John 14:25-31 | Knowledge Over Emotion | Andrew Gutierrez
Topic: Worship Gatherings Passage: John 14:25–14:31
Please turn with me to John 14. We finish up in John 14 this morning. Our text for the morning is John 14:25-31.
For those of you who are new or visiting, welcome. We are in the process of going through the gospel of John verse by verse, and we come to the final section in John chapter 14, and we’ve called this chapter, entitled this series “Embrace the Wait.”
Jesus is telling his disciples that he’s about to leave them, and that freaked them out. If you were a disciple then at that time, knowing what you know and not knowing what you don’t know, it would have freaked you out as well.
But we see in Jesus’ words a comfort, an indication of his sovereignty, an indication of his love for his people, an indication that he’s coming back for them. There’s a lot of comfort that Jesus is doing for waiting disciples in John 14.
And in a sense, we are waiting disciples. We’re waiting around for heaven, waiting around for his second coming, waiting around to be freed from this body of death as Paul calls it, waiting to be removed from a cursed earth. We’re waiting. And oftentimes that waiting brings fear and hardship and pain and temptation. But Jesus speaks so many great words of comfort to his waiting disciples.
So I’ve entitled the message this morning, John 14:25-31, “Knowledge Over Emotion.” If these disciples walked out of that upper room and were led by their emotion, they would have ended up fearful, doubting, nervous, concerned, scared. Jesus is teaching them truths. He’s preaching to their emotions truth. He wants them governed by truth, not just their emotions. So that’s why I’m calling this “Knowledge Over Emotion.”
We, myself admittedly, tend to let our emotions drive our thinking, when in reality we should have our thinking based on what we know drive our emotions.
Paul David Tripp wrote a blog post for Ligonier Ministries. Maybe we’ll put it in your Canyon weekly worship for next week, or the week after since we’ve already printed them for next week. This blog post I think is very helpful for us. It’s called “Thinking Biblically About Worry.” Listen to the opening paragraph from Tripp:
Sally worries about the kids all day long as they are at school. Jed never seems to put the burden of his finances down. Linda fears that she will never get married. Sarah dreads the pains of getting old. Fred constantly worries about the people around him and what they are thinking. Mary is never free from worry about her weight. As a senior, Jared is in a bit of a panic about what will happen after college. Jaqueline admits that she is a bit of a germophobe. Ben avoids big crowds, but he doesn’t want anyone to know. Sharon is afraid that God doesn’t love her, but she doesn’t talk about it much. Ron knows he spends too much time worrying about losing his job, but he can’t seem to keep his mind from going there. Dina worries so much about her adult children that she is afraid her frequent calls will drive them away.
I wonder if you can relate to any of those examples of worry, or perhaps you have other examples. In this text, the truths behind Jesus’ words are meant to be a comfort to troubled hearts. Praying this morning with some of the people in our congregation and even with the elders, we were praying that these words from Jesus would comfort fearful and concerned and nervous and anxious hearts.
You know, when you counsel people who are fearful and consumed with thoughts about what might happen but hasn’t happened, when you do that type of counseling, sometimes it’s good not only to preach truth to them or to tell them truth or to show them truth and to show them what to rest in or to believe, but it’s also good sometimes to give them some actions to do. Sometimes it’s good to not sit at home thinking about what could go wrong. Sometimes it’s good to actually get out and serve and live and do and work and play and to do things, to live life, instead of just fixating on problems that might arise.
So it’s based on that idea, knowing and doing, that I want to show what Jesus is teaching his disciples here. So we’ll break the text up into six parts this morning, six truth-informed actions to keep you from fear. Six truth-informed actions to keep you from fear.
Jesus is trying to get his disciples to know things and to respond accordingly. Listen as I read the text, John 14:25-31:
These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. You heard me say to you, “I am going away, and I will come to you.” If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe. I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.
Jesus is teaching his disciples how to think and how to act so that they would not (notice verse 27) allow their hearts to be troubled; neither let them be afraid. Jesus is teaching his disciples what they need to know and do so that they will not fear, will not be afraid.
1. Listen to Your Teacher
Here’s the first truth-informed action that Jesus wants his followers to take: Listen to your teacher (verses 25-26). Jesus has given the Spirit, the Holy Spirit, the helper, he says. He’s given the Holy Spirit to teach all of his followers while they are in the world and he’s in heaven. Jesus is teaching his disciples—his immediate first-century disciples there—about the ministry of the Holy Spirit and what will happen.
