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(Luke 22.7-14) A Commencement Address for Anxious Disciples

(Luke 22.7-14) A Commencement Address for Anxious Disciples

by Stephen Davey
Series: Sermons in Luke
Ref: Luke 22:7–14

In this message, Stephen Davey draws an intriguing parallel between commencement exercises and the last supper Jesus had with His disciples before His crucifixion. Stephen highlights how the Upper Room discourse in Luke 22:7-14 can be seen as a commencement address for the disciples, preparing them for the transition from followers to leaders of the New Testament church. As Jesus orchestrates the final details of this significant meal, He delivers profound truths to calm their anxious hearts, truths that remain relevant for us today.

Jesus has been preparing His disciples over three and a half years, and now, at this critical juncture, He provides them with essential truths to hold onto as they face uncertainty and fear. Stephen emphasizes the importance of trusting in Jesus, the promise of our heavenly home, the guarantee of our future, and Jesus as our guide.

Explore these comforting and empowering truths that Jesus imparted to His disciples in their moment of anxiety and how they can help you navigate your own challenges and transitions in life. Discover how these timeless principles can uproot anxiety and provide a sense of peace and direction, reassuring you that while the journey may be tumultuous, the destination is secure in Christ.

Sermon Summary

As we gather today, I want to draw a parallel between the traditional commencement exercises that many students are experiencing this month and the significant moment Jesus shared with His disciples in the Upper Room. Just as students are transitioning from one stage of life to another, the disciples were on the brink of a monumental shift in their journey with Jesus. They had spent three and a half years under His tutelage, and now, in the Upper Room, they were about to receive a commencement address of eternal significance.

In Luke 22:7-14, we see Jesus preparing for the Passover meal with His disciples. This meal was not just a ritual; it was a profound moment of transition. Jesus sent Peter and John to prepare the Passover, a task that involved intricate preparations, including the sacrifice of a lamb and the gathering of specific elements for the meal. This preparation was done in secrecy, likely to prevent Judas from prematurely betraying Jesus and disrupting this crucial moment.

The Upper Room, where this meal took place, symbolizes a place of intimate fellowship and profound teaching. Jesus used this setting to deliver a message that would uproot the anxiety in the hearts of His disciples. He knew that His crucifixion was imminent, and He wanted to equip His disciples with truths that would sustain them through the coming trials.

The first truth Jesus imparted was His complete trustworthiness. In John 14:1, He said, "Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me." Jesus commanded His disciples to trust Him, even when they did not understand what was about to happen. This trust is not a suggestion but a command, urging us to keep our focus on Jesus, especially in times of turmoil and uncertainty.

The second truth is the promised reality of our home in heaven. Jesus assured His disciples that He was going to prepare a place for them in His Father's house, a place with many rooms (John 14:2). This promise is not about the grandeur of individual mansions but about the intimate fellowship we will share with Jesus in the Father's house. Every believer has a place in this eternal dwelling, signifying our permanent and secure future with God.

The third truth is the guarantee of our future. Jesus promised that He would come again and take us to Himself, so that where He is, we may be also (John 14:3). This assurance is not dependent on the strength of our faith but on the faithfulness of Jesus. Whether our faith is weak or strong, we are guaranteed a place with Him. Death, for the believer, is merely a transition from one chapter to another, a commencement into eternal life.

The fourth truth is that Jesus is our personal guide home. When Thomas expressed his confusion about knowing the way to where Jesus was going, Jesus responded with a profound statement: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). Jesus is not just a guide; He is the way. He doesn't merely point us in the right direction; He takes us there Himself. This truth uproots anxiety because it assures us that we are not navigating life's journey alone; Jesus is with us every step of the way.

