Our Risen, Returning Savior
April 12, 2020
What do you offer a man who is discouraged and hopeless?
What do you offer someone whose world is shattered?
What do you offer someone who has captured a glimpse into the future, and the fear of it is not startling, but terrifying in its deadliness? I am not talking about Covid-19. I am talking about Jesus and the disciples the night before He went to the cross.
What did Jesus offer the disciples? On Thursday night of the week of Christ’s passion, their world was unexpectedly being upended. On Sunday of that week they had walked into Jerusalem alongside Jesus who rode the donkey of victory — the Messiah coming to take His throne. But the adulation of the crowd was transformed into the hatred of the religious leadership and a week that began with promise suddenly was exhibiting signs of ominous actions. And Jesus’ warnings on this night weren’t helping them think calmly.
First was that whole interaction with Judas. What was He saying about a traitor? That obviously wasn’t Judas, but just where did Judas go? And then His words to Peter — could Peter really deny Jesus? They might have been tempted to think: “Is Peter a traitor? I’ve always wondered about him…”
And if Jesus was being betrayed, where was He going? And why couldn’t they go with Him? Couldn’t they help Him? And what would happen to them when He left them and they were alone?
You get the picture. They undoubtedly would soon be on the verge of a full panic if Jesus didn’t intercede. So what did He do? What did He say to calm their fears and their anticipated loneliness?
He spoke of Heaven. We give lip service to Heaven. We know that’s where we are going someday, but it doesn’t have much impact on us today — we think. But it does. One antidote to our fears is to meditate on Heaven. Are you disillusioned (who isn’t these days)? Are you discouraged? Are you afraid for the future? Is your heart in panic mode? Then come with me; come hear the words of comfort from God Himself; come catch a glimpse of Glory. This Easter morning let us not only hear the words of comfort from the resurrection of Christ, but let us also hear the words of comfort about the return of the ascended Christ.
How should thoughts of Heaven be our encouragement? Listen to Puritan Pastor Richard Baxter:
“It is but fitting that our hearts should be on God, when the heart of God is so much on us. If the Lord of glory can stoop so low as to set His heart on sinful dust, methinks we should easily be persuaded to set our hearts on Christ and glory, and ascend to him in our daily affections, who so much condescends to us.” [Richard Baxter, 1650.]
In our Covid-19 suffering — in all our suffering and loneliness — we will be strengthened by thoughts and meditations on our security in Heaven. That’s one place where Jesus pointed the disciples when they were tempted to despair, and that’s where we need to give our attention.
So let’s look together at the opening verses of John 14. We might summarize the passage this way:
The resurrected and ascended Savior is returning to take His people home.
As we come to this passage, it is notable that Jesus is not just addressing their fears, but He is addressing their particular temptation to be afraid of loneliness (isn’t that an appropriate topic during Covid-19?). And He addresses that fear by looking past His resurrection and ascension to look forward to His return.
These verses compel us to trust God in our temptations to fear and loneliness because of four realities about Christ and His return. These aren’t just hopes and desires. They are a reality about Christ and they are a reality about our relationship with Him.
1. Trust God, Because He Has Come Near in Christ (v. 1)
2. Trust God, Because He is Building a Heavenly Home (v. 2a)
3. Trust God, Because He is Building a Heavenly Home for You (v. 2b)
4. Trust God, Because He is Coming to Take You Home (v. 3)
Download the rest of this sermon on John 14:1-3.
The audio will be posted on the GBC website by tomorrow.