Belief in Jesus Christ is the cure for our troubles.
John(82) (Part of the Believe(74) series)
by Marc Webb(56) on May 24, 2020 (Sunday Morning(282))
If I were to ask everyone this morning do you Got Trouble? I would expect that most of us would say yes. At this particular moment in time that could be a loaded question. But we’ve always had trouble, haven’t we? Even before we ever heard the word coronavirus we had troubles. We had stress, anxiety, busyness, sorrow, fear, depression, sickness, and loneliness. We were troubled about climate change, the government, unemployment, our country, our world, and technology. We had physical, emotional, spiritual, and financial troubles. We had trouble at work and at school, etc.
Then coronavirus hit and all our troubles were amplified. We now have more stress and anxiety, more loneliness, more fear, more uncertainty, more unemployment, etc. We’ve also added troubles that come from living isolated from others and from teaching and learning online.
So got trouble? Yes, of course, we do. Trouble has been around since Adam and Eve sinned and all of a sudden were troubled by their nakedness. They were troubled by their sin and shame. Humans have had trouble for a long, long time. But I believe the key is how do we respond to our troubles? Do we hide ourselves from God like Adam and Eve did or do we confront our troubles and pursue the cure for them? Maybe this morning you can admit to having troubles but don’t know how to properly respond to them. Or maybe you have troubles and know how you should respond but are struggling with that response. No matter how you are struggling with your troubles this morning, I want you to know that God’s word gives us the cure. I hope and pray that you will take some next steps this morning in response to your troubles.
In our passage this morning, we see that the disciples also had troubles. They were troubled by many things. They were mainly troubled emotionally and were struggling in how to respond. Jesus tells them that his presence, his person and his power would help them to properly respond to their feelings of being troubled. But before he explained how his presence, person and power would calm their troubles, there was one thing they needed to do first and that was believe. The same is true for us today. The cure for our troubles is the same as the cure was for the disciples back then. John wants us to understand this morning that “Belief in Jesus Christ is the cure for our troubles.” That is our big idea this morning. If we first don’t believe in Jesus as the Son of God, as God incarnate, then we will never believe in his presence with us, in his person to save us and in his power to answer all our prayers asked in his name. Before we dive into our study of God’s word this morning lets humble ourselves in prayer.
Dear Heavenly Father, I pray for your Holy Spirit to fill us, to fill our hearts and minds wherever we are worshipping you this morning. Thank you Lord that our worship of you is not reliant on a building but is reliant on a heart. A heart that is open and receptive to your spirit. I pray that your thoughts and words would penetrate our hearts and minds and that even in this time of isolation you will give us ordained opportunities to share your word with people this week. I thank you that your Word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. May your word encourage us, guide us and convict us where needed. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Our first point this morning is Christ’s Presence. Belief in the presence of Jesus Christ is the cure for our troubles. Follow along as I read from the gospel of John 14:1-5. This is what God’s Word says, “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 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 you know the way where I am going.” Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?”
The first thing we see in this passage is that the disciples are troubled in their hearts. They are emotionally troubled. What were the disciples troubled about? Well first of all, Jesus had told them in the week leading up to this moment that he was going to die. This troubled the disciples because they must have been thinking how could a dead Messiah set up a kingdom and rule the world. It didn’t make any sense. Just with that piece of information it must have seemed as if their world was crumbling and crashing down around them. Then in the Upper Room Jesus washes their feet coming on the heels of the disciples arguing amongst themselves about who was the greatest among them. The shame they probably felt then added to their emotional turmoil. Then Jesus tells them that one of them was going to betray him. Think about what their emotional states must have been like.
But just as they thought their troubled hearts couldn’t take anymore, Jesus again says he is leaving them and they cannot follow him and that Peter is going to deny Jesus three times in one night. We saw this in Pastor Stuart’s sermon last week. Peter has just asked why he couldn’t follow Jesus now. He said he would follow his Lord and Savior anywhere. Peter said he would even lay down his life for him. In John 13:38, we see these words, Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times!” The disciple were probably thinking that if Peter couldn’t stand against the coming trial then what chance did they have.
