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The Comfort of Knowing Jesus

March 3, 2024 Preacher: Jeff Griffis Series: Communion in Christ's Love

Scripture: John 14:1–11

The Comfort of Knowing Jesus – John 14:1–11

PRAY & INTRO: What in life causes us the most fear, the most uneasiness, to be most unsettled? (Where do we seem to strive the hardest as humans to resolve this fear? Is it not in the realm of security and the realm of purpose? (As an example, a midlife crisis is a crisis of purpose, of meaning, of value, of one’s life and work counting for something.)

Knowing God through Jesus provides us with the ultimate comfort of purpose in this life… that is directly tethered to God’s will and plan for everything that he created. And knowing God through Jesus gives us complete comfort because we can rest in the security of God’s care, now and eternally.

Let’s read together and carefully consider this great comfort from the reassurance Jesus himself gives to his disciples in preparation for not only his death and resurrection, but also particularly for his bodily departure from their presence.

John 14:1–11 ESV

1 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 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? 3 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. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” 8 Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.

We are comforted about our eternal destiny and our present lives when we know God through faith in Jesus.

You may say, yeah, this is probably one of the most basic and foundational truths of Christianity. And if Christianity is true, which it is, then this is one of the most foundational truths about your existence. But notice that the point of what Jesus says to his disciples is that this truth is foundational to them being comforted.

14:1 Let not your hearts be troubled?!

‘We’ve spent night and day following you for the better part of three years, and now you’re talking about going where we cannot yet come and sound like you’re telling us how we’ll need to live in your absence. Add to this confusion and consternation that you have said things about betrayal and of death and burial and resurrection. Jesus, how can you say don’t let your hearts be agitated, disturbed, distressed? We’re both confused AND worried.’

Because Jesus knows and understands us, John chapter 14 is largely Christ caring for them to comfort them. “Let not your hearts be troubled.” - What is Jesus comforting them about? He seems to be comforting them not only concerning his impending death but also especially about his bodily departure from the earth (no longer physically present with them). He knows they will need comfort about his absence and confident of help in his absence. 

To have comfort is for trust in God to calm the inner storm of our spirit, no matter what rages outside of us.

The way to achieve this comfort is summarized in the second half of v. 1. True comfort is achieved by a right relationship with God through faith in Jesus. “You believe in God; believe also in me.” - Believe in God can be rendered as a statement or a command by the indicative mood of the verb, as with “believe also in me.” The sense is probably like the imperative of the first half of this verse. ‘Have faith in God, have faith also in me.’

Someone then or now might try to understand Jesus to be saying something like believe me as you would believe a prophet speaking for God. But that meaning alone is increasingly unlikely to impossible in the context, which is not simply that his words show the way but he himself is the way, and that he and the Father are one in a unique sense.

So this ends up having the truly shocking meaning that faith in Jesus is equal to faith in God. As the text continues to say, to know Jesus (in this sense of faith in him) is to know God. - As Jesus seeks to comfort them about how they will continue in his absence, he will explain that this comfort is achieved by a relationship with God through faith in Him, Jesus—God incarnate.

Jesus comforts them more specifically first by starting at the end, reassuring them of their final destination, their ultimate inheritance:

Jesus comforts his people with the security of their eternal destiny. (vv. 2-3)

Jesus gives his disciples the comfort of a secure future with him in God’s house (Heaven). Christ’s people have a secure future with him in heaven.

Verse 2 is either a rhetorical question or a statement (the sense ends up being the same) - ‘The Father’s house is not short on space. What I am going to do, including my exaltation and ascension, is going to ensure that there will be a place for you with God.’ - The disciples cannot understand this yet, but they will come to fully understand, after the fact: Christ’s death and resurrection and exaltation to the Father secures our future inheritance with him in God’s presence forever.

This applies not only to these 11 disciples but to all of his disciples, to all believers who repent of sin and self-effort and believe in Christ alone for right relationship to God. (That is salvation—right relationship to God) What great comfort to all who will believe in him: God makes specific space in his eternal dwelling for everyone who believes in Jesus.

And in v. 3 he says unequivocally that he will be returning and taking his people to himself, that they will live in that eternal dwelling in the presence of God.

Is knowing the security of their future inheritance in heaven in the presence of God not a great comfort? Whatever your status and security in this life, you can not only know that there is more to come than this life, but you can know the God who secures your future through faith in Jesus. That is indeed great comfort.

Jesus continues, “And you know the way to where I am going.”

Jesus comforts us that we can be certain of the way to be right with God. (vv. 4-6)

… which secures our eternal destiny with him.

The way to the Father is through Jesus.

Thomas says, wait, how can you say we know the way when we don’t even know where you’re going? Peter asked at v. 37, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now?” So what seems obvious to us in hindsight (and with the presence of the Spirit and the completed NT revelation from God), this was not at all immediately obvious to them. It really isn’t so strange that as Jesus speaks of future realities and spiritual realities, they are stuck on present earthly thinking, with still a limited understanding of the spiritual and eternal meanings.

Jesus patiently explains the spiritual reality that changes your relationship to God in the present and will enable that future physical reality (of living in God’s presence eternally). Jesus says to Thomas, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

The point of Jesus’ statement is unquestionably that he is the exclusive access to a right relationship with God. No one comes to the Father except through him. - I am the only way… all other paths lead ultimately away from God.

Satan has deceived the world, and our sinful nature buys into it, that religions are like all major rivers—they eventually will reach, will empty, into the ocean. The problem is that that ocean is a lake of fire, a place of eternal judgment. Jesus came to show that there is a single straight path to present and eternal restoration to God, and he is that way.

He continues: I am the only truth (in this saving sense)… all other claims and efforts to restore people to God are false. I am the only life… without me everyone is spiritually dead and condemned already.

