jesus has been preparing rooms. [4-6] Christianity’s true offense to the world is none other than Christ Himself. This is especially true when we consider Jesus’ exclusive claims as the one Lord and only Savior of mankind. Postmodern unbelievers grant tolerance to every religion except Christianity, precisely because the gospel is seen as the ultimate intolerant creed. The gospel’s message that only Jesus can save offends postmodernity’s relativist mantra, since Christians insist that all other religions are false and any other route to God is a dead end. Objections to these doctrines have marked the world’s hatred for Jesus even since He spoke the words that John’s Gospel continues to proclaim today: I am the way, and the truth, and the life [6]. This is the sixth of Jesus’ seven famous “I am” sayings, each of which is radically exclusive in setting Jesus apart as the one and only Savior, asserting that none but Jesus can save us from sin, bring us to God, and grant us eternal life. Despite the world’s disdain for John 14:6, the content of this saying tells us why we must not surrender Christ’s exclusive claims, however offensive they may be. For not only is John 14:6 true, but it offers the only real answer to the great needs of the world. Man’s tragic plight is that we are alienated from God, ignorant of truth, and condemned to both physical and spiritual death. Jesus has come as the answer to sin’s dreadful predicament. He is the way for sinners to be reconciled to God, the truth that God has revealed to correct our ignorance, and the life that we need to regenerate us from the power of death.

The Way: Reconciliation.  There is an obvious priority to the first of Jesus’ descriptions. While Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, the context focuses on Jesus as the way [4,5,6]. If we are to understand what Jesus means, we have to know the destination to which He was referring. Verse 6 makes it clear that Jesus is speaking of God the Father and His glorious presence in heaven. That is where Jesus was going, and that is where we are to follow Him. But we need also to know where we are. A way is the path between a starting point and an ending point. So, spiritually speaking, where does man start? In what condition does man find himself in his search for God? According to the Bible, mankind is utterly ruined. We are condemned before God for the guilt of our sin. Paul writes, All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God [Rom. 3:23], and are thus barred from God’s holy presence and His blessing. Our need is to be reconciled to Him. So bad is our condition that there is nothing we can do to reconcile ourselves to God. Not only is it true that sinful mankind cannot come to God, but sinful mankind does not even want to come to God. We see now where the true offense of Jesus’ gospel lies. Christianity scandalizes because the gospel declares that man’s alienation from God is humanly hopeless because of sin. The gospel says that we could be reconciled only if God sent a Savior to die for our sin. Only Jesus, as God’s sinless Son, could atone for sin through His death. His way of salvation requires us to confess our sin, humble ourselves seeking pardon, and surrender our claims to self-rule: the very acts that sinful mankind refuses to do. Man hates the message that he cannot save himself! Man would come to God, but not by this way! Jesus offers only a salvation from sin, and a world that will not confess its sin takes offense in Him and refuses reconciliation with the God who sent Him. Thus, when Jesus said that He is the way, He meant that sinners may come to God only through the ministry of reconciliation for which He came.

The Truth: Revelation.  The second and third statements that Jesus made about Himself in John 14:6 are rightly seen as subordinate to the first. Jesus is first the way, and coordinated with this is His claim to be the truth and the life. Man needs the revelation of truth because it was through ignorance and lies that we first fell into sin. Our first parents did not merely happen to sin, but they were led into sin by Satan. Satan’s lie suggested that God’s commands are not for our good and that the way for mankind to experience freedom and blessing is by breaking God’s commands. This lie has marked the way of sin ever since. A great part of mankind’s plight in sin is ignorance of God and blindness to God’s truth. In order for us to be saved, we must therefore be enlightened by the revelation of God’s truth, the fullest expression of which comes through Jesus Christ. Jesus is the way to God not only by what He did for lost mankind, dying on the cross for our sins, but also in revealing the truth of God so that we might believe and come to God through faith in Him. God had been revealing the truth about Himself and His salvation before the coming of Christ. But Jesus is the truth in that all that God ever revealed points to Jesus and comes into focus in Him. This is why the writer of Hebrews said that God had previously spoken in many ways through the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son [Heb. 1:1-2]. All that God ever revealed comes into clarity, focus, and ultimate truth in the coming of His Son, Jesus Christ.

