Easter 5

Preached: May 18, 2014

“I Will Bring You Home”
John 14:1-6

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Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. The word from God through which our Jesus speaks to us is John 14:

“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Keep believing in God and keep believing in me. In my Father’s house are many dwelling places. If not, would I have told you that I’m going there to prepare a place for you? And if I do go and prepare a place for you, I am coming again and will take you with me in order that where I am you also may be. You know the way where I’m going.”

Thomas says to him, “Lord, we do not know where you’re going. How can we know the way?”

Jesus says to him, “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:1-6)

This is the word of our Lord.

Dear friends in Christ, fellow saints washed clean in the blood of our risen Savior:

A lost child. How does that child feel? Maybe at first he’s oblivious to his lostness. He’s just having a good time playing or wandering around. But then the reality sets in. Where’s Mommy? Where’s Daddy? Which way do I go? How do I get home?

Anxious feelings simmer. Scared and lonely, the child doesn’t know which way to turn. It doesn’t matter whether he’s lost in a dark woods, a crowd of people, or even a tall field of corn. He just wants to get home. What a relief when someone finds him and brings him home!

The disciples were worried. Jesus had just said that in a little while he would be gone. Then where would they turn? Would they be left like orphans? They knew the strong opposition and hatred of the Jewish leadership against Jesus. They knew how he had spoken of his coming arrest and crucifixion. Their hearts were troubled; they were scared like a lost child.

How quickly this would all happen! Jesus knew that their troubled thoughts would soon burst into a raging storm sinking their hopes beneath crushing waves. For in a matter of hours, Judas would betray him. But now while he is still with them, Jesus speaks these words of comfort and encouragement. No matter what would happen, the disciples could recall these words and find strength in his promise: I will bring you home. And dear Christian, Jesus speaks these same words to your troubled heart: I will bring you home. For you see, Jesus will return just as he promised, since he alone is the true way to life with the Father.

A. For Jesus will return, just as he promised

What troubles you? Sometimes we feel so stable and well-established. Then without warning something shakes us to the very core, toppling our hopes, uprooting our foundations. We crumble like a building in an earthquake. Or maybe we’re sailing through life imagining that we’ve charted our course. Our goals and dreams lie ahead of us. Then a storm blows us off course. The winds batter us and the waves beat against us. We hear the ship’s timbers creak as water gushes in, and we wonder how long before we sink.

No matter what troubles you, dear friends, hear Jesus’ words. He says to you, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that 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” (John 14:1-3 NIV11). Yes, dear Christian, keep believing in Jesus. For he will return, just as he promised, and will take you home.

Although the English doesn’t show it, the original Greek words tell the disciples to keep on believing in Jesus, to continue in the faith. Their problem wasn’t the absence of faith, but weakness. They already believed in Jesus. That’s why they followed him. But how that faith would be shaken in the coming storm of Good Friday! Keep on believing.

So also when troubles shake us, our weakness questions God. We wonder why me. Doubts storm against us: “Does God still love me?” But don’t let go of Jesus. Hold on all the more tightly. Keep on believing in him, trusting him, clinging to him. Why? For he will return and bring you home. That’s his promise. “I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:3 NIV11). Keep on believing in Jesus. Keep on clinging to his promise.

What is this home where our Savior is? Jesus calls it his Father’s house, and it has many rooms. Many of you know the translation that speaks of many mansions. Mansion certainly conveys the richness of the heavenly inheritance, which the Bible teaches elsewhere. But the Greek word here emphasizes how permanent the heavenly home is. It’s not a hotel room or a campsite, some sort of temporary stopping place before we move on. It’s where we stay. It’s our home, our dwelling place forevermore.

What comfort for our troubled hearts! So much trouble comes because this world is in constant change and decay. Nothing lasts. Everything fails. How different our Father’s house. His home is everlasting. Keep on believing. Keep on clinging to Jesus and his promise. “I will return and bring you home forever.”

