Expository Sermon on John 14
For Lamare Lammie’s baptism
March 18, 2023

(To watch this entire worship service, click the link just below.)

Like the fourth-generation Seventh-day Adventist that he is, Lamare chose for today’s Scripture a set of verses that have been Adventist favorites for many more generations than just four. We are Adventists, after all, and these verses give heart-cheering news about the coming of Jesus (His “advent”) and what will happen afterward.

But this morning I would like to look at what these John 14 verses tell us about what needs to happen in our lives right now BEFORE Jesus returns.

Today is March 18, 2023. Jesus has not yet arrived in the way He talks about in these verses. That date will be sometime in the future. And we don’t know what that date is.
This means that Lamare and the rest of us are somehow going to have to get from here to there, from today to then, with our souls intact and saveable.

I used to think that the first few verses of John 14 were basically sort of a travel-agency preview of Heaven. Many mansions, all prepared and ready for you, so don’t miss the trip! But as we’ll find out over the next few minutes, Jesus wasn’t as interested in the “heaven” destination as He was in the time between now and then.

So let’s take another look at these beloved verses and find out more about why Jesus spoke them. As you might be aware, by the time He said these words, the Last Supper had just concluded. It’s Thursday night, and by three o’clock the next day He will be hanging pinned to a Roman cross, and He will finally breathe His last.

And it’s also important to discover that John 14, verse 1 is merely the start of a new chapter. It’s not the start of Jesus’ discussion. He didn’t say to Himself out of the blue, “Okay, now I’ll give My friends a little talk about heaven.”

No, these words are in response to what they’ve all been talking about in the last part of John 13. In John 14:1, Jesus says, “Let not your heart be troubled.” That’s something He said because they’d just been talking about some really heart-troubling topics.
And just like the disciples, Jesus knew that you and I and Lamare are also going to be facing troublesome times. But Jesus is going to give us three heart-calmers, three encouragements. And the way I’ve arranged them, they all start with the letter “C.”
So let’s hunt for these three “C’s.” Because we will need them in the days ahead.
John 14:1 [NKJV]: “Let not your heart be troubled; . . .”

So, what was troubling their hearts? Glance a few verses back, to chapter 13, verse 31.

John 13:31 – 33 So, when he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified, and God is glorified in Him. If God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and glorify Him immediately. 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.

And then Jesus seems to suddenly switch topics. He starts telling them how important it is for them to love one another, and that this will show that they are His disciples.

But His friends are not listening to Him. As soon as He says that He is going away, they lock in on that fact and want to know more.

Verse 36: Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, where are You going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow Me now, but you shall follow Me afterward.”

So what’s one thing that was causing the disciples’ hearts to be troubled? It was separation anxiety. A couple of days ago Shelley and I were in a restaurant, when in through the door came a young mother. Following her was her little daughter, who must have been two or maybe three. Mom held one end of a blue pastic coiled “leash” which was attached to her daughter’s arm.

It turns out that Dad was the person on duty at the restaurant (I think that the two of them are the owners, or at least the managers.) Mom talked to Dad for a moment, and then tried to give him their daughter while she went to the back of the restaurant. But the little girl immediately began to scream. As far as Shelley and I could tell, this little gal had separation anxiety. Even though Daddy was right there, and she knew him well, she wanted to stay with Mommy.

Which is exactly what the disciples wanted—to stay with their Teacher and Friend. They didn’t want Him to leave. Just like that little girl, they needed the first of the three C’s. (If you’re taking down sermon notes, here comes Sermon Point One.)

The first heart-calmer, the first encourager Jesus gives His disciples is comfort.

Do you need comfort this morning? Every Wednesday night during our prayer phone call we hear about people and situations that cry out for comfort. A couple of our church family and friends are now on hospice. Another is in a trauma hospital going through a tortuously slow recovery from injuries. And these are just the heart-troublers we know about. Many people keep their worries to themselves for as long as possible.

So how does Jesus start providing comfort? Peter and his disciple friends are having separation anxiety, and over the next few hours they’re going to need even more comfort.

So maybe what seemed to be a topic-switch wasn’t that far off-topic after all. Let’s start back at verse 33 again.