In conclusion, as we reflect on this commencement address from Jesus, let us remember that He is completely trustworthy, our home in heaven is a promised reality, our future is guaranteed, and He is our personal guide. These truths are designed to uproot anxiety and fill our hearts with peace. No matter what we face, we can trust that Jesus will guide us safely home.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Jesus Christ is completely trustworthy: In times of turmoil and uncertainty, we must keep our focus on Jesus. He commands us to trust Him, even when we do not understand our circumstances. This trust is not optional but essential for uprooting anxiety and finding peace in His presence.
  2. Our home in heaven is a promised reality: Jesus has prepared a place for us in His Father's house, where we will dwell in intimate fellowship with Him. This promise assures us of our secure and permanent future with God, transcending the temporary trials of this life.
  3. Our future is guaranteed permanently: Jesus' promise to come again and take us to Himself is not dependent on the strength of our faith but on His faithfulness. Whether our faith is weak or strong, we are guaranteed a place with Him. Death is merely a transition into eternal life with Jesus.
  4. Jesus Christ is our personal guide home: Jesus is not just a guide; He is the way. He takes us to the Father Himself, ensuring that we are never alone on our journey. This truth uproots anxiety by assuring us of His constant presence and guidance.
  5. Trusting Jesus in the face of anxiety: Jesus commands us to stop letting our hearts be troubled and to keep believing in Him. This trust is crucial, especially when we face medical diagnoses, job losses, family struggles, or any form of anxiety. By focusing on Jesus and His promises, we can find peace and strength to navigate life's challenges.

Discussion Guide

Bible Reading:

  • Luke 22:7-8: "Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, 'Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat it.'"
  • John 14:1-3: "Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; 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 to 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."
  • John 14:6: "Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'"

Observation Questions:

  1. What specific instructions did Jesus give to Peter and John in Luke 22:7-8?
  2. According to John 14:1-3, what does Jesus say about the condition of the disciples' hearts and the place He is preparing for them?
  3. In John 14:6, how does Jesus describe Himself in relation to the way to the Father?

Interpretation Questions:

  1. Why do you think Jesus chose Peter and John specifically to prepare the Passover meal in Luke 22:7-8?
  2. What is the significance of Jesus telling His disciples not to let their hearts be troubled in John 14:1-3? How does this relate to the promise of preparing a place for them?
  3. How does Jesus being "the way, the truth, and the life" in John 14:6 provide assurance and guidance to the disciples?

Application Questions:

  1. Reflect on a time when you felt anxious about a significant transition in your life. How can the truths in John 14:1-3 help you find peace in similar situations?
  2. Jesus commands us to trust Him even when we do not understand our circumstances. What is one specific area in your life where you need to practice this trust more fully?
  3. Think about the promise of a home in heaven. How does this assurance of a secure and permanent future with God change the way you handle current trials and uncertainties?
  4. Jesus is described as our personal guide home. Identify a situation where you feel lost or uncertain. How can you rely on Jesus to guide you through this specific challenge?
  5. Jesus' statement in John 14:6 emphasizes that He is the only way to the Father. How can this truth shape your approach to sharing your faith with others this week?


The month of May is the traditional month for Commencement exercises in our country. This year, across our country, nearly 4 million high school students will graduate – they are going to be a lot of relieved parents, I’m sure; and there will be 2 million college and university graduates as well.

Commencement exercises date back to the Middle Ages – the 12th century – where graduation speeches were delivered in Latin.

They were formal, rather dignified ceremonies; I read that this past weekend, the commencement speaker for Duke University was comedian Jerry Seinfeld. That’s a long way from Latin. Unless “Yada, yada, yada” means something in Latin.

Although it is the Hebrew noun – yada – for knowledge, so maybe there was a connection – although I doubt it.

A commencement exercise includes traditional  graduation attire. The graduation gowns go back to robes worn by the monks of the medieval period when the church basically ran the institution. You may remember that a monk by the name of Martin Luther, was converted to Christ while teaching the Book of Romans in the university of Wittenburg.

However, they wore their heavy woolen robes every day – not out of formality but to keep warm. The hats, also, were worn for warmth.

By the 16th century, the graduate also wore a cap, called a mortarboard. It was designed as a flat square, to mimic the mortarboard of a mason, who used it to hold his mortar as he built with bricks.

The graduation cap was intentionally designed to signify that knowledge had been built into the graduate’s mind – one course at a time.

And the word “course” was a bricklayer’s term as well. We talk today about taking a course in World History – a course in Geometry – the word “course” was a bricklayer’s term for that horizontal row of bricks; and one row or layer – one course – was built upon another, until the project was completed.

So the students have taken all their courses – the educational process is completed – the graduate is built up and prepared for commencement.

The term commencement originally referred to a time of leaving one stage of life for a new career.

