March 13, 2016
How many of you ever watched Extreme Makeover: Home Edition? Extreme Makeover: Home Edition was first aired in 2004. The show ended in 2012. On this show needy recipients would pretty much get a brand new house. The family would be sent away for a week of vacation and during that week, a large crew of construction workers would do a complete makeover of the house. It was a great show. Those families were given a gift of a new house.
We have been looking at grace gifts from Jesus to us. Why would a person consider following Jesus? Well, just consider what Jesus offers to give. He offers forgiveness, eternal living, the Holy Spirit, peace, love and joy. He gives the gift of prayer and today we look at Jesus’ gift of an eternal home. Jesus Christ has given the gift of an eternal home with God.
I. MANY ARE HOMELESS IN A WORLD OF TROUBLE. Jn.14:1
In Jn.14:1 Jesus says to his disciples, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.” It is important to get a sense of the context here. Jesus is maybe 24 hours away from his crucifixion. He has been telling his disciples that he was leaving them. In v.33 Jesus says, “Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, 'Where I am going you cannot come.” Peter would have none of that. In 13:37-38 we read, “Peter said to him, "Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you." Jesus answered, "Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.” This was all very troubling to these followers of Jesus.
Now just think about the implications for these men. In Mk.10:28, Peter says to Jesus, “See, we have left everything and followed you." They were committed followers of Jesus and now Jesus was going to leave them? Being with Jesus was wonderful. They felt safe and secure with Jesus. He could do anything. But they could not do anything. In fact Jesus predicted that Peter’s loyalty would fail.
Whether a person is a Christian or not, the reality is that life in this world is troubling to our hearts. To be sure, some of the trouble we experience is of our own doing. We make foolish choices and we pay a price. But much of our trouble is not of our own doing. Our hearts are troubled for many reasons. Some people experience more trouble than others. But all experience trouble and when we experience trouble our hearts are troubled.
In addition to the troubles of life, Christians are subject to the trouble that come with being a follower of Christ. Obviously Jesus was experiencing hostility from the religious leaders and soon he would be condemned to die by the Roman Government, and his followers would run away in fear. Following Jesus can get you into trouble. After Jesus was crucified, the followers of Jesus went into hiding. They were afraid. Where could they go?
Now when our hearts are troubled, there is often a sense of fear and insecurity. It’s true for everyone. When children, who live in a loving, committed family, experience trouble they are often able to find security in their parents. They are afraid but somehow knowing that Mom and Dad are nearby does a world of good. However adults often feel alone in the face of trouble. Of course, as adults we are supposed to be able to handle our troubles. But it isn’t easy. And while we may have a place to live, we may not be feeling the security of home and family. And in that sense we are homeless.
Followers of Jesus who experience trouble because of their faith, may actually be homeless because they are in prison or their homes were destroyed. In Lk.9 when a would be disciple said to Jesus, “I will follow you wherever you go," Jesus responded with the words, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head." Wow. Jesus was homeless and he is telling us that when we follow him we also may be homeless.
Here in Jn.14 Jesus tells his disciples what they need to do when facing trouble. He said that they were to believe in God and to believe in him. The verse literally reads, “believe in God and in me believe. Jesus is highlighting the truth that he is God in the flesh. He reveals God. To believe in the God Jesus revealed is to believe in Jesus. They are one.
While we are living in this world we will have trouble. Jesus has ascended to the Father and is not with us in the flesh. He is with us through the Holy Spirit. Here he tells us that the antidote for having a troubled heart is trust. God and his Son, Jesus, are big enough for when our hearts are troubled. But there is more.
II. JESUS IS PREPARING AN ETERNAL HOME FOR YOU. Jn.14:2-3
In 1964 Dionne Warwick sang the song, “A House Is Not a Home,” written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David. A house is not a home if no one is living there. Our church owns a house. It’s the house Angie and I live in. It’s your house, but it’s our home. It is often said, that “home is where the heart is.” The word, “home,” conveys images of family, love, comfort and security. Ideally we are at ease in our homes. We are able to be ourselves. Home is wherever we belong.
As Jesus speaks to his disciples who have troubled hearts he says, “There is a home waiting for you in my Father’s house.” Jerome, who died in 420 A.D. translated the Bible into Latin. When he translated Jn.14:2 he used the Latin word, mansiones which referred to a lodging place. When the Bible was translated into English the translators used the word that came closest, which was the word, “mansion.” “In my Father’s house are many mansions.” Well, when you are raised on the King James Version you get the idea that Jesus is saying that he is going to prepare mansions for us. We would sing, “I’ve got a mansion just over the hilltop in that bright land where we’ll never grow old.” I hope I don’t break anyone’s bubble here, but it doesn’t say that we will be living in mansions in heaven. The idea is more along the line of lodging.
What is Jesus saying in these verses? I believe Jesus is saying that in heaven there is plenty of room for everyone. But more than that, Jesus was encouraging his followers that he would personally see to their eternal welfare. There would be room for them in heaven. Jesus is talking about our eternal home.
But notice that this eternal home is not something we procure by ourselves. Jesus is preparing this place for us. How many people there are who have the idea that somehow they must earn their place in heaven? That’s not how Jesus says it. He is preparing a place.
Why did Jesus say this? He said this because he wanted his followers to know that they had an eternal dwelling place with him. Their lives were secure in him. They belonged to the family of God through him. Followers of Christ may face many troubles and literally not have a place to lay their heads, but that is only a temporary situation. In Christ a person is always at home. Now how is Jesus preparing this place?
