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(John 13:36–38) Heaven Guaranteed

(John 13:36–38) Heaven Guaranteed

by Stephen Davey
Series: Sermons in John
Ref: John 13:36–38; 14:1–4

Our age has been called the 'age of anxiety.' Pessimism has clouded everything. The plaintive cry of society is best summed up by the one who wrote, 'I have seen the future, and it doesn't work.' The disciples didn't think it was working for them either, but it did. And it can for you , too, if you have Heaven guaranteed!


“Heaven . . . Guaranteed!”

John 13:36-14:4

Our age has been called the age of anxiety.  The plaintive cry of society is best summed up by John Margolis of the Chicago Tribune who once wrote, "I have seen the future and it doesn't work."

Even Charlie Brown got into the act when he announced to his friends, "I have a new philosophy in life - I will am going to to begin dreading only one day at a time."

In our last discussion, we left the disciples in that upper room where they were in the process of becoming extremely troubled about their future.  It wasn't working either.

Now you need to understand why the disciples were troubled.

1)  Jesus had just announced that one of them would be a traitor.  The other gospel accounts record their reaction as shock..."Is it me Lord, is it me."  Matt. 26 - Judas said, "Surely it is not I."

2)  Jesus had warned Peter that he would also deny him three times.  Now, we'll look closely at this later, but for now notice the Lords words in John 13:37.  Peter said to Him, "Lord, why can I not follow you right now?  I will lay down my life for You."  38.  Jesus answered, "Will you lay down your life for Me?  Truly, truly, I say to you, a cock shall not crow, until you deny Me three times.

Just as Peter is beginning to talk like a hero, Jesus announced that he would become a casualty of fear.    When the civil war broke out, the Potomac Light Infantry, to the man, decided to disband and go into hiding rather than risk death in war.  When the time came for them to split up, one of them proposed a toast that has become legendary..."The Potomac Light Infantry - invincible in peace time, invisible in war time."

Now I'm sure that Christ's prediction of Peter's denial not only shocked Peter, but the other 10 disciples.  Peter?  Deny the Lord?  Peter had been the only one willing to risk his neck by walking on the was Peter who had become one of Jesus' closest confidants. . .if brave, strong Peter will deny Jesus, what will the others do?!

The room was filled with deniers and a betrayer?  This was a troubling thought!

3)  The third reason, and by far the most devastating factor that would rip the disciples hearts apart, was the message  that Jesus was going to leave them.  13:33.  Little children, I am with you a little while longer.  You shall seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, now say to you also, Where I am going, you cannot come."

You may remember from our last discussion that the Lord used the word, "Teknia", here in addressing his disciples.  It's the only time Jesus used the word toward them in the Gospels and it is an intimate, tender term often used in Greece between a mother and her little child.

Why, at that moment did Jesus speak so tenderly toward them?   Why did he refer to them as his little precious children?

Because He's telling them something that will instantly create confusion and insecurity and fear in the life of a child.  He's telling them, that He is going to leave them.

And like chilldren, they are  immediately filled with questions.

This past week Marsha and I celebrated our anniversary by driving to Wilmington and eating on that old fashioned style paddlewheel boat. My kids were instructed how to act with the babysitters...there were two stages - one for the afternoon, and one during the evening hours until we returned some time around 11:00.  My little 6 year girl had lots of questions, but the one that we are still laughing about was the question, "Now, Mommy, what happens if the boat shrinks?"

I'm not sure what would be worse, for the boat to sink, or for the boat to shrink!

Look again at Peter's questions, 36.  Lord, where are you gong?"  37.  Peter said to Him, "Lord, why can I not follow you right now?"  Skip to 14:5 - Thomas chimes in with a question, "Lord we do not know where You're going, how do we know the way?"    Verse 8 is in the form of a request, "Lord, (will you) show us the Father, and it will be sufficient?  Skip to verse 22.  Judas, not Iscariot said to Him, "Lord, what then has happened that You are going to disclose Yourself to us and not to the world.


Why?  Because the disciples saw things working out a lot differently than they thought they would; now they are surrounded by doubts and fears. . .Jesus has dealt the ultimate blow to them as he says, "I'm going to leave, and you can't come with me!"

How else can you explain the first phrase of chapter 14.  Jesus says, "Let not your heart be troubled!"  And we can read that rather glibly.  Yea, big deal. . .it'll all work out!

