John 14:1-14 | Waiting for Christ's Return | Andrew Gutierrez
Topic: Worship Gatherings Passage: John 14:1–14:14
I’d ask you to turn to John 14. The text for the morning is John 14, verse 1 through 14. If you’re new with us, welcome. We’re going through a verse-by-verse study of the gospel of John, and we’re in the upper room. We got there in chapter 13, and the Lord is continuing to teach his disciples into chapter 14.
And so we begin a new chapter this morning, and with that a new theme or a new subject of John’s gospel. Jesus starts to teach his disciples a lot about waiting.
In chapter 13, he washed their feet, told them to do the same thing to one another, to serve one another, to love one another. He told his disciples that one of them would betray him, and that one (Judas) has already left the upper room. Then he told the remaining disciples, specifically Peter, that he would deny him three times. So it’s not the most joyous celebration anymore. We come to a point where the disciples are anxious, nervous, confused, worried. Maybe Peter himself is very worried about what Jesus has just said.
And so Jesus, after he has told the disciples all of these things, including the fact that he’s about to leave them, he tells them starting in chapter 14 that he’s coming back, and he tells them how to wait. He tells them what to know while they wait.
So I’ve entitled this series, really the next few messages through chapter 14, “Embrace the Wait.” Embrace the wait, or embrace the waiting. And for those of you who can’t see the screen, and you’re going to be listening to this later on podcast, w-a-i-t. All right, this is not some sort of program we’re trying to sell with w-e-i-g-h-t. It’s “Embrace the Wait,” w-a-i-t.
And in a sense, we’re in the same position the disciples are. Jesus has not come back the second time yet. And when he told the disciples this, he’s telling them to wait for his second coming. We’re still, two thousand years later, waiting in the same way, unless you think that, well maybe he’s not coming back because that’s been a long time—see Peter’s second letter where he says one day is like a thousand to Jesus. Time doesn’t make a difference to him. He’s now slow in coming back. He’s waiting with patience for people to repent.
So, what do we do? How do we approach waiting? How do we approach waiting? Specifically, in verses 1 through 14, I’ve entitled this message “Waiting for Christ’s Return.”
Let me read John 14:1-14. Jesus, speaking to disciples’ hearts who were tempted to be troubled at this point said this:
"Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going." Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?" Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and 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. From now on you do 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 with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever 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 authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.
Waiting for Christ’s return.
Now we are a people who do not like to wait. I saw one study this week that said an average seventy-year-old spends three years of their life waiting. That’s kind of a fun thought to think of.
I also saw a New York Times article that talked about a particular airport in the United States, a particular airport that was receiving increased complaints about waiting times for baggage. So people would get off of a plane, go to the baggage carousel, and wait. And they seemed to be waiting longer and longer, so the complaints grew.
So this airport decided instead of trying to increase efficiency, they decided to place all of the arriving flights furthest away from the baggage claim, and then to place the bags from those flights in the furthest carousel in the baggage claim. And they actually multiplied a person’s walking distance six times. And they received fewer complaints about waiting. Why? Because people were actively doing something; then they got to the point where they were waiting, and they waited a lesser amount of time.
The point here, and according to this New York Times article, is that if people are active, they didn’t pay as much attention to the wait.
In this passage, Jesus seeks to alleviate his disciples’ fears while they wait for him, and he seeks to motivate them with activity while they wait. Jesus is talking about waiting for him here, and really you could call our lives here on earth waiting for Jesus. In a sense, that’s what we’re doing. Now there’s a lot that goes into that waiting, and that will flesh itself out in chapter 14, but in a sense, we’re all where the disciples are. We’re waiting for him. Waiting for all of his promises to be fulfilled. Waiting for his enemies to be judged. Waiting to be at home with him finally.
So Jesus in this particular passage, verses 1 through 14, promises his waiting disciples three things. Three promises that Jesus makes to his waiting disciples.
1. He brings his disciples home
First, in verse 1 through 6, Jesus promises that he will bring his disciples home. He brings his disciples home. Jesus promises these men and us to return in order to bring us where only he can bring us—home.
Verse 1 of chapter 14: “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.” Now remember, he’s speaking to men who may have had troubled hearts or who were tempted toward having troubled hearts at this point because of what they’ve learned in chapter 13. He speaks words of comfort to his disciples who have troubled hearts.
He tells them, trust in God, believe in God, depend on God; believe also in me. And remember, all throughout John, Jesus is showing that when he does works, it’s the Father doing works. When he speaks, it’s the Father speaking. He is at one with the Father. The Father sent him on a mission; he’s on the mission; they are one in essence; they are lock-step with one another. The Father and the Son.
So he says, don’t let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God. Believe in his plan; believe in what I’m doing; believe also in me. I’m part of the same plan. We’re in this together.
