John 14:1-14/1 Peter 2:2-10/Acts 6:1-9; 7:2a, 51-60
LET NOT YOUR HEART BE TROUBLED!
IF YOU ASK ME ANYTHING IN MY NAME I WILL DO IT!
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting

To those who are elect at Luther Memorial Chapel and University Student Center, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for the obedience of Jesus Christ and for the sprinkling of His blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you (see 1 Peter 1:1-2).

“Let not your hearts be troubled.”… “If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.”

Their hearts were deeply troubled. In fact they were an emotional mess. Jesus’ words could safely be translated “Stop letting your hearts be troubled.”  They were gathered for the Last Supper. Peter’s triple denial had already been predicted; their desertion, Judas’ betrayal, and Jesus’ impending crucifixion added to the mix of poisoned air they were breathing. Trouble was upon them!

TEXT: John 14:1-14/1 Peter 2:2-10/Acts 6:1-9; 7:2a, 51-60
LET NOT YOUR HEART BE TROUBLED!
IF YOU ASK ME ANYTHING IN MY NAME I WILL DO IT!
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting

To those who are elect at Luther Memorial Chapel and University Student Center, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for the obedience of Jesus Christ and for the sprinkling of His blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you (see 1 Peter 1:1-2).

“Let not your hearts be troubled.”… “If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.”

Their hearts were deeply troubled. In fact they were an emotional mess. Jesus’ words could safely be translated “Stop letting your hearts be troubled.”  They were gathered for the Last Supper. Peter’s triple denial had already been predicted; their desertion, Judas’ betrayal, and Jesus’ impending crucifixion added to the mix of poisoned air they were breathing. Trouble was upon them!


“Stop letting your hearts be troubled.”… “If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.”

They had left everything for Him – their fishing boats – their livelihood – their friends, their way of life. They had received the hostility of the religious elite right along with their Master. They had, so to speak, burned their earthly bridges behind them. Yet, now they heard the shattering news that He is leaving them. He is about to go where they cannot follow Him as yet. Such a separation from their Lord is absolutely unthinkable to them. Their hearts were all stirred up!  They were deeply troubled!

“Let not your hearts be troubled.”… “If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.”

Those are the first and last sentences of our text. There is rich content in between. “Stop letting your heart be troubled. You believe in God; you believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so would I have told you that I go and prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.

The word for “rooms” means - places to remain – places to enjoy permanent rest - abiding places. Jesus is not talking about a night’s stay in an inn or several years’ stay in a living center or even eighty years residence in a family home. Jesus is talking about permanence – for keeps – forever and ever. Its permanence comes from His presence – that where I am you may be also. Its permanence comes from the very preparation He is now going to make.

And you know the way to where I am going. Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”  Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

Any one of Jesus’ statements here is profound enough to stagger the mind. The three statements together are overwhelming!  I am the way – spoken on the eve of His crucifixion. The way He would be walking the next day would be the Via Dolorosa – the way of the cross. He would be walking that way bloodied and bowed down and betrayed - even bemoaned by those who saw Him. Yet He clearly proclaims I am the way.

 I am the truth
– spoken just before the lies of evil men were about to enjoy a seemingly spectacular triumph!  They accused Him!  They couldn’t agree on the fault they found with Him – but the jury was rigged. The father of lies whispered into the hearts and minds of the thronging crowd until their voices thundered out a murderous crescendo – “crucify him – crucify him.”  Yet here He is, just hours before, in a quiet upper room, announcing to His deeply troubled disciples, I am the truth!

I am the life
– spoken just hours before He would breathe His last on the tree of the cross. He had said something similar at Lazarus tomb when He was deeply troubled – I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live. But now His words precede the placing of His own corpse into a borrowed tomb. Yet clearly and confidently He trumpets – I am the life.

I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. How terribly intolerant these words are – unless they are true!  In that case, how graciously inclusive they are!  If it is impossible for us sinners to be in the presence of the holy God – except through a miracle of God’s grace –what vigorous active love He shows in providing that way. That’s what Jesus reveals to us about the Father – 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. You know well the summary of the heavenly teamwork between the Father and the Son -  For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

How foreign the words of Jesus are to the religions of the world. This is true whether it is the “do it right” religions or the “think it right” religions or the “feel it right” religions. True Christianity will always have this scandal about it in the world – the stone of stumbling – the rock of offense.

Do-it-right religions are not the way. You see, you can’t be green enough or treat animals with enough care or be pro-life enough or be patriotic enough or do enough charity or be kind enough or do Sharia Law or even do the Ten Commandments well enough to open the way to the Father. Moralistic religions – religions depending on our work – our deeds - cannot cure the eternal illness that infects you and every human being. Deeds-not-creeds is a poisonous slogan if the deeds aren’t those of and in Jesus Christ.