I also think that the disciples were troubled because they could feel that Jesus was troubled. Have you ever become troubled for no other reason then someone close to you was troubled? Jesus was troubled and that must have added even more to the disciples’ troubled hearts. Fear, sorrow, uncertainty, loneliness, stress, anxiety and possibly even depression was probably setting in by now.
So in the midst of all these troubles, Jesus says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” Wow. Did Jesus really say those words with a straight face? They were emotional wrecks at that moment and Jesus knew it. We have seen this word “troubled” before which means to “stir up” or “to shake.” We saw it in the story of the crippled man beside the pool at Bethsaida in John 5:7 where the water would be “stirred up” and in John 13:21 when Jesus was thinking about going to the cross and was “troubled” in his spirit. When Jesus told them to not let their heart be troubled, he knew they were already troubled. He understood their fears, their anxieties, their confusion and concerns. And being a compassionate Savior he sympathized with their sorrow and grief. In Hebrews 4:15, it says, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.”
Jesus tells them to stop being troubled but he didn’t end there. He was getting ready to tell them how to not be troubled. He was going to give them the cure. Thank God that Jesus didn’t end it with verse 1a. Have you ever had a problem and was troubled about something and someone says to you, “just move on” or “get over it” instead of giving ideas or ways to accomplish the “moving on?” It is probably because they don’t know how to “move on” or “get over it” themselves. But guess what Jesus does know and he says to the disciples, “Believe in God, believe also in me.” Jesus clearly states his deity here but he was also commanding them to believe in him just as they believed in God. The Jews already had a strong belief in God whom they could not see. The disciples needed to have that same kind of faith in Jesus when he was no longer physically present with them. He was calling them to an ongoing trust, belief and faith in himself. Though they genuinely believed in Jesus and who he was, as they would see him arrested and crucified their faith would be at an all-time low.
Jesus wanted the disciples to believe that even if he was not with them physically, his presence was always with them. Puritan John Owen in the “The Forgiveness of Sin” noted, “A sense of God’s presence in love is sufficient to rebuke all anxiety and fears; and not only so, but to give, in the midst of them, solid consolation and joy.” Do you believe that this morning? Do you believe that the presence of God is with you at all times, even at times when your heart is troubled? It’s hard to do, especially in the midst of the uncertainty and fear of the Coronavirus world we live in. We don’t know if it’s safe to go to the store or safe to be around friends and family we don’t live with or even when it’s safe to come back to church.
But Jesus this morning is saying to us all, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in me, have faith in me, trust in my presence.” So if you are having trouble this morning sensing Jesus’ presence around you, this first next step may be for you, which is to believe that the presence of Jesus Christ is the cure for my troubled heart.
This next step is not easy because even though God is ever-present with us, as we let the world creep in we draw ourselves away from his presence. We need to focus ourselves on God and not the world in order to feel him with us. That means being in God’s Word and being in prayer. Maybe for you it means listening to Christian music or being around Christian friends, etc. Now maybe you say I have tried all that and I still don’t feel God’s presence. I would say continue to focus on Jesus until you do. By focusing yourself on Jesus 100% and focusing on your troubles 0%, sooner or later you will begin to feel the presence of God. And remember God does not promise to take our troubles away from us but he does promise to always be with us through them. This next step is not easy but it will definitely be worth it.
In verse 2, Jesus further comforts his disciples, by letting them know their physical separation from him was only temporary. He mentions “his Father’s House” and that there are “many rooms” there and he assures them it is so. He also gives them a reason for his leaving which is to prepare a place for them in the Father’s house. The “Father’s House” refers to heaven and the “many rooms” as MacArthur says, “are not to be seen as a giant housing facility in heaven but rather a father building additions onto his house for his sons and their families, as was done in Israel.” “If it were not so” means there is not the slightest doubt about it.
We need to remember that most Jewish people really had no thought of an afterlife, no idea of a place of going when they die. But Jesus assures them that there is a place called heaven where all who believe in Jesus will go when they die a physical death and that there will be room for everyone there. Jesus also says he is preparing a place for the disciples there but the preparing can’t happen unless he goes away, unless he dies, is raised again and returns to the Father.