So by extension, we ask ourselves, well how does that affect us? Jesus is promising to give his disciples in the first century the Holy Spirit so that they would remember later on everything that he told them while he was on earth. And do you know what those disciples did with that information after the resurrection? They wrote it down. They wrote it down for us. It’s the New Testament epistles.
So Jesus is teaching his first-century disciples, I’m giving you the Holy Spirit. He’ll teach you and bring to your mind everything I’ve told you. So after the resurrection you’ll know all these things; you’ll remember everything I told you. And then, as we see the New Testament continue to progress, we see these disciples wrote these things down for our benefit. So in a sense, Jesus’ ministry of the Holy Spirit was immediately to the disciples and then comes to us, as those who have the Holy Spirit understand their words as if they’re directly from him to us. And they are.
So that’s why I say the first thing Jesus desires even for us twenty-first century Christians is to listen to your teacher. He’s given us the Holy Spirit to teach us and to guide us. He says, “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”
Notice that Jesus starts this conversation, starts this part of the conversation by saying, I’ve been speaking to you. And then he says, I’m not going to be doing that for very long, but I’m going to ask the Father, and the Father’s going to send a Helper, and he will speak to you.
So Jesus’ ministry of teaching never ended. When Jesus died, it wasn’t like, oh, we have no rabbi now. We have no teacher. Who’s ever going to guide us into truth as we live in this world? He sent the Holy Spirit to teach us, to say the exact same things that he’s said.
So the Father sends us a gift. And we learned last week, so does the Son. The Son prayed to the Father for the Holy Spirit to be given to us, and here we understand that the Father sends in the name of Christ. So the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christ coming to dwell inside of a believer to be that believer’s teacher. We’re not lacking anything. We have the Spirit. We have the preacher that we need.
The Spirit would later, as I mentioned, teach the disciples everything that Jesus had taught them. They would write it down so that we would know how to live in this world, with this flesh, with these temptations, with these highs, with these lows. We know how to live based on the word of God that the Holy Spirit has given to us.
So Jesus has given a teacher. And while we go from anxious situation to hopeful opportunity to difficult relationship, all while dealing with our own sin, it’s important for us to remember that we’ve been given his word which calls us to trust him and live accordingly.
I don’t know if you’ve ever been stuck on the side of the road with car problems. It’s not a fun time. Don’t know if you’ve ever been stuck on the side of the road in a place where there seems to be no civilization with car problems.
Imagine being stuck on the side of the road or in the middle of the desert with a flat tire and panicking, not knowing what to do. No cell phone. Battery’s low; didn’t charge it. Nobody seems to be coming by. What in the world do I do about this flat tire? Our minds could, in that moment, wander off—I hope someone comes; I hope this happens; I hope that happens—when in reality, there are actually instructions for how to respond to a flat tire just over in the glovebox. There’s the owner’s manual.
But oftentimes, we want a different answer—someone else come; someone else do this; I’m fearful of that or this—when in reality, we open the glovebox and just go step by step. Now it may take time. It may take strength. We may be nervous. We may get dirty hands. But if we’d simply trust that the people who know the car, built the car, know how to fix it and they’ve told us, if we’d simply trust that, we’d actually come away with a good response, a good solution.
In a sense, the Scripture is like that. A lot of Christians are fearful, worried, anxious. And really we fail to go and understand what the New Testament says to us about all the things we’re anxious about. Oftentimes our fear dominates what we think because the truth doesn’t dominate what we think.
You talk to a fearful or anxious person who’s been severely fearful, deeply anxious, and you typically don’t find that they’re having great times in the word of God with the Lord. The two tend to not go hand in hand.
The Holy Spirit has been given to us as a teacher while Jesus is physically away and while we’re in a world with temptation and strife and conflict. He’s given us His word.
So I would say by way of application for us, not only know your Bibles, but I would say this: Know your New Testament epistles. The gospels are the account of Jesus’ life on earth, and then he gave the Holy Spirit to the apostles who would write down the epistles to the church, which basically teach us what he taught them.
