I received a letter in the mail a few years ago. It looked like a regular old form letter but in fact this piece of paper was my ticket to a free night’s stay at the Crowne Plaza in downtown Cleveland, OH. Maybe it doesn’t seem like much to you but this is actually a $150 a night room and it is reserved for me. All I have to do is show up and redeem this coupon.
I received this letter because I had a reservation at this hotel for three nights for an Annual Meeting for our denomination and I received a phone call a couple of days prior to the conference by a staff worker that the hotel had to cancel my reservations because the air conditioning units had quit working and they were forced to close the facility. The person sincerely apologized and promised she would give me a complimentary stay at this hotel as a way of recompensing for the inconvenience of having to cancel and find another place to stay. This letter informed me that whenever I visit Cleveland, OH I have a place reserved for me. The Crowne Plaza has promised to have a place prepared for me in their hotel facility at anytime I need.
Of course being the critical and skeptic person I think to myself, “Yeah let’s see if they make things right when I do decide to redeem this coupon.” Or “What’s the catch? Is this truly a FREE night or do I need to stay for two nights to get a free night?” Part of me doesn’t trust the corporation because they lost a lot of money when they closed for those days and why would they want to lose even more by giving customers a free night? Regardless of my skepticism, critical thinking or distrust according to this piece of paper I have a room waiting for me at the Crowne Plaza in Cleveland, OH. I just need to keep this in a safe place so I can find it and redeem it next time I am in that city (who knows when that will be).
Why am I telling you this? Well, listen to the words of John and hopefully you will be able to understand that those who have placed their faith and obedience into Jesus not only have a place reserved in heaven but we have a place that is fit for a king waiting for us…
Read John 14:1 – 14
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 we see Jesus 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 with. Fourth, Jesus informs Peter that he will deny him soon. I think with all Jesus is telling his disciples they may have become a little unsettled. In today’s terms we could say, “The disciples had good reason to start freaking out.”
Jesus tells them, “Do not be troubled. Believe in God and believe in me.” He is saying, “Hold on tight to your faith (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 ultimately what is going to get you through this troubling time.”
We could all learn a little from these two short sentences from Jesus, “Do not be troubled. Have faith in me.” These are words of comfort to me and hopefully they are a comfort to you. But 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 because this is what is going to get you through.
Verse 2: “In my Father’s house (temple) are many rooms…” The KJV translates the word rooms as “mansions” which is not the best translation. The word more closely resembles the word for dwelling places. According to R.C Sproul, “The word calls attention to the idea of a suite.” These rooms are not a Microtel economy room… He has a house with dwelling places that are “royal suites” fit for kings or queens.
If this were not true then Jesus would not have told them about these rooms. In fact when he goes away (referring to his death and resurrection) he is going to go and prepare these rooms for his followers. These rooms or dwelling places point to being a permanent place of residency in the house of God. As believers this is one thing we have to look forward to when we leave this earth. Some have wondered are these literal physical dwelling places or are they symbolic of something else. The answer is… Does it matter? It is a place (whether physical, spiritual or symbolic) that Jesus has prepared for those who believe and obey. It can’t NOT be spectacular! 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 I will accept without hesitation.
Verse 3: Not only does Jesus promise to prepare a heavenly dwelling place but also promises to come and bring us or usher us to our place of dwelling. He will personally come back so that the disciples (and we) can finally go to the place where we could not go to follow him. This dwelling place is not only prepared for us but is also in the place where Jesus is. 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? I can’t understand how it could not.
Verse 4: Up to this point Jesus’ ministry has been (and will continue) to point to the Kingdom of God. He has been sharing how one may have eternal life. He has shared frequently and often about how one receives life. So here he is saying, “You know by the words I spoke and the miracles I have performed the way to where I am going.” He has clearly said throughout this Gospel that faith and obedience to Him are THE key to eternal life.