“In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” So Jesus, while they’re waiting, he tells them, gives them a little clue as to what their future will look like, as to where they’re going. In my Father’s house are many rooms.
Some of your translations, and this is coming from William Tyndale, may say “mansions.” In my Father’s house are many mansions. It’s better to translate that “rooms.” The idea is, in heaven there are dwelling places that are all connected to each other and all connected to the Father and the Son. This isn’t separate individual mansions so that when you get to heaven, you don’t have to worry about those other pesky Christians you had to deal with on earth. That’s not heaven. That’s not heaven.
Heaven is, we’re all together in different rooms in the Father’s house. We dwell with him; we dwell with one another. In my Father’s house are many rooms. And really this is—in the Near East, a groom betrothed to a bride would have prepared a home for her at his father’s estate. So as part of his father’s estate, he’s preparing a home for his soon-to-be bride. And then one day he goes to receive the bride, and he brings her back to the father’s dwelling which is now their dwelling. That’s what Jesus is saying.
Jesus, the bridegroom, preparing a home for the bride, which is the church, and one day he’s coming to receive his bride back to his Father’s house. That’s what Jesus is saying here to his troubled disciples.
And he says what’s obvious. If this weren’t the case, I wouldn’t have told you it was. Jesus doesn’t lie, and he’s making it obvious. If it weren’t the case, I wouldn’t have told you that I’m going to prepare a place for you.
Now a lot of people say things like, if Jesus created the world in six days, think about how at least two thousand years he’s preparing a place. He was a carpenter; he’s building. Think of how amazing that is.
I don’t buy into all that. I think Jesus can create an amazing place with one word. But he is going, and he wants his disciples to know that he’s preparing a place for them. Now we don’t know the extent of that word “prepare.” We don’t know exactly how he’s doing that in a sense right now. But let’s take him at his word. He’s preparing a place. And if I know anything about a man engaged to be married, he loves his bride, and he wants what’s best for her.
We can trust this is probably a pretty special place—special mostly because he’ll be there. A bride comes to the new home, and she’s not always just enamored with all the things in the new home. She’s enamored that she gets to be there with the groom. So he’s preparing this special place, and he is there.
Verse 3: “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” Isn’t this somewhat obvious? That if a groom is preparing a home for his bride and then he goes and marries her and brings her back to the home, it’s kind of obvious that if he’s preparing a place he’s not going to forget about her? Now, why was I hanging these curtains? Now who was it for?
Jesus is saying the obvious to really comfort their troubled hearts. Guys, think about this. This is obvious. If I’m going to prepare a place for you in the Father’s home, come on. I’m coming back. I’m coming back for you. He wants them to know of his love for them. He’s not forgetting them when he leaves. He’s not going to after maybe sixty years kind of lose interest in them. If I prepare, I’m coming back for you. He wants them to know this, and he’s trying to calm their troubled hearts.
The best part of heaven, by the way, is that we get to be with him. I will come again and take you to myself. I will come again, he doesn’t say, and take you to my Father’s house here. I will come again and take you to see all the relatives that you knew earlier that went to heaven before you. I will come again and show you streets of gold. Those things are wonderful, but the best part is, I will come again and bring you to myself. The bride being brought to her groom.
We’ll get to this chapter, but in John 17, Jesus’ high priestly prayer, Jesus prays to the Father, and listen what he prays in John 17:24. “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.”
Jesus prays to the Father that we would be with him. Think about that. Jesus prays to the Father that you, in particular, would be with him and understand how majestic he is because of the glory the Father has given the Son.
Verse 4. So he tells them where he’s going. And then he tells them, and you know how to get there. You know the way I’m going. He shifts from talking about the destination to the way to the destination.
Thomas, who says exactly what he’s thinking and what everybody’s thinking, “Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going.’” So, where’s the Father’s house? Galilee? Judea? Egypt? Where’s the Father’s house? If we don’t know where the Father’s house is, then we don’t know how to get there.
“Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?’” (John 14:5). Thomas is talking about maps and directions. That’s not what Jesus is talking about. Thomas is thinking about left turns and right turns. That’s not what Jesus is talking about. Thomas is panicking because he doesn’t know the way.
A couple years ago, a few of us took one of the mission trips to Nicaragua, and we went from Chinandega to Matagalpa, and we needed directions to get to our hotel. And the driver who was taking us had no idea where to go for the hotel. He didn’t know where it was. Our interpreter, our translator, didn’t know where it was. And here’s an added problem in Matagalpa: They don’t name their streets. And there are a lot of them.
So we pulled up to this man sitting on a corner, and the interpreter—I don’t know Spanish; don’t let the last name fool ya; I don’t know Spanish—but our interpreter asked the man sitting on the corner how to get to the hotel. And I kid you not, the man tells him, go down this road, go down this way, and you’ll see a man sitting on the corner who looks like me, only older with a hat. Steve and Charlene remember this. Those were the directions.