So they’re helping us know how to be his disciples. So his first disciples are teaching us how to be his disciples based on what they know about him that the Holy Spirit told them, and they’re telling us this for our good. Know your New Testament epistles.
If any of you have ever feared that you’re not holy enough—maybe God’s not pleased with me because I sin too much; I know I have faith, but maybe I’m still not right with God because I don’t do enough—if any of you fear that, know your New Testament epistles.
Know specifically Romans 4 about faith. Know Romans 8 about your security in Christ. Know Galatians 2, the end of Galatians 2, which talks about salvation being of faith. You don’t have faith and then continue in works to please and keep your salvation. You progress by faith as well. You’re secured by faith, not by works. Some of you are fearful of knowing where you stand before Christ, but if you just simply studied and knew New Testament epistles, that fear would go away.
Do any of you fear suffering? Know 1 Peter. Know James 1. Know how to view trials.
Do any of you fear how to respond to a new and difficult situation? Maybe you’re going to college soon and you want to represent Christ well there, but you’re nervous about that, nervous about giving into temptation. Maybe you’re entering into a new relationship, whatever it may be, and you want to represent God in that environment, in that relationship. Know Ephesians 5 that starts out saying, be imitators of God, and then lists all the ways to imitate God. Know your New Testament epistles.
Some of you can read them together, memorize them, memorize parts of them, pray them. Know what the Holy Spirit has given to the New Testament church. Know.
Ephesians 1:17. Listen to what Paul says. He prays “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him.” Paul was always praying that we would know more of him, know more of him, know more of him. How do we know more of Christ? We read the book that is the revelation of him to us.
So Paul is constantly praying that New Testament believers in this sin-cursed world would know more of God—know more of his love (Ephesians 3), know more of his power (Colossians 1). But we know more of him by knowing his word.
2. Eliminate Your Fear
Jesus gives the disciples another truth-informed action in which to engage in order to keep them from fear. Here’s the action. Second thing he basically tells them. Verse 27: Eliminate your fear.
So you want to know how to not be afraid? Don’t be afraid. Pretty simple, right?
Verse 27: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” Sounds too easy, too good to be true. I think sometimes if we’re honest, we give excuses for why we fear. Well, if you were in this situation, you would be afraid; so I basically have to fear because of the circumstance I’m in, when the Bible never assumes that you have to fear anything.
There are commands over and over again from God himself, Old Testament and New, telling his followers, don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid. Be strong and be courageous. Over and over. Here he says it in two different ways: “Let not your hearts be troubled,” and when you read that “let not” in the English it sounds like he’s making a suggestion. Hey, let not your hearts be troubled. This is a command. Do not let your hearts be troubled, “neither let them be afraid.”
Why? Well, the first part of the verse. Because he leaves peace. Jesus is leaving to go to the Father; he’s leaving his disciples, and he says that he’s leaving them peace. But it’s not just any peace. Whose peace is it? His peace. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.”
Now listen to this: Jesus knows exactly what’s going to happen in a matter of hours. Beard plucked out, spat upon, insulted, whipped, mocked in front of everyone, nailed to a cross—and that’s not even the worst of it. Suffering the eternal wrath of God for everyone who would ever believe. He’s about to go through that, and he’s the one who’s peaceful. And he says to his followers, my peace I leave with you.
His peace allowed him to see rightly even the wrath of God that he would suffer, trusting in what would happen at the end. Listen, you and I will never—if you’re a Christian—you and I will never suffer the wrath of God. His peace was strong enough to bring him through the wrath of God and out the other end out of the empty grave. If his peace can bring him through the wrath of God, for God’s ultimate purpose for him, we’re going to suffer not even close to what he suffered. And he leaves his peace to us. We can get through any trial without being fearful based on this one verse right here.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled.” Now we know that the world isn’t so great at bringing us peace. The world constantly is trying to get us to be less fearful based on maybe different circumstances. Peace is not given to the believer by taking away difficult circumstances. Peace is not given to a believer by taking away difficult circumstances. Peace is given when the believer knows the presence of God in the middle of difficult circumstances. See the Psalms. See David.
David starts by lamenting that people are chasing him, trying to kill him—even his own son (Psalm 3). And he comes out of so many of those psalms praising the Lord, and the circumstances actually didn’t even really change. His thinking changed.
