John: A Walk with the Messiah: Chapter 14

john_14.4

Now we come to John Chapter 14.  Still in the quiet, intimate presence of Jesus in the upper room with His disciples, friends, sharing one last meal before His death.  How blessed are we to share these last moments with the Christ and the disciples.  The words spoken in this room are full of importance and hope.  In Chapter 13 Jesus had ended with some troubling news, “one of you will betray me” and “where I am going you cannot go”.  Yet Chapter 14 begins with some encouraging words: “Let not your hearts be troubled” (John 14:1 ESV).  Jesus knows that the coming events are going to be world-changing and not at all encouraging, at first.  He wants to encourage the apostles.  The word here in the Greek is tarasso. The word means “to be agitated, shaken, to allow one’s calm/peace to be taken away”. This is in contrast to verse 27: “My peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you.”  What the world gives to us can be taken away from us.  The peace Jesus gives, cannot be taken away.

The end of verse one gives them the “how” of the “let not your hearts be troubled”: “Believe“.  We can allow other things in the world to crowd in and cloud our peace, but nothing can steal it from us if we believe.  Believe in God and believe in Christ.  So much water will be under the bridge before the disciples meet with Christ again and Jesus wants to encourage them to remain faithful in spite of current appearances.

And what is encouraging to the apostles here has and will encourage so many others throughout the years. When times are troubling, we don’t have to let our hearts be troubled either.  Our solution is the same as it was for the apostles, “believe“. Our faith in God and Jesus can be our strongest weapon when battling the woes of life and our strongest hope in the storm.  God is faithful and will not forsake us. And the peace of Jesus is ours.

Jesus then tells the apostles that He is going to prepare a special place that the apostles may come to dwell with Him.  Jesus dwelled with us for a short time, a few decades, but in the place Jesus prepares, we will dwell with Him for eternity.  Interesting thought, Jesus prepares a place for us and then he prepares us for the place.  How blessed are we to be allowed to walk with our Savior through life toward the place He prepares specially for us?

Verse 6 gives us the statement that kind of wraps up the “how do we get there” question:

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me'” (John 14:4 ESV).

Let’s break this down.  Jesus is the way to the Father.  There simply is no other way.  No works, no faith, no great holiness or righteousness.  Nothing or no one allows us access to the Father except Jesus.

Jesus is the truth.  Any other gospel preached is a lie.  Any other hope of eternal life is false.  Jesus is the only way and the only truth.

Jesus is the life.  Only God can give life.  In the garden, God breathed life.  Jesus died for life.  Eternal life.  Only the eternal God can offer eternal life.

Then, follows the “what do we need to do” question. The answer to this question is so important that Jesus repeats it at least 4 times, and we have already discussed that if something is repeated in the bible, we better pay attention.  Especially, if it is God Himself repeating it.

  • Verse 12 says “whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do”
  • Verse 15 says “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
  • Verse 21 says “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me.”
  • Verse 23 says “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word.”

Notice a theme here?  Belief, faith, in Jesus isn’t just in word.  Lip service will not get us to the place Jesus left to prepare.  Jesus wants us to do what He says.  As a parent and you give a command to your child, you expect it to be followed through.  If you are a boss in an office and you give an employee a task, you expect it to be done.  Jesus is no different.  He expects His disciples, His followers, to follow.

But what is maybe unique to commands Jesus gives as opposed to those you may give to a child or employee, Jesus doesn’t ask anything of us that He did not do Himself.  Christ was the ultimate example.  Everything He commands of us we can look in His life and see the fulfillment and execution of those commands.  He doesn’t ask us to endure anything that He Himself was not willing to endure.  Isn’t that comforting?  Isn’t it much easier to walk a path if we know that someone has already tread that path and know he made it safely to the other side?  And, as a final example, Jesus says “I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father” (John 14:31 ESV).  How does the world know His love, our love?  By obedience. Not words. Deeds.

And not only do we have the peace of Jesus to guide us, Jesus promises a Helper.  The Advocate. The Counseler.  There are many names He goes by. But whatever His name, His job is clear.  The Holy Spirit is sent to help us.  And oh do we need help!!  This is huge!  Only because Christ came and left do we have God dwelling among us again, not only among us but in us!  The Holy Spirit, God, comes to dwell within us.  We know of the Holy Spirit’s work in the Old Testament through the prophets, but never has He come to dwell in the hearts of all His people.  People like you and me.  We may never do great feats like Moses or Elijah, but we will never be insignificant because we have God Himself living inside us and God never does anything slight.

