David Jeremiah - Stay Calm
Contrary to what so many people say, the prophetic Scriptures are filled with practical admonitions. It's not all about pie-in-the-sky by and by. It's about how to live today, and Jesus, in his careful presentation of his written Word to us, has given us what we need as we await the coming of the Lord, which we believe could be at any moment. "How, then, should we live"? are the words of Francis Schaeffer. How, then, should we live at times like this? Listen to the words of John chapter 14 and verse 1. These are the words of the Lord Jesus. These are good words for us today. "Let not your hearts be troubled". Say that with me. "Let not your hearts be troubled".
Now, before we explore the calming words of our Savior today, I wanna make the point that Jesus would not have said this if there was no reason for it to be said. In other words, Jesus spoke to people who were troubled, and sometimes even those of us who are followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, we're troubled. Isn't that true? I know that I hear sometimes people say that when you come to Christ all your troubles go away. I have to honestly tell you that when I became a Christian I added a few troubles that I didn't have before, because now there's a conflict between the way you used to live and the way you now live. There's no Word in the Scripture that says, when you're a Christian, you don't have troubles. We all have troubles. In fact, it's interesting as you look at the Scripture, even Jesus had trouble. Over in the 21st verse of the 13th chapter, Jesus is talking about the impending betrayal by Judas, and notice what he says. "When Jesus had said these things, he was troubled"...
Interestingly enough, you can draw a line from that word to the word, "trouble", in the 14th chapter. It's the same word in the Greek language. Jesus was troubled over what was about to happen because Judas was going to betray him. And then, if you read on down to the end of the 13th chapter, as you get almost to our text, you hear the Lord interacting with Peter, and Peter's about to deny him three times. The Lord Jesus experienced trouble, so listen to me, folks. If the Lord Jesus had trouble, why should we think we wouldn't have any? In fact, the Lord Jesus told us if you follow him and if you honor him in the world you will have persecution. "But be of good cheer. I have overcome the world," Jesus said. Don't let trouble catch you off guard if you're a Christian. It's inevitable. It's part of the deal. It's what we experience on our way to the place God has prepared for us.
Now, Jesus is talking to a group of people in 14th chapter of John that are going through some real trouble. Let me try to set this up. And I wish I could get into this as I would like to and try to feel the pain and the trouble the disciples were experiencing when Jesus talked to them, but let me just help you with this. All of their adult life these disciples had known only one thing, and that was Jesus. He called them from their nets. He called them from their businesses. He called them from whatever it was that occupied them before he came and for three years they did not do anything but follow Jesus. He was their teacher. He was their friend. He was most of all their hope. They could not imagine life without him. He had become everything to them. They had forsaken all to follow him.
And then, one day, Jesus is talking to these disciples, and he says, "Little children, I shall be with you a little while longer. You will seek me; and as I said to the Jews, 'Where I am going, you cannot come,' so now I say to you. A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I've loved you, that you also love one another". Notice verse 36. "Simon Peter said to him, 'Lord, where are you going?' And Jesus answered him, 'Where I am going you cannot follow me, but you will follow me afterward.'" Just think about this for a moment. Jesus gathers his disciples, and he says, "I'm going away. I'm leaving". And they said, "Well, Lord, where are you going"? "You can't come. You can't come. You can't come with me now. You'll come later, but not now".
And it's no wonder when you understand that the Lord Jesus sensed the trouble that was in the hearts of his disciples, and so he spoke to them in the 14th chapter to calm their troubled hearts. He gave them a message, a message which was given specifically to help them deal with this trouble that they had no anticipation of. And in the words that he gave to them, he gives words to us, as well. We read right through this passage to our own situation, don't we? Today, whatever our situation might be economically, or physically, or with our families, whatever the trouble might be, we hear the words of the Lord, "Let not your heart be troubled". And then, Jesus gives to his disciples and to us four things that they need to do to make sure that they don't cave in to the trouble in their life. I can't imagine anything that he could have said that would be more helpful to us than these things that he said to his disciples. Notice the first thing he says to them. He asks them and us to believe in a person. Listen to these words. "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in me".
Now, these were good Jewish people. They had known God. They had believed in God, but Jesus was something new. Jesus was something that was just very new in their lives. Jesus had come on the scene, and Jesus had claimed to be God, and yet we know from studying the Scriptures the disciples didn't quite get it all. Not even until after the Resurrection did they figure it all out. So, Jesus is speaking to them, and he is saying, "Men, don't let your heart be troubled. I want you to believe in me. You believe in God, but I want you to believe in me". When he uses the word "trouble," he uses a word which means, "to shutter". "Don't let your heart quake. Don't let your heart shake. Don't let your heart be upset, men. Here's what you need to do first of all: believe in a person. Believe in me". Has there ever been a time in your life or in mine when we needed somebody to believe in like we do today?