The world doesn’t give peace like this. To the world, peace is given when you end that relationship or move to that other place. So you’re having conflict at work, quit your job; go here. No more conflict, ever again. Well, no. There probably will be conflict.
But that’s what the world gives. Leave your situation; go somewhere else; you’ll have peace. Jesus says, I’m going to give peace to you, my peace, even in the middle of difficult circumstances. That’s how you’ll receive peace. That’s why I give it differently than the world gives it.
He says, “Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” He uses two different words. Don’t let them be troubled. The word “trouble” is to be disturbed or unsettled. This is more speaking of the mind. Don’t let your mind be disturbed or unsettled, Jesus saying this to us.
Then he says, neither let your hearts be afraid. To be afraid is to lack boldness or courage. So one speaks to the mind and being unsettled; the other speaks to the mind being unsettled, so that leads you to being cowardly and afraid. So he’s saying, don’t have your mind unsettled; believe the right things; don’t be troubled, so that you can respond and live with boldness in the way that I want you to live. That’s what he’s teaching his disciples.
Notice that Jesus expects that we can actually control our anxiety. He actually expects that we can control our fears. Psalm 56:3-4. When David was seized by the Philistines, he said this: “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?”
You see David preaching to himself? He’s preaching to himself that his confidence can be in God, and that does not need to lead to fear. He can overcome fear. If we trust in the ultimate care of Christ for us, then we will be able to eliminate fear.
Fear comes when what we fear is often treated as ultimate. Fear comes when what we fear is the ultimate thing. Peace comes when we know God’s care of us and that that is the ultimate thing. You fear when what you fear—cancer, a broken relationship—is ultimate. Peace comes when you know that Christ’s plan for you and care for you and sovereignty over you is ultimate. That allows you to get through trials.
I would encourage you to, if you are tempted toward fear and anxiety, I would encourage you to study that topic in the Bible. Trace it Old Testament to New Testament. See how God encourages people to overcome fear.
One of the things our small group is studying currently is Isaiah. We’re going verse by verse through Isaiah, so we’ll be done in about thirty-seven years. We’re studying Isaiah, and the theme of Isaiah—God’s telling Judah, do not put your trust in Assyria; do not put your trust in Egypt; do not put your trust in anything other than me. He’s constantly telling his people how he’s gonna judge different groups that they’re putting their trust in. And he’s telling them all that he’s gonna do and how at the end he’ll bring them through that and bring them salvation.
So in Isaiah 41:10 and 13, he says this: “[F]ear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” “For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, ‘Fear not, I am the one who helps you.’” Do you think God ever wants his followers to be afraid? No.
But now, when you study that from Isaiah 41, you can just go to Isaiah 41:10, 13 and put that up on your mirror or put that on a card in your kitchen, and that’s fine. But when you’ve gone through Isaiah 1 through 40 first, it’s almost as if they would hear these and go, are you kidding me? Do you know what you said earlier on, Lord? You said that you would destroy your enemies. You said that you would purify Judah. You’ve said that your wrath will be showered down on your enemies. There’s a lot of reason to fear.
But God’s telling his people, don’t be afraid because I’m with you. What comforts them, or what allows them to overcome their fear, is his presence, his love for them, his ability for them, his strength.
So I would encourage you, if you’re tempted toward fear, know the Bible’s teaching on fear. Know how to overcome it based on what he says. Eliminate your fear.
3. Rejoice for Jesus
The third truth-informed action to take: Rejoice for Jesus. Not rejoice in Jesus. Rejoice for Jesus, and I think this will make sense as we go through the verse.
Jesus unexpectedly tells them to take their focus off of themselves and to place it on him for a moment. He wants them to rejoice that he’s going to be with the Father.
Now what would you be thinking if you were a disciple? Probably the same things these disciples were thinking. Well then, if you’re leaving, then how do we get to where you are? If you’re leaving, how will we know the way to get there? When are you coming back? They’re afraid. They’re thinking about them.
He says this in verse 28: “You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ [I’ve told you I’m leaving, but I’m gonna come back.] If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.”
So remember earlier in John 14 when he said I’m leaving? He’s saying, you guys started looking around and being afraid when I said I’m leaving and then I’m gonna come back. You should’ve, when I said hey guys I’m leaving, you should’ve thrown a party—yes! Why? Because I get to go back to the Father. You should have been happy for me. But you focused on your fear and your discomfort and what you were lacking. You should have rejoiced with me because I’m going to the Father.
