Lord Jesus, King of Kings, speak to our hearts, for your Name’s sake, Amen. Tonight we’re looking at the King of Kings’ speech, where Jesus speaks powerfully and authoritatively about the only way to God and so to heaven.
I like the story about a couple from Canada who decided to go to Florida for a few days to thaw out during one particularly cold winter. Since both spouses worked, they had difficulty coordinating their schedules, so the decision was made that the husband would leave for Florida on a certain day, with the wife following him one day later. The man made it down to Florida and arrived at his hotel. Upon getting to his room, he decided to open his laptop and send his wife an email. However, he left off one letter in typing his wife's email address and sent the email off without realising his error.
In another part of the country, a widow had just returned from the funeral of her husband, a pastor of many years who had been called to glory just a few days earlier. She decided to check her email because she was expecting to hear from her husband's relatives and friends. Upon reading the first email she let out a loud scream, fainted and fell to the floor.
The woman's son rushed into the room and found his mother on the floor. He glanced up at the computer screen and saw the following email message:
To My Loving Wife:
I've just been checked in. Everything has been prepared for your arrival here tomorrow. Looking forward to seeing you then.
Your Devoted Husband.
PS: Sure is hot down here
The pastor’s wife was confused and troubled by the e mail error. Surely her husband, who was trusting in Jesus, would be in heaven and not in the heat of hell? Surely, as a genuine believer in Jesus herself, she would at some point join him in heaven. It raises the question how can we have assurance of a place in heaven? But it also raises another, if related, question and that is – what is the way to God and therefore to heaven?
Now there’s much confusion over these questions today. Many think the answer depends on how good you’ve been in this life and that all religions lead to God. But Jesus’ speech here doesn’t give either of those responses as the answer. So let’s look at the King of Kings’ speech and my first point is
1. CONFUSED MINDS & TROUBLED HEARTS
In the movie The King’s Speech the future George VI is portrayed as being confused and troubled, troubled by the death of his father and then by his brother’s abdication over marrying a divorcee leaving him as a rather reluctant King with a speech impediment, trusting in his speech therapist.
In John 14 Jesus’ disciples are confused and troubled. They’re confused about why Jesus is going to leave them and where he’s going. V4, “You know the way to the place where I am going”. But Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going so how can we know the way?”
Perhaps you’re confused about who Jesus is, why he had to die, the way to God and heaven. Or perhaps you know people who are confused about these crucial matters and you want to know how to help them.
But the disciples weren’t just confused they were also troubled. Their hearts were troubled. They’d given up everything to follow Jesus and now he’s leaving. Peter was troubled because Jesus had just told him that he was going to disown Jesus not just once but three times. Perhaps your heart is troubled. You’ve come knowing that you’ve denied Jesus this week and you’re feeling guilty and lacking assurance. Or maybe you doubt the reality of heaven.
Many today have troubled hearts and restless souls. One leading psychiatrist has said although many in this country are much better off than they’ve ever been in spite of the recession, there are also more people who are anxious and depressed than ever before. Plenty does not equal peace of mind. More young people take illegal drugs and binge drink to calm their fears and blot out the future. Now you may not be depressed but you have what is known as spiritual heart disease. You’re lonely or fearful of being left alone. You fear death. The French philosopher Rousseau once said that 'he who pretends to face death without fear is a liar'. You may be very ill. You may have just received some disturbing news and you fear the future, perhaps with regards to work or family. So how does Jesus bring comfort? What did he say to his disciples and what does he say to us today? Well that brings us to my second point:
2. THE PERSON WHO COMFORTS US
In the movie King George VI’s radio speech in 1939 brought a degree of comfort and unity to a troubled nation at the outbreak of war. Jesus’ words here speak deeply to troubled hearts and can bring eternal comfort to those who receive them with faith. Look at Jesus' words in v1. He says to you & me:
"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me."
