Jesus Speaks to Troubled Hearts
Topic: English Passage: John 14:1-14
Just yesterday, my familiy found out about a cousin of mine, whose son had a very serious and tramatic head injury. So far, they have found three fractures in the kid's skull. As a dad myself, I can only imagine what that feels like for my cousin and his wife.
Well, I think about that situation, and then I look down at the opening line of our passage today, and it says "Do not let your hearts be troubled."
This is a very appropriate and practical passage—not just for my family, but for all of us. There is no end to things that can happen in a fallen world that would cause out hearts to become troubled.
I don’t have to have some kind of supernatural knowledge to know that some of you are suffering right now—or to say that all of you will suffer in some significant way at some point in your life. That’s a part of life in a fallen world.
As a young man, I didn’t handle suffering well. That doesn’t mean I was overwhelmed by it. In fact, for me, it means that it didn’t affect me very much, if at all. And that wasn’t due to some kind of inner strength. It was due to my own selfishness and arrogance and apathy. I didn’t care. I hadn’t learned to sympathize with others.
But typically, those kinds of selfish attitudes get chipped away as one grows and gets married and has kids or health issues. Life gets a whole lot more vulnerable. And there are many, many opportunities for your heart to be troubled.
Our passage today begins with a command. “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” What does that mean? That might be a familiar word to some of you.
Back in chapter 12, Jesus said to His disciples, “My soul has become troubled.” And then again, in last week’s passage, before dismissing Judas from the group, it says Jesus became troubled in spirit. It’s a word that means to become unsettled or to lose your composure.
And in the second half of John’s gospel, the word is talking about the feelings related to the painful death of Jesus Christ. It was a troubling thing—both for Jesus and for His disciples. They are going to see their Rabbi be arrested, condemned, and then crucified as if He were one of the vilest criminals. And these young disciples are going to be left distressed, sorrowful, confused, and alone. Have you ever felt like that?
Down in verse 18 of this chapter, Jesus gives them the image of abandoned orphans, but He doesn’t want them to feel that way.
This opening verse here is a command. It’s like saying to the disciples, “Don’t worry,” or, even better, “Stop worrying.” In terms of translating it from the Greek, I like how it’s put in the Holman Christian Standard Bible, which says, “Your heart must not be troubled.” Don’t let that happen.
Well, how in the world are the disciples of Jesus supposed to prevent themselves from the sorrowful despair that is coming upon them? How do they battle against that response?
Well, the battle takes place in the mind, right? This is the Christian’s battleground. This is where you win or lose in the Christian life. And the battle is over truth. It’s about refuting error. It’s about overcoming whatever you see, or whatever you feel, with what you know to be true. You need the sword of the Spirit. You need the truth of God’s word.
Second Corinthians, chapter 10, verses 3-5 say: For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.
Ultimately, we’re not fighting against people. The battle is against deception, against the lies of Satan and the deception of this world.
God has called you to do battle against a troubled heart. Do battle for that. If you’re not willing to battle, then you won’t be obedient to Christ, and you set yourself up, as Ephesians 4 puts it, to “be tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine.”
You won’t have any stability. You’ll just be subject to whatever the world says, and worse, whatever your feelings tell you. That’s a tragic place to be. You will feel absolutely powerless and helpless. That’s not what God wants.
So, again, how do you battle against a troubled heart? Even in the most difficult or painful of situations, how do you find comfort and peace?
Well, for starters, you do not absorb the pseudo-Christian message that says “Believe in yourself and things will get better.” That’s basically a form of denial. That’s what many of the popular so-called Christian authors are saying. That’s what it boils down to. “Don’t let the world get you down. Just get back on that horse. Put your head down, and keep plowing forward. Don’t let anything get in the way of you achieving your dream. It’s all going to work out for you if you keep moving forward.”
That is a dangerous message. And it will set you up for an even greater despair and an even greater arrogance. And that’s because it’s a message that focuses on you. If things DO improve, it’s because YOU did it. That’s the arrogance. And if things don’t, it’s your own fault. That’s the despair.
The extreme of that false message is what you might see in the prosperity gospel, but the more tamed down version is what you see in popular authors or conference speakers or teachers on Christian radio. The message is that Jesus is the ticket to a better life—better physical health, emotional healthy, better relational health, better financial health, better career opportunities, you name it.
That idea, you need to know, is antithetical to the gospel. The call to follow Jesus is a call to pain and suffering, in one form or another. You take up your cross daily. You endure mistreatment. You endure difficult days. And from a worldly perspective, things might not get any better.