If they really cared for him, they’d be happy for him instead of fearful. Why? Because when Jesus goes back to heaven after going through the cross and then being resurrected, when Jesus goes back to heaven, we learn from Philippians 2 and 1 Corinthians 15 that he goes back and he receives glory for what he did, and he and the Father enjoy that communion, and he receives glory among all the nations for what he did.
They should have been happy. Yes, you’re going to the place you should be and you want to be. You’re going to the place where we want to be. You’re going to the Father. We are excited for you. But that’s not what they thought. They thought, poor us. Poor me.
He says that he’s going back to the Father because the Father is greater than I. This isn’t speaking of the fact that Jesus is anything less than God, but Jesus as God himself, as the Son of God, submitted to the Father’s will. It was God the Father who planned the plan of salvation. Jesus submitted to it. That’s why he highlights the fact that he’s submitting to the Father. In that sense, the Father’s greater. He’s the one who’s got the plan, and I follow it perfectly.
Jesus acts as though a person’s going to heaven is something that their loved ones should rejoice in. Go figure. And I’m so glad Jesus said this. He could have left that part out. He could have only taught the disciples about how they should be comforted because he’s leaving the Spirit, or because he’s gonna give his word, or whatever it may be. But Jesus takes a moment to highlight the fact—guys, have you ever thought about what I’m going to do, who I’m gonna be with at the end of all this?
I love that our Lord said this. The Son of God is excited to go back to heaven with the Father. Even in the face of trials, we can look forward to that same experience. If Jesus wasn’t excited to go back to the Father, we might be tempted to think, what really happens when I die? I mean, is it really gonna be that great? Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is excited to go back to heaven. We should be as well.
And when our loved ones go, that’s why Christians so often rejoice at memorial services and things like that. Yes, there is pain. Yes, there is difficulty when one we love goes to heaven, but Christians rejoice knowing that they’re with the Father.
About ten years ago, Michelle and I were part of a college and young adult ministry, and for that ministry I was teaching a class on how to study and teach the Bible. And there were a number of students there, a number from UCLA, from other colleges in California and Southern California, and I’ll never forget teaching that class. We had a lot of students there, and then among that group in the class I was teaching there was a young mom in the class. And she had recently been converted—new Christian. Didn’t grow up with a Christian background, new Christian. She had a son named Noah.
And she was there at a class on how to teach the Bible. Now she’s a brand new Christian. But she basically wanted to be at every single thing she could be at to learn more about the Bible. I mean, she was everywhere. Faithful in Bible study; she was at this class after church on a Sunday afternoon. Her name was Erika.
Now Erika, being around that church, met a seminary student named Josh. Josh and Erika then got married. So now she’s married Josh, and she’s growing as a believer. They’ve got Noah; then they have another son later on.
Well Josh graduated from seminary, and Erika and Josh moved to Kingman, Arizona. Are the Metcalfs here? You guys are here. You know where I’m going with this, don’t you? Yeah. Josh and Erika and their family quickly became friends with the Metcalfs when the Metcalfs were in Kingman. The Metcalfs have since come to our church, as you know, and Josh and Erika, the Seiberts, went to a church in Oregon. So most recently, they were at a church in Oregon.
In the last couple years, Josh was diagnosed with Fanconi anemia, a disease of the bone marrow, where the life expectancy is thirty-three. Josh exceeded the life expectancy, but now he’s with the Lord. And this just happened a few weeks ago.
Why do I highlight this? Because Erika knows that Josh is with the Father, and in that she rejoices.
See, I wonder if so far in this sermon, you’ve kind of thought, yeah, but you don’t know what I’m going through. How can you tell me to overcome fear? Does this stuff really matter?
Erika Seibert is grateful because her husband is free from pain with the Father. Listen to what she posted on Facebook. This is four days after Josh’s home going.
The past four days have been full of tears, headaches, and nausea from missing my beloved and closest friend and the man I called my husband. It breaks my heart! Part of me can not believe what has actually happened… On the other hand, my senses and painful memories of the hospital sober me to reality of his passing… yet my Hope comes from him going into the arms of Jesus! Josh is in heaven because of his unwavering faith in Christ, not because he was a “good” person or performed enough good deeds to save himself, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.” Romans 3:23-25.
