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Author:Rev. Reuben Bredenhof
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Congregation:Free Reformed Church of Mt. Nasura
 Mt. Nasura, Western Australia
 frca.org.au/mountnasura/
 
Title:Let not your heart be troubled
Text:John 14:27 (View)
Occasion:Ascension Day
Topic:Life in Christ
 
Preached:2021
Added:2021-05-13
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Ps 24:1,5                                                                                            

Ps 119:1,2

Reading – John 14

Ps 47:1,2,3

Sermon – John 14:27

Hy 39:1,2,3,4,5

Hy 41:1,2,3

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Reuben Bredenhof, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Brothers and sisters, when parents are headed out for the evening, they might give their teenaged children some last-minute instructions: “Don’t forget to feed the dog. No fighting. Turn the lights off when you go to bed. We’ll be home by eleven.” Parting words, then they’re gone.

Something like this is happening in John 14. Jesus has told his disciples that He is soon going to depart, and He has announced it before it happens so they’re not unprepared. For his departure won’t be the normal kind, like when we say goodbye to farewell loved ones at the airport. This departure is more final, but it’s also less absolute. It is more final, because Jesus is headed to his death. And it is less absolute, because Jesus is going to return from the grave as the risen and triumphant Lord.

Having told his disciples about his ‘departing,’ Jesus now takes a step closer to the door. But the disciples are still very anxious. “Lord, where are you going?” Peter asked. “Why can’t we go with you?” Was the Lord’s help now going to be out of reach? Isn’t that what we would think too? Long distance love just isn’t the same.

Our Saviour understands the fears of his people. For that reason, He speaks comfort to his disciples, and they are words of comfort and instruction for us too. Christ says: “Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me” (John 14:1). Trust in him! With Christ ascended into heaven, we need not fear but have every reason to walk by faith in his name. I preach God’s Word from John 14:27,

            ‘Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid,’ for:

           1)  Jesus has ascended into heaven

                        2)  Jesus is working in heaven

                        3)  Jesus will come again from heaven

 

1) Jesus has ascended into heaven: It was a special time in those years when Jesus walked the earth. It was unlike anything seen before: God came down, took on human flesh, and He lived among men. Jesus looked like any other person, acted like one, spoke like one—yet He was different. He was more. Remember that his name was Immanuel, ‘God with us.”

He walked among us for a purpose: He came as the one who’d suffer and die and rise again. And when Jesus speaks to his disciples in John 14, this task lays heavy on his mind. It was the night of the Passover, and they had already shared the Last Supper. Satan has just entered Judas, who disappeared into the night to do his betraying. The countdown to the cross was in its last hours, and as the Son of God, Jesus can clearly envisage his own pending death.

So He tells his disciples: “I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming” (v 30). That sounds ominous. Satan is called ‘the ruler of this world,’ and Jesus sees him getting closer on the radar, preparing to attack. And this is really the moment of truth: will Jesus remain faithful to his calling? Satan is going to offer this temptation to Christ more than once as death looms large. Why not bail, right now? Escape all this misery? Look to your own interests for once.

“The ruler of this world is coming,” says Jesus, but “he has nothing in me” (v 30). As the final test gets closer, Christ assures his disciples that He will not fail. For more than thirty years, Satan has been unable to break Christ’s commitment to his task, and he won’t do so now.

Rather, says Christ, in just a few hours, “The world [will] know that I love the Father” (v 31). All along, this is the purpose that kept Jesus going, his motivation: obedient love for his Father! And because of that obedience, the next day sees Jesus enduring all the shame and torture of hell. Out of love for the Father, Jesus gave until He had nothing left to give.   

For many people, that was the end of the story. Most people probably assumed that Jesus was now gone, soon to be forgotten. Jesus told his disciples this very thing, “A little while longer and the world will see me no more” (v 19). He would be dead and buried—out of sight, out of mind. His time in the spotlight, seemingly at an end.

“The world will see me no more,” says Christ, but here’s the twist in the story, the surprise and the sequel: “but you will see me” (v 19). And only three days later, these words of Jesus came true. For the disciples did see him! The resurrection was God’s stamp of approval on all of Christ’s suffering. The resurrection was the divine receipt that Jesus had paid the price for sin, down to the very last penny.

Jesus’s mission on earth was done. His saving work was complete—so what was left for him to do? In human terms, we might say that Jesus was going to be “transferred.” It was time to be promoted and to be given a new workspace. Jesus was going from earth, back to heaven. He would ascend and take his throne.

Actually, this was another proof that the Father was well-pleased with his Son. If there had been anything deficient in his earthly accomplishments, Jesus would’ve had to stay. If there had been any need for a do-over, Jesus would’ve had to remain on earth! But He was going, ascending on high in victory.

Notice how even before He goes to the cross, Christ has the conviction that He’ll be returning to heaven. He tells his disciples that soon He’ll be leaving for “his Father’s house” (v 2). He is so confident of this: After the cross, glory!