And so, I mean, we start down the road in the van thinking, this only happens in movies. No way this is… I mean, it’s not hard to say, A Street, B Street. Come on, Matagalpa, we can help you with your streets. So we’re thinking, is this seriously going to happen? And of course you know what we’re thinking as Americans: What if the guy’s not there? I mean, it was around the afternoon. What if it’s lunch time?
We drive down the road. What do we see? An older man who looked like the previous man, wearing a hat, sitting on the corner, and he tells us the way to the hotel.
But that sense of panic—we’re in a foreign country; we don’t know the language; these directions don’t make sense to us. If this doesn’t work out, none of us know how to get to the hotel, safety. We’re going to end up in Matagalpa. We’re not going to go back home. We’re not going to see our families. We’re going to die there. I mean, you can see the anxiety start to—what if we don’t have a place to stay tonight? Where do we go? What do we do? You can see the anxiety start to come when you don’t know the directions.
Thomas is literally in that position. You’re saying you’re going to the Father’s house. Now, he’s talking to Jesus, the one that years earlier said, follow me. And Thomas literally left everything to follow him. And now, the Pharisees and Sadducees want Jesus killed. Thomas knows this.
And they’re in an upper room. And part of being in that upper room was that they were hiding, because remember, we learned in chapter 11 and 12 that a decree was out there, the decree that said, if you find him bring him to us. So people are looking for Jesus and the disciples. They’re in this upper room hiding, and Jesus is saying, oh by the way, I’m going.
Thomas is worried. He doesn’t know where to go. “’Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him [verse 6], ‘I am the way [I am the way], and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” I’m the way. Relax, Thomas.
Jesus is telling Thomas, stop thinking about left turns and right turns; stop thinking about what I’m going to do in a couple of hours, what I’m going to do in a couple of weeks, how you’re going to ultimately end up in heaven; stop thinking about that and trust me. Just trust me.
I wonder if there’s any little bit of Thomas in any of us. Lord, what’s going to happen at this appointment this week? What’s going to happen when I have this conversation with my daughter? What’s going to happen here? What’s going to happen there? What are you doing, Lord? How are you going to work this out? What are you going to do?
And Jesus is saying, trust in me. I’ll get you to the Father’s house. I’m the way. I’m the connection to God the Father. I’m the connection to eternal peace. Just trust. You might not know exactly where I’m going to lead you; just trust me. I’m the way to him.
And notice Jesus says, I’m the way. I’m the way. He doesn’t say, I’m one of a few ways; I’m one of a hundred ways; I’m one of many ways. Thomas, I’m the way. The one and only. The exclusive way. And in this Jesus is teaching that to be right with God eternally you need to trust in, believe in, depend on the Son with your entire life. There’s only one way to heaven. One way. Through Jesus Christ his Son whom he sent.
Now a lot of people get really upset about that. Why can’t there be many ways to God? Why can’t this religion lead to God? Why can’t that religion lead to God? Why can’t it be like a mountain where we go up and there are different paths to take, but we ultimately get up to the top of the mountain?
Listen, the amazing thing, the mind-boggling thing is not that there’s one way, only one way. The mind-boggling thing is that there actually is one way. There doesn’t have to be one way.
Romans 3:23: “[A]ll have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” We’re imperfect. We’ve offended a holy God who created us to be righteous and enjoy him forever. We’ve offended him. There doesn’t need to be a way.
But he made a way by sending his Son to live the perfect life so that we could get to the Father by his perfection, by his initiative, not our own. And he takes all of our sin away from us. God sent one way, and he sent it through his Son. He didn’t send it through something you have to buy, through something you have to earn. He sent us the way by his own grace. He sent his Son down to earn it for us.
The amazing thing—don’t hear, I’m the way; there’s only one way to heaven, and frown at God. He made a way when he didn’t have to because he’s gracious and he loves to save and rescue sinners. Don’t shake your fist at the one way; fall to your knees and say, I can’t believe there’s a way, and embrace the way. That’s the message.
Jesus died because we deserve to die because of our sin, died to pay that penalty, gives us his righteousness, and if that were just the end of the story, you could doubt whether he’s actually the way. But then he rose again three days later, and you can know he’s the way to heaven.
So Jesus tells Thomas, if you want to get to heaven, you trust and you depend and you believe in that message. You believe in me. I’m the way.
He also says I’m the truth. I’m the truth. When someone’s giving you life or death information, you need them to be honest. When you’re at the doctor and he’s talking about your diagnosis and what that means for your future, you need him to tell you the truth.
Jesus says he is the truth. He speaks, and you can completely depend on him. When he says he’s the way, it’s the truth. He doesn’t lie. God the Father has sent his Son, and that’s the truth. Believe that message. God the Father has revealed himself; believe his revelation. This is who he is. This is what he desires. He’s the truth. He’s the way; he’s the truth.