You know, everyone that you seem to think might be someone you can trust, you follow 'em long enough, and they disappoint you. Everyone who walks into any political office will ultimately be the source of disappointment for people. We put our trust in our financial security, and it will disappoint us. We think we got retirement nailed, and all of a sudden it comes unglued. "Don't let your heart be troubled," Jesus said. "Put your trust in someone who is trustworthy. Put your trust in me". The Apostle Peter tells us that one of the reasons why we can live with trouble when we know Jesus is because the Lord Jesus tells us to cast all of our care on him, for he will care for us.
There's an old gospel song that goes like this, "Trust and obey, for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus". A little boy heard that for the first time in church. When he came home his mother heard him singing it, but he had it not quite right. He was singing "trust and okay," but maybe he was more right than the writer of the hymn. Those are pretty good lyrics, aren't they? Trust and okay. Let me ask you a question. How many of you here this morning have trusted Jesus Christ for eternal life? Let me see your hands. All right. Now put them down. So, you've trusted Jesus Christ for eternal life, and you're struggling with what happened to you last week. Hmm. If we can trust him to take us all the way to heaven, to give us a home in eternity that lasts forever, which is beyond any kind of time perspective you will ever be able to comprehend, if we can trust him with that, then Jesus says we can trust him with this. Whatever it is that's happening, whatever it is we're experiencing, Jesus says here's the first strategy. He asks us to put our trust in a person, put our trust in Christ.
Let me just say to you today that if you haven't put your trust in Jesus Christ for eternity, that's where it all begins. When you finally come to grips with the fact that he's taken the greatest need you have in your life and he has solved that need through his own death on the cross, the trust cycle begins. You can really trust him when you know what he has done. And then, Jesus says to his disciples, "Not only do I want you to trust in me as a person, but I want you, secondly, to believe in a place". Not only to believe in a person, but to believe in a place. Notice verse 2. "In my Father's house are many mansions; and if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you".
Now, obviously, this is about heaven, and Jesus is saying to his disciples, "You wanna know where I'm going? Well, I'm gonna tell you where I'm going. I'm going to prepare a place for you". We know that place is heaven. Now, if you study the Bible you will see many synonyms for heaven as you study. Sometimes, you read about the vastness of heaven when you realize that heaven is a country. Sometimes, you read about the population of heaven when you think about heaven being a city, whose builder and maker is God. Sometimes, heaven is compared to a kingdom, and when that's done, you think about the orderliness of it and how it's well-run. Sometimes, heaven is called paradise and when you think about heaven as paradise you just think about how beautiful it is. But my favorite description of heaven is one found here in John 14. Here's what it is: the Father's house. That's what heaven is. Heaven's the Father's house.
All of us have memories, if we've grown up in a good family, of the joy and security and wonder of the father's house. I think I've told you that when my parents got older and they moved out of the house that we grew up in because they wanted to downsize, I was mad at 'em for a whole year. They moved out of the house that I felt secure in. Now I go and drive by that house, and we don't live there anymore. Heaven is the Father's house, and Jesus said to his disciples, "Don't be troubled. Put your trust in me and believe that I have the future in control. I'm going ahead of you to prepare a place for you". This is all about the Father. It's all about the Father's house. There's security and comfort and peace and calm in the presence of the Father, and Jesus is telling everyone about his Father, and he's saying, "I'm going ahead to be with the Father, and we're gonna prepare a place for you".
Now, heaven is often marginalized by even people who preach in the pulpit. Sometimes, people say heaven is just a figment of your imagination. It is what you make your life to be on this earth. That heaven, with a tongue in cheek, they say is a human invention, a never-never land, a realm of dreams. But heaven is not a benevolent state of mind. It is not a vague vacuum. Heaven is not just the reward you get in this life for being good. Heaven is not a figment of imagination. Heaven is not a feeling or an emotion. Heaven is not the beautiful isle of somewhere. Heaven is not merely a thought. It is not merely a projection of the best in ourselves. It is not a vision of longed-for utopia. It is not a pleasing hope or an invention of man. Our thoughts do not make heaven. Heaven is a literal place prepared for real people, and Jesus is there now getting it all ready for those who have put their trust in him, and Jesus told his disciples that one day this place where he was going, which was his home, would become their home.
