This morning I preached a message entitled "An Urgent Message" and I would like to share it with you all today.
Our passage for today is found John 14:1 – 6. Throughout the series, the key phrase is “God initiated change”. We all can attest that the word and concept of change makes us all a little uneasy. But when we talk about and promote God initiated change, the result is always good. Our God is a God who institutes change (Isaiah 43:19), yet He is a God who never changes (Malachi 3:6). The greatest change God made in history was done through the Gospel, which is never changing.
The John passage we just read initiates a sense of urgency in the Gospel and Jesus informs his followers that a change was coming. Jesus was leaving. Their teacher and leader was going away forever. He foretells his horrible death, how he will be raised from the dead and then ascend into heaven. This was a huge change the disciples were going to face and it was a God initiated change.
God speaks throughout the Bible with a sense of urgency. For example, in Isaiah 43:19 God says, “Get on board because I am doing a new thing.” And the introduction of Jesus’ earthly ministry begins with an urgent message, “repent and believe for the Kingdom of God is at hand.” Jesus speaks with urgency in today’s passage, “I’m going away and leaving you with a job. You need to go out and share the good news. It may feel like a daunting task but don’t worry, I’m going to send you a helper, the Holy Spirit.”
Let’s look at the passage…
Verse 1: “Let your hearts not be troubled…” Why is Jesus telling the disciples to not be troubled? If we take into consideration what has just happened in chapter 13 the disciples could have had a lot to be worried about. First, Jesus said he is going to be betrayed by one of the 12. Second, Jesus is talking about to leave them. Third, where he is going they can’t go. Fourth, Jesus tells Peter that he is going to deny him soon. With all Jesus is telling his disciples they were probably more than a little unsettled. In fact, I would say, “The disciples were probably starting to freaking out.”
Jesus tells them, “Do not be troubled. Believe in God and believe in me.” He tells them, “Hold tight to your faith in God (because there will be a time where that is all you will have). Remember what you have seen me do. Trust that I am who I say I am, because this is what is going to get you through this troubling time (have faith).”
We could all learn a little from these two short sentences from Jesus, “Do not be troubled. Believe in God and believe in me.” These are words of comfort to all who believe. Notice Jesus does not say, “Do not be troubled everything is going to be ok.” He isn’t promising an easy road from here on out, if anything he is telling them it’s going to get tough, but hold on to your faith.
Verse 2: He informs his disciples that He is going away, “In my Father’s house are many rooms…” The word “rooms” more closely resembles the word for dwelling places. Theologian R.C Sproul writes, “The word calls attention to the idea of a suite.” These rooms are not a Microtel or Motel 6 economy room… These dwelling places are “royal suites” fit for kings or queens.
When he goes away (after his death and resurrection) he is going to go and prepare a dwelling place for his followers. These dwelling places of permanent residency in the house of God. This what we can look forward to when we leave this earth. It will be the best of the best, nothing on earth can even come close to comparing to it. It is a dwelling place prepared for you by the hands of the Creator… Now that’s a place and invitation that we should share with all.
Verse 3: Not only does Jesus promise to prepare a heavenly dwelling place but also promises to come and usher us in to our place of dwelling. He will come back so that His people (including us) can finally go to the place where we could not go to follow him. This dwelling place is where Jesus resides. How can one not look forward to the day when we will be with our Savior for all eternity? Does this excite you? Does this reality cause you to rejoice? Does this give you a sense of urgency to want to go out and proclaim this message of hope? I hope it does.
Verse 4: Up to this point Jesus’ ministry has been pointing people to the Kingdom of God. He has been sharing how one receives eternal life. His message has been clear and now he says, “You the way to where I am going.” The Gospel message of faith and obedience to Jesus are THE key to eternal life.
Verse 5: Apparently, the disciples did not quite grasp what Jesus has been talking about. Thomas (the one you and I have come to know as doubting Thomas) asks Jesus point blank, “How can we know the way if we don’t know where you are going?”
Verse 6: Jesus responds that he is the Way to the Father. If you want to know how to get to the Father’s house, then you must follow and obey Jesus. He is the way to the Father, because he embodies the truth of God (everything I say and do is given to me by the Father). D.A. Carson writes, “He is God’s gracious self-disclosure, His word made flesh.” Jesus is the life… In Jesus is life eternal. Since Jesus is truth and the source of eternal life He becomes the means (the way) to the Father. He tells Thomas that He is the ONLY way to God, there is no other way. Faith and obedience in Jesus is the key, period.
If you trust in anything other than Jesus Christ, then you are not going to know eternal life. Trust in anything else is idolatry. Your certificate of baptism… not valid. Your membership to a church… not valid. You went to church your whole life… not valid. You tithed faithfully… not valid. You volunteered consistently at the church… not valid. All of them are great things (and outward expressions of your faith in Jesus) but they are not in any shape, way or form an alternate route to eternal life. Please hear these words. There is no other way to God than through faith and obedience to Jesus Christ. As believers, we must heed to, believe in and boldly proclaim the Gospel message with a sense of urgency. We must live our lives with this truth at the core of our faith. This is an urgent message (the Gospel) that God has entrusted to believers (2 Timothy 1:10 -14) and we need to be faithful in living it and proclaiming it.