Jesus is sure of a good outcome, but all this was disconcerting for the disciples. First, they have to come to grips with one departure: Jesus dying. Then a second departure: the resurrected Jesus, going back to heaven. It’s almost too much to bear! You can well imagine the disciples wondering what it meant, and questioning how faithful Jesus was, to leave them not once, but twice. How could He put them through pain and sorrow one day, and then do it again, some forty days later?

All this makes Jesus’s words in verse 27 so powerful. He is leaving, yet bestows enduring grace on his disciples, and on us: “Peace I leave with you.” You’ve probably heard that it was a normal greeting in Israel to say “Peace” to someone.

But we know that ‘peace’ means much more, because it is spoken by Jesus, the Lord of salvation. It’s what He’ll say again once He has risen from the grave, greeting his disciples with that amazing word: “Peace to you” (John 20:19). Jesus was getting ready to leave, but in his absence He is going to give the surest, the deepest, the most lasting peace.

Probably most people on this earth spend a large part of their life searching for peace. Everyone is looking for a place of safety and acceptance and wholeness. In a world full of distress and anxiety, we crave a sense of tranquility.

Sometimes we think that we’ve found peace, but it’s only as lasting as the thing that we’ve chosen to put our trust in. If you find peace in the comfortable condition of your life right now, or security in the shiny new things you have, or a sense of acceptance through the wonderful people that you know, then your peace won’t last. Human-based tranquility will always crumble. This peace will fall to pieces. Hopefully we’ve all learned that by now.

But Christ gives true peace. He says, “My peace I give you.” It’s a different kind of peace, for it is his! He gives the priceless peace that He bought and paid for, shares the peace He created on the cross. For by his redeeming work, there is nothing that can separate us from God’s love. Now we are precious and preserved, always. These are powerful parting words for us to hold onto until we see him again: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you.”

To that He adds these gospel words: “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (v 27). With our Saviour in heaven, there is no need for us to fear. Because Jesus has ascended into God’s presence, and He is there as our King, anxiety has been banished.

‘Don’t let your heart be troubled.’ That’s easy to say of course. The disciples were anxious, because it wouldn’t be the same when Jesus left. How could it be? There was no voice to hear anymore, no face to see, no hand to touch. And our human hearts are so often troubled—we’re troubled by fear of the future, by a sharp disappointment with our life, by temptations and sorrows and the strain of everyday living.

But we have peace, says Christ. In fact, our peace is even more certain because He has left this earth! He says in verse 28, “If you loved me, you would rejoice because I said, ‘I am going to the Father.’” It sounds strange, the notion that we should be glad—even rejoice—that He has gone away! It’d be like a friend of yours taking a job in Argentina, and you call him up a few weeks later and you say, “You know, things are much better now that you’ve left. I’ve really been happy about it.” Sounds rude to say you’re glad that he’s gone. But that’s what Jesus says, “If you loved me, you would rejoice because I said, ‘I am going to the Father.’”

If we really love Jesus, if we understand his mission, we can be glad that He is gone. Because we have the insight that this is something Christ needs to do in order to move forward God’s plan. We’re glad, because we know that Christ went back to heaven to keep working, to keep saving, to keep sending grace.

 

2) Jesus is working in heaven: When Jesus departs, He doesn’t give empty words of comfort. Because He tells us exactly what He’ll do up in heaven. His first task is all about prayer—about our prayers, but also his prayers. Jesus promises his disciples in John 14:13, “Whatever you ask in my name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” Because He has gone to heaven, He can answer the prayers we offer up.

Now, we probably understand what Jesus is not saying here. He’s not saying that we can have whatever we desire—we just have to fill out the paperwork, and we’ll receive it. And it’s a good thing we don’t. Usually we have no idea about what would be best for us.

Jesus doesn’t guarantee entrance to our preferred university, or a smoother complexion, or a shiny new boat—but that doesn’t make his promise in John 14 any less amazing! For read his words again carefully, “I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.”

The kinds of things that our Lord will grant from heaven are those things that bring glory (not to us) but to the Father! He’ll provide those gifts that bring God honour, that will help us (and others) to see the LORD as great.

What does that look like? What are we allowed to ask him for? It is this: whatever you need for fighting against the sins and temptations in your life, He’ll give. If you’re in a tough relationship, and you need an extra measure of courage, and determination, and wisdom, then ask for it, and He’ll grant it. And He will give the gifts and love and patience that you need for serving in the church, and in your family. And what you need for persevering, and growing, and learning God’s will, He will give. Jesus delights to grant these things to us, because He loves us. He wants to see us grow, and be fruitful, and faithful, and He wants us to glorify the Father.

Jesus’s promise means we can be confident that He’s listening. He listens, when you are worried, and when you ask to experience his gift of peace. He listens when you are confronted by hostile people, and you ask for boldness. When you’re confused about what to do and where to go, and you ask for understanding, He listens and answers. Because these are things that will help you to glorify the Father.