Whatever he meant by the word "mansions", and we've all heard lots of messages on that, and we've sung about the mansions over the hilltop and all of that. Whatever is meant by "mansions," we know that he's not talking so much about huge buildings as he is about the fact that there's enough space up there for everybody. He's creating rooms for us in his home. He's going ahead to prepare the way for us and one day we'll go to live in that home. If we die before he returns, we'll move. If we are alive and remain when he comes back, we'll be ushered in with all of those who have trusted him to our home. Heaven is the Father's house. Heaven is home. Heaven is where Jesus is now and where he wants us to be.
When I was first starting as a pastor, there was a counselor, a Swiss counselor that everybody was talking about. His name was Paul Tournier. Paul Tournier was a brilliant man, a Swiss counselor, if you will, and from this passage of Scripture that we're studying today, from the second verse, he wrote a book called, "A Place for You". "A Place for You". And in the book he tells the story of a young man that came to him for some counseling. This young man had been born into a very difficult home situation. He had been cast about in his life in every circumstance, never ever feeling like he belonged anywhere. And Dr. Tournier was trying to help him, and they were interacting in counseling. On one occasion, this young man tried to describe to his counselor how he felt. He tried to say to his counselor what was really going on, and this is what he said. He said, "Basically, I'm always looking for a place, for somewhere to be".
And Paul Tournier said that is the basic desire of the human. That is the basic desire of every one of us, to have a genuine place of our own, a home, a place where we belong and where we know ourselves to belong, where we feel at ease and at home. We need a home. We long for a home and in these verses Jesus calmly and simply assures his own that, "you don't have to be worried about these incidental troubles, because they're incidental in light of this place that I'm preparing for you. I'm making a home for you and one day you'll be at home". How many of you know we're not home yet? Let me see that. We're not home yet. We're on a journey, but we're not home yet.
C.S. Lewis, in one of his writings in his book called, "The Problem of Pain," C.S. Lewis said, "There have been times when I think we do not desire heaven, but more often I find myself wondering whether, in our heart of hearts, we have ever desired anything else. It is the secret signature of each soul," he wrote, "the incommunicable and unappeasable want, the thing we desired before we met our wives or made our friends or chose our work, and which we shall still desire on our deathbeds, when the mind no longer knows wife, or friend, or work". End of quote. C.S. Lewis says that built within us, in the DNA of our hearts, is this hunger for a home. God put it there. We will never be satisfied until we know we have that home. Jesus said in his home were many mansions.
Listen to me folks. Listen to me carefully. Heaven will be as big as God wants it to be. If God can put together the stars in the heavens so that light traveling 186,000 miles a second takes a thousand years to reach the earth, I think he can handle heaven. And the next time somebody comes up to you and says, "Oh, heaven won't be big enough for everybody," take them to Revelation 5:11. I love this verse and let me just read it to you. "Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, the elders; the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands".
You say, "Pastor Jeremiah, how many is that"? Well, 10,000 times 10,000 is a hundred million, but that's not enough so he had to add "and thousands of thousands". There's a hundred million angels, plus thousands and thousands more, and they're in heaven. A hundred million doesn't begin to number the angels that are in heaven, so heaven must be pretty spacious. I promise you, it's big enough for all those who will be there. God is preparing a place for everyone who will put their trust in him. So, the second thing Jesus said to his disciples was this, "First of all, I want you to believe in a person. You believe in God, believe also in me. Then, I want you to believe in a place. I'm going to heaven to prepare a place for you". And then, the third thing he said, "Now, I want you to believe, thirdly, in a promise. I want you to believe in a promise". 14:3 says, "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself; that where I am, there you may be also".
Now, there are many who have tried to explain this promise, and they say, "Well, that's what happens to you when you die, Jesus comes and gets you". Well, it is true that when a believer dies the angels come and take them to heaven, but there's nothing in the Bible that says when a believer dies that the Lord Jesus comes all the way back and takes every individual to heaven. The angels carry you, and you can find that in the book of Luke. This is not about when we die. This is about when Jesus returns. This is about when he comes back. He's saying, "One of these days, I won't tell you when, but one of these days I'm gonna come back". He said to the disciples, "You can't come with me now, but you will come with me later". He's coming back, and when he comes back, and this is his promise, "I'm coming back to receive you to myself; that where I am, there you may be also".
