May 10, 2020
Pastor Gunnar Ledermann
14 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.”
5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”
9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. 12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.John 14:1-12
I know what is troubling your heart this morning. At least I know what has been troubling the hearts of all the fathers for the last few days and weeks. You are wondering if your plan to celebrate Mother’s Day is going to work. The usual Mother’s Day events have had to change because there are social distancing restrictions affecting restaurants, jewelers and florists. Your heart is troubled because you still want to make Mother’s Day special even if it is not going to be like years past. Of course, that trouble is only for those who have a Mother’s Day to plan for. What about those who are not able to have a Mother’s Day because they can’t have children, have lost children or have lost their mother? Those are troubles that can’t be fixed with a meal, bouquet of mums, or a memento of macaroni. Of course, there are more than the troubles surrounding motherhood today because there is a pandemic to worry about or is there. Are you supposed to be more worried about the virus or the economy, about deaths or debts, is it all a conspiracy or have we not done enough? There are lots of opinions about what is most troubling today, so who are you going to believe? Do you want to hear someone important or popular echo what you already believe, or do you want the truth?
You need to hear the truth. I’ve been asked by many people what my opinion is about the troubling things going on right now because I am a pastor. When I am asked those questions, I reply by saying, “You do not want my opinion because I am not able to see the whole picture.” My opinion might be different from a pastor in California, New York, Florida, Montana or another country. Troubled hearts want the truth about how they can feel better, but the truth is often not what we want to hear. Even Jesus does not always tell us the truth we want to hear.
It was the most troubling night in all of history. It was a Thursday evening and Jesus was with his disciples. Tensions were high because Jesus had just shared with his disciples that one of them was going to betray him, he was leaving them, and they would not be able to go with him. It was the night before Jesus died on the cross. After sharing what seemed like the worst possible news, Jesus said, John 14:14 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms.” In these words, Jesus shared the truth with his disciples that he is equal with God and there is room for them in heaven. Jesus’ words were meant to calm the disciples’ troubled hearts, but they were not listening. Just before these words, Peter said that he would go with Jesus, even if it meant death, but Jesus said that he would deny him three times. After these words, Jesus’ disciple Thomas asked where Jesus was going, not understanding that the reference to his Father’s house was heaven. And, another disciple, Philip, asked to see God the Father because Jesus was not what he pictured God to be like. Their hearts were troubled because Jesus was leaving them, but their responses showed they were not completely with him even while he was still with them.
If you based your relationship with Jesus on opinions, your heart will stay troubled. If you are like Peter, you are quick to want to take action. When something goes wrong, you don’t have time for God to work things out, so you take matters into your own hands. Patience and tact are not in your skill set. This often leads you to incorrect judgments and hurting others. If you are like Thomas, you are worried about the future. You are constantly doubting that you are on the right path, what your goals should be or if you will get where you need to go. This keeps you from making decisions and getting anything of real value accomplished. If you are like Philip, you do not see what is right in from of you. You can have all you need in terms of education, money, friends, family, job and health, but you want more and are not satisfied. This keeps you from appreciating, being thankful and caring for what you have. You and I have our opinions about how to handle the troubles in our lives and the truth for a troubled hear is to live in the truth of Jesus.
Your default opinion rejects Jesus as the truth. In 1 Peter 2, Peter quoted Psalm 118 writing, 7 … “But to those who do not believe, ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.’” Peter pictured the opinions of unbelievers as a building. The building would have had big letters on it that read “The People of God.” The building looked like the place where you would find God, a place of morality and rules mixed with love and acceptance but when Jesus came up to the building, he was rejected. You and I along with the disciples reject Jesus when we want him here with us, rather than in heaven. Our opinion is that a Jesus who is here would solve all our problems, but a Jesus in heaven can’t fight our battles, answer our questions or make our hearts feel joy.
The truth is, Jesus in heaven does help your troubled heart. Being separated from Jesus makes us question everything leading everyone to have an opinion. All of this comes from sin. Sin broke our relationship with God and our sinfulness continues to separate us from God. The only way for us to be reunited with God is for sin to be removed. This is why Jesus came into the world. He became a human being without sin, then sacrificed his sinless life on the cross for us. Now, you do not have sin in God’s eyes and are connected to God through Jesus. This is the good news and central truth of the Bible. God gave us his words to see how he saved us. And, through the Bible God calls us back to himself by faith. This is the good new Peter shares in 1 Peter 2, 9 “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” God chose you to be one of his people, called out of darkness and trouble to light and joy. This is the good new Jesus shared with the disciples in John 14, 3 “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.” Jesus left this world and went back to heaven finishing his work to save us. He will return to earth to take you to be with him.
The only way to heaven is Jesus. Jesus silences the opinions of your troubled heart with these words, 6 … “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” You know God because you know Jesus. All that is recorded about Jesus in the Bible shows you who God is. Jesus fought to save you by giving his own life, not by taking life. Jesus knew his path to the cross and walked every step of it ready and confident it would save you. Jesus never allowed the opinions of others to turn his eyes off of his Father because he and the Father are one. Heaven will be the end to all of your heart’s troubles because you will be there with Jesus.
Until you reach heaven, the opinions of others tests your trust in the truth. Holding on to hope in Jesus and heaven, which you cannot see is difficult. It is so tempting to try and prove that what you believe in is right as if it was like an argument. You might yell louder or write a longer post on Facebook, you might have more proof for creation rather than the Big Bang, and you might show all the good that Christians do in the world, but all of those arguments turn into opinions when they do not fall on one central truth. Peter quoted Isaiah, “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” Jesus must be the foundation for any conversation you have with someone. In 1 Kings 18, the prophet Elijah asked the people, 21 … “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” Then, Elijah stood back and allowed God to show the people he is the only one true God. The prophets of Baal called on him to send fire from heaven to burn up a sacrifice they had set up, but nothing happened all day. Then, Elijah called on God to send fire from heaven, and God burned up the sacrifice Elijah set up that had been doused with water three times. The power over the opinions of this world is only found in what God does, what Jesus has done. Jesus has saved you; he has a home for you in heaven and he still speaks to you through his unchanging Word to free your heart from all troubles.
I know what is troubling your heart this morning. It is what lies behind the Mother’s Day, pandemic, economy, who to believe worries. Your heart is troubled because you are still separated from Jesus. Your heart is troubled because you know Jesus has saved you and there is a room waiting for you in heaven, and you want to be there. One day, Jesus will bring you to be with him, but until then, you have battles to fight, places to go and the truth to share. Fight your battles with Jesus and the Word of God, go off to celebrate Mother’s Day, to work and school online or in person, go confident that Jesus is with you, and share the truth with those lost in their opinions about the world and the future. You know the way, the truth and the life because you know Jesus. Do not live on opinions, live in the truth, and do not let your hearts be troubled. Amen.