In verse 3, Jesus confirms that his absence is temporary by telling them he will come back and take them to be with him where he is in heaven. Now what did Jesus mean here when he said he was coming back for them? Did he mean his resurrection in three days or when the Holy Spirit would come upon them at Pentecost? Or did he mean the Rapture or the Second Coming? I don’t know and the commentaries are all over the place as well. The important thing to remember is that if are a true believer in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior then you will spend eternity in the presence of God and his son, Jesus. It is sufficient for the believer to know they will be with their Lord forever.
Then in verse 4 we see that Jesus tells the disciples that they know where he is going and the way there. He has told them time and time again he is returning to the Father. He just told them he is going to the Father’s house to prepare a place for them there. Five times in verses 3-4, Jesus uses “I” or “me.” He wanted the disciples to trust in him personally.
Then Thomas speaks up and voices the same concern that all the disciples have at that moment which is “We have no idea where you are going so how can we know the way?” Honestly, that was profound because how can we know the way somewhere if we don’t know the destination. But Jesus had just told them they did know the way but they couldn’t comprehend it and would have trouble accepting that the cross was the way that Jesus would return to his Father.
That brings us to our second point this morning which is Christ’s Person. Belief in the person of Jesus Christ is the cure for our troubles. Follow along as I read verses 6-11. This is what God’s Word says, Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.” Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that 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 initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves.
Now John 14:6 is my favorite Bible verse of all time and one of my favorite Christian songs by the group Disciple is about this verse. In fact I told Judy she needs to get Disciple to come to my funeral and play that song. But this verse is a stumbling block to many people, in fact, to most people outside of Christianity. When Jesus says, “he is the way and the truth and the life the emphasis is on the word “way.” Jesus himself was the answer to Thomas’ question. Access to the one true God is only through believing in the person of Jesus Christ and no one else.
The exclusivism of this statement cannot be diminished. This is why Jesus as our Lord and Savior is essential to Christianity. Jesus, as God incarnate, is the only way to God. Acts 4:12 says, Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” Jesus alone is the way to God, but he is the way for all. No one is excluded no matter their religious background or even lack of religion. Jesus in his grace welcomes everyone to the Father if they will come through him.
But this is where all other religions fall short. They believe that Jesus was just a good man or only a prophet. They don’t believe that Jesus and God are one. They don’t believe that Jesus died on a cross for the sins of humanity so they could be saved, reconciled to God and spend eternity in heaven with God. Jesus was also the truth because he is the authoritative representative and revealer of God the Father. And he is the life because he is both life and the source of life to us. Burge says, “God’s truth and God’s life is incarnate in Jesus.”
So, the question is what do you believe about Jesus? Do you believe that he is the only way to God? Do you believe that the person of Jesus Christ is the cure for your troubles? That he is the cure for your lost heart. Romans 10:9-10 says, If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. So do you believe that he died on a cross for your sins and rose again? If not the second next step this morning is for you which is to believe that the person of Jesus Christ is the cure for my lost heart and accept his salvation.
In verse 7, Jesus tells the disciples if they really knew him, they would know the Father. They had spent three years with him and he had taught them everything the Father had spoken to him. They had seen the miracles that Jesus performed that could have only come from the Father. But the truth is they did not know Jesus fully because if they did they would have known the Father as well. Until now all had been preparation for them to know Jesus fully and to understand that Jesus and God were one. Jesus said, “From now on you do know him and have seen him.” “From now on” probably means after the resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit they would realize that because they had seen and known Jesus they actually did see and know God. The more we know Jesus, the more we know God. That was why God came down to earth as Jesus. It was to show us what he was like and what he was about. As a result of what Christ was going to do on the cross his followers would know God and how much he loved them. God loved the world and wanted so much to be a relationship with us that he died on a cross as Jesus Christ in order to save us from our sins and spend eternity with us.
