In a world filled with troubles and trials, it is easy to become anxious about current circumstances and what the future holds. The Lord tells us that the answer to anxiety is the person of Jesus and the promises of God.
The beloved cartoon character Charlie Brown once announced to his little friends, “I have a new philosophy. I’m only going to dread one day at a time.” As we begin our study in John chapter 14, Peter and the disciples are in the upper room with Jesus; and as Jesus announces that He is going to be betrayed and leave them, they are dreading every minute of it.
We all can relate to anxiety, can’t we? We know what it feels like when the wheels come flying off of our carefully laid plans. Thankfully, for the disciples and us, Jesus gives us three truths, three principles, we need to remember when anxiety begins to set in. I like to think of this as Jesus telling us how to kill anxiety.
Here is the first of three principles to remember—Principle #1: Christ is completely trustworthy.
Here in verse 1 Jesus says, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.” The word for “trouble” is tarasso; it means to be distressed, in turmoil—to be crippled by anxiety.
By the way, Jesus is not giving us suggestions here—these are commands. You can literally translate this, “Stop letting your hearts be troubled. Keep on believing in God, and keep on believing in Me.” In essence, He is saying, “Keep trusting Me even though you don’t understand what you are about to see happen to Me—keep on believing!”
So, Jesus begins by reminding the disciples that He is completely trustworthy. Therefore, they need to stop agonizing in their hearts. The next few verses have been considered through the ages some of the most comforting words in all of Scripture.
We all struggle with anxious and painful moments. Every day someone listening to this Wisdom Journey learns of a cancer diagnosis. Someone is anxious he might lose his job; someone is deeply worried about a child or a grandchild who is running away from the Lord, and there’s someone out there afraid her marriage is on the verge of collapse. Add to that the troubles in our nation’s future, the economy, global threats, and let me tell you, it is easy to join Charlie Brown and start dreading one day at a time. What are we to do? Here is the advice of the Lord Jesus, who, by the way, is a matter of hours from the cross of Calvary. He says, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, and keep on believing in Me.”
So, the first principle is that Jesus Christ is completely trustworthy. Believe this truth, and remind yourself of it often.
Here is Principle #2: Our future home in heaven is a promised reality. Jesus says in verse 2, “In my Father’s house are many rooms [or dwelling places]. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?”
If you talk to people about heaven, you will get a variety of impressions—and a lot of it is not all that encouraging. One honest little kid named David was asked, “What is heaven like?” and he said, “Heaven is kind of big, and you sit around playing a harp.” One little girl answered that question by saying, “Heaven will be the happiest part of my dead life.”
What is heaven really like? The King James Version translates this verse, “In my Father’s house are many mansions.” This translation has sparked a lot of imagination that falls into the category of “what I get to live in if I’m a really good Christian.”
The word used in the original language is monē, and it can be translated “rooms” or “abodes.” The truth is, every Christian has a room—a dwelling place—inside the Father’s house. Jesus is not saying that if you are a good Christian, you are going to be three blocks away in your house, and if you are not a good Christian, you are going to be 300 miles away. 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 patio in the middle.
So, you will not be living miles away from the Father, depending on how good you were. Beloved, we will all be under the same roof, as the bride of Christ, in the Father’s house. We will all be in the immediate presence of the Lord forever!
There is another misconception here that comes from Jesus’ words, “I go to prepare a place for you.” Many people have pictured Jesus with a hammer and some blueprints as He is engaged in the process of building. I heard somebody say once that it is a good thing the Lord was a carpenter so He would know how to build. That is nonsense.
Beloved, when Jesus ascended back to heaven, He sat down at the right hand of the Father. He did not start a construction business.
The Lord is referring to the fact that He has gone before us. He is leading the way so that we can safely follow in His footsteps. Jesus is our forerunner. He has already climbed through the dark tunnel of death. He has ripped the stinger out of death and made a clear path from this earth to heaven. Your home in heaven is a promised reality!
There is one more principle that will crush anxiety in your heart and mind. Not only is Jesus completely trustworthy, and not only is heaven your promised reality, but Principle #3: Your future is guaranteed permanently!
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.” He is coming for us. We are invited, not just to a place, but to a Person. He is saying, “Heaven is My Father’s house. I’m going to be there, and you are going to be with Me.”
And that is a guarantee whether your faith is weak or strong, whether you have little faith or great faith, whether you are a mature disciple or just beginning your walk with Him, whether you have been a Christian for years or you have just received 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 . . . man among them [the Christians] passes from the world, they rejoice and offer thanks to God; and they escort his body as if he were setting out from one place to another near.
As one songwriter put it, we will step on shore and find it heaven, we will take hold of a hand and find it is God’s, we will breathe new air and find it celestial. And yes, one day we will wake up in glory and find it home.
Do you have an anxious heart today? Do you have unanswered questions, fears, and doubts? Of course you do. This is God’s word for you: you are not home yet. There will come a day when all your questions will be answered, all your fears will be put to rest, and all your tears will be wiped way.
In the meantime, if you want to kill those anxious thoughts and apply healing to your hurting heart, remember this: Jesus Christ is completely trustworthy, regardless of what you see happening around you; your home in heaven is already prepared and waiting; and your future with Christ is guaranteed forever.
One day Jesus will call you to Himself—by death or through the rapture of the church. And that will be the day when you and I are finally, finally home.