Andif this life isn’t going to get any better, how are you supposed to battle against a troubled heart? This is what Jesus spends His time talking to His disciples about in the Upper Room. Motivated by His love, Jesus wants to prepare His disciples for what’s coming next.
In verse 27 of the chapter, Jesus tells them, “Peace, I leave with you. My peace I give to you.” And again, He says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”
In chapter 15, Jesus says: “I want My joy to be in you. I want your joy to be made full.” Why does He talk about joy? Because they’re going to be tempted to lose their joy.
In chapter 16, Jesus says sorrow has filled their heart. They are going to grieve. And they are going to be scattered. And that’s why, in John 16:33, Jesus ends this extended teaching session by saying: “I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” And then Jesus prays for them out loud. He prays for their protection.
You don’t gain peace just by memorizing one single verse about peace. You gain peace by filling your mind with the principles Jesus gave to His disciples.
If worry or anxiety or a troubled heart is something you want to fight against, this is a passage you should be reading over and over again. Read John 14-17, and take note of what Jesus is saying, and then meditate on those truths. That’s the path to joy and comfort and hope.
For today, I want to arm you with some very practical weapons for battling against a troubled heart. And when things are bad, you don’t always have the time or the energy for some complicated response. You need something fast and accessible. You need a spiritual dagger, you can pull out and fight against sin, and doubt, and Satan. So that’s how I’m going to approach our outline for today. These are quick truths for battling a troubled heart.
Truth number 1 is this: Jesus is aware.
Jesus is aware
Inn other words, He knows. He knows what’s going on.
Why did Jesus talk about troubled hearts? Because He knew that’s what they were going through and that’s what they were about to go even deeper into. Jesus knows their heart. And He knows your heart as well. Jesus is fully aware.
Don’t forget that when you’re suffering. He is the merciful and faithful High Priest. He sympathizes with your weaknesses. He knows what you’re going through. Jesus knows. Cling to that truth. Jesus knows.
Weapon number 2 is connected. Point number 2 is: Jesus is here.
Jesus is here
Verse 1 continues—Believe in God; believe also in me.
The English translation we’ve got lists this as two commands, but in the Greek they can also be translated as statements, or indicative. And some people think that the first half is a statement, and the second is a command. If that’s the case, then we could translate it, “You believe in God, believe also in Me.”
I think that makes more sense with what Jesus is trying to tell them here. He is going to equate Himself with the Father. And every faithful Jew believed in God. They understood what it meant to believe in Someone they could not see.
You can read the Psalms, and find many, many examples of the psalmist expressing trust and faith and hope in an invisible God, even when circumstances aren’t good. You can read that in the prophets too. I’ll give you one example.
Isaiah 26:3-4 says: You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. 4Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.
That was written to a people who were going to see their nation be destroyed by corruption, idolatry, and foreign nations. And yet, even in that, they could focus on God, whom they could not see.
In the same way, Jesus is saying that once He’s gone and they won’t be able to see Him, they should still believe in Him. You believe in an invisible God, so don’t stop believing in Me once I’m gone. That’s the starting point for peace.
He’s not calling them to salvation. They already believe in a saving way. He’s calling them to that daily faith—that daily focus on Christ and His truths. We walk by faith, not by sight. And walking by faith means reminding yourself: Jesus is here. Jesus is here. You can’t see Him, but you can still believe in Him.
First Peter 1:8, written to suffering saints, says—Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory
The problems are here, but so is Jesus. Jesus is here. He knows what you’re going through. And He will never leave you or forsake you. Jesus knows, and Jesus is here.
We get a third weapon in response to suffering from verses 2 and 3. Let’s read what it says: 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? 3And 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.
Here’s the principle: Jesus is faithful.
Jesus is faithful
Because of some very minor differences in the Greek manuscripts, verse 2 can either be understood as a question or a statement. The ESV goes the route of the question. You can ask Richard what his New American Standard says.
Either way, it’s making the same point. Jesus is basically asking His disciples: “Would I lie to you? Would I deceive you? Is that the kind of person I am?” This is all pointing them to His faithfulness. Jesus is faithful. He is going to unite His people with the Father.
In those times, when a son got married, he didn’t always leave his father’s house. But he definitely wasn’t going to live in his father’s house either. So what happened? They would build an addition to the father’s house, extending the house. So the new family has their own place to live, but it’s still connected to the bigger family. There’s unity.
And that’s the picture Jesus is giving the disciples. God’s house will have room for everyone. I’m making sure of it. I’m getting it ready for you. Nobody gets kicked to the curb.