I rest in God’s sovereignty over the length of Josh’s life. Psalm 139 is a continual comfort to me when I’m tempted with doubts. God knew every single day Josh would live, before he was even born! Most people with FA only live to age 33, so we were blessed with the four sweet years we did get to be with Josh! Our comfort comes from knowing that God is good and loves us and knows the answers to our “why’s?” God is all-knowing, always good, and always faithful; and he is with us till the end through Jesus and his spirit that indwells believers.
It’s as if Erika believes John 14. Jesus expects his disciples to rejoice when he says he’s going back to heaven, because when you go back to heaven, you’re with the Father, without any curse, without any pain, in perfect communion.
4. Trust in Sovereignty
The fourth truth-informed action to take in order to overcome fear is this: Trust in sovereignty. Trust in sovereignty.
Jesus seeks to alleviate their fear by showing them that he’s sovereign over all of these trials. And if he’s sovereign over all of these trials, then they should trust and depend on him.
Verse 29: “And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe.” He’s saying, I’m telling you all of these difficult things are happening so that when they happen and later on you understood, he told us it would happen; it happened exactly like he said it; we should trust in him.
He knows all things. He knows the plan. He knows the trials. He knows the outcome. He knows all of it. He’s telling them something is going to come true that has not yet come true so that when it does happen they would know that he’s the God of all truth. That’s what’s happening here.
Jesus does this a few times in John. He tells them, when you see that something happens, later on you’re gonna know who I am, what I teach, and I want you to believe. He tells them three times in John about bad news that’s coming up so that they will later trust in him.
Here he tells them, when he goes away, he’s gonna come back for them, and that when that happens they can believe in him.
In chapter 13 we saw this right when he told them that one of them was going to betray them, which would have caused them to panic. He said, one of you will betray me. And he said, I’m telling you this so that you will know and trust me. He’s predicting future pain and saying, when you experience that pain, then you’re gonna go, oh my goodness, he told us exactly what happened; we should believe what he says. He knows the whole thing.
In chapter 16, verse 4, he tells them that they’ll be put out of the synagogue, which would have been a social black mark on them. That would have affected their whole lives. You’re gonna be put out of the synagogue, and when people kill you, they’re gonna think they’re killing you in the name of God, in service to God.
John 16:4: “But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you.” He wants them to know that even in difficult circumstances, he knows all that’s happening so that they would depend on him, the one who planned and organizes and is in control of everything. He wants them to trust in his sovereignty.
This is exactly why the post resurrection disciples walked and lived so differently than they did before. They were like, he told us he was gonna die on a cross. He told us he’d rise again. He rose again. He told us he’d see us. We saw him. He told us he’d go back to heaven. He went back to heaven. He told us to go preach the good news. How in the world can we do that with fear? We know that he’s in control of everything.
And so you see Peter before the crucifixion denying Jesus three times when just a few people ask if he knows him. Oh no, no, no, no way. You see fearful, timid Peter. And then after the resurrection, after the ascension, now with the Holy Spirit, knowing all that he knows, you see Peter basically willing to die for Jesus, saying, hey, I know where this ends. And it’s not with me in a grave.
The disciples actually believed that Jesus is sovereign over all of their trials. Remember in Acts 5. The council told Peter that he was not supposed to be preaching. Okay Peter, you’ve been preaching the name of Jesus Christ; we’ve told you to stop. Okay, maybe that’ll do it.
Verse 29, Acts 5: “But Peter and the apostles answered”—this wasn’t just Peter happened to be bold all of a sudden. This changed all of the apostles. “But Peter and the apostles answered, ‘We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.’”
You see echoes of John 14 here, don’t you? The disciples believed what Jesus said about his being sovereign over all things, and that changed them. If we would believe that God is sovereign in all of our trials and has a plan, it would change us.
But often we act like death is final. We fear because of our circumstances, if they actually come true, that would be final. The disciples knew about the empty tomb and the resurrection, and they trusted Christ to be sovereign over all.
5. Know the Victor
Number five, moving on to the last two. Number five: Know the victor. Know the victor. Jesus tells his disciples that Satan is on the move. But do not conclude that Satan is more or equally as powerful as Christ is.