John 13:33 – 35: 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 have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Isn’t that interesting? Jesus doesn’t seem to be switching topics after all. He tells them He’s going away, and He senses their separation anxiety, and quickly He reminds them of a powerful source of comfort—the mutual love and support of not only family but friends in the faith.

This is why I feel so secure about Lamare and his future. He has felt this love, the love of his parents, and the love of relatives half-a-planet away, surrounding him. They’ve told him about this, again, this morning.

And as Shelley demonstrated earlier, Lamare—and you and I—are within a church family that can provide the comfort we need. A few days back, when I sent out a note about our no-internet status, someone assumed that our electric power was out, and asked if they could provide lunch for us. That’s an example of the kind of caring a congregation can become really famous for.

(By the way, our power is fine, our landline phone is fine, and our cell phones are fine, and our internet just popped back on yesterday. We’re all connected again.)

So please don’t treat in-person church attendance and fellowship carelessly. Getting together every week is a way we can communicate our love and respect for each other, and bond more closely. Weekly fellowship gives us comfort in knowing that other people have our backs.

But there’s a second heart-calming “C” Jesus knows that Lamare and the rest of us will need in the days ahead. Let’s keep reading. As I mentioned, Peter totally ignored Jesus’ “love one another” comments and fixated on his separation anxiety feelings. Watch what happens.

Verses 36 – 38: Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, where are You going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow Me now, but you shall follow Me afterward.” Peter said to Him, “Lord, why can I not follow You now? I will lay down my life for Your sake.” Jesus answered him, “Will you lay down your life for My sake? Most assuredly, I say to you, the rooster shall not crow till you have denied Me three times.

Wow. Talk about heart-troublers. Jesus has just told His friends that He is leaving them, and now He tells them that Peter is leaving Him. Early tomorrow morning, Peter will rip out several of those fishermen’s oaths he learned so well on the job, and he’ll scatter them around to prove to anybody listening that no, he is not one of Jesus’ disciples, and furthermore, he doesn’t even know Jesus at all. And he will do this within the hearing of one more Listener–the one he is brutally cancelling from his life.

And what must the rest of the disciples have been thinking right then? Jesus has told them that He is going away, and of course they believe Him, because they’ve learned that whatever He says comes true. And now they’ve seen Jesus look Peter in the eye—this tough, big-talking disciple who has just vowed to be faithful to Jesus till death—and they’ve heard Jesus tell him that it won’t be long until he will profanely pretend that he never had anything to do with Jesus at all.

So the rest of the disciples must be saying to themselves, “What is going to happen? What will take place that will make this disciple—whom Jesus nicknamed ‘The Rock’—do this horrible thing? And if Peter caves like this, what will the rest of us do?”

So not only do these disciples desperately need comfort, but they need a second heart-calmer that starts with “C.”

If the first heart-calmer Jesus gives His disciples is comfort, the second is courage.

First the disciples felt separation-anxiety sorrow, and now they feel terror.

I felt a mild bit of terror this week as I heard about the Silicon Valley Bank failure. I don’t have any money in SVB, or anything like that. It’s just that the news headlines kept saying that this was the second-largest bank failure in US history. And do you know what the first-largest failure was? Washington Mutual—the bank Shelley and I had been using since it had absorbed Pacific First Federal years ago.

Well, as you might remember, in 2008 WAMU was quickly scooped up by JP Morgan Chase, so Shelley and I felt no hiccup in our finances. But now here comes the SVB failure, and Chase is dipping into its own funds to help bail out SVB. Even though the FDIC insurance would kick in, it kind of makes you wonder. It kind of makes you need a bit of courage.

Well, courage is what Jesus provides. As you know, when John and the other Bible books were written, there were no such things as chapter and verse numbers. So John 14 isn’t starting a new topic and a new discussion. It is just following on from John 13.
So when Jesus speaks Lamare’s familiar verse, He is responding directly to what has just happened. And notice the specific ways Jesus gives courage.

John 14:1 “Let not your heart be troubled . . . ;

What can give courage to troubled hearts?

The first thing Jesus tells us to do is to not let our hearts be troubled. In other words, Jesus gives us permission not to be ruled by our fears. “Your hearts are troubled?” He asks us. “Don’t let them be.”