I couldn’t help by think of this season as I arrived here in the narrative where the Lord is calling the disciples to the upper room and their final meal before the crucifixion.

It’s been 3 and ½ years of university training, so to speak, the disciples are nearly ready to leave this stage of life and enter a new career.

If you think about it – in 48 hours, Jesus will be in the tomb; in less than 8 weeks, Jesus will have ascended back to heaven, the church will have been created and these men will become – nearly overnight – leaders in the New Testament church.

The Upper Room is, in many respects, a commencement exercise for these men.

And the Lord is going to deliver a commencement address, so to speak, of incredible significance.

Luke’s gospel records some of it in one chapter, while John’s gospel devotes 3 chapters to the Lord’s final address here in the upper room. We’ll look at both gospel accounts together, rather briefly today.

Turn with me to Luke’s account – we’re now in chapter 22 and we’ve arrived at verse 7 – Luke writes:

Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat it.” Luke 22:7-8

Keep in mind that the Passover season included the Feast of Unleavened Bread – a feast that would continue 7 days beyond the Passover meal. So these terms are used interchangeably. [SOURCE: J. Dwight Pentecost, The Words and Works of Jesus Christ (Zondervan, 1981), p. 415]

Jesus is telling only Peter and John to go and prepare for their meal. This would involve getting a lamb and then standing in line at the temple – priests would catch the blood of the lamb in a gold or silver basin and sprinkle the blood at the base of the altar. [SOURCE: David E. Garland, Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament: Luke (Zondervan, 2011), p. 852]

This signified the delivery of the Jewish people who sprinkled the blood of a lamb on their doorpost back in Egypt, just prior to being released from slavery.

After that, Peter and John would carry the lamb back and start roasting it on a spit; they would also purchase special vegetables and herbs and prepare a sauce for their bread as well as other elements for this special meal.

Now there’s obviously an element of secrecy here. Jesus is only telling Peter and John to do this – they’re the only ones who will know the address, until later than night when Jesus arrives with the others.

More than likely this secrecy is because Judas is still among them.

If Jesus had let it be known where they were to eat this meal, Judas could have informed the Sanhedrin. They would have taken advantage of the privacy of this upper room and arrested Jesus – the meal would have never taken place and. [SOURCE: Adapted from R. Kent Hughes, Luke: Volume Two (Crossway Books, 1989), p. 315]

Everything that Jesus was going to deliver in His commencement address, so to speak, would have been interrupted.

Peter and John aren’t even given an address, just in case they are overheard; but the Lord effectively gives them a secret sign.

Notice verse 9:

They said to him/Jesus, “Where will you have us prepare it?” He said to them, “Behold, when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you.” Luke 22:9-10a

This is the sign – and by the way, this man will be easy to spot because women typically carried water in pitchers, balancing them on their heads, not the men. [SOURCE: Ibid]

So this man is going to be obvious – that water jar is the secret giveaway.

Now verse 10, the latter part:

“Follow him into the house that he enters and tell the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says to you, Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ And he will show you a large upper room furnished; prepare it there.” Luke 22:10b-12

This anonymous man’s home, like many other homeowners in this day and time would have been built with a large, upstairs room which could be accessed with stairways both inside the house and outside. This way they could rent the room and people could enter from the outside, and not disturb the family inside – and of course, this allow for additional income as they rented out their upstairs room. [SOURCE: Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible: Luke (Tyndale, 1997), p. 493]

Airbnb’s are not a new idea.

Tradition names this as the home of Mark, the young man who will eventually write the Gospel of Mark. The owner of this home would have been Mark’s father. He and the Lord evidently have already worked out this arrangement without anybody knowing.

And again, for the record, the name of this faithful and generous disciple is never given in scripture.

Ralph Davis, in his new commentary, wrote of the unspoken contrast between Judas and this anonymous, generous, loyal disciple.

He wrote, “You have Judas, one of premier disciples saying, “I have price for Jesus!” and you have this anonymous disciple saying, “I have a place for Jesus!” [SOURCE: Dale Ralph Davis, Luke: The Year of the Lord’s Favor (Christian Focus, 2021), p. 162]

Which is it for you today? Are you selling Him out, or inviting Him in?