Verse 5: Apparently the disciples have not quite grasped what Jesus has been talking about in the previous verses as 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. Recall Jesus refers to himself as the door to the Sheep fold and now he refers to himself as the way to the Father. If you want to know how to get to the Father’s house then you must follow and obey me. 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 also the life… In Jesus is life eternal. Since Jesus is truth and the source of eternal life He thus becomes the means (the way) to the Father. He tells Thomas that in fact he is the ONLY way to God. Jesus tells us and his disciples there is no other way to God. Faith and obedience in Jesus is it period. Your certificate of baptism… not valid. Your membership to a church… not valid. You went to church (and maybe even helped start one) your whole life… not valid. You gave or tithed faithfully… not valid. All the aforementioned are great things (and hopefully outward expressions of your faith in Jesus) but are not in any shape, way or form a detour around faith in Jesus Christ. Please hear these words. There is no other way to God. These are Jesus’ words and as Christians we MUST heed, believe and proclaim this and live our lives with this truth at the core of our faith.
He continues, “If you knew me you would know the Father…” I believe the point Jesus makes at the conclusion of verse 6 is, “Since you know me, you know the Father.” The Disciples had spent the last three and a half years of their lives with him, they have eaten with him, they have witnessed the miracles and heard his teachings. These very things themselves are the true installment to knowledge of God the Father. Everything Jesus has done has been done to point to the oneness of He and the Father.
Verse 7: Now it is Philips turn to speak up. He says, “Show us the Father and this will be enough for us.” “Give us a glimpse of God in heaven and then we will be convinced.” It would seem at this point the Disciples still haven’t grasped the oneness of Jesus and God. They do know and acknowledge that he is special and unique (truly the Messiah) but are still not able to get their minds around the fact that God is making himself known to the people through Jesus.
Verse 8: If there was a verse 7.5 in the Bible I think it would read like this, “Jesus, placing his hands on his head completely exasperated says, ‘Are you guys that dense?’” But it doesn’t. I have added it in for a dramatic aspect. But I am sure Jesus’ patience was being tested right now as with his reply, “Have I not been with you long enough that you don’t truly know me?” These people have been with Jesus for a long time and yet many of them still are “spiritually blind” so to speak. This unity or oneness of Father and Son is the message Jesus has been proclaiming from the beginning. His words have been laden with references and bold statements of Him being one with God so how can Philip even ask Jesus to show him the Father. The Father should be visible to him through Jesus. However some of these followers will not be able to truly see until the Holy Spirit is given (more on that next week).
Verses 10, 11: Jesus questions whether they believe he is one with the Father or not. The expected answer from the disciples is, “Yes, we believe.” Jesus expects both his disciples and opponents to recognize the Father and He are one.
Ultimately he says, “If my words don’t convince you of the Father in me then look to the works (or the miracles) that I perform and you should then be convinced of who I am.”
Verses 12 – 14: The next few verses Jesus is beginning to set up his disciples for the introduction of the Holy Spirit and the works He will do in the lives of the disciples (and ultimately us). I have to be honest with you that the next few verses are very difficult for me to fully comprehend let alone imagine happening throughout the body of Christ (but I do believe it can and does happen). Here Jesus tells us in so many words that those who believe in him will also be able to do the same miraculous works Jesus did, in fact we will do greater works! How can this be? Certainly he is preparing the disciples for Pentecost and I personally believe he is preparing those who come after to know the great power we have to do mighty and miraculous things in Jesus Christ. We will spend more time on this next week.
Not only does he speak of doing extraordinary things he also speaks about prayer. I believe this is possibly one of the most misunderstood sayings of Jesus. In these verses Jesus says, “I will do whatever you ask in my name.” He states this twice. Some key words we need to note here are, “in my name”. I don’t think this means ask whatever you want and just tag my name on the end and then I will give it to you. Nor does it show that Jesus is a type of Genie at our beck and command. I like what N.T. Wright says, “Praying in Jesus’ name means that as we get to know who Jesus is, so we find ourselves drawn into his life and love and sense of purpose. We will then begin to see what needs doing, what we should be aiming at within our spheres of possibilities, and what resources we need to do it.” In other words as disciples (if you love me you will keep my commandments) of Jesus the more we grow in our understanding of the Lord our prayers begin to be sensitive as to what we should be praying. As we grow closer to God, our prayers begin to reflect the heart of God and the prayer and answer will be to glorify the Father through Jesus. However we should also note that Jesus does say that “whatever you ask… will be given to you.” This simply means when we pray with the heart of God we should be praying big prayers and expectant prayers because we serve a big God who is willing to give to us all we need to accomplish his will here on earth.
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I live in Florida with my beautiful family. The Lord has blessed me with 20 years of full time ministry. He is and has been faithful.