The disciples believed that Jesus was the Son of God, the Messiah, but they never fully grasped the truth that he was God in the flesh. Knowledge of the Father can only be obtained as we more fully know and understand the Son. This was hard for the disciples to grasp and it can be hard for us today as well, but we grasp it through faith. If we truly know Jesus we would believe that his presence, person and power is the cure for our troubles.
The disciples’ understanding that Jesus and God were one was lacking, and Philip asks Jesus to now show them the Father and they would be satisfied. He probably thinks if they can just see the Father that will put an end to their troubled hearts. Philip was one of Jesus’ first disciples but even he didn’t realize that he had literally been in the presence of God for the past three years. This question from Philip gives Jesus the opportunity to teach his disciples about the intimate relationship between himself and the Father. The fact is, Jesus says, the Father and I are so closely connected that anyone that has seen me has seen the Father. I and the Father are one.
In verse 10, Jesus reminds them that the words he spoke to them came directly from the Father and that the miraculous works that he had performed in their sight should prove to them that he is in the Father and the Father is in him. Jesus used the same argument with the Jews in John 10:37-38. Jesus is talking, “If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.” The proof that he and the Father were one was established by his words and his works, which were the miracles he performed. Surely no one but God could perform the miracles Jesus did in the presence of the disciples. Gangel says, Jesus’ words reflected his deity much more than his works did. They had been fascinated by his works but had not listened carefully enough to his words.” Tenney says, “The way that Jesus made known the character and reality of the Father was by his words and works. The truth of God filled Jesus’ words; the power of God produced his works.”
That brings us to our third point this morning which is Christ’s Power. Belief in the power of Jesus Christ is the cure for our troubles. Follow along as I read verses 12-14. This is what God’s Word says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.
In verse 12, Jesus makes an amazing promise to those who believe in him. “He that believes on me” stresses personal commitment. The person who really trusts and believes in Jesus will do the works that Jesus did and even greater works than Jesus. The greater works did not mean greater in power, but greater in extent, in that their words and works would reach to all corners of the earth. Jesus’ earthly ministry was limited in time and space. He never went outside of Palestine to teach and preach and perform his miraculous works. The disciples on the other hand would take the Gospel to the ends of the earth. The power to perform those greater works would only be possible because Jesus was going to the Father. Only then could the Holy Spirit come and fill each believer and empower them to do these greater works. Even though Jesus would not be present with the disciples, the Spirit would provide them with all the power they needed to extend the gospel to all the world. Morris says, “The things that they do are not necessarily the miracles but the mighty work of conversions that we see in the book of Acts. On Pentecost alone more believers were added than throughout Jesus’ earthly ministry.”
In verses 13-14, Jesus talks to the disciples about another benefit of leaving them to go to the Father. That was prayer. They had seen how important prayer was to Jesus as he would go off to a quiet place to pray to his heavenly Father. Now, he was empowering them to use prayer in order to see his power. Prayer would bridge the gap between their needs and his abundant, limitless, resources. The power of prayer would cure the disciples’ troubles. But it was more than that in that this power of prayer would enable them to do the “greater things.” But there was a rule to seeing the power of Jesus in prayer and that was, it had to be asked in his name. What does it mean to pray and ask in Jesus’ name? To ask in Jesus’ name means to ask in accordance with all that Jesus’ name stands for and to recognize that the only approach to God is through his son. It also means to ask in accordance with the character, will and purposes of Jesus. The Jewish culture took names very seriously. They equated one’s name with the character, spirit and power of that person. That is why the Jews never spoke the name of Yahweh. If we are not going to pray for the will of Jesus or God to be done we shouldn’t ask in Jesus’ name or even at all.
The asking in Jesus’ name was paramount for two things. One, we must ask in his name so that the Son may bring glory to the Father and two, we must ask in Jesus’ name so that our prayers would be fulfilled. Jesus’ purpose for coming to earth as a baby and dying on the cross for our sins and being resurrected was all for the glory of God. That would not change after his resurrection and ascension into heaven. Jesus did not do anything and will not do anything that does not bring glory to the Father. Carson says, “He enables his own to do “greater things” in order that he may bring glory to the Father.” Jesus said that if you ask “anything” in my name I will do it. “Anything” makes this promise very wide indeed. There is no limit to the power of prayer asked in the name of Jesus. But we can’t forget the believing. We can pray in Jesus’ name without believing that Jesus has the power to cure our troubles. Our belief is important. Which brings us to our third next step this morning which is to believe that the power of my prayers asked in Jesus’ name is the cure for my troubles.