Well, after all, he was known as the carpenter’s son! But I don’t think Jesus is in heaven carrying on a huge construction project. The truth is we don’t know exactly what Jesus means by this. Some suggest that the way Jesus prepares these rooms is through his life, death, resurrection and ascension to the Father. On the cross Jesus bore our sins, defeated the power satan, and reconciled all things to God. Through his resurrection Jesus defeated the power of death and brought about our justification before God. The point is that Jesus is the means by which we have a place waiting for us in the Father’s house.
And notice in v.3 that since Jesus puts forth all this effort to prepare a place for us, he will surely come back to take us to be with him. In this verse Jesus refers to the fact that he is coming again. We call this the second coming, the Second Advent. He is coming for his people, those who have embraced him as Savior, Lord, and King.
Why were the disciples troubled in heart? It was because Jesus was going to leave them. They had come to love Jesus. They did not want to lose Jesus. I don’t know what kind of picture you have of heaven. But whatever picture you have, you need to be sure it involves being with Jesus forever. Being with Jesus and the Father is the primary focus of heaven. If being with Jesus forever is not particularly appealing to you, then you need to do some serious thinking. How close are you to Jesus? What place does Jesus have in your life today? If you are not living close to Jesus and following in his way today, why would you want to be with him in heaven?
Men and women, I do not know what empty places there may be in your soul. I do know that everyone has places of emptiness in their souls. Everyone carries hurts, tears and fears. Even today, some of you have troubled hearts. Jesus says, “Let not your heart be troubled. Jesus is making sure there is room for you in the eternal kingdom of God. The question is how one finds their place in the kingdom of God.
III. FOLLOW THE PATHWAY HOME. Jn.14:4-6
As far as the disciples were concerned it seemed that Jesus was speaking in riddles. When Jesus says, “You know the way to where I am going,” Thomas, speaking for all the disciples, says, “We do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” If you don’t know the destination, it’s pretty difficult to know the way. It’s one thing to talk about heaven, but who of us knows where heaven is? From these verses we do know that heaven is where God is. Heaven is the Father’s house, but how is that helpful? And even if we did know where heaven is, would that help us know the way to get there? Not at all.
Jesus said, I am the way. The way to heaven is Jesus. In fact, at the end of v.6 Jesus makes it clear that no one goes to the Father apart from Jesus. This is why I am saying that having an eternal home is a gift that Jesus gives to us. So let’s think about how one receives this gift.
Clearly, the fact that Jesus says I am the way implies that we will need to have some kind of relationship with Jesus. Many years ago as a brash young college student, I and a friend got tickets to see the Dave Brubeck Quartet in Orchestra Hall in Chicago. After the concert I said, “Let’s see if we can go back stage and meet Dave Brubeck.” I had a lot more hutzpah in those days. We made our way back stage and someone said to me, “Who are you?” I told him my name and that we wanted to thank Dave Brubeck for the concert. Then he turned to my friend and said, “Who are you.” My friend said, “I’m with Dave.” Well somehow he let us go and we met Dave Brubeck.” The point I want us to see is that no one will enter into heaven without being able to say, “I’m with Jesus.”
When Jesus walked on the earth, he continually called people to turn from their present way of life and follow him. To follow Jesus means to put one’s trust or confidence in all that Jesus says and does. To follow Jesus means you take his teachings to be true and you seek to put into practice what Jesus commanded because you trust that Jesus knows the best way to live. After all, Jesus is not just the way; he is the truth. To follow Jesus means that you come to the realization that up until now you have not followed him. In fact you have followed your own self-centered way and have ignored his commands. To follow Jesus is to abandon personal pride and humbly embrace Jesus as the only way to God.
Jesus is the Messiah of Israel. He is the Savior, Lord and King of the world. He lived a perfect life and died on the cross for us. Jesus’ death on the cross brought forgiveness of sin as he bore our guilt and took our punishment. He rose from the dead. He ascended to the Father and is now reigning over heaven and earth. Because Jesus is alive, it is possible to enter into relationship with him and receive his eternal life to live beginning immediately. To receive Jesus is to receive his life. After all, Jesus is not just the way and the truth, Jesus is the life. He is what life is all about. So how does a person begin a life giving relationship with Jesus? How does a person receive Jesus’ gift of an eternal home with God?
As I answer this question I must begin with the truth that to embrace Jesus is not just to receive the gift of heaven when you die. It is to receive eternal living from Jesus that leads to heaven when you die. The life we receive from Jesus is life in his kingdom, life under his rule. You are not just receiving a commodity called life. You are receiving a life that brings an inner transformation of your character and conduct as you follow Jesus in obedience. This life is a way of living. This way of living prepares us for heaven when we die.
That said, if you are interested in receiving this wonderful gift of a dwelling place with God in heaven, then in your heart and mind turn away from your current way of living and invite Jesus to come into your life. Ask Jesus to forgive your sins. With the help of the Holy Spirit, commit yourself to be a follower of Jesus, attending to his life and teachings and seeking to do all that he commanded. And all that he commanded is found in the New Testament. To embrace Jesus is to become his faithful disciple. Being a disciple of Jesus is how to follow the pathway home.
I’ve been to many funerals and I find that most people seem to have some belief in an afterlife. It is common to hear people say things like, “He’s in a better place now.” “She’s at peace now.” Sometimes people will say, “God needed another angel.” There is no teaching in the Bible that would support that idea. Clearly many people are hoping for a better life after death. Well, that better life is found only in Jesus. What is more, that better life can be entered into now by embracing Jesus as your Savior, Lord and King. The gift is yours if you will have Jesus. Amen