Now, we might pray often, and there is no change. We pray for something that you’re sure would’ve helped you to honour the LORD, and yet we don’t receive it. Maybe you’ve asked to receive children, or you prayed to find a life-partner, or you asked for improved health. You definitely could serve God if you had these things, so we struggle if we don’t receive them.

Then remember Christ in heaven. Recall his precious words, “Trust in God, trust also in me.” Trust that He is listening, trust that He is able to answer, and trust that He will answer you according to his perfect wisdom and unfailing goodness! Christ knows what is best for us, far better than we know. He knows what we can handle, the ways in which we still need to grow, and what future moments we need to be prepared for. Trust in God, trust also in him.

He gives us a great reason for trust when He says in verse 12, “He who believes in me, the works that I do he will do also.” Then Jesus goes one step farther, “And greater works than these he will do, because I go to my Father” (v 12). Notice the close connection—because Jesus has ascended, because He returned to his Father, we will do great things, even “greater works.”

What “great things” can you and I ever do? Sometimes we think the only “great things” a person can today do are the spectacular, the stunning, the viral. You have to do a crazy stunt, or make a heap of money, or master an incredible skill. Meanwhile, the rest of us plod along in mediocrity. Our life seems very ordinary, yet Christ says all his believers will do great things.

The way that God looks at this life, a great thing is you, believing in him. A great thing is you, bearing holy fruits of love and joy and gentleness. It’s a great thing when you can turn down the devil’s enticements. It’s a great thing when children praise God’s name with their enthusiastic songs of joy. A great thing is the tender love of a mother, and the wise leadership of a father, together with the faithfulness and harmony of husband and wife. And you, going to your job every day and being diligent in the small things, and honouring the Lord through the opportunities He puts in front of you—that’s a great thing.

These are great things done in his strength—and, says Jesus, “greater things” (v 12) are yet be done. Greater things, as in more and more, year by year. It happens when you tell someone about the gospel. When you continue to grow in the Scriptures. When you step outside of what is comfortable and find a new way to serve God.

The reason we can do any of this is because Jesus has gone to heaven, and from heaven He sends his Spirit: “I will pray the Father,” Christ says, “and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever” (v 16). Jesus didn’t go away and leave us as orphans, bereft and lonely. But Christ sends his Spirit, and his Spirit brings Christ to us.

Jesus says that the Spirit “will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (v 26). The Spirit gives us a living hold on the gospel, and He cultivates in us the seeds of truth that have been sown by Jesus. The Spirit instills the conviction, “Truly, you are a child of God. Truly, your sins are forgiven at the cross. And do not be troubled, because Jesus is coming again.”

           

3) Jesus will come again from heaven: We said that when parents leave at night, they usually mention when they hope to come back. So also when Jesus leaves, He points ahead to the time of his return. For Jesus says that right now He’s in heaven, getting ready for that last day: “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” (v 3). It won’t be an indefinite separation, but for a set amount of time—every day getting closer. On his throne, the Lord Jesus is planning our great reunion.

His words are familiar, but richly laden with comfort: “In my Father’s house are many mansions…I go to prepare a place for you” (v 2). Jesus uses a picture to teach us the wonder of what He’s doing. Christ says it’s like the Father has a house in heaven—and the NKJV uses that lovely phrase: it’s a house “with many mansions.” Just picture a vast and luxurious dwelling, with many rooms, for many people to fill.

For God’s children, the Father’s house is the place of the ultimate peace. And it’s not like a holiday home that you go to for a week or two. It’s permanent, even eternal. It’s the very dwelling place of God, and the dwelling place of the redeemed! Christ has ascended to heaven so that He can get it ready for us.

But until then, we have to wait. Some weeks after our chapter, on that day when Jesus ascended, the angels told the disciples, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way.” Remember that the ascension is not the end of the story. Instead, it’s another important chapter that brings us closer to the glorious conclusion. Jesus is gone, but He’ll be back. It might be a while, but He will be back.

And what does that mean for while we wait? When you’re waiting for something, the easiest thing to do is to get distracted. You’re waiting for your turn in the dentist chair, so you watch some mindless TV show, or scroll through your phone one more time. But while we’re waiting for Christ, we need to set our hearts on him.

As Jesus said to his disciples, “Soon the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me.” How can we see Christ? With the eyes of faith. By faith, you can behold the ascended Lord. To see him, just look to his Word. To see him, just close your eyes in prayer. To see the works of Christ, just notice his brothers and sisters all around you—and love them.

If you’re always looking to Christ, your life takes on a new direction. If you keep looking to Christ, you’ll move toward him in trust and worship, and you’ll also be ready when He returns. For He will return! Verse 3: “I will come again and receive you to myself, that where I am, there you may be also” (v 3).

Listen to those longing words of Jesus. He has ascended, but He doesn’t want us to stay apart forever. No, Christ wants us to be where He is. Christ wants us to join him, even standing in the glorious presence of the Father, “that where I am, there you may be also.” And there, in his presence, we will have lasting peace, forever and ever.  Amen.




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Reuben Bredenhof, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2021, Rev. Reuben Bredenhof

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