Jesus addresses the disciples’ troubled hearts and ours by urging them and us to have faith in God, faith also in him. To those who trust in him he gives peace, peace with God and a peace that passes all understanding in the midst of trials and difficulties that we face. V27 of John 14:
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
You see the antidote to a troubled heart is trust – trust in God, trust in Jesus. Jesus says he is God. He presents himself here unambiguously as the object of faith. For John there is only one faith and that is in Jesus and God at the same time. Do you believe that? Sadly the physicist, Stephen Hawking doesn’t. In his latest book, ‘A Briefer History of Time’, which he wrote because few could understand his first book, he writes:
“The laws of nature may have originally been decreed by God, but it appears that He has since left the universe and does not now intervene in it.”
But the truth is that God has intervened and does and will. Jesus the Son of God came from heaven to earth, became man – fully God and fully man - and obeyed God the Father by dying on a cross to pay the price of your sin and mine, to bring us to God. You see the Bible makes it clear that we ourselves can never be good enough to be accepted by God. We may not all be people who would head butt our opponent’s coach as Gatusso of AC Milan did this past week, but we all fall short of God’s perfect standard. And Isaiah 64:6 says that “all our righteous acts [or good deeds] are as filthy rags”. Our sin separates us from God and can’t just be swept under the carpet by a God who is just and holy. It must be punished. But the amazing news is that God loved you and me so much that he gave his only Son to die in our place, to be nailed to a wooden cross, to suffer and die instead of you and me. The punishment fell on him. So if we turn to and trust in Jesus we can be forgiven and know God personally. Only Jesus, fully God and fully man, who committed no sin, could pay the price for our sin. Only Jesus can deal with our spiritual heart disease and bring us to God. V6:
I am the way and the truth and the life. No-one comes to the Father except through me.
Jesus Christ is the only way to God and heaven and true peace. There’s no confusion, lies or deception in this verse or in the one who uttered it. There’s no other way to God. No other religion, no amount of good works. As the song goes, it is “only by grace – only by God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense – only by getting what we don’t deserve through faith in Christ - can we enter God’s Kingdom, can we be saved or rescued and not by works. Then we’re to do the good works God created us to do. (Ephesians 2:8-10) Thirdly
3. THE PLACE HE IS PREPARING FOR BELIEVERS
Jesus Christ is the only way and therefore the only hope. He is the only sure hope in the face of death. There is no hope from non-Christian philosophies and although other religions say something about the future after death they offer no assurance. But Jesus offers real and certain hope to those who trust in him. And here he tells us that he has gone on through his own death to prepare a place for those who trust in him. Look at v2-3 of John 14. Jesus says:
In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
Heaven is my Father's house, says Jesus. Elsewhere Jesus says, 'I go to my Father and your Father.' Therefore heaven is the home of Christ and of true Christians. It’s a helpful and comforting picture. Home is the place where you are (or should be) loved for your own sake and not for your gifts, material possessions or achievements; the place where you are (or again should be) loved to the end, never forgotten, and always welcome. And at home in our Father's house are many rooms or eternal dwellings; or as the Authorised Version of the Bible translated it 'many mansions'.
But whatever the size of the room what is clear here is that there will be room for all believers – for the strongest believer and for the weakest believer. Only unrepentant and defiant unbelievers will be shut out.
So if any of you are thinking, "Does heaven really exist?" or "My faith is too weak to get there," then be encouraged by Jesus' words here. And Jesus is adamant. 'In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you.' Trust in him.
But you say I don't believe heaven exists, it's all 'pie in the sky', its just escapism. Well C.S. Lewis wrote this in his book 'The Problem of Pain':
'We are very shy nowadays of even mentioning heaven. We are afraid of the jeer about 'pie in the sky', and of being told that we are trying to escape from the duty of making a happy world here and now into dreams of a happy world elsewhere. But either there is 'pie in the sky' or there is not. If there is not then Christianity is false for this doctrine is woven into its whole fabric. If there is then this truth, like any other, must be faced.'
A Russian cosmonaut came back from a mission in space and remarked, 'Some say God lives out there. I looked around, and I didn't see any God out there.' But as someone replied – ‘he looked in the wrong place. If he'd stepped outside the space ship without his space suit, he would have seen God very quickly!'
Jesus then says:
'I am going there to prepare a place for you.'