Now we know the rest of the story...we know what will happen; don't sweat it Peter.

Oh no - listen, when it comes to interpreting and applying the scriptures, you are imposing on your mind and heart a blindness unless you are willing to crawl back into that scene; and as Howard Hendricks used to teach us, "see what they saw, smell what they smelled, and feel what they felt."

As far as the disciples could see, they were headed into a terrible storm.   As Marsha and I, and a couple we doubled with for our evening cruise, drove toward Wilmington, we could see up ahead billowing black clouds; we finally drove into that thunderstorm; the rain falling in sheets, the heavy winds pushing and pulling our van from one side of the lane to the other. . .I had to slow down to 65...well, we finally drove into beautiful weather, the weather in Wilmington was that much more wonderful, because of the storm we'd driven through.

The point is, Ladies and Gentlemen, if you do not fully understand the problem, you can never fully appreciate the solution!

With all this in mind, we discover  chapter 14 is a chapter of solutions.  It's a  chapter that answers the disciples basic question. . . .Just what will happen when Jesus leaves?! 

...SO Jesus begins in chapter 14 by saying,

"Let not your heart be troubled.

You could translate that "STOP letting your hearts be troubled."  the word trouble is tarasso - it means distressed; anguished, in turmoil.

Now it doesn't do a child any good to say, stop crying unless you give them a reason!

The first part of Jesus' reason is actually a command!.  You could take your pen and draw two exclamation points.  Look  vs. 1 - Let not your heart be troubled; (here's the first imperative -  believe in God, exclamation point!  believe also in Me -exclamation point!

Its interesting to woodenly translate verse one with each of the Greek tenses exposed - "Stop letting your hearts be troubled.  Keep on believing in God and keep on believing in me.."

Now remember, this continual believing has nothing to do with salvation.  Jesus isn't encouraging the believer to hang on in order to get to  the shores of heaven - he's encouraging them to hang on in order to get through the storms of life.

Now, Jesus seems to be suggesting that it will be much harder to keep on believing in Him.  Why??!!  Because they are about to see him dragged off to court, condemned by the rulers, nailed to a cross, jeered by the mob. 

They are to continue trusting Him?!!    This kind of faith is seen in Abraham in the Book of Romans who "against all hope,  he believed."

In other words,  you believe in God whom you've never seen, now keep trusting me even though you don't understand what you are about to see!

So John 14:1  begins with Jesus, in effect saying,  "Stop agonizing in your hearts,  I am completely trustworthy."

The next few verses have been considered through the ages to be the most comforting words in all of scripture. 

Why?  Because everyone of us struggle with hurting may be a man who has just learned of  cancer; a man whose frightened that he might lose his job; another heart is agonizing over a child that's away from the Lord and still another whose marriage is about to collapse.  It may be the struggle with sin or the pain of failure. . .we may be uncertain about our nation's future, the economy, what tomorrow holds. 

On 64 east, headed for my parents home in Virginia, we pass through a little community made up of small homes and old cars.  I've noticed over the years a fortune tellers home, situated just off the highway.  A small wooden home with a run down screen porch.    Several years ago, when I first noticed the place, my attention  had been drawn by a  small wooden sign, with hand painted letters that advertised Sister Maria's ability to read your palm and tell your future.  Today...- success that has come from the fact that today, more than ever, the world is filled with troubled, confused, hurting, fearful hearts.

New York telephone alone handles more than one million calls a month on its dial-a-horoscope lines. 

The truth is, every human heart craves an answer about tomorrow.   The only difference is where people look for the answer.

For the one who will look here, one of the wonderful things about John chapter 14 is that Jesus tells his disciples and us about the future. . .here's the real story. . .here's the truth.

But you have to admit that all of John 14 is based upon the first principle in verse 1.  The only way this passage will ever heal your heart is if you will  believe that Jesus Christ is completely trustworthy.

Do you?     Then the second principle from this passage can heal like nothing else. 

Principle #2.  Not  only is  Christ completely trustworthy,  but our future home in heaven is a promised reality.   Lets read on....2.  In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.

A Gallup poll revealed some interesting information.  Now, 78% of Americans believe in a place like heaven and 88% polled felt they had an good to excellent chance of going there one day.  In  our next session, we'll discuss the entrance requirements.

Talk to people about heaven though and you'll get a variety of  impressions.

A group of children from Ohio were asked what they thought heaven is like:

Little Eric said, "It is a place where there is a lot of money lying around.