John MacArthur, in his commentary, teaches us that heaven has different ways it’s referred to. And each of those ways has a different emphasis. Heaven is called a country, which speaks of it’s vastness. It’s a city, which speaks of its large population. It’s also a kingdom, which points to the King. It’s a paradise, because it is beautiful. And it’s called our rest, because we enjoy freedom from sin.
But to refer to heaven as God’s house is a way of emphasizing the unity and the intimacy of those who live there. Those of you who are introverts don’t understand this as much, but it can actually be very exciting and appealing to have more people around. Once you’re glorified, and the new heavens and the new earth come, God will turn you into a extrovert. And you will rejoice with all of us. We’ll be one big, happy family.
Why? Because Jesus is faithful. That’s what He said He would do. He’s preparing a place for us.
And even though we can’t see Him now, we know He is coming again. He’s coming for His own. He’s going to take us with Himself. “I’ll come back for you,” Jesus says. Again, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” And the disciples of Jesus need to live with that faith and hope.
Some time ago, my wife and I watched a movie based on a true story about a dog in Japan in the early 1900s. This was an Akita who, for about one year, would follow his owner to the train station every morning as he went to work. Then the dog would go back to the station later that day because he figured out what time his master was coming back. One day, though, the man died from an unexpected brain hemorrhage while he was at work. So he never came home. That happened on May 21, 1925.
And from that day on, for the next nine years, nine months, and fifteen days, this dog named Hachiko would show up at the train station right at the time when the train would come back. He became, to the Japanese people, a symbol of loyalty and faith. He was waiting for his master to return.
That’s a story about a dog! Surely, we as the people who belong to Christ, can live with faith, right?! Jesus is faithful. He’s coming back. He said He would. And He’s taking us out of here to be with Him and with the Father forever. If you belong to Christ, your life of pain and suffering is not the end. You are a pilgrim. And you will enter into a glorious and joyful eternity one day. Jesus is faithful.
So, Jesus knows. Jesus is here. Jesus is faithful. Weapon number 4 is: Jesus is leading.
Jesus is leading
Look at verses 4-6. Jesus adds—And you know the way to where I am going.” 5Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
From a theological perspective, this is a monumental verse. Jesus is talking about His exclusivity. You could paraphrase it by saying: “He is the only way.” That’s what the end of verse 6 is talking about. “No one comes to the Father unless they come through Me.”
That is a direct and clear refutation by the Lord to the religious relativism and pluralism that characterizes our society. People say, “Believe whatever you want. As long as you’re sincere, it doesn’t matter. God is like the top of a mountain, and there are many paths to get to Him.” Wrong! Absolutely wrong!
Jesus claimed exclusivity. If you don’t surrender to Him, as He has shown Himself in the Bible, you go to hell. It’s not a welcome message, but it’s not a complicated one either.
The Apostles of Jesus said it like this in Acts 4:12—"There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men, by which we must be saved.”
Don’t ever lose sight of that truth. And if you hear someone saying anything contrary to that, stop listening to that person. And tell your friends to stop listening too. Jesus is the only way.
But beyond the theological significance of that statement, we have the practical impact Jesus wants to make on His disciples. The key word here is “way.” Verse 4, “you know the way.” Verse 5, “How can we know the way?” Verse 6, “I am the way.”
What he’s trying to instill in them is the confidence, not simply that they’re on the right path, but that He is leading them. Jesus embodies the path. He IS the way. He doesn’t just point to the way. Jesus is not a billboard. He goes with us. He knows, and He’s here and He’s faithful, and He leads us.
It’s like Jesus is saying to them, “You don’t need to know all the twists and turns up ahead. What you need to know is that if you stay with me, you’ll make it. I am the way. I am leading you. Don’t be afraid. I have been, and will continue to be, guiding you every step of the way. Just stay close to Me.
“You’re going to see the lies of enemy appear to triumph, but I am the truth. You’re going to see death, but I am the life. Trust in Me. Stay near to Me. I will lead You.”
Isn’t that a comforting message? You’re not responsible to know all the ins and outs of what’s ahead—in your health, or in your family, or in your finances. You’re not responsible right now to plan for all the possibilities. You’re responsible to stay with Jesus.
That’s what we tell our little children, isn’t it? “Daddy, I’m in trouble! I gotta go, but I don’t know where the bathroom is.” Doesn’t matter! You’re taller. You can see the sign. So you say, “Don’t worry honey, just hold my hand, and I’ll get you there.” Right? All they need to hear is, “Follow me. Stay with Me.”