Verse 30: “I will no longer talk much with you”—so guys, I’m about to be done talking to you; I’m about to die. “I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming.” Now, just stop right there. Hey guys, I’m almost done talking to you because Satan’s after me and he’s almost here. [gasp] “He has no claim on me.”
So guys, I see your mouths open, but let’s just get this straight. He’s coming. He can do certain things, but he has no claim on me. Jesus is calling his disciples to know the one who’s victorious. Know the one who’s ultimately sovereign, guys. Know the victor.
He says that the ruler of this world is coming. This is often how Jesus or the Father speaks about Satan. He calls him the ruler of the world here. In 2 Corinthians 4 he calls him the god of this world, the little “g” god of this world. In Ephesians 2 he’s called the prince of the power of the air. Satan has certain abilities and a certain rule that he has, a certain sovereignty that’s not ultimately sovereign. He cannot do anything apart from the sovereignty of God.
That’s why when you read Job 1, Satan wants to attack Job; he actually asks permission to attack Job. So, when someone asks permission to do something, you know the person they’re asking permission from is actually the sovereign one—as we say in our house, the “boss” of them. Satan asks permission to God to go after Job, and God gives him the boundaries. In Job 1, God is sovereign over Job’s trials. God is sovereign, not Satan.
2 Corinthians 4—Satan blinds the mind of those who are unbelieving. 2 Corinthians 4:5—we preach the gospel. 2 Corinthians 4:6—God shines light into the heart and gives understanding and causes people to be born again. God is sovereign over Satan’s work in 2 Corinthians 4:4. God is sovereign.
Luke 22. Simon, Simon, Satan has demanded to sift you as wheat. Satan has demanded to sift you like wheat. Some translations actually say, asked permission. It’s a combination of both—Satan saying, I’m going after Peter; I want to go after Peter. Can I go after Peter? Simon, Simon, Satan has demanded to sift you like wheat, “but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail” (Luke 22:32). Satan can go after the followers of Christ, but God is sovereign over the followers of Christ and their faith. God is sovereign.
Know who the victor is. You know, we do not hold to the doctrine of dualism. Dualism teaches that there are two forces—God and Satan—and sometimes God gets his way, and sometimes Satan gets his way. We are not dualists. God is sovereign over anything the enemy does. God puts boundaries on it, allows it for a certain time, but God is sovereign over all of it. That is the testimony of the Scriptures, Old and New Testaments.
Between God and Satan, one is sovereign and one is not. One is all powerful and one is not. Don’t ever think that Christ is somehow powerless against the attacks of Satan. Don’t ever think that Christ is powerless over the attacks of Satan.
So Jesus is saying, guys, I’m only gonna talk to you for a little bit longer because Satan’s coming after me, but guys, he has no claim on me. And they might have thought back to when he taught about himself being the good shepherd. Remember what he said in John 10:18? “No one takes it [my life] from me,” and right there you could put in parentheses, Judas, Satan himself—no one takes my life from me, “but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up.”
Based on those realities, does Satan have any sovereignty over God? No. Nor does he have it over the followers of God. Satan’s attacks, yes, are to be fought. You can see that in Ephesians 6. You can see James talking about resisting the devil. Yes, Satan’s attacks are to be fought, but not out of fear; we fight Satan’s attacks by trusting in the sovereign one, trusting in the Lord. In order to overcome fear, never forget who the sovereign victor is.
6. Obey out of Love
Finally, the final truth-informed action on which Christ wants us to focus is to obey out of love. So to the fearful, anxious heart, the Lord calls you to obey him because you love him. Obey him. You’re fearful of so many things. Focus not on fear, but focus on loving obedience and see the Lord’s care for you in that.
To understand fully what Christ is saying, we have to look back at verse 15, don’t we? Remember the last paragraph in John’s gospel, John 14:15: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” Verse 21: “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” Then again in verse 23, “Jesus answered him, ‘If anyone loves me, he will keep my word.’”
And we said this last week. Do you think Jesus cared about his disciples loving him by obeying him? Yes! He said it three times in just a few sentences. If you love me, you’ll obey me. Love me and obey me. The one who loves me obeys me.