In closing I want to read this account which is confirmed by Mike Riches, senior pastor of Clover Creek Bible Fellowship, Tacoma, Washington.
It was a phone call one never wants to get. A friend called from Ohio to say that our mutual friend, Debbie, was dying of leukemia and was at a cancer center in Seattle. Later, Debbie's husband called, telling me that Debbie had slipped into a coma. The doctors had given her two to three days to live. Debbie's two adult children had flown in to say their good-byes. He invited me to come and pray.
I admit that this was a huge stretch for my faith. But I asked a friend to go with me, and we set out for Seattle. As we drove, John 14:12–14 ran through my mind: "I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it."
Now was my chance to prove that I really believed those verses. Could we really do the things Jesus did? Would he really do the things we asked in his name? At the hospital, we introduced ourselves to Debbie's family and then approached her bed. I silently asked the Lord what to pray. Luke's account of Jesus rebuking a fever came to mind. Debbie, however, was a sad sight. By all outward appearances, what I was about to pray seemed impossible.
Nevertheless, I prayed, "Lord, I come to you based on the authority and power you have given me because of Jesus. Jesus, you said we would do even greater things because of your power in us. You told me in John 15 that if I abide in you and your words abide in me, I can ask anything and it will be granted. So, right now, in the name and authority of Jesus in me, I rebuke the cancer and death. In Jesus' name, I pronounce healing and abundant life."
My prayer was simple, based on Scripture, and spoken in faith and in the authority of Jesus' name. Nothing happened at the moment, though, so my friend and I said good-bye.
Debbie continued to be on my mind, but I also knew the Lord had heard my prayer. It was all in his hands. A week later, my phone rang. It was Debbie. She had awoken from her coma and asked the medical team to unhook her life support! She had heard that I had visited her several days before and had prayed for her. "Would you please come back?" she asked. So the next day, I drove back to Seattle to see with my own eyes what the Lord had done.
What an amazing time that was. Debbie—alert and smiling—told me the story. For three days after we prayed for her, while still in a coma, she sensed that an angel was standing by her bed. On the third day she woke up and knew in her heart that the Lord had completely healed her. The doctors' tests showed no sign of any cancer whatsoever. We rejoiced!
We were then able to share the gospel with her family. As a result of Debbie's healing, her son and his wife received Christ and are now joyfully serving him. And, to this day four years later, no cancer has returned.
I wanted to read that story to you because it directly talks about praying in the name of Jesus and in accordance to the will of Jesus and for the glory of God. But I want you to know that every prayer prayed in Jesus’ name is not going to be that dramatic. God is sovereign and he knows what is best for us. But guess what? Belief in Jesus’ presence, person and power brings the cure for our troubles because it brings us peace.
We may have anxiety, depression, fear and uncertainty but we still believe that the presence of Jesus Christ will bring us peace in the midst of our troubled hearts. We can pray for the spiritual healing of our friends and family but then the ball is their court. We still believe that the person of Jesus Christ can cure the lost heart and we can have peace that Jesus will always be there waiting for our friends and family to accept his person as the way to salvation. Finally, we and our loved ones may still get sick and possibly die but we still believe in the power of a prayer prayed in Jesus’ name and we have peace that God is sovereign and in control of all things. Belief in Jesus Christ is the cure for our troubles.
As Gene and Roxey come to lead us in our final hymn this morning, let’s pray: Dear Sovereign Lord, I praise you for your Word. I praise you for your son, Jesus. I thank you that you love us with an everlasting love. Continue to walk with us through all our troubles and give us peace as we believe in your presence with us, your person to save us and your power as we pray for all things in your precious name. In Jesus’ Amen.