Chapter 14 ends on a dark note just as Chapter 13 does: “the ruler of this world is coming” (John 14:30 ESV).  Jesus knows that the “end” is coming, but we know that the end is just the beginning.  Even so, Jesus gives His apostles hope, something to looks forward to in the future when it seems hope has come to an end.  Jesus acknowledges Satan as the “ruler of this world”.  Never underestimate the power of Satan here on this earth.  But equally so, do not underestimate the overwhelming power of our Savior.  Jesus says “He has no claim on me” (John 14:30 ESV).  Satan never took anything from God that God didn’t allow Him to have, including His Son.  None of the events that we are leading up to would have happened if God had not allowed it to happen.  When it seems that evil has the upper hand in your life, always remember, your Savior is stronger.  Your Savior is alive and well in spite of what Satan tried to do to Him and it is He that fights for you, alongside you.  You are not alone.

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:37-39).

Amen. Amen.

 

Traveling Faith

pablo (1)

For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and in Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything“(1 Thessalonians 1:8 ESV).

It seems that everyone had heard of the Thessalonians.  It wasn’t because of any earthly deeds.  They didn’t build amazing structures.  They didn’t have a mighty army.  They were “simply” proclaiming the word of God to anyone who would listen and speaking louder than words was their faith.  Their faith was so strong and so obvious that news of it spread about the whole region.  Everyone was speaking about the faith of the Thessalonians and consequently about the God they believed in.

Nothing speaks louder about God than our faith (or lack thereof).  If we do not believe in our message and the One who sends us, our words are meaningless.  How wonderful would it be if we, like the Thessalonians, had such wondrous faith that news of our faith spread like wildfire among the nations, carrying right along with it word of God? How many people could we encourage? How many people would turn to God? Oh, how would God’s kingdom grow!

Father, please give me a faith so strong that Your glory shines forth like a beacon so that all who see it will know that You are Lord and no one saves like You.

Save us, Lord!

praiseinstorm

And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing!” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm” (Matthew 8:25-26 ESV).

The day starts out just like any other day. The crowds press and Jesus and His disciples step into a small fishing boat and push off onto the beautiful blue-green waters of the Sea of Galilee, heading for the other side.  Jesus leans back and is lulled to sleep by a peaceful breeze and the gentle lapping of the waves on the sides of the boat.  All is at peace.

As they get father and farther out, the wind becomes less peaceful and the waves less gentle as they begin to toss the boat to and fro.  The apostles look up into angry, gray-green clouds that can only mean one thing to the experienced sailors: storm.  Like the fisherman they were, they had dealt with storms before and each of them struggles to do their best to keep the boat upright.  But this storm soon proves too much for them.  They are soon overcome with waves of fear just as the waves of the sea threaten to overcome their boat.  Amazingly, the Savior is still sleeping.  They rush to His side and violently shake Him awake. Like the storm, violence overcoming calm.  “Save us, Lord” they plead, “we are perishing!”

With inconceivable calm, Jesus rises.  With disappointment in His eyes, He first speaks to His disciples, His little children, “Why are you afraid?” When the Master of the Storms is with you, what is there to fear? Then turning to the storm He speaks, “Peace, be still” (Mark 4:39).  The Word that spoke all of Creation into existence spoke silence and calmed the storm.  “And there was a great calm”.  All is at peace.

It is easy to perceive the physical storm here, we have all experienced the storms of nature, but if you look closely, there are actually two storms here.  One physical. One spiritual.  You can almost feel the power of the physical storm.  “The boat was being swamped by the waves” (Matthew 8:24 ESV).  The spiritual storm is also familiar.  The apostles could not control the storm.  Fear washes over them.  We often fear what we cannot control.

As there are two storms, there are two rebukes as well.  When Jesus awakes, He rebukes the storms in order of importance.  First He turns to the disciples and rebukes the storm in their hearts.  “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?”  The disciples were letting fear overcome their faith.  It should have been the other way around.  With the Lord of Creation actually in the boat with them, what on earth or beyond did they have to fear?  So Christ speaks to their hearts, then He calms the waves.

The apostles were human, like us.  We, too, experience spiritual storms, storms of faith.  There is often a physical storm as a catalyst (we lose a job, or health, or a spouse), creating fear in us, causing us to doubt.  Our thoughts are consumed by the storm we are in and we cry to God, “Save us, Lord!”  God hears.  No matter how the wind howls, God hears.  However, like in our story, God often chooses to address our spiritual storm before He calms the storm outside our hearts.  He speaks to our faith, “Peace,” He says “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).  When our faith in God is strong, physical storms cannot overwhelm us.  God will overcome all.