Jesus is the way. And He will guide you. He will lead you. He will make sure you’re taken care of.
The truth that strengthens everything we’ve been saying, is weapon number 5. Remember, these are very simple statements to help battle your troubled heart. Weapon number 5: Jesus is God.
Jesus is God
This is what Jesus wants to make sure His disciples are absolutely clear on. His wisdom, His power, His authority—all of those are equal to the Father. And just like the previous point, it’s driven into our minds by a brief discussion with the disciples. Look at verse 7. Jesus is still speaking.
“If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” 8Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9Jesus 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’? 10 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. 11Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.
This section carries with it, not just a teaching tone, but a rebuke as well. “How long have you all been with me? And you still don’t understand who I am?”
Philip may be asking for some kind of glorious manifestation of the Father, similar to some of the examples you have in the Old Testament—a burning bush, a fiery angel, a luminous cloud. He wasn’t one of the ones who got to see Jesus’ preview of his glory on the Mount of Transfiguration. He wants some tangible display of God.
And what does Jesus say? “If you’ve seen Me, you’ve seen the Father.” Why? Because the most glorious thing about God is not what He looks like; it’s His character. It’s His righteousness, His heart, and His attributes. So, to the extent that you see Jesus walking on the earth, interacting with people, healing the sick, challenging the Pharisees, and ultimately dying for sinners and resurrecting in victory, then you would know the heart of the Father.
Never let anyone give you the impression that God wanted to send us all to hell ,but Jesus stepped in and cancelled those plans. Jesus never works against the Father. They are one. They are perfectly united. To know the heart of Jesus is to know the heart of God. To know the heart of Jesus is to see God.
In Exodus 33 and 34 we have the account of Moses saying to God, “Show me Your glory.” And do you know what God said? He said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you. All my goodness. That’s what I’ll give you, Moses.”
And apart from saying God would show Moses His back, it doesn’t tell us what Moses saw. It tells us what He heard. He heard the voice of the Lord proclaim to Him: “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty.”
God told Moses what He was like. He told Him He was faithful and righteous, but also merciful. That’s God. But how can God righteously punish sin, and yet forgive sin at the same time? How can He see to it that all sin is paid for with an infinite price, and yet show mercy at the same time? How can He, as Romans 3 puts it, be just and the justifier?
The answer is Jesus Christ crucified. That’s how God did it. He punished and condemned sin by placing it upon the Son, so that whoever believes in Him, would be freed from the penalty of sin. Whoever believes would be liberated from the curse of sin and death. They would be united with the resurrection of Jesus.
And this is what God calls you to do today. Stop living for yourself. Stop living like things are no big deal to God. Repent of your sin and trust in Jesus Christ, crucified, risen and coming again, to rescue His own, and judge the rebellious.
Everything we’ve been talking about regarding peace and comfort and joy in the midst of difficulties, will mean absolutely nothing to you, if you do not have Jesus Christ. These truths will only condemn you greater if you refuse to surrender to Jesus. There will be no eternal life after this one—only eternal judgment.
But if you come to Jesus, if you beg Him for forgiveness and for mercy, trusting in nothing about yourself, only in Jesus on the cross, He will save you. And He’ll place His Spirit within you. And you will truly know who God is. Because Jesus is God. He and the Father are one.
If you want to ask someone about that, or talk to someone about that, talk to any member of this church. They’ll point you in the right direction. They’ll tell you about who Jesus is. And if you’ve got some questions they don’t know how to answer, they’ll point you to someone who can help, and they’ll go with you.
Believing in Jesus isn’t about ignoring all the rules of logic and reasoning. It is a reasoned conclusion. Especially once you consider all the evidence. Jesus continually pointed people to His words and to His works—His message and His miracles—to indicate that He was no ordinary man. He came from heaven. He came from the Father.
That’s a consistent message in John’s gospel, and Jesus is saying it again to the disciples in verses 10 and 11. Everything I say is from the Father. Everything I do is from the Father. I only do what I see the Father doing.
When He said that to the religious leaders, they tried to kill Him. Because they knew what He meant. But now, with just the intimate circle of the faithful 11 disciples, He reminds them about the message so that they would be comforted and encouraged. “Don’t forget all that you’ve seen me say and do. I am God.” Jesus is God.
Now, I’ve got two more statement for you today, and then we’ll be done. Statement number 6—weapon number 6 for fighting a troubled heart—here it is: Jesus is working.
Jesus is working
This come from 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.