Scott said, "Heaven is up in the sky, and you can look down at circuses for free it you want to, cept you have to ask God for permission first.  One little honest kid named David said, "Heaven is kind of big and you sit around playing harps.  I don't know how to play a harp, but I suppose I'll have to take some dumb harp lessons pretty soon.

One little girl wrote, "Heaven will be the happiest part of my dead life"   Tommy blurted out his true feelings; here's a kid who lives in Ohio, "I know what heaven is, but I don't want to go up there.  I want to go down to North Carolina instead."  I thought it was heaven or hell - this kid thinks it's heaven or North Carolina!    

There are a lot of misconceptions about heaven.  Probably because it follows another mystery - death.  Most people aren't quite sure how to talk about either.

Kind of like the fellow I read about recently who bumped into an old friend he hadn't seen for many years.  They talked and then he asked his friend, "And how's your wife."  He replied, "She's in heaven now."  Without thinking he responded, "Oh, I'm sorry."" Then, realizing that was no the best phrase to use said "I mean, I'm glad she's in really flustered he said, "What I'm trying to say is, I'm surprised."

Well, for this morning, we can't answer all the misconceptions, and clear up all the confusion, but two Misconceptions from this verse desperately need clearing up! 

Jesus said, in verse 2, In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.

Misconception #1:

Heaven is filled with huge mansions!

The old King James translation, "In my Father's house are many mansions..."  has sparked many imaginations that fall into the same category of "what I'd like to live in if I won the publishers clearing house sweepstakes."

Gospel songs haven't helped much either that talk about my mansion in the sky.

Truth is, most of us have grown up thinking that heaven is this incredible real estate development and when we get there, some angelic agent will point and say, "Now if you go down that golden street and turn left at the first intersection, then go three blocks and turn right, you'll see your mansion on the right just past the lake.

Jesus refers to "my Father's house" - the word for house is oika and it is made up of many mone - that could be translated dwelling places or rooms or abodes.

Jesus is speaking in a way that his hearers would immediately understand - we're confused!   You see, in Christ's day, when a son became married, the father would add a wing to his house.  When another son married, another wing was added.  Eventually the original dwelling would become a set of dwellings that enclosed a patio in the middle and all the relatives lived around that patio.

While the misconception has you living miles away from the Father, depending on how good you were...the proper picture is this fact that you, as the bride to His son who married you, are living under the same roof, in a wing that's been added just for you.

The point is, we will be in the immediate presence of God forever!

Misconception #2:

Heaven is under construction!

Jesus said, verse 2b.  "For I go to prepare a place for you..."

Many have unfortunately concluded that in some way Jesus has a hammer and

 some blueprints and he's in the process of building the new city...and every one's home is currently under construction.  Further more, the size of your house is being determined by how much material you're in the process of sending on ahead.

I've even read the foolish suggestion that since Jesus was a carpenter on earth he knew exactly what to do to build our heavenly homes.  And to think that He created all there is, according to Colossians 1:16 in 6 creation days, yet it's taken Him some 2,000 years and he's still not finished with heaven yet?

No!  When Jesus ascended, following His resurrection he sat down at the right hand of the Father.  It was finished.

Alright, what was Jesus talking about? 

One of the great commentators of yesteryear, is William Barclay.  He did us a great service by pointing out the concept that Jesus Christ is often pictured as one who has gone before us.  As the Good Shepherd, Jesus goes before us so that we may follow safely in his footsteps. 

One of the Greek words that's used to describe Jesus and , I believe, explain his statement here in John 14:2 is the Greek word prodomos.  It's most often translated forerunner.  Hebrews 6:19 reads, "This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us."

In the Roman army of Christs day, the prodromoi were the troops sent ahead of the main army to blaze the trail and to ensure that is was safe for the rest of the troops to follow.

Robert Hughes, a seminary professor in Philadelphia was a coal miners son.  His fathers job was to every morning,go down into the mines to check for methane gas before the miners would  go down to work.   And so, every morning he would descend  into the mines taking with him  the safety light and he would begin to go through the darkened tunnels checking out each of the tunnels and shafts of the mine to make sure that there was no deathly methane gas present.  Of course if the light of the safety lamp would so much as flicker, he would himself be in great danger.  And then, every morning he would rise up to the surface of the mine, and there on the surface were all the miners gathered around waiting.  He would announce, "It's okay, it's safe, you can now go down into the mine."  John Hughes father, prepared the mine for the workers.

