Sunday, May 21, 2023
Sunday Praise & Worship Message - From Troubled Hearts to Peaceful Souls: Trusting in God's Plan
The Gospel of John provides us with a unique perspective on the life and teachings of Jesus. By the time we reach John 14, we find ourselves in the final moments before Jesus' crucifixion. The events leading up to this pivotal moment in history include Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem, His last supper with His disciples, and His arrest and subsequent trials.
The last events in Jesus’ life were very traumatic to his disciples. We can only imagine what thoughts and feelings they were expressing. If we layer in their possible arrest and crucifixion, the disciples indeed had a lot to fear. When we contemplate Jesus' last few events before his ultimate arrest, trial and crucifixion, many things happened quickly. We start with his entering Jerusalem as the Messiah to being treated like a criminal.
As Jesus entered Jerusalem, riding on a donkey, the crowds hailed him as the long-awaited Messiah, shouting, "Praise God for the Son of David! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord!" (Matthew 21:9, NLT). He then made his way to the temple and drove out the merchants, declaring, "The Scriptures declare, 'My Temple will be called a house of prayer,' but you have turned it into a den of thieves!" (Matthew 21:13, NLT).
In the following days, Jesus continued to teach in the temple, engaging in debates with religious leaders. He shared parables, including the Parable of the Tenants and the Parable of the Wedding Feast, conveying profound spiritual truths. The religious leaders became increasingly hostile, seeking to trap him in his words and discredit him (Matthew 21:45-46, Matthew 22:15, NLT).
As the Passover approached, Jesus gathered with His disciples for the Last Supper. During this meal, Jesus took bread, blessed it, and said, "Take this and eat it, for this is my body." He also took a cup of wine, gave thanks, and said, "Each of you drink from it, for this is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and His people" (Matthew 26:26-28, NLT). Jesus revealed that one of his own disciples would betray him, causing sorrow among the disciples (Matthew 26:21-22, NLT).
Following the meal, Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. Overwhelmed with sorrow, he fell to the ground and cried out, "My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine" (Matthew 26:39, NLT). Judas, one of the twelve disciples, arrived with a crowd to betray Jesus, identifying him with a kiss (Matthew 26:47-49, NLT).
Jesus was arrested and taken through a series of trials. He stood before the Jewish authorities, including the high priest Caiaphas, who falsely accused him of blasphemy. Finally, Jesus was brought before the Roman governor, Pilate, who found no fault in him but yielded to the pressure of the crowd, ultimately condemning Jesus to be crucified (Matthew 27:24-26, NLT).
Jesus was mocked, beaten, and led to Golgotha, where he was crucified alongside two criminals. As he hung on the cross, Jesus uttered the words, "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?" (Matthew 27:46, NLT). Darkness covered the land, and at Jesus' last breath, the earth shook, rocks split, and the temple curtain tore in two (Matthew 27:51-54, NLT).
In the span of a short period of time, Jesus goes from a triumphal entry, teaching in the temple, the Last Supper, prayer in Gethsemane, betrayal and arrest, multiple trials, and ends with his ultimate crucifixion and death.
Our lives are the same way. In a matter of a few moments, we can easily go from being on the top of the world to the valley of the shadow of death. It may seem like a cruel twist of fate, but, unfortunately, it is the nature of life. When we gave up our place in the garden and became disobedient, we no longer had a life of ease and joy. Our lives became difficult and we became mortal. To borrow a few words from William Shakespeare, we now suffer “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.” (Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act III, Scene I)
In John 14:1, Jesus addresses his disciples' troubled hearts with words of comfort and reassurance, saying, "Don't let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me" (NLT). Jesus acknowledges the genuine concern and fear that filled the hearts of his disciples as they faced the uncertainty of his impending departure. He understood the deep attachment they had formed to him, as their Teacher, Friend, and Savior. Jesus empathizes with their troubled hearts, recognizing their vulnerability in the face of this upcoming separation.