Think-it-right religions are not the truth. You can’t study enough and speculate enough and debate enough and pool human wisdom enough to find the truth. Such philosophical journeys’ have made man feel elite and enlightened and even free to rule out the idea of God altogether. Intelligent design – Oh no – just one big happy or unhappy accident!  Human think tanks have tried to force sharing in this supposed naturalistic universal brotherhood of man. Karl Marx and communism comes to mind and the greatest slaughter of human life (predominately of Christians) the world has known. Stephen was the first martyr, but rocks thrown against the spiritual house of Christ’s Church keep coming. More Christians were martyred in the 20th century than in the first 19 centuries combined. We should not be surprised that the media doesn’t highlight and even ignores these astounding statistics and the ongoing slaughter?  Media bias is often most clearly seen in what is omitted from coverage and publication. Knowledge puffs up (1 Corinthians 8:1). God has made foolish the wisdom of the world (1 Corinthians 1:20). Human wisdom cannot cure the eternal illness that infects you and every human being and will always belittle and deny the truth.

Feel-it-right religions are not the life. We cannot feel or magically emote ourselves into eternal life. Mystical feelings; self-denial exercises; meditation regimens; visions – aided or unaided by diet and drugs; dreams; all these may conjure up self-invented idols. But they cannot cure the eternal illness that infects you and every human being. Gandhi cannot give you life. Nor can Buddha. Nor can Mohammed. Nor can angels. Nor can the saints – any of the saints. Nor can Pastor Camping or any pastor who follows his feelings and predicts the end of the world.  He who can give you life is Jesus Christ through the pure spiritual milk by which you grow up to salvation.

So if you do not think your deeds and your thoughts and your feelings this past week and this morning measure up to the status God requires – then take heart!  You are in the right place – physically and spiritually!  You see we always want more – more certainty that we’re on the right way – more verification that we understand the truth – more confidence that we have life that is real and lasting. 

Philip said to him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.”  Sounds a little like doing what Jesus invites us to do – If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.  But Philip is not asking for this theophany in the name of Jesus. You see, asking in Jesus’ name does not mean using Jesus’ name as a formula. To pray in Jesus name is to ask in accordance with all that Jesus teaches and gives and is!  To pray in Jesus’ name is to pray in faith and trust that His words are the truth.

In trying to make this bargain Philip was trying to come to the Father apart from Christ. It’s the kind of bargain our diseased self-centered hearts are always proposing. “Lord, grant healing this time and I’ll know you can really heal.”  “Lord, help me through this painful time and I’ll know you really care.”  “Lord straighten out the politics and the culture and I’ll know you’re in charge. “Lord get our congregation through this challenge and we’ll know we’re on the right path.”  “Lord, just one more thing – and one more thing – and then one more thing.”  I want to control this. I don’t want to hurt like this. I don’t want to die just yet.

In the midst of this troubled world, in view of our troubled times, in answer to the trouble in your life, Jesus doesn’t make Himself available for you and me to bargain with in this way. Astoundingly He does make Himself available to prepare a place of permanence for us – a place with Him.

If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?  I will take you to myself that where I am you may be also.  I am the way, and the truth, and the life… If you ask me anything in my name I will do it. Dear Christians, if He is the Son of God in human flesh, these words of His are necessarily true!  Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. If He is the Son of God in human flesh, He is the only intelligible revelation of God that we sinners can receive!

You see, if Philip had truly been asking something in Jesus’ name in this context it might have gone like this. “Lord, you have told us that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God and that You must die by crucifixion.”  Thank you for revealing how the Father will bestow His love on this dying world that is coming apart from sin. As your disciple I confess that I do not want you to go away from me – even for a minute. I confess all manner of doubts and worries for my heart is troubled over your approaching death and over the death I know that must come to me. My heart is troubled over the mess of sin I carry with me every day. Help me Lord, - for you have also said that on the third day you will rise again. Continually create in me a new heart that believes what it cannot see and trusts that through You I will come to the Father.” 

Beloved of God, Jesus is the way and the truth and the life. On this night and the next day He was working at fever pitch in preparing a place for you. The hammer He used in preparing the permanent room for you was not wielded by Him but by soldiers. The nails He used to prepare the place you will remain forever were so very few – just enough to pierce His hands and His feet. The wood He used for preparing the dwelling places for an uncountable host was so very minimal and so very dry – just one tree – the tree of the cross.

The preparations are now complete!  The arrangements have all been made!  You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. The world needs His light – even if it costs you what it cost Stephen.

The risen Christ who has caused you to be born again to a living hope through His resurrection even now comes to you with His gracious invitation - “Stop letting your hearts be troubled.”  “If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.”  Amen.

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
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