The Life: Regeneration.  Jesus’ third claim is that He is the life. Apart from Christ we are spiritually dead [Eph. 2:1-3], unable to do anything spiritually for our salvation, so that life increasingly becomes a living death, without satisfaction or hope. But Jesus came that they may have life and have it abundantly [John 10:10]. Jesus is the source of eternal life for those who believe and follow Him. It would not have been enough for Jesus as the way to gain our reconciliation with God, tearing down the veil by His death on the cross for our sins. It likewise would not be enough for Christ the truth to grant us a revelation of God. We would yet remain dead, morally corrupt, and spiritually disabled, so that we would never be able to follow in the way that He has made or believe the truth that He has revealed. In order to be saved, we must be not only forgiven but also regenerated. We must be made alive spiritually, so that we believe and are made willing and able to follow after Jesus. Jesus is the source of the life that we need, and He conveys His power of life through His Word. All who are saved come to Jesus by the  power of life in His call through the gospel. And those who come to Jesus as the way of salvation and believe Him as the Revealer of God’s truth receive life in Him. His is the only way of truth that brings life. For whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him [John 3:36]. Jesus’ answer to Thomas’s question in verse 5 was probably the most exclusive statement ever made. Jesus’ claims so assume deity that we must either reject Jesus or worship Him as Savior and Lord. Just in case we missed His radical claim to be the exclusive and only Savior, Jesus added, No one comes to the Father except through me [6]. Little wonder that this Jesus has aroused such opposition and hatred from the world. How bold were these words on the eve of the cross! How could Jesus speak so boldly when He knew what was about to happen? The answer is that Jesus also knew that He would rise from the grave, that His truth would be proclaimed with power across the world, so that multitudes who believed and followed would be reconciled to God and enter into glory with Him. As the bearer of resurrection life, Jesus can give eternal life to those under death’s power. As the incarnate truth, Jesus can reveal the truth amid the errors and lies of the world. And as the only way to the Father, Jesus has the right to demand our faith and exclusive devotion, as our only Savior and Lord. Since only Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, He calls us to faith in Himself. Notice that when Thomas asked the way to the Father, Jesus did not hand Him directions, or point out a path of good works or spiritual achievements that must be followed. He directed Thomas, and us, to Himself. We are saved by Jesus, and He is the way, the truth, and the life. We therefore do not need to discover or make a way for ourselves, but we need to trust in Jesus and follow Him. We do not need to master all truth, but we need to know Jesus and then grow in His truth. We do not need to achieve the life that we desire, but we need to receive Jesus and the life that He gives. The question may be asked what kind of life we will have if we simply trust in Jesus. The answer is that as He is the way, He will lead us to the Father and we will gain a life of love as dear children. As Jesus is the truth, He will teach us the wisdom of salvation so that our lives are freed from the darkness of ignorance and folly. As He is the life, He will grant us entry into the courts of heaven and we will know an increasing measure of life as we draw nearer to Him. Jesus presents Himself to us, demanding no achievements, not waiting for our improvement, but calling us simply to receive Him in trusting faith, and ready to give to us by grace all that He has and all that He is. [7]  Jesus was preparing His disciples for that time when He would no longer be physically with them, after His death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven. Having told the disciples that He was going to the Father’s house to prepare a place for them, Jesus wanted to further awaken their knowledge of the Father. He told them, therefore, If you had known me, you would have known my Father also [7]. The disciples did know Jesus, of course, having spent three years in His company. Yet their poor understanding of the Father showed their inadequate grasp of Jesus Himself. They had known Him well enough to leave their families and jobs to follow Him. But they did not know Him in His full significance. The events that were about to transpire would change this situation. Jesus added, From now on you do know him and have seen him [7]. His expression from now on indicates that the events that were about to take place would change the situation. Through Jesus’ death, resurrection, ascension into heaven, and outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the disciples would gain a deep and profound knowledge of God. In anticipation of these certain events, Jesus said, you have seen the Father [7].”  [Phillips, pp. 193-213].

Questions for Discussion:

1.         Why were the hearts of the disciples troubled [1]? According to Jesus, what is the cure for a troubled heart? In verses 1-3, what comfort does Jesus offer His disciples? What promises does Jesus give the disciples? How would these promises comfort the disciples (and us)?

2.         What four truths concerning heaven does Jesus give us in this passage? How can these truths replace anxiety with great joy?

3.         What is Jesus teaching us with His sixth I am statement? How is Jesus the way, the truth, and the life? Why is this teaching so hated by our world today? But why is it essential that this teaching be the heart of our witness to the world?

References:

The Gospel according to John, D. A. Carson, Eerdmans.

John, Andreas Kostenberger, BENT, Baker.

The Gospel according to John, Leon Morris, Eerdmans.

John, vol. 1, Richard Phillips, REC, P & R Publishing.