In offering his words of comfort, Jesus encourages his disciples to trust not only in God but also in himself. He points them to the source of their strength and hope, reminding them that faith in him is the key to overcoming their troubled hearts. Jesus calls them to rely on him, to place their confidence in his divine nature, and to trust in his promises. Through this simple yet profound statement, Jesus provides his disciples with the assurance that they can find solace and peace by firmly placing their trust in God and in him, their Messiah and Lord.
Part of the assurance that Jesus provides his disciples is the fact that there is a better life after this place. Jesus wants us all to know that this corrupt, fallen world is only temporary and that, if we have accepted him as our personal Savior and Lord, we will have a place with the Father that he must prepare for us.
In John 14:2-3, Jesus presents his followers with a profound promise of a heavenly dwelling place. He assures them, "There is more than enough room in my Father's home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am" (NLT). Through these words, Jesus offers his disciples the hope of a future home in the presence of God Himself.
The promise of a heavenly dwelling place gives his followers assurance that their journey does not end here on earth. Jesus speaks of the abundance of room in his Father's home, emphasizing that there is ample space for all who believe in him. This promise serves as a reminder that this world is not our final destination; we have an eternal home awaiting us. Jesus' words echo with the assurance that God has prepared a place specifically for each believer, a place of love, peace, and perfect fellowship with him.
What makes Jesus' promise even more remarkable is the personal nature of his preparation. He says, "I am going to prepare a place for you." Jesus, in his infinite love and care, takes upon himself the task of preparing the heavenly dwelling place for his followers. It is an act of intimate and deliberate preparation by the Son of God himself. This personal touch underscores the depth of Jesus' commitment and highlights the profound love he has for his disciples. Every detail is intricately attended to by Jesus, ensuring that our eternal home will be a place of unsurpassed beauty and perfection.
In John 14:1-3, Jesus' words of comfort and assurance hold significant application and implications for believers today. As followers of Christ, we encounter troubled times, uncertainties, and challenges in our lives. However, in the midst of these difficulties, Jesus invites us to find comfort and peace by trusting in God's sovereignty and provision. The psalmist writes, "When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy" (Psalm 94:19, NLT). This reminds us that our ultimate source of comfort lies in our unwavering faith in God. By placing our trust in Him, we acknowledge His control over all circumstances and find solace in His unfailing love.
Trusting in God's sovereignty and provision means surrendering our fears and anxieties to Him. The apostle Peter encourages believers by saying, "Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you" (1 Peter 5:7, NLT). This verse reminds us that we don't have to carry the burdens of our troubled hearts alone. We can cast our anxieties upon the Lord, knowing that He cares deeply for us and is able to provide comfort and peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:6-7, NLT). By surrendering our fears and anxieties to God, we open ourselves up to experience His transforming power and find rest in His loving embrace.
The words of Jesus in John 14:1-3 provide timeless comfort and assurance for believers in every generation. As we navigate through troubled times, we can find solace by trusting in God's sovereignty and provision. In the face of uncertainty, we can surrender our fears and anxieties to Him, knowing that He cares for us deeply. Just as the psalmist declares, "When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy" (Psalm 94:19, NLT), we can experience the joy and peace that come from resting in God's unfailing love.
May we heed the apostle Peter's exhortation to "give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you" (1 Peter 5:7, NLT). By entrusting our burdens to Him, we can stand firm in the grace of God. Let us remember that His grace is sufficient for every trial and challenge we face. In the midst of troubled times, we can find comfort and strength in the knowledge that God has a heavenly dwelling place for us, where we will be eternally united with Him.
Therefore, let us stand firm in His grace. Let us trust in His sovereignty, knowing that He holds all things in His hands. Let us surrender our fears and anxieties, casting them upon Him with the assurance that He cares for us. May we anchor our faith in His unfailing love, finding comfort and peace in the midst of troubled times. And as we eagerly await our eternal home, may we live each day with hope and confidence, knowing that God is faithfully preparing a place for us.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.