You see heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people: a place which Christ Himself has made ready for those who trust in him. He has prepared it, not by vacuuming the room, cleaning the curtains or making the bed, but by dying on a cross and rising from the dead, by procuring a right for every sinner who believes to enter in. Yes those who trust in Jesus have a true friend in him while in this world and a true home when they die. Also heaven is where Christ is. V3:
'I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.'
Jesus is coming again. He is coming as Judge and to take those who trust in him to be with him in heaven. You see the wages of sin is death – eternal death in hell but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ. Will you trust Jesus with your death before it’s too late? Fourthly, and finally
4. THE PERSON WHO IS THE ONLY WAY
How do we get to the place where Jesus is? Maybe you’re still not clear about the way there. The disciples weren't. Look again at v6. Jesus says:
"I am the way and the truth and the life. No-one comes to the Father except through me."'
Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father and to heaven. There is no other way. The only way to God is through faith in him.
But you might be asking why should I accept what Jesus says and trust in him? The answer is in verse 6. Jesus is the only way to acceptance with God and heaven because he’s the only one who really knows and can really show you the truth about God; and then he’s the only one who can give you new life because he is the life. Why? Look at v7 of John 14. Jesus says:
If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well…
Jesus is saying that he is God. He is God incarnate – God come in human form. He came to die on the cross that we might be forgiven and then rose from the dead so that we might have eternal life. That is why he is the way, the truth and the life. None of the other founders of religions rose from the dead. Mohammed did not do that and Buddha did not do that. The bones of Mohammed are in Medina. The bones of Buddha are in India. But in Jerusalem there is the empty tomb. Jesus is alive. He holds the keys of death and Hades. He is the way, the truth & the life.
There’s a story about a man caught in quicksand. As the man struggled, sinking nearer to suffocation and death Confucius saw him and remarked: "There is evidence that men should stay out of such places". The Buddha came & said: "Let that life be a lesson to the rest of the world". A secularist came by and said: "You're not really sinking in quicksand you're simply being influenced by out dated religious superstitions think positively & overcome your neurosis." Mohammed commented: "Alas! It is the will of Allah!" A vicar arrived saying "say these prayers & do your best to perform these rituals and God might have mercy on you". A Hindu priest walked by and said: "Never mind you’ll return to earth in another form". Shirley MacLaine the high priestess of New Age appeared & offered her verdict: "You’ll soon truly be one with the universe". Tom Cruise, one of the celebrity champions of Scientology, came by saying, “Don’t worry soon you’ll be able to take a counselling audit, to consciously re-experience painful or traumatic events in your past in order to free yourself.” But then Jesus of Nazareth arrived and said to the man: "Give me your hand my friend and I will pull you out for I am the way".
We’re all caught in the quicksand of sin & death. We cannot escape it ourselves. All religions don't lead in the same direction. None of the other people mentioned can help or rescue us – only Jesus Christ.
Only Jesus is God come to earth to seek us out. Only Jesus died a death that deals with our fundamental problem of being cut off from God. Only Jesus has been through death himself & can therefore overcome it for us. Only Jesus can stretch out a hand & take us into the presence of the living God. Only he is the way the truth & the life who can give us a secure future, a secure way to God & a secure partnership joining in his work as we wait to join him in the Father's house forever. No-one comes to the Father and therefore to heaven except through him. Will you turn to him and put your trust in him? Will you trust him with your life and with your death?
I’m going to pray a prayer that you can use to turn to and trust in Christ.
Lord Jesus, I’m sorry for the things I’ve done wrong in my life. Please forgive me. I now turn from everything which I know is wrong. Thank you that you died on the cross for me so that I could be forgiven and set free. Thank you that you offer me forgiveness and the gift of your Spirit. I now receive that gift. Please come into my life by your Holy Spirit to be with me forever. Help me to live for you whatever the cost. Amen.
If you prayed that prayer please tell someone. Let me know as I can give you something to help you further. Others of you may want to think about what you’ve heard further by coming along to Christianity Explored – you can still join an existing course – they’re happening this week - the dates and times are on the yellow notice sheet and the details are on the blue leaflets with your service papers.