What’s more, although this is the house of the Father of Jesus Christ, it’s not just Jesus’ home. There are many rooms. Through faith in Jesus you are a child of the heavenly Father. Through the Son you are sons. Because of Jesus, every believer, male and female, young and old, can say, “Heaven is my home.” That’s faith. Keep on believing. Keep on clinging to Jesus and his promise: “I will return and bring you home, for my home is your home.”

When your heart is troubled and even when it’s not, keep lifting up your eyes to watch for Jesus. He will return. For he has already broken the iron chains of death. He has already canceled your sin. He has already shattered hell’s power. Easter has proved all that. Nothing can separate you from his love. All that’s left is for him to take us home. For when he returns, he will raise our bodies and glorify them so that we will live with him forever in our Father’s house. Keep on believing, even as you sing with the hymn writer: “Now I will cling forever To Christ, my Savior true; My Lord will leave me never, Whate’er he passes through. He rends death’s iron chain; He breaks through sin and pain. He shatters hell’s dark thrall; I follow him through all” (Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal 156:4 “Awake, My Heart, with Gladness”)

Yes follow him home. For he alone is the true way to life with the Father.

B. Jesus alone is the true way to life with the Father

What words of wonder Jesus speaks! Words so simple yet so profound! “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6 NIV11). Notice that he does not say that he shows us the way. He is the Way. And he doesn’t merely teach the truth. He is the Truth. And he doesn’t simply talk about the life. He is the Life. There can be no other way to the Father.

Why not? Because our own sin blocked us off from the Father. It blocked us off from the truth and the life that flows from him. It blocked the way of our own strength, effort, or goodness from ever bringing us to the Father. For our sin made us the opposite of children heading home. It made us strangers, foreigners, in fact, enemies fighting against God. We needed someone to reconcile us to God, someone to be the mediator, the go-between, to bring us to the Father. Not one of us could do it. For we have all failed to meet God’s perfect requirements, failed in all that we say, think, feel, want, and do. How lost in sin we were, totally lost! Someone else had to find us!

So the Father sent his one and only Son, who came into this lost world as one of us while remaining fully God. Jesus is in the Father and the Father is in him. He came from the Father for you. How great his love that wants to bring you home! The only way for him to do that was to take away our sin. So he carried all sin to the cross in our place, so that it would no longer block you or me from the Father. Now that he has removed your guilt, he can bring you home. For he is the Way. Your mind, once lost in blind unbelief, now knows and trusts his promise as completely true. For Jesus is the Truth. Your heart, once dead in sin, now lives in the fullness of God’s blessings. For Jesus is the Life. No one else and nothing else, not even yourself, has done this or can do any of this for you. Only Jesus. He alone is the Way, the Truth, the Life, the only true way to life with the Father. That’s why he can say to you: “I will bring you home.”

Don’t run away. Don’t try to find your own path. Walk with Jesus as he brings you home. Share in his cross. For just as the world hated and ridiculed him, it does the same to all who walk with him. Remember what Jesus faced after he spoke these words. But no matter what the world does to you, Jesus is bringing you home to receive a crown. For you have already died with Jesus and have been raised with him. Remain faithful. Walk with him. Live your life in Jesus’ name to the glory of God. Then when you close your eyes for the last time, you will fall asleep in Jesus. On the Last Day, he will raise you from the dead to see him with your own eyes and live with him in glory forever. What a home!

Jesus has promised: “I will bring you home.” So sing with confidence: “He brings me to the portal That leads to bliss untold, Whereon the rhyme immortal Is found in script of gold: ‘Who there my cross has shared Finds here a crown prepared; Who there with me has died Shall here be glorified’ ” (Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal 156:5 “Awake, My Heart, with Gladness”). Amen.

The peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

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Pastor Gregg Bitter

St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church
859 5th Street
Hancock, MN 56244
(320) 392-5313