Our first response might be, “Well, that’s easy to say, but there are things happening that really DO trouble my heart.”

But Jesus tells us we don’t have to let our hearts be troubled. And He immediately gives us some reasons.

Verse 1: “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.

Do you see what He’s saying? The disciples need to put their trust in Jesus in the same way they had been taught to put their trust in God. Jesus and God are related. Jesus is the Son of God. In Matthew 28:18 He will reinforce this idea: He’ll say, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.”

So as we need comfort and courage, Jesus insists that Lamare and the rest of us need to put more and more trust in God, and in Jesus Himself. God and His Son are not helpless.

And notice another piece of courage He gives them.

Verses 1 – 3: “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 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.

Do you see how encouraging (and comforting) this is? Jesus says, “I’m going away, true. But I’m going to get a place ready for you. In My Father’s house are many mansions.”

“Mansions” is what it says in the King James Version, and the New King James. When I hear “mansions,” I immediately get a picture in my mind of the “McMansions” I sometimes see in this area. Most of the time these houses aren’t really that much larger than ordinary-looking homes, but they have been craftily designed to look like little palaces.

But if you look at the Greek word, it’s monai, and it simply means “rooms” or “dwelling places.” The reason the King James used the word “mansion” is that the Latin Vulgate says mansiones, but that simply comes from the Latin word manere, which means “remain.”

Because Jesus’ point here wasn’t to tell us how lavish our living quarters will be, but to give us priceless courage and comfort by telling us that God really wants us to live with Him—and “remain” with Him–and He is going to send His Son to escort us to those dwelling places, whatever they might look like.

So, Lamare, and everybody else, whatever life and Lucifer throw at you in the days ahead, do not let your hearts be troubled. Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world

I mentioned that there were three “C’s,” three heart-calming encouragers, that Jesus provided in Lamare’s Scripture passage. I believe there’s a third “C” which is actually a thrilling one. Watch this:

Verses 3 – 4: 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. And where I go you know, and the way you know.”

Can you spot the third “C,” the third heart-calmer? It’s an unusual one. Here it is:

If the first heart-calmer Jesus gives His disciples is comfort, and if the second is courage, I believe the third heart-calmer is challenge.

Thomas doesn’t pause to savor the challenge. Instead, he speaks up, and like Peter, lets Jesus know he has no clue where Jesus is going.

Verse 5: Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?”

Do you see what Jesus is doing here? He’s not spoon-feeding His disciples. He’s challenging them. He could have said, “Okay, guys. I’m going back to heaven, where I came from.” But He doesn’t do that. He challenges their minds to jump across the gap from what they know to what they don’t know, using what they know from watching Him and listening to His words.

So He says, “I’m going away, and you know the way.” Thomas says, “No we don’t.” And rather than saying in exasperation, “It’s heaven, Thomas,” Jesus speaks an even more encouraging truth:

Verses 5 – 7: Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.”

So there are Jesus’ three heart-calmers: comfort, courage, and challenge. Why is challenge such a wonderful heart-calmer? Because it involves our minds. Many of Jesus’ parables were challenges. Some were so challenging that the disciples had to get Him off by Himself and ask Him to explain them.

You see, Jesus created our minds. And He knows that in order for me to really “get,” to really understand a truth, it needs to be one I have wrestled with and figured out for myself, rather than being spoon-fed something that goes in one ear and out the other. Good teachers have always known this.

So Lamare—and everybody else—in the days and weeks and years again, sometimes you’ll need comfort. Sometimes you’ll need courage. And sometimes—to seal truth in your mind—you’ll need to be challenged. Jesus knows this, and He will give you what you need.

So, Lamare, pay close attention to what all your relatives have told you by video. But pay special attention to Aunt Clarene, who told you to “spend time in the Word,” your Bible. That way you’ll get to know God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit, and your mind and heart will rise to meet the challenges they allow to come your way.

Because, as He very clearly said, Jesus is returning to take us to the place He has prepared for us. And the closing song which Lamare chose allows us to sing out this joyous truth.

So let’s do that right now, as we close. Let’s stand and sing “When We All Get to Heaven” – #633.