He’s also the life, he tells Thomas, and us by extension. He’s the life. Remember when Adam and Eve sinned and were kicked out of the garden of Eden? I’ve told you this before. The worst thing that could have happened to Adam and Eve is to be allowed back in the garden. Because they would’ve come back in the garden, eaten of the tree of life, and they would have gained eternal life still with the curse of sin on them. Adam and Eve needed to be out of the garden. Christ would come thousands of years later to die for sinners who believe in him, and that righteousness would be attributed to Adam and Eve, and then they could live forever. So the worst thing to do is to die without Jesus.
Jesus is saying, I’m the way, the truth, and by the way, if you just get to me without having your sins dealt with, then comes judgment. But I give life.
That’s why Ephesians 2 speaks of a person before they are a Christian—before they’re a believer, before they’re raised to new life—it speaks of them as being dead. We were all dead in our trespasses and sins. But God made us alive together with Christ. By grace you’ve been saved.
So he’s saying, I’m the way, I’m the truth, and I’m the one that gives spiritual life when you are spiritually dead. That’s what Jesus is teaching to Thomas. So basically he’s saying, I’m going to heaven, and you’re going to get there by depending on me—the way to heaven, the truth about heaven and the truth about salvation, and the life that qualifies you for heaven that I give.
Colossians 2:13. Paul reminds the believers, “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses.” Jesus is the way. Jesus is the truth. Jesus is the life. And Jesus is teaching Thomas, teaching us, you’re nervous that I’m going to be gone. I’m going to prepare a place, and I’m coming back for you, and you simply trust me for that. You trust me to get you there to heaven.
I think it’s important to think about heaven, to long for heaven, and to think about it not just by the things that are in it—again, like I said, streets of gold, things like that—but to think about who’s there. When we go to heaven, we go home to be with the Lord. Who else in the world talks like that? Just believers. Just Christians.
Michelle and I had a friend who is not a believer, and when we were in Los Angeles she’d come to church with us a number of times, and we’d talk to her, give the gospel to her. Sweet lady in many ways, and we really grew to love her. One day we were at church together, the three of us, and you never know when you bring someone to church, and you don’t know what they’re going to have questions about, what’s going to stick out to them, just don’t even know what she’s thinking really.
And so she came to church, and she’s hearing us learn from the word, sing, and everything. And in the announcement time, during the announcements, our pastor mentioned someone in our church who had recently died, and he said, “They’ve gone home to be with the Lord.” And for us, that’s kind of routine talk. But afterwards, you know, we’re having lunch, and we go, so what did you notice about the service, or what do you think about that, or do you have any questions for us about what we were doing, anything like that? And she said, yeah, when the pastor said that that person went home to be with the Lord, she said, I really liked that. She said, I like thinking about death that way.
See, the unbelieving world doesn’t think about death that way. They maybe have hopes of what it’ll be like. They have hopes that they can alleviate their consciences with that aren’t based on any sort of fact or reality. But we say as Christians, when we die, when he comes to get us, we’re going home to be with our Lord. We’re going home. This is just Motel 6. That’s all this is. We’re going home. And the world doesn’t understand that, but Jesus is trying to teach his disciples, think about home. Think about home.
I would encourage everyone in this body, myself included, with Hebrews 9:28. “[S]o Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.”
What is it about the last two thousand years that kind of gets us less eager to meet him? Be eager about meeting him. Be eager for him to return, even today. Be eager, even if you’re on your death bed, to be with him. That’s what he’s calling us to think about.
If we’re anxious in this life, if we’re anxious about so many things in this life, it may be because we’re forgetting about his wonderful promise for the next life. We will be with him. Jesus promises to bring his disciples home.
2. He shows his disciples the Father
Secondly, he shows his disciples the Father. Remember, he’s giving them three promises, three things he’s going to do for them. He’s going to bring them home. Secondly, here in verses 7 through 11, he’s going to show them the Father. They’re going to know the Father.
Now, we might think because we have all sixty-six books, we might think, well, big deal. We know the Father. I mean, in Galatians we’re adopted by the Father. In Romans 8 we cry, Abba Father. We know the Father. What’s the big deal?
Well remember, in an Old Testament understanding, which the disciples would have had, knowing God, knowing Yahweh, seemed to be kind of distant. They grew up with stories about Moses being spoken to by Yahweh from the burning bush, and many Jewish boys and girls probably grew up thinking, I’d love to have that experience. I’d love for God to speak to me that way. I want to know him. And it seemed like knowing God was kind of a distant reality. We can know some of him. We see him in these symbols that we do in the temple, but they didn’t feel like they actually knew him as well as maybe a New Testament believer might.