John 3:18 ESV

18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

Now this brings up another point about this comfort and to whom it belongs. After Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension, is this comfort from Jesus meant to be universally applied? No, Jesus makes it clear that many will refuse him, and such rejection means not being right with God and a continued trajectory to eternal punishment.

In part of the Sermon on the Mount (on a hillside in Galilee), Jesus had taught,

Matthew 7:13–14 ESV

13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

Similarly, at the end of what is called the Olivet Discourse (getting it’s name from the Mount Olivet), only a few days before this very night… At the end of that discourse Jesus explains that at the final judgment he will separate people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. Those who truly belong to him are like his sheep and will be told to come and inherit the kingdom prepared for them. (Mt 25:31-34) But those who proved by their lives that they had not truly believed in him, will be like the goats separated to the left and told to depart from him, “into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” (Mt 25:41) … 

Matthew 25:46 ESV

46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

To be righteous means to be those who behave according to God’s standard because of a right relationship to God. So how can one be righteous, live rightly because of right relationship to God?

Jesus is the only way, the only truth, the only life to be right with the Father. No one comes to the Father except through him. But it is great comfort to know that we know the way!

Now Jesus goes on to explain how they can have confidence (be comforted) that they are living in right relationship to the Father, and that their future with God is secured.

Jesus comforts us that to know Him is to know the Father. (vv. 7-9)
  1. 7 … From now on you do know him and have seen him.

Philip - Show us the Father and it is enough for us. (that will be sufficient, make us satisfied, we will be settled and content)

Jesus answers unequivocally, Don’t you get it? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. - Those who “see” Jesus are seeing God, seeing a visible expression of God. (who God is) Jesus is God incarnate.

Now of course seeing Jesus here does not only mean seeing him visually, but seeing him for who he is, with the eyes of faith. We hear believe, believe, believe—3x in vv. 10-11. Jesus’ words and works are plainly from God. ‘You must believe that I reveal God, that to know me is to know him, that I am the way the truth and the life, and that through me you are therefore given right relationship to God and will also dwell securely with him forever.’

So here’s how I’ll word the last part of this in this context of Christ comforting his disciples:

Jesus teaches that this comfort is applied by a life of faith in Him. (vv. 10-11ff)

To know Jesus by faith is to know God. By believing in Jesus we receive restoration to God and all the benefits of belonging to him. - God saves people through the work of Jesus, personally applied by faith. (the finished work of Christ is his death and resurrection - the sacrificial atonement/payment of his death for sin and the spiritual life given to those who believe in him for forgiveness, for right relationship to God)

Applied by faith - It is not enough to intellectually know there is a bridge, there is a boat to rescue us and deliver us eternally… we must walk on the bridge, to get on the boat. Even better than a bridge or a boat, God is a personal God who is offering a present relationship with us through faith in Jesus.

And as the text will move forward in comforting them, that it is a life of faith in Jesus by which all the benefits of restoration to God are applied to us. Being used by him for his purposes, being able to approach God directly for help, receiving the indwelling Holy Spirit as our divine Helper. At the same time Jesus will remind them that this is a life of faith… that if they love him they will obey what he has commanded. That if they abide in him they will bear fruit, but that those who do not abide in him prove who they are, unattached branches that are thrown into the fire.

To have a right relationship with God through Jesus is a great comfort indeed, and such great comfort and assurance and security is continually applied by a life of faith in Jesus.

[Conclusion] Let’s conclude with this overarching thought from the passage about our comfort:

True comfort is found in knowing God.

(by faith in Jesus) True comfort is found in knowing God.

A relationship with God is the perfect resolution to the ultimate cliffhanger of our own lives.

By cliffhanger I mean that thing that happens at the end of one book in a series or at the end of an episode deliberately leaving you with questions that need answers.

A relationship with God is the perfect resolution to the ultimate cliffhanger of our own lives. Why do I exist? What is my purpose? Where do I find meaning? How can I be fulfilled, certain, secure? True comfort is found in knowing God.

And this comfort is a present comfort that we can lean into and rely on in all of life’s situations. We presently have faith in Jesus. The more our minds are filled with the truth of his word, the more we depend on him in prayer, the closer our intimacy with him, then the more assured we are of his goodness and care for us.

Imagine moving closer and closer to the sun. Without some sort of protection, the sun will blind us and scorch us… we’ll be obliterated by it. God’s holiness and glory are significantly greater than that of a star (the sun) which he brought into existence by the word of his power. But because of Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection, our faith in him exchanges our sin for his righteousness and we now have full protection to have a relationship with a holy God. The only thing stopping us from drawing nearer now is us. But as we draw closer to him, his radiance grows brighter and the heat of his holiness and love will only increase our certainty and comfort of his glory and goodness.

Let God himself be your comfort as you seek to know him more. Let his comfort be your motivation to obey Christ with as many breaths, as many minutes, as he sees fit to give you… until he brings you home to dwell securely and peacefully and joyfully in his perfect presence forever.

PRAY

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Questions for Further Discussion & Application:

  • Describe comfort in your own words, perhaps by contrasting it with what it also means to have a troubled heart.
  • What are the realities of life that make us troubled in spirit?
  • What are other earthly means by which we seek to gain inner comfort (methods, people, etc.)? Why will these prove fleeting, unable to sustain us with comfort, with peace?
  • Explain specifically why Jesus (the gospel) can comfort us with a depth and persuasion like nothing else can? (consider following the line of thinking concerning “the way… the truth [reality as it really is]… the [spiritual] life)
  • What Scripture passages do you meditate on for comfort in life’s trials/storms? Which passages should you consider adding that reassure you concerning who God is and of relationship to Him?

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