Now, the simplest explanation of this is the best. "My Father's house", refers to heaven, and in heaven there are many rooms, and the point is that Jesus is coming back someday to take us who have trusted him to that place. Here's what I'd like you to know today if you don't remember anything else. Listen to me carefully. Jesus wants you to be with him. Jesus wants you to be with him. Did you know Jesus loves you and he wants you to be with him? You know the most profound statement you'll find anywhere in Christendom? Here it is: Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Jesus loves you. He wants you to be with him. That's profound, is it not? That the Jesus who died on the cross for us, the second person of the Trinity, the Son of God, the Son of Man, in his own writing has said to us, "I'm going to get a place ready, and the purpose for doing that is so that I can come and get you, and you can come and be with me. I want you to be with me".
Did you ever feel so loved in your life? That the God of heaven wants to spend eternity with you. Over in John 17, where Jesus is praying his high-priestly prayer, he actually prays to the Father about this. In verse 24 of John 17 he says, "Father, I desire that they also whom you gave me may be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory which you have given me; for you loved me before the foundation of the world". Some people say, "Well, okay, Pastor. What's he doing up there getting this place ready"? I promise you he doesn't have a hammer and nails. He's not doing that thing. He's not back in Nazareth. I mean, he could be if he wanted to, but that's not what this is about. And we don't know for sure what the preparation is all about, but let's not concentrate on that. Let's just concentrate on these little words. Whatever he's doing, it's for you. It's for you. It's for me. "I'm going to heaven to prepare a place for you".
Get that in your head and in your heart. God loves you so much that what he's doing right now, it's all about you. He's doing it for you. That's how much he loves you. If we could ever for a moment see the true totality and ultimate picture of the love of God, we would melt beneath its pressure. He loves us and what he's doing in heaven is for you, is for me. That's how much he loves. I wanna take just a moment at this point to stress the value of such thinking. Did you know that this whole issue of trouble is real? But also the fact that we don't need to be troubled is real. Let me just tell all of you who may be a little anxious this morning, filled with a little anxiety over what's going on, Jesus says you don't have to be troubled. When Jesus says, "Let not your heart be troubled," that's a pretty strong statement and what he's saying to us is this. This is how all this fits together, and this is how it keeps you from trouble.
Listen to me. This is the way you win the battle over anxiety. Great victories are never won by those who don't have any trouble. The people who don't have any trouble aren't on the front line. They're back home waiting for the people on the front line to fight the war for 'em. No, you don't win victories by not having any trouble, nor do you win victories by fearing that the battle is already lost and there's nothing that can be done. But if you know in your heart that the victory is ultimately already won and that the end of it is already clear- if you're in a war and you're fighting in a battle and you know we win, and you know it's gonna come out on your side, then you can play with confidence. You can fight with confidence. You can live with confidence, and that's what I'm here to tell you.
That's what Jesus is saying. He said, "I want you to believe in me first, I want you to believe in the place I'm gonna prepare for you, and then I want you to believe in this promise". Listen to me. Jesus is saying to you and to me, "I've got it all under control. Everything's gonna be okay. And while you're going through some issues down here, in light of what I've prepared for you those are just little skirmishes on the way to the Father's house". If we can see that in the perspective God gives us in his Word, the little skirmishes won't bury us. What God is saying to you and to me, friend, is this, "I've got this under control. First of all, in the midst of the problems you have right now, you have me. I am here. Put your trust in me. I'll help you. Number two, I've got a place, and it's ultimately gonna be just for you. And here's the promise I'm gonna make you: I'm gonna come and get you at the right time and take you to that place".
Jesus wants us to believe in four things. He wants us to believe in a person. He wants us to believe in a place. He wants us to believe in his promise. And here's the last one. This might get a little testy, so hang on. He wants us to believe in a plan. He has a plan to get all of us to that place. Now, the fact that some are gonna violate the plan, it's not his fault. He's made the plan. Here it is. Read on with me into this text and notice in verses 4 through 6 Jesus says, "'And where I go you know, and the way you know.' And Thomas," the doubter, "said to him, 'Lord, we don't know where you're going. How can we know the way?' And Jesus said, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. And no one comes to the Father except through me.'" Thomas said, "Lord, we don't know where you're going, so how are we gonna know the way? How are we gonna find it? Lord, we don't know what to put into the GPS. We don't know where we're headed". Jesus said, "Thomas, don't you worry about that. I am the way".
William Barclay, a great historian, helps us understand it when he says, "Suppose you're in a strange town, and you ask for directions. And suppose the person says to you, 'Well, take the first to the right, and the second to the left. Cross the square. Go past the church. Take the third on the right, and the road you want is the fourth on the left.'" He said, "You're lost before you take the first turn. But suppose that person were to say to you, 'Well, come on. I'll take you there.' In that case, the person is the way. He's not showing you the way. He becomes the way".