Remember, the disciples saw all the miracles Jesus had done. That would have boosted their confidence in Him. He miraculously fed them. He miraculously paid their taxes. He miraculously protected them. And He also miraculously healed so many people.
That was a preview of the kingdom of God. That was an encouragement to His disciples.
But once Jesus is no longer physically with them, the response of their troubled hearts will be to say, “Oh, wouldn’t it be better if Jesus were here with us again? Wouldn’t it be better if we could have some manifestation of Christ’s power right now?”
And so, Jesus prepares them for that by saying, “You who believe in Me will do greater works than what I did.”
What?! Greater works? What is Jesus talking about? Who’s going to do something greater than Jesus?
We are. How? Not greater in the sense of human impressiveness, but greater in extent. Jesus said, “You will do greater works, because I am going to the Father.” And as we’ll see later in this section, Jesus going to the Father is connected with Him sending the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit is given to the disciples for what? For what purpose? To be His witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Apart from fleeing to Egypt when He was an infant, Jesus basically never left Israel. He ministered to the Israelites, to one nation.
But now what is happening. The church has been sent out into all the nations. People are being baptized into the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit in practically every nation of the world. Because God’s Spirit has worked through the saints to take the gospel to the ends of the earth.
Do you know what country is on the exact opposite side of the world for Israel? I looked it up. It’s called French Polynesia. It’s a group of islands south of Hawaii, and east of Australia, that’s partly under the government of France. That group of islands includes Tahiti and Bora Bora. Some of you are thinking, “Oh, I’ll take the gospel there!” Too late. It’s already there. The gospel is there.
But do you know where the gospel might not have made it yet? To your next-door neighbor, or across the street, or to the person in the office next to yours. Jesus spent three years ministering to one nation. And the church has spent 2,000 years ministering to the rest of the world. Jesus is working.
And sometimes, He’ll start working directly in someone as you approach them and proclaim the gospel to them. But at other times, He’ll work through them as they see you living with an unearthly hope. They might see you suffer. They might see someone die. And in that, as we are faithful, Jesus is working.
Don’t forget that when you’re suffering. It’s not ultimately about you. Don’t make it about you. Jesus is doing greater works, even if you can’t see it at the moment. Jesus is working.
Last statement for today. Principle number seven, and then we’re done. Whenever you’re suffering, whenever life gets hard, whenever your heart is troubled, here’s what you need to remind yourself of. Write this in your Bible if you want.
Jesus is aware. Jesus is here. Jesus is faithful. Jesus is leading. Jesus is God. Jesus is working. And finally, Jesus is listening.
Jesus is listening
Let’s finish this up with verses 13 and 14—Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.
This last principle only makes sense if you understand the previous ones. Jesus isn’t saying that if you call yourself a Christian you can pray whatever you want, add the phrase “in Jesus’ name” and then He’s obligated to respond. That’s not what He’s saying.
He’s saying that if you understand who Jesus is, and if you are trusting in Him to lead you, and if believe that He is all-powerful, and if you want Him to be working through you to reach more and more people with the gospel of Jesus Christ, then ask whatever you want, and He’ll give it to you.
That’s what it means to ask in Jesus’ name. If my little girl comes to me and says, “Dad, can you turn on a pot to boil water.” I’ll probably say, “No. sorry honey. That’s not a toy.” But if she says, “Dad, mom said to put on a pot of boiling water for dinner,” I’ll just say, “Okay. I’m doing it.” Why? Because she came in my wife’s name. It’s something I know my wife wanted.
That’s what it means to pray in Jesus’ name. You’re praying something you know Christ wants. And if you’re praying something you know Christ wants, and you’re asking the Father for it, Jesus says, He’ll give it to you. Jesus is listening.
It’s like God is saying, “Oh, you’re perfectly aligned with the purposes of my Son. Great! What do you want? I’ll give it you!”
And what is the ultimate purpose? Verse 13—that the Father may be glorified in the Son. Pray those kinds of prayer. Pray for the glory of the Father through the Son. And God will answer that.
And maybe there are some specifics to that that God won’t immediately grant, but we know that He listens. And Jesus taught us to be persistent in prayer. Keep on praying. We know that He hears us, and that He delights to answer our prayers for His glory.
Listen to what the Apostle John writes in First John chapter 5, verses 14 and 15. Same idea.
And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.
We have whatever we’re asking for. Jesus is listening.
Is that a comfort? Is that an encouragement to a troubled heart? It better be.
Jesus is listening. And He’ll provide everything you need to continue on the mission for the glory of God.
Let’s go to him in prayer.