So here Jesus is telling his disciples as he leaves that he’s showing them the Father. And by knowing Jesus, Jesus’ disciples are the only people that truly know God the Father as he is. The world can speculate about what God is like. Believers actually know him because we know Christ who comes to show us the Father.
Verse 7: Jesus speaking, “If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” If you know me, you know God the Father. From now on—and he even says this—from now on you know him and have seen him.
Now they would have known their Old Testament. No one sees God. So they’re scratching their heads at this moment. You’re saying that we’re going to see God? You’re saying that we have seen God? I’ve never seen God. Jesus, I’ve never seen God, Philip might be saying, Peter might be saying. We’ve never seen God. And Jesus is saying, you’ve seen God.
Remember the first part of John’s gospel, chapter 1 verse 18? “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known” (John 1:18). Jesus makes God the Father known to his disciples. When you see Jesus, you see God. When you know Jesus, you know God the Father. That’s what Jesus is teaching his disciples.
Verse 8: “Philip said to him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.’” Philip is basically saying, okay, you say we’ve seen God. If you show us God, that’s enough. No questions asked. We’ll stop worrying. We’ll stop doubting. Just show us the Father; I’m good, Jesus.
Jesus, apparently disappointed, says this in verse 9: “Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me?’” He doesn’t say you still do not know the Father. “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?”
Now, if someone in the Old Testament wrote a book about going to heaven and seeing the Father, they would probably be stoned. Not in the intoxicated way of saying that; in the judicial way of saying that. They would be stoned. They would be executed. You have never seen Yahweh. They wouldn’t even say that word, Yahweh.
Jesus is saying, if you’ve seen me, I’ve shown you the Father. What is Jesus saying? He’s one in essence with the Father. Make no mistake about that. Jesus is one in essence with the Father. You don’t just throw that around. He’s telling Philip, if you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father. If you know me, you know God. If you’ve seen how I’ve responded to criticism, how I’ve responded to trials, if you’ve seen how I’ve saved sinners, you’ve seen how God does all of that. I am one with God.
Verse 10: “Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?” Jesus is claiming to be one in essence with the Father. I am in the Father; the Father’s in me. We are one. You don’t make that claim unless you’re God.
Listen, I would encourage none of you to actually say that. That’s something for Jesus. Jesus is God. Now, we are brought into that relationship, aren’t we? We live with Christ. We’re united to Christ. But Jesus is talking about his deity here and the Father’s deity—their oneness.
Then he shows the oneness again with the Father by pointing to his words and his miraculous works. This is something Jesus did all throughout John and has done. “The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves” (John 14:10-12).
Jesus is again saying, listen to what I’m saying. I’ve done all of these works. The Father is doing these works. I’m doing these works. We’re doing these things. We’re the same plan; we’re the same essence. We do these things together. If you don’t believe what I’m saying, believe the works I’m doing. Who else can turn water into wine? Who else can feed that many thousands of people with just a few loaves and fishes? Who can do that? I’m with the Father. I’m the Father. We’re one in essence. We’re one in mission. Believe me! Philip, if you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father.
Followers of Christ are the only people on the planet who understand the true God rightly, because we’ve been taught about him through the prophets, through the Old Testament, and mostly, best, we’ve been taught by understanding his Son. In the past we learned about God through prophets. Now he’s taught us through his Son.
When we know Jesus, we know the Father. We know what he’s like. We’re the ones who understand what God loves. We’re the ones who understand what God hates. We’re the ones who understand what God desires. We understand all that because we know Christ.
Now, today being spiritual is in vogue. Right? I mean, everybody claims to be spiritual. Well, I don’t go to church; I’m not a Christian, but I’m spiritual. You never kind of really know what that means.
But let’s just say for argument’s sake, you took out an ad in the Daily Courier or put up an ad on the bulletin board at Starbucks and said something like that you’re hosting a forum to discuss God. Next Thursday, 7 p.m., forum at this place, at this meeting location, to discuss and ponder God. And you have no idea who’s going to show up. And you get all sorts of people from all different walks of life to think and talk about God.
Well, you might start that meeting with something like, okay, who is God? We’ll start with the guy over here. The guy over here says, I think God is like…fill in the blank. Go to the next lady. I think God is like a tree. And she says why. Go to the next person. I think God is…. I think, I imagine God to be….
And then they come to you, the host of the meeting. And you say, I know exactly who God is, what he likes, what he dislikes, what he commands, how he’s worked in the past, how he’ll work in the future. I know what he thinks of me, and I know what he thinks of you.
People don’t normally talk like that. My point being, Christians can. Christians can. Because we know the Father because we know the Son. The Son brings us to the Father, brings us a knowledge of who God is.
And by the way, they’d probably ask you to prove it. Prove that you know all of that. And probably the person who said that God is like a tree would be the most adamant—prove it! And you could really kind of say, well, you prove yours first. But prove it. How do you prove it?
You could say something like this: “[Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross” (Colossians 1:15-20).