Peter and John follow the Lord’s directions to the “t” and verse 13 tells us:

And they went and found it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover. And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. Luke 22:13-14

This is another way of implying that Jesus was in total control. He wasn’t panicking. He knows He will die the very next day, but He doesn’t look a frightened victim here, does He?

He was in perfect control of His destiny. He wasn’t caught in the cruel drama of history. Yes, Satan was at work, but Jesus wasn’t done in by Satan. [SOURCE: Hughes, p. 315]

Jesus is running this operation – He’s in control of the details . . . down to this address and this upper room where He’s going to deliver a commencement address.

Now at this point in the narrative, Luke offers 24 verses on what Jesus will say to them, and John’s gospel gives us 4 chapters.

What I want to do is pull out some of the highlights from John’s account – what Jesus has to say to them, He’s saying to you and me today.

I want to narrow our focus to John chapter 14.

If I could entitle the Lord’s commencement address – at least at this point in the narrative, it would be something like, “How to Uproot Anxiety in your Heart”.

John writes in chapter 14 and verse 1 where Jesus says to His disciples:

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; 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 to 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.” John 14:1-3

I remember reading the Sunday comics in the newspaper years ago – you remember newspapers? I don’t really miss them, but I do miss the comic section. I could trust that section.

Of my favorites was where Charlie Brown announced to his little friends, “I have a new philosophy in life. From now on, I am only going to dread one day at a time.”

It’s easy to get to that place in life.

Keep in mind that Jesus might not have been panicking in the upper room, but the disciples aren’t doing so well.

The wheels are beginning to come off their own plans. Anxiety was nipping at their heels and invading their hearts.

Jesus effectively gives them four truths to remember – and even though they will forget them in the next day, it will all come back and John will write it down.

Here’s the first truth to remember that has the power to uproot anxiety in their hearts – and ours today.

Truth #1: Jesus Christ is completely trustworthy.

Here in verse 1 again, Jesus says,

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.” John 14:1

The word for “trouble” means to be in turmoil—to be crippled by anxiety. 

And by the way, Jesus is not giving suggestions here—these are commands in the original language.

You could literally translate this, “Stop letting your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, keep on believing in Me.”

Jesus knows His crucifixion is just around the corner. It’s as if He’s saying to them: “Keep trusting Me even though you don’t understand what you are about to see happening to Me—keep on believing in me!”

Don’t look around – look at me, Jesus says.

The truth is, we all struggle with anxiety and difficult and painful times in life:

  • anxious over some medical diagnosis;
  • anxious over losing a job;
  • anxious over a child who is running from God;
  • anxious about a marriage on the verge of collapsing;
  • anxious about financial needs;
  • anxious about some change – commencing from one chapter into something new and unknown.

Add to that all the troubles around you –

  • the chaos of culture;
  • the immorality of the majority;

Let me tell you, it’s easy to start quoting Charlie Brown and begin dreading one day at a time.

What do you do?

Here’s the compelling advice of the Lord Jesus, who is hours away from the cross of Calvary – keep preaching to yourself the truth of the gospel that Jesus Christ is completely trustworthy.

Now here’s the second truth:

Truth #2: Your home in heaven is a promised reality.

Again, Jesus says in verse 2,

“In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” John 14:2

I have prepared a place for you – a place called heaven.

If you talk to people about heaven, you’re going to get a variety of impressions—and a lot of it is confusing.

One honest 5-year-old girl was asked, “What is heaven like?” and she said, “I think heaven is going to be the happiest part of my dead life.”

That doesn’t sound very exciting!

Now the King James Version translated this verse, “In my Father’s House are many mansions.”

And at first that sounds a lot more exciting. That translation has sparked a lot of imagination. But the more you think about it, the more discouraging it becomes.

It all falls into the category of “What kind of house am I going to get to live in . . . if I behave?”

When I was a teenager, I remember hearing a preacher say that your good deeds were translated into building supplies that God was using to build your mansion.

I remembered thinking, “I’m going to live in an outhouse – probably won’t even have a roof.”

This word in the original language, is properly translated “rooms”.

The truth is, every Christian has a room – a dwelling place – inside the Father’s House.

Jesus isn’t saying that if you’re a good Christian, your house is 2 blocks away, but if you’re a bad Christian, you’re not even going to be in the same county.  

No, we are all inside.

