“‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 2 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? 3 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. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.’ 5 Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?’ 6 Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’”
(Gospel of John, chapter 14, verses 1-6)
Here we have a message about HEARTS and about HEAVEN.
First of all, HEARTS. It is always painful when someone who has made a big impact, and who has been a significant influence in our lives is no longer with us – at least not in a physical, tangible way. We loved them and they loved us – and now they are gone elsewhere beyond where we can see (or go – at least for now) – and we are left hurting, our hearts are in a spin; broken by the deep sense of loss.
This is how the disciples would have felt when Jesus, their master and their friend – who had completely turned their lives around – announced that He was leaving them, He had to; He was going to die …on a cross for them, for all who would believe. The disciples, though, were inwardly churned up; afraid, grieving, shocked, confused - but WHY? Why do you have to die, why do you have to leave us…why? It’s a very human question … just like the kaleidoscope of emotions that go with it are very human too.
But notice Jesus’ concern – He says to them, “Do not let your hearts be troubled”; don’t get all upset now. Jesus cares about our/your state of mind. He cares about where our hearts are at and how we cope with what we must go through at times. Elsewhere in the Bible, in 1 Peter 5:7 we are urged to “cast all our anxieties upon Him because He cares for you” and in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 we are reminded that the Lord is “the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles…”
Rightly understood Jesus’ gently spoken words to the disciples are good medicine for all of us as we contemplate death in a time of grief or anxiety. It may feel like your world has fallen apart, that all is lost… but Jesus says, even though you may grieve, your heart need not be troubled – ‘cos. I’ve got everything you need in hand – look to me, rely on me. Hearts.
Then, secondly, HEAVEN. Heaven is beyond anything that you and I currently know. There are so many views and opinions about heaven; what it’s like, whether it even exists and so on. The Bible states the existence of heaven as a fact; it is a real place; it is God’s headquarters; although He is everywhere, that’s His base, that’s where His throne is, that’s where people can see Him face to face. Heaven is where sin and grief and pain and tears don’t exist; a place of eternal perfection and joy and peace. CS Lewis, author, among other things, of The Chronicles of Narnia, wrote in another of his books that “Joy is a serious business in heaven.”
There is, in all of us, a restlessness; a longing or yearning that says we were born for something more than this world can offer.
In many ways heaven is beyond what our minds can contemplate in the here and now; so to help the disciples along (and us too), Jesus describes heaven as God’s big house which has lots and lots of rooms – and He explains that if you want a permanent room in that house then He is the One you need to know. That’s where He is, that’s why He had to leave the disciples – He’s getting rooms organised for those who want it, for those who know Him.
There is that saying, isn’t there, “It’s not what you know, but who you know” – and if we think that’s important gem of advice when it comes to getting a job or moving up the career ladder – then how much more important must it be when it comes to our eternal destiny and heaven. It’s an assumption made by many people that heaven is our automatic right; that that’s just where you go when you die.
The Bible explains that heaven is not our right; that because of sin, because of our ignorance and arrogance against God and all our wrongdoing, we don’t deserve to know Him, we don’t deserve heaven. Heaven is not a given. And yet we’re also told that “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son (who died on a cross that we might have forgiveness of sins) that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life”
Jesus declares, “I AM the Way and the Truth and the Life” – notice He uses the definite article, not “a” but “the” – the language of exclusivity and uniqueness. “I AM the Way and the Truth and the Life; No one comes to the Father (in heaven) except through me.” If you want to go Asda in Hayes then you jump on the U5 bus from Uxbridge; if you want to be in Paris in time for your early evening meal today then you might just take flight BA322 from Heathrow – ‘cos that’ll get you there. And if you or I long for heaven and want to be sure of getting there, then we have to get on board with Jesus Christ.
“Do not let your hearts be troubled” says Jesus, “Believe in God, believe also in me”; trust me, put your life in my hands, let me show you how to live, invest your HEART in me as Your personal Lord and Your Saviour – and know with certainty that no matter what may come your way in this life, or in death – your eternal future in HEAVEN is sorted; there will be a room with your name on it in God’s house.