Oh, I love it when people do that for me, 'cause I am so directionally challenged. When I ask, I mean, it would be just wanting... do you ever go in a gas station, asked for... has anybody ever said, "You know what, Son? I see you're a little distressed. Why don't you just let me take you there"? Nobody's ever done that for me, but once in a while, when I ask a friend, they'll say, "Listen, Pastor. Why don't you to just let me take you there"? Jesus said, "Thomas, don't you worry about the way to heaven. I am the way, the truth, and the life". When the word "way" began to be used in the early church, in the book of Acts, it actually became a synonym for the church itself. They became known as, "the people of the way". Jesus said, "I am the way. No man comes to the Father but by me".
Now, if Jesus had said, "I am a way," we'd have no issue here. But he didn't say that, did he? Look down at your Bible. It's not the word little letter "a". It's the word "the". Jesus didn't say, "I am one of the ways". He said, "I am the way". Oh, will that get you in a lotta trouble today. That is so intolerant. That is so politically incorrect, to say that Jesus is the way. And you say, "Well, that's probably not what he meant. He probably didn't mean he was the only way". Well, read the rest of it. "No man comes to the Father except through me". What part of that don't we understand?
I'm afraid that sometimes we who are Christians, we allow the world to kinda temper our theology. We want them to feel we're good folks and that we're not intolerant, that we're not belligerent, or any of those things that they say of us, and so, if we're not careful, we give up the ground that is the real, core, basic truth of the gospel. I wanna say it again. Jesus is the way to the Father. There is no other way to the Father except through him. You say, "Well, Pastor, that's just in one little isolated verse," so I thought I'd give you a couple others.
Acts 4:12, "Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we might be saved". Just there's nobody else.
1 Corinthians 3:11, "For no other foundation can anyone lay that which is laid, which is Christ Jesus".
1 Timothy 2:5, "For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus".
So many, in this day of tolerance, are rejecting this truth concerning the way of God. They don't want to be looked upon as being narrow-minded, but we need to be just as narrow-minded as Jesus was. He's the one that said, "You can only get to the Father through me". It seems like there should be more ways, and the writer of Proverbs says, "There is a way that seems right to a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death". It's not about what seems right that counts. It's about what is right. Just as God has determined that everyone who is born physically into this world will be born the same way through the agency of a man and a woman, so he has determined that everyone who is to be born spiritually will be born the same way through the agency of the Spirit of God and the Word of God.
Jesus is the way. He's the only way. He wants to take you to the Father's house, but you cannot get there without him. You may be good. You may come to church. You may serve in the church. You may have been in ministry. You may have an unflawed history, a résumé that would impress everyone. None of that makes any difference if you haven't trusted Jesus. He is the way. When you stand before the Lord someday, he won't ask you what you did in the church. He won't ask you how much money you gave to charitable causes. He won't ask you if you were a good, upstanding person in the community. He will ask you, "What did you do with my Son, the Lord Jesus Christ? Did you receive him"? And you will be allowed into heaven on one condition: that you have accepted Jesus Christ and what he did for you in covering your sin with his blood so that you might have the righteousness that you need to get into heaven. So, that's it. That's the plan. Jesus wants you to believe in a person. He wants you to believe in a place. He wants you to believe in his promise, but he also wants you to believe in the plan. Here's the plan: "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father except through me".
There was a man of great wealth who had many homes on this earth, so many homes with he could hardly keep up with 'em. He would have a difficult time remembering which home he was in. He was very wealthy, but he got sick. He got cancer. And though they took him to every specialist around the world, they could not find a way to keep that cancer from destroying his life, and so the doctor told him that he was going to die, and hospice was sent to his home. This very wealthy man had a four-year-old little girl, and her mother was trying to help her understand what was going on with her daddy. She didn't understand death. Her mother just told her that daddy was gonna go away to another place. One day, this little girl went into her daddy's bedroom, climbed up on the bed and said, "Papa, can I ask you something"? And he said, "Sweetie, whatever you want". She said, "Papa, do you have a home in that place where you're going"? And this man who had spent all of his life building homes on this earth had never spent any time caring for the home where he was gonna spend eternity.
Maybe you're here like that today. Maybe you've been around the church, and you've been in the church, and you've got Christians who talk to you and love you, and they've told you about Jesus. Let me just tell you this. If you've never trusted Jesus Christ, it's just the simple thing of acknowledging who he is, inviting him to come and live within your heart and telling him that you receive him and accept him. He's the way. Someday, all of us will leave our earthly homes. Let me ask you this question, which is the most important question of all. Do you have a home in heaven? I know just the one who can show you the way. In fact, he is the way. If you know Jesus, he'll take you to the Father's home.