It was one of the highest holy days of the year. People had come from far and wide to celebrate that holiday in Jerusalem. The disciples were celebrating it as well – with Jesus hosting the Passover meal.
What a celebratory evening it was supposed to be. But that’s not how it turned out. Instead, we see the disciples sitting around Jesus shell shocked. Their jaws are all dropped and there’s not a smile to be found in that room. Because just had just dropped three bombs on them that left them troubled and uneasy.
Bomb one was when he told them that he was going to leave them, and where he was going they could not follow. Now he was referring to the death that he would suffer the next day, but they couldn’t know that. All they knew was that the rabbi who taught them for three years, mentored them for three years, ate and drank with them for three years, was leaving them.
And then bomb number two. He told them that someone sitting among them that night would betray. Talk about shock! This caused all kinds of upset among them as they look around. “Is it I, Lord? Is it I, Lord?”
And then bomb number three. “Peter, you will deny me three times before the cock crows.” So now they all sit staring him, shell shocked, slack jawed. What had started out as a celebratory evening with hearts lifted, and suddenly changed. And now Jesus faces a family of uneasy disciples. He sees before him disciples with troubled hearts.
So these shell shocked guys must have been pretty puzzled when Jesus told them: “Let not your hearts be troubled.” It wasn’t a command, it wasn’t an exhortation. It was an invitation: “Let not your hearts be troubled.” It’s a choice they can make. They can choose to be uneasy and troubled. Or they can choose to have calm hearts.
Jesus will give them three reasons for a calm heart. It’s three reasons why we too can face troubling circumstances with a calm heart. It’s ours to choose, or ours to reject. Jesus doesn’t command us, he invites us: Let not your hearts be troubled.
Reason number one. We have the hope of heaven in our future. Jesus said, In my father’s house are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a palace for you?” This life we have now is as bad as it will get. The best is ahead and still waiting for us all.
Heaven is real. It’s something we can look forward to. All that we have now will pass. C.S. Lewis said, “If heaven and hell exist, nothing else matters; if heaven and hell don’t exist, then nothing matters.”
Not only is heaven real, but Jesus has prepared a place that is tailor made for you. Tailored made for you’re the unique person that you are. Your unique tastes, your unique hopes, your unique gifts
Jesus said, I am going to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I come again and take you to be to myself that you may be where I am. You know the way where I am going. That’s when Thomas piped up.
I think of all the disciples, Thomas is my favorite. Because Thomas steps out and is not afraid to ask what no one else will.
I remember one professor in a class on taxation of partnerships. He ran us through a very complicated fact pattern and laid out the accounting on the blackboard. The rest of us were writing as fast as we could to get that accounting down in our notes. He finished his summation and turns to the class: “So you can see how that all works out, okay.” No one said a word.
It was all I could do to just get the illustration down. I figured I would just ask someone after class. I did, but no one else understood it either. What I would have given for a Thomas to jump up and say, “No, I don’t get it.”
Thomas says to Jesus, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way.” God bless Thomas. Because Thomas’ question prompts Jesus to make one of the most important pronouncements in the bible. He tells Thomas, I am the Way and the Truth and the Life.”
And just to make sure there is no misunderstanding, Jesus continues: “No one comes to the Father except through me.”
He didn’t say, “I am the great teacher and my knowledge that I pass on to you gets you to heaven.” He didn’t say, “I am the great example of the perfect human being and you will get to heaven by emulating me.”
There was a little boy in church one Sunday who started \squirming around about midway through the service. His father gave him that look, at which point the boy told him, “I got to go potty.” Well, the father started to tell him how to get to the little boys room.
But the little boy looked puzzled. So the father took him out to the hall and pointed the way. The little boy still looked a little unsure. So the father just picked him up, clutched him to his chest, and took him to the little boys room.
The way to heaven is not Jesus’ teachings or Budha’s teachings, or Confucius’ wisdom. The way to heaven is not Jesus example. It’s not living a sincere life, or spending your life doing good works.
The way to heaven, the ONLY way to heaven is Jesus himself. Sorry, but it’s right there in black and white. It’s being with him, holding on to him, abiding with him. Let not your hearts be troubled, because you have the hope of heaven that no one can take away from you. And Jesus will get you there.