In that way, Jesus was going to prepare heaven for his children.  That is, he wsa going before all of us ... Jesus  has already climbed through the dark tunnels of death and hell.  He has ripped the stinger out of death and removed our obligation to hell - and he has made a clear path from this earth to heaven.

Our home in heaven is a promised reality!

It is as real and trustworthy a destination as Jesus Christ is truly God.

By the way, when John wrote the book of revelation, when he had a vision of that heavenly city. . .remember, he saw heaven in its completed form.  Remember his vision in chapter 21. 

In fact, Revelation 21 gives us a hint at how large heaven is.  TURN TO chapter 21. 


21:1.  And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.  And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. 

3.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and they shall be his people, and God Himself shall be among them.  And He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall not longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away. 

Now just how big is this new city...

skip to verse 16.  And the city is laid out as a square, and its length is as great as the width; and he measured the city with the rod, fifteen hundred miles; its length and width and height are equal.

So this new city is where the Father and Son and Spirit sit enthroned.  This is the residence of the saint.  Look at verse 21.  And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the gates was a single pearl.  And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.  (have you ever seen pure gold as clear as glass?  It doesn't exist, but the Lord will make it) 22.  And I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God, the Almighty, and the Lamb, are its temple and the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. . .27.  And nothing unclean and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life.  Skip to 22:3.  And there shall no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His bondservants shall serve Him; and they shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads and there shall no longer be any night; and they shall not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God shall illumine them; and they shall reign forever and ever.

You want to know your future?  Look here!!!  And marvel!!!!

By the way, the dimensions of this heavenly city have been calculated .  From chapter 21:16, engineers have calculated that the heavenly city  would be 2 million 250 thousand square miles.  To give you a point of comparison, London, England is 140 square miles; the heavenly city is more than 2 million square miles.  Ratio of population - 100billion.

And did you notice, 2,000 years ago was when John the apostle wrote the book of Revelation.  And in his Divinely inspired tour of heaven, there wasn't any scaffolding; Jesus wasn't wearing a carpenters bib and overalls; Oh no!  2,000 years ago, heaven was ready and waiting. 

So if your heart is hurting, Jesus says in the very beginning in  this chapter of answers, that you need to remember, He is completely trustworthy

Secondly, you need to remember that your home in heaven is a promised reality.

Now turn back to John 14 once more.

PRINCIPLE  NUMBER 3  Remember, your future is guaranteed permanently!

3.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.

You need to note that what's important here is being with Jesus Christ.  We're invited not so much to a place; we're invited to a Person. "Heaven is my Father's house.  I'm going to be there. . .and you're coming to be with me.

Job wrote, "I know that my redeemer lives, and that I'm going to see Him face to face.  And when I see Him, I won't be a stranger to Him and He won't be a stranger to me."

Job 19:25-27.

If Jesus Christ is infinite God, totally trustworthy and reliable, and He lives forever, and our future is with Him, then our future is, according to His own words, forever.

Remember, your future is guaranteed permanently!

Whether your weak or strong, wether you you have little faith or great  faith, wether you are a mature disciple or an immature one, wether you've been a Christian for years or you've just recieved're on you way home!

Is it any wonder that around 125 AD, Aristides, the Greek scholar was trying to explain part of the success of Christianity.  He wrote, "When a member of the Christians passes from the world, they rejoice and offer thanks to God and they escort the body to burial with songs and thanksgiving as if he were setting out from one place to another place nearby!


But just think of stepping on shore, and finding it heaven,

Of taking hold of a hand, and finding it God's,  Of breathing new air and finding it celestial,  Of waking up in glory. . .and finding it home.



You have a troubled heart - you have unanswered questions, fears and doubts...Jesus begins this chapter of answers by simly telling you that your not home yet...there will come a day when all your questions will have answers, all your fears put to rest, all your tears wiped dry. . .but it won't happen here, not completely;; so in the meantime, if you want to apply healing to your hurting heart, remember that Jesus Chirst is compeltely trustworty, regardless of what you see happening around you;  rejoice that your home in heaven is prepared and waiting, and your future is guarenteed permanently. 

And  it will happen on that day when Jesus calls you to himself - by death or through the rapture of the church. 

That will be the day when you and I are finally, finally . . . home.

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