This was immediately understood in the Lord’s generation because when a son married his bride, another wing was just added onto his father’s house. When another son married, another wing was added.

Eventually the original dwelling would become a set of dwellings that enclosed a courtyard in the middle.

We will all have a place of residence under the same roof, as the bride of Christ – in the immediate presence of the Lord forever, in the Father’s House!

Now here’s the third truth to remember that will uproot anxiety in your heart and mind.

Truth #3: Your future is guaranteed permanently!

Again, in verse 3 Jesus says,

“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.”  John 14:3

You see, you’re not just invited to a place, you’re invited to a Person – Jesus says, “I’m going to be there, and you are going to be with Me.”

This is a guarantee whether your faith is weak or strong, whether you have little faith or great faith, whether you have been a Christian for years, or you’ve just begun following Him.

You are on your way home! Death is merely the hand that opens the doorway into heaven.

About 100 years after the Lord ascended to heaven, the Greek scholar Aristides explained one of the reasons for the impact Christianity was having in the world, writing these words:

If any [Christian] passes from the world, they offer thanks to God and escort his body as if he were setting out from one place to another nearby. [SOURCE: Aristides, “The Apology of Aristides the Philosopher,” Early Christian Writings,]

That’s true – death is another kind of commencement ceremony – you are leaving one chapter and entering an entirely new career.

Now here’s one more truth to remember that will uproot anxiety:

Truth #4: Jesus Christ is your personal guide home.

Jesus says to them here in verse 4:

“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?” John 14:4-5

Don’t you love Thomas? He’s the only guy in class willing to ask the question they were all thinking . . .

“Wait a second . . . we don’t know how to get to wherever you’re going – in fact, Lord, we don’t even know where You’re going – so how in the world, are we supposed to know how to get there?”

Great question Thomas!

The truth is, we’re as bad off as Thomas – we’re lost – and we need directions.

Many years ago, Billy Graham told the story of a time when he was a young preacher arriving in a small town for the first time. He wanted to mail a letter, so he stopped a young boy on the street and asked him for directions to the post office. After the boy gave him directions, Billy Graham thanked him and said, “Listen, if you’ll come to church this evening, I’ll be telling everyone how to get to heaven.” The boy thought for a second and then said, “No thanks mister, you don’t even know how to get to the post office.”

Well, give us the directions to heaven!

Listen to Jesus’ profound answer here in verse 6:

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

Imagine that you’re traveling, and your GPS goes down. Your phone dies, you forgot your charger, and you’ll have to stop and get directions. You pull up at a little gas station and go inside.

The attendant tells you to go two blocks and turn left, then go three miles and turn right, and then at the second stop light turn left.

Well, you might get lost all over again.

But what if – instead of saying that – this attendant tells you that he’s closing up the shop in 5 minutes and he’ll be glad to just take you there himself.

In that case, he does not show you the way; he becomes the way.

That’s what Jesus is saying here.

Jesus isn’t telling Thomas and the other disciples that He will show them the way to heaven – He says here that He is the way to heaven.

Jesus isn’t pointing to a cosmic map – go to this constellation and turn left and go to that galaxy and turn right – He is the cosmic map.

So do you have an anxious heart today? Do you have unanswered questions today, fears, and doubts?

Of course you do. We all do.

Even after their university training, the apostles were anxious about the future.

This is God’s word to them – and to you today: you’re not home yet – it might not be a very smooth voyage right now – but God has promised you a safe landing.

In the harbor of heaven, all your fears will be put to rest, and all your tears wiped way.

One day, Jesus will call you to Himself—by death or at the rapture of the church. And that will be the day when you and I are finally home.

And if Jesus can guide you to heaven, He is able to guide you through life.

And what will that final commencement look like – that moment when you leave this chapter and begin your new, eternal career?

I wonder if we’ll hear the ringing from a choir of bagpipes – playing:

Amazing grace how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see!
[SOURCE: John Newton, “Amazing Grace.”]

Or, as one songwriter imagined it:

Just think of stepping on shore
And finding it heaven,
Of taking a hand and finding it God’s,
Of breathing new air and finding it celestial.
Of waking up in glory and finding it home.
[SOURCE: Don Wyrtzen, “Finally Home.”]

He will guide you home one day – He will also guide you through your life today.

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