Jesus gives them the second reason for a calm heart. In any situation, we can have a calm heart because we know the nature of the Father. Philip said to Jesus, “Show us the father and we will be satisfied.” Jesus answered Philip, “Whoever has seen me has seen the father.”
So many times when we get into difficult situations, we want to cry out,
“Where is God?”
How do you picture God? Is he that white bearded, stern judge sitting up there in heaven ready to strike you down when you mess up? Is he the Eternal Accountant who keeps of ledger of all the good things you do and all the bad things. Philip said to Jesus, “Show us the father.” Well, that’s exactly what Jesus does. Because he says, I am in the Father and the father is in me. The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. I am in the Father and the Father in me. Earlier he told them, “The Father and I are one.”
Jesus is certainly claiming divinity. And that is important for us to know. Because if we want to know God’s nature, how God thinks, how God acts, Look at Jesus. Look how he dined with sinners. God dines with sinners. Look how ministered to prostitutes and tax collectors. God ministers to even the outcasts of the world. Look how he wept with those who wept. God weeps with those who weep.
A lot of people live their lives either in ignorance of God or in fear of him. They have no understanding of the nature of God. He is a God of compassion, because Jesus is compassionate. He is a God of forgiveness, because Jesus was always ready to forgive. He is a God of mercy, because Jesus was merciful. He is a God who invites us to him, because Jesus drew people to him.
Let not your hearts be troubled because you already know the nature of the God you serve and the God who loves you.
Reason one: We have the hope of heaven.
Reason two: We know the nature of the Father.
Jesus continues with the third reason. We have been given the privilege of prayer. Jesus told them: The one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, I fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask in my name.
Let not your hearts be troubled, because you have been given the privilege of prayer.
You and I have 24/7 access to a heavenly father in prayer. Some people say they don’t know how to pray. That’s especially true, I think, for a lot of us who have grown up with the beautiful prayers we find in our prayer book. But prayer is just talking to God. Prayer is also listening to God.
Now there is certainly blessing in praying in a beautifully appointed church. But God’s ears aren’t restricted to a church. We can pray anywhere. And while there is certainly blessing in praying on your knees, the standard posture of prayer for the rabbis in Jesus day was standing. I find some of my best prayer time is when I’m out walking alone.
You see a lot of people out walking or jogging and they’re plugged into their iTunes. I don’t want the distraction of those iTunes in my ear. When I’m out walking alone I can have a great conversation with God and I can hear him talk to me. It’s walking with God – like the disciples did with Jesus.
Let not your hearts be troubled, because God stands ready to hear your prayers anywhere, anytime – 24/7. It’s a privilege we are accorded as his disciples. In fact Jesus says, “I will do whatever you ask in my name.”
Wow! Is that the magic formula? Anything at all? Just invoke the name of Jesus? So that when someone cuts me off on the highway, I can say: “God, let that man get a flat tire and swerve off the highway where he will crash his car into a tree and die! In Jesus name.
Well, no. In the bible a person’s name is more than just identification. The name is an association. It speaks to their character or their nature that should be associated with them. Remember how Jacob tricked his father Isaac into giving him Esau’s blessing. The name Jacob means trickster.
So praying in Jesus name means that you pray as his disciple. You want be associated with Jesus in your prayer. You pray in harmony with his nature, with his character. These are the kind of prayers that Jesus delights in granting.
So that when we do face those troubling times, we can choose to have a calm heart. Because we can take it to the Father 24/7. He’s is ready to hear us as we seek his guidance, his comfort, his wisdom all in harmony with His Son. All in Jesus name.
You never know when life will drop another bomb on you. But we are not to be slaves to our circumstances. Jesus gives us the choice. Jesus invites us to have a calm heart regardless of what life deals us. There’s a reason Because he says greater things will we do than he did while he was with us.
Greater things! He stilled raging storms. He miraculously healed people. He fed 5,000 on two fish and five loaves. We’ll do greater things? Yes, because we are positioned to bring people to salvation. Heaven’s door was not yet opened to us when Jesus sat at that Last Supper. It took his death on the cross and resurrection to bring us into salvation.
But now we can bring others. We can give others the hope of heaven. We can acquaint others to a loving Father in heaven. We can share with others the privilege of prayer.
So take Jesus up on his invitation. Choose a calm heart. You have a bright future ahead. And you are uniquely positioned to take others along with you into that future.
Because you know Jesus Christ:
And The Life.