You can say, ladies, and gentleman, thank you for coming to our forum. The reason I know God is because I know Jesus in whom deity dwells. I know Christ. I know God.
And Jesus is trying to comfort his disciples with the fact that he is going away and they can go and be with him, and they can know God the Father. Take advantage of the fact that we of all people can know the one true and living God. We of all people can know the one true and living God.
And listen, Christians do not manufacture God the way that we want. People who do not trust in the Scriptures do that. They make God who actually at the end of the day ends up looking a lot like them. He would approve of this. He wouldn’t approve of that. And it looks a lot like them.
We don’t make God. We simply submit to the one true and living God. We know God. We’ve got his revelation. So take advantage of that.
I don’t know if you’ve ever been like me and had dry seasons of communing with God. Maybe you keep sleeping in for a long time when you really want to, you know you should wake up and read your Bible and pray. Instead of thinking the night before, [sigh] I should wake up and read my Bible and pray, how about thinking this way? God has revealed himself to me, and I don’t know everything about him yet, but I have access right there on my coffee table sitting in words bound in leather. I need to know God. I need to know what he’s like.
What does Obadiah say about God? What does Isaiah 3 say about God? What does James 5 say about God? We need to know these things—and not we need to, we get to know these things. We get to know God. Let that reinvigorate your time with him. Don’t just go through a Bible reading plan and scratch it off through the year—check mark, check mark, check mark—ah, I’ve gotta read my Bible through the year. It’s not about got to; it’s get to. We get to know the Creator of the world because he’s revealed himself to us in his Son and in his word, the Word incarnate and the word in the Scriptures. We get to know God.
I have a friend named Scott. He comes from a good Bible-teaching church. A good background. And he always reminds his people, always reminds his people as they study the word of God, as you’re studying the word of God, don’t just think about knowing the word of God. Think about that in knowing the word of God you are getting to know the God of the word.
We worship a person, not a book. We read a book to know the God of the word who revealed it. This is a personal thing when we read this. God is speaking to us. We know him. We don’t just know more information. We know God more.
3. He gives his disciples power
Jesus is encouraging his disciples. He tells them he’ll bring them home. He tells them that through him they can know the Father. Third and finally, another encouragement to them, he tells them that he gives his disciples power. He gives his disciples power (verses 12-14).
Jesus encourages that he will empower us in the work he has us to do while he leaves. Verse 12: “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.”
So far, there’s a little difference between points one and two and point three, isn’t there? Point one and two: Here’s how I’m comforting you; I’m gonna bring you home. That’s point one. Point two: You can know the Father while I’m gone. Now point three: He’s telling them, and by the way you’re going to get to work. There’s a little difference here.
Points one and two, he’s telling them things to know and trust. Point three, he’s implying that they’re going to do some work, and he wants them to know that they’ve got power in that work. They’re going to do great works while Jesus is gone, and he’s calling them to believe in that. Believe in that message.
And only a believer can do these great spiritual works that Jesus is given them, God is giving them to do. Notice the end of the verse. Notice why the disciples and us—notice why we can do great things for Christ, in the name of Christ: Because he’s going to the Father.
Well, what does that mean? Jesus came to this earth to work out a plan of redemption to redeem a people from every tribe and tongue and nation to himself, to the glory of God the Father. He came to do work. And then when he left, it wasn’t saying, my work is done; only the people who believed at that point in time two thousand years ago can go to heaven. No. He then told the disciples, now you go spread that message. You go do that work until I come again. And I’m going to be redeeming people through that message through your efforts. That’s what he’s teaching.
I want to, just in a couple minutes, trace this theme of work through John for you. John 4:34. Jesus goes not a roundabout way around Samaria, the people that the Jews hated; he goes right through Samaria, where the people lived that the Jews hated. Jesus, the Jewish man, goes right through Samaria and talks to…a woman from Samaria. A woman from Samaria. And he brings her into a relationship with him, we learn in John chapter 4. The disciples come back scratching their heads, thinking, why in the world are you talking to her? What’s going on?
Jesus says this: They had come back after getting food; they were bringing him food. He kind of waves them off; I don’t need it. “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work” (John 4:34). Jesus is saying, listen, I don’t need to eat right now. What gets me going is the fact that I came and saved this woman from Samaria. That’s the work I came to do.
John 5. Jesus heals the man at the pool of Siloam. The Pharisees are angry that this man actually got up and carried his mat, and the guy’s like, have you guys not seen I’m walking? You know me. I’ve been lying here for thirty-seven years. I’m walking now! They get upset because he’s breaking the Sabbath. They get upset at Jesus because he heals on the Sabbath. And Jesus says, “My Father is working until now, and I am working” (John 5:17). Basically, I’m here to work right now, Pharisees and Jews.
