Do Not Let Your Hearts Be Troubled
The Feast of Saint Simon and Saint Jude
Do Not Let Your Hearts Be Troubled
1. You have God’s pleasure
2. You have God’s presence
3. You have God’s peace
Text: John 14:21-27
Something wasn’t quite right. The tension was nearly tangible. It was as if something big was about to happen.
That whole week Jesus had been talking more and more about suffering and dying. He had been saying he had to leave. His preaching had been fiery—even turning over money tables in the temple.
Only hours before this, they began what was supposed to be just another ordinary Passover meal together. But the tension only increased. Jesus said that one of the Twelve was going to betray him. Everyone was completely confused. Judas ran out of the room. What was that all about? Then Jesus instituted a new meal with a new covenant for forgiveness. Why was that necessary? Then they sang a hymn and went out toward a favorite place of prayer—the Garden of Gethsemane.
As they were walking now, Jesus started back up with the “gloom and doom” talk. He said Peter was going to deny him. He said again that he was going to be leaving. Where was he going? What was going on here? Peter was hurt that Jesus would think he would deny him. Thomas asked where Jesus was going. Philip asked to see God the Father because maybe that would help them believe. We heard today how Judas asked why Jesus seemed to be revealing himself only to the disciples.
What was going on here! The disciples were confused and concerned. They were troubled and afraid.
Know the feeling? Confusion. Concern. Troubled hearts. Fear. Sounds like the daily dose of bad medicine we drink every day. Sometimes there are so many things wrong we don’t even know where to start to fix it all. Sometimes we are so concerned about what we are going through that it ties your stomach in a knot and makes you feel sick. Sometimes we are so troubled that it feels like our heart will beat right of the chest. Every moment feels like a panic attack waiting to happen. Sometimes our problems are so big we are terrified to take them on—so terrified that we don’t even want to think about what they might lead to. Will I lose my job over this? Will I be able provide for my family? Will this sickness get worse? Will I ever have quiet and calm in my life?
Jesus’ disciples haven’t changed much over the years. Like the Twelve disciples on the eve of his crucifixion, Jesus’ disciples today are every bit as confused, concerned, troubled, and afraid. Yet just like 2,000 years ago. Jesus knows. Jesus knows when his disciples are weak and weary. Jesus knows when his disciples are burdened. Jesus knows when you are troubled and afraid. So today he comforts with these simple words: Do Not Let Your Hearts Be Troubled.
Fathers know well how much love they have for their children. Fathers stand in the rain to watch the soccer or baseball game. Fathers sleep on the couch when the sick toddler needs to snuggle with mama. Fathers stay up till 2am on Christmas to assemble all the new toys—putting stickers in all the proper places! Fathers will go to any length to protect and provide for their children and do what is best for them. This is because Fathers love their children.
What does it take for us to have God the Father’s love? What does it take for us to have the love of Jesus Christ our Lord? Jesus answers in verse 21: “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.”
We wish Jesus would have stopped four words into this statement—“Whoever has my commands.” That’s the easy part. We have his commands. We have Bibles all over this place. We have Bibles in our homes. Our school children memorize God’s commands. We talk about them in church. We have God’s commands.
But that’s not all God asks. “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.” Loving God is more than just having or knowing his commands. It’s also doing his commands. That’s the not-so-easy part.
Day after day brings nothing but more miserable failure at keeping all of God’s commands. One day we might keep a couple commands, then the next day those are the very ones we break. Even if we think that we are really good people who are so obedient to the Lord, we can recall the rich young man we heard about last week. He foolishly thought he had obeyed all of God’s commands perfectly. But when Jesus told him to love God more than his money and possessions, he went away sad because he couldn’t do it. We might outwardly seem like good people, but like the rich young man, inwardly we constantly push God away for things we like better.
How great is the love of our Father though! Earthly fathers know unconditional love. Even when their children break a lamp playing football, draw on the couch with marker, and throw countless tantrums—earthly fathers still love and cherish their children and shower them with good gifts. How much greater is the love of our heavenly Father then!
As we prance around his world in petty and pitiful sin, he daily forgives us and continues to love us. He loved us so much that he even gave his own Son to be the one who to come to this world and live in the perfect way we couldn’t. All those commands we fail to keep, Jesus kept.
So when Jesus tells us that, “whoever has my commands and obeys them” is the one that God loves, we don’t have to be afraid. God looks at us and sees the obedience of Jesus covering over us. He sees the blood of Jesus that washed us clean. So when God looks at us as our dear Father in heaven, he loves us and cherishes us as his children and showers us with his good gifts.
When you are confused and concerned, when you are troubled and afraid, remember the words of Jesus: Do Not Let Your Hearts Be Troubled because You have God’s loving pleasure and delight—loving you as his own dear child.
These last few days Tropical Storm Sandy has been passing through. Winds have