Here Jesus says in a little bit of a different way, “I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father” (John 14:31). Jesus makes himself the example of loving obedience to the Father here. He earlier told them three times, love me; obey me. Love me; obey me. Love me; obey me. Now he’s saying, I love the Father; I obey the Father. Jesus is teaching his disciples how to live when he’s gone. It matters to Jesus that his disciples, out of love for him, obey.
Notice, by the way, where he links it to the last statement. Satan has no claim on Jesus because he is doing exactly the plan of God. This isn’t Satan’s plan. This is the Father’s plan. And he does the plan of God why? Because he loves the Father. He loves God the Father.
Jesus’ whole life was about loving obedience to the Father. He wants the world to know that he loves the Father. And Jesus assumes that his believers, because they love him and love the Father, want to obey to show the world we love the Father. We love God. Christ calls us to a public and obedient life that stems from our love for the Father and the Son. Christ calls us to a public and obedient life because we love the Father and Son and want that to be known.
Why would we want that to be known? Because it shows people around us he is worthy to be adored and loved and followed. Christ wants that testimony from us. Jesus urged the disciples to live lives of obedience to him because they love him.
So for the one who’s fearful, if we are dominated by fear of circumstances, we’re not focusing on what Christ desires. We’re focusing on us rather than how much we love Christ and the Father and want to honor him. I would say, be dominated by a desire to obey the Lord you love. Be dominated by the desire to obey the Lord you love.
Young people, students, in the middle of a life where so many temptations come at you to be cool and popular and to sin and to think much of yourselves and little of others, in the middle of all that, when you say you love Christ, is your heart dominated with the desire to love Christ and obey him?
The Christian life is pretty simple in that sense. Trust and obey. Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus than to trust and obey. A Christian should want to love and obey Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:9. Paul says this: “So whether we are at home or away,” and he means whether we’re dead or we’re in heaven, whether we’re here on earth or in heaven, “So whether we’re at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.” What a good verse. Whether we’re home or away, we make it our aim to please him.
Christ wants his followers to obey him. They’re fearful. They’re focused on what they’re not gonna have, what might happen to them. He wants them focused on obeying his word. Just obey my word. Obey my word. Obey my word, and see how I care for you in that.
Just pastorally speaking, in times of temptation and anxiety, I would encourage you, ask the Lord that your greatest emotion would not be fear of circumstances, but desire to obey him. If you’re even fearful of something today—maybe it’s a diagnosis or an appointment you having coming up or a relationship—ask the Lord that your greatest emotion when you go to bed tonight is not fear of what might happen, but desire to obey him. Lord, make my one desire to want to obey you because I love you and I trust you.
So Christ has taught us six truth-informed actions that will help us overcome fear as we trust in him. And notice—I don’t know if you’ve noticed this. Notice how Jesus wants his disciples focused on the big picture of what he’s doing rather than on the circumstances that they’ve just heard about. He wants them focused on the big picture of his salvation plan.
He’s constantly telling them, you’ll see why I told you this. You’ll see what happens later. In the future, you’ll look back and go, oh, this all makes sense now. He wants them focused on the big picture when they’re nervous because he just said he’s leaving.
I close with Paul Tripp again. Tripp says this:
I am deeply persuaded that real, lasting personal rest of heart is never to be found in ease of circumstances. Even in the best of situations in this fallen world your heart will be able to find reasons for worry. Inner rest of soul and lasting peace of heart are only ever found when Jesus and His kingdom are your highest and deepest treasures. When you place your identity in His never-changing hands, when you find your meaning and purpose in the unstoppable work of His kingdom, and when you place your inner sense of well-being on the sure foundation of His promise to meet your every need, you will be able to rest even when the situations and relationships around you are broken.
Worry and rest always reveal the true treasures of our hearts. And in this battle we are not alone because the King we are called to serve is also Emmanuel, God with us. He is ever with us and battles for us by his grace. Let’s pray.
Lord Jesus Christ, you speak such comforting words to your fearful and anxious disciples. Lord, would you allow the words of John 14 and the truths behind them to dominate how we approach physical suffering, emotional suffering, broken relationships, questions, fears, doubts?
Holy Spirit, be our teacher. Be the one who teaches us what the Scriptures mean so that we can know how to respond in the midst of difficult circumstances and pain. We trust you. Give us more trust. We pray this in the Son’s name. Amen.
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