You see Jesus talking in the gospel of John about work. I’m working. My Father is working; I’m working.
John 9. There’s a man born blind. His disciples come and ask Jesus, why was this man born blind? Did he sin or did his parents? What does Jesus say? “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him” (John 9:3). Remember what Jesus said in chapter 5. God is working now. God is working. God is about to work and heal this blind man.
So Jesus is telling his disciples in chapter 4, I’m working; I’ve got this work to do. In chapter 5, I’m working and my Father is working. In chapter 9, my Father’s working; you’re going to see this man see, and you’re going to glorify God.
But then Jesus takes it a step further. Verse 4: To his disciples who just asked him that question, “We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work” (John 9:4).
So they’ve been hearing Jesus say throughout the last couple years, I’m working guys; I’m working; the Father’s working; I’m working. Now he looks at the disciples and says, hey, we’ve got to work.
And then we get here in chapter 14 verse 12, and he says, I’m leaving, and you—he doesn’t say this: I’m leaving, and you are going to do the works that I did. He says you’re going to do greater works than I did. What’s that all about?
Jesus ascended to heaven. They went back to Jerusalem. He said, go to Jerusalem; wait for the Holy Spirit before you engage in this work. The Holy Spirit came in Acts 2, indwelt the disciples; Peter peaches a sermon in Acts 2—three thousand people are saved. That’s probably more than were saved in Jesus’ three-year earthly ministry. The disciples are doing greater works. The gospel spreads in a matter of years all throughout the known world.
The gospel wasn’t throughout the known world when Jesus was on earth. It was just in Jerusalem mainly and a little bit in Galilee. That’s why he tells the disciples, you go to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, the uttermost parts of the earth. With only a matter of years, they’ve got the message all over the place. Greater works are the disciples doing than Jesus did. Is it because the disciples are greater than Jesus? No. Jesus left his power for his disciples.
Now listen. We’re still in the same place. Jesus is in heaven; he’s left us the Holy Spirit, and he didn’t say starting in like 1955, hey America, you know, Christianity is now about I’ll save you; you just kind of hang out on your recliner and wait for heaven. That’s what Christianity is about now. I’ll save you; you just focus on you. And I’ll get you to heaven one day.
Jesus didn’t say that in 1955 or 1837 or 1217 or 2017. He expects that his disciples are working. Working. Working, to bring the gospel to people so they can be saved and the Father would be glorified in the work of the Son. That’s what Jesus is teaching. He gives power during this time.
And then he says something that makes a lot of people uncomfortable. Classic Jesus. Verse 13: “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” And right away, we start thinking of TV preachers that are telling you to ask for cars and Ferraris because they’ve got a fancy private jet, and we think, there’s something wrong with that. Yes, there is something wrong with that, but there’s not something wrong with what Jesus is saying here.
But remember, we rip verses out of context so often. A lot of people quote that verse. “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” But link it to the verse before. “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.” Jesus is talking about works in an evangelistic mission, rescuing souls for heaven, and that’s the context he gives when he says, whatever you ask in my name.
Are you timid when you think about preaching the gospel to your neighbor? Are you timid? Then ask in my name for boldness, and I’ll give boldness. See Acts 4 for that, by the way. The church is under the threat of persecution. They pray to God for boldness. Two verses later, guess what the Holy Spirit does? Gives them boldness. You hear the echoes of, whatever you ask in my name, I’ll give it to you.
He’s speaking of asking for power from heaven as you bring the gospel to the lost. Whatever you ask in my name, I’ll give it to you. Ask! This isn’t, Lord, give me a second home in Aspen. That’s not what this is! This is for the timid and fearful when it comes to speaking up for Christ.
This is for the college student who sits through a whole semester, and the professor rails against Christ and rails against Christianity, and you’re timid and shy and quiet, and you go home the night before your last class and you pray, Lord, make me a bold witness for you tomorrow. This class can’t end in just silence.
And the next day the professor rails, and little timid college girl raises her hand and quotes scripture to the professor and says, Jesus is the image of the invisible God. He came to redeem mankind from sin. We all struggle with sin. Jesus is the one who can bring us to the Father. Classmates, if you want to know anything more about that, see me after class.
There’s power in the Holy Spirit to make little timid college girl speak up. To make timid retiree speak up and welcome the neighbor over for dinner to just start a relationship with them and then get the gospel to them.
Are you scared about any evangelism? Are you scared, worried, embarrassed? Hear Jesus Christ say these words: “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” There’s the motive. God, glorify your name through weak, measly me. Glorify your name. Make me bold. Make me more loving than I am.
Some of you don’t evangelize because you just don’t love other people. Lord, work love in my heart. Lord, make me like Paul who says the love of Christ compels us. Ask in his name.
Verse 14: “If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” He repeats it twice. In the Greek language, when you repeat something twice, you do it for emphasis. Listen to all the emphasis in verses 13 and 14. “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do…. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” Do you think Jesus is trying to make a point here?
You think Jesus wants us going home thinking, well, I could never do that. Come on! This is Jesus who created the earth, who raises dead people to life, who raises spiritually dead people to life, saying, my plan is that I go away and you get this power. And we sit here going, ah, I’m not strong enough. I’m not as articulate as the other guy. I don’t love those people enough. Ask anything in his name, and he will do it.
I would encourage you to preach to yourself the power that you have accessible. Preach the power that is accessible to you. Preach to yourself, I have storehouses of power that I can tap into if I would only trust him and ask him. Preach that to yourself.
Reminds me of the John Wesley quote, “Give me one hundred preachers [we have more than a hundred people in here] who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I care not whether they be clergymen or laymen, they alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of heaven on earth.”
Just give me a hundred people sold out to Christ, not afraid, asking him for strength to go out and declare the gospel, and watch what happens. But if we make excuses, if we think, well that’s not for me, in a sense we’re telling him, your plan’s not good enough. You have the power, but you didn’t leave it on earth for us. Thank you; I’ll wait here in my recliner.
This week we had a handful of men in our church who decided to go and start an evangelistic Bible study at a local retirement home. They didn’t come to the elders for permission. They didn’t need to have a logo and an official church program. They didn’t need any of that. They just decided, let’s go together and start a Bible study for these people, and maybe they’ll be won to Christ.
I would ask you, and I have this in your Canyon weekly worship in your worship guide for Monday. I would ask you, pray believing, bold prayers for those men. Ask that they would do these greater works, declare the name of Christ and see people won to Christ.
But I wouldn’t limit the prayers to that. I would ask you, there are people all over this congregation actively engaged in evangelistic relationships for the purpose of the gospel, some with neighbors, some with coworkers. There are many going on. I would ask, you pray boldly, confident prayers. Arm those men and women. Arm those boys and girls. Arm those students with power. Pray bold, confident prayers for them.
Lord—I mean, I pray right now—Lord, show us people converted by our efforts even in the next coming months. Let us baptize people that aren’t believers right now because of the efforts of us, because we believe verses like this.
This isn’t just a truth two thousand years ago and somehow it got watered down, and now we’re here and there’s not as much power available. Lord, help us believe this and pray boldly and speak for the name of Christ. If not, let’s just pack up and go home and go somewhere else. What in the world are we doing here? People are dying all around us. And we want to find a church where we’re most comfortable.
It’s not about comfort. We get to speak the name of Christ. We get to. We don’t have to; we get to. I’m not trying to guilt you. I always say this; I’m not trying to guilt you into evangelism. I’m trying to show you evangelism for glory purposes, for glory’s sake. Greater works.
If you’re new here this morning, yes, I get this way a lot. We’re not playing around here. We’re not playing around.
If you’re a believer, you can say three things today. One: Christ is coming back for me. Whatever the cancer diagnosis is, whatever he or she does with our marriage, whatever happens with my children, he’s coming back for me.
Two: If you’re a Christian, you can say today, I know God. I know God. I know what he’s like; I know what he loves; I know what he hates; I know what he thinks about me, and I know God.
You can also say, I can work with the power he supplies. I can do what he calls me to do because of his power. You can say those things if you’re a Christian.
I saw a video of a man whose wife was sick and had to be in isolation. She was in their home, had to be in isolation—maybe you saw this recently—she had to be in isolation. She was in their room, and he had to stay outside. He could not be with the one he loved. Reminded me a lot about this passage.
Christ goes to heaven to prepare a place, and we’re not physically with him right now. This man could not be with the one he loved, so he decided to put a desk outside of her door, and they would leave the door cracked, and he would read to his wife. He would read to her; they would talk through the door. He would stay there, sleep there at night, and he was there serving his wife. He was waiting for the day when she would no longer need to be in isolation. He was waiting with hope. He couldn’t wait till the door was finally opened, and they could be together. He was waiting with hope, and he was sitting there reading, speaking to her, talking to her—he was waiting with purpose.
And it reminded me a lot about this passage and even our lives. I believe in the same way, believers are called right now, today, to wait with hope and to wait with purpose. We’re waiting for something great. Let’s wait the way he told us to wait. Let’s pray.
Lord Jesus Christ, we want to hear this message and take it in. We know more than the disciples knew who originally heard this message. When they heard it, they hadn’t seen the resurrected Christ. It hadn’t happened yet. It’s happened now, Lord. We know you’ve conquered the grave. We know that they, the fearful, went out and proclaimed the gospel and took it to the known world at the time.
Lord, we know about so many things that can give us confidence. Give us this confidence. Give us hope, give us purpose in our waiting. And Father, the whole point of it all is that you may be glorified through the work of your Son Jesus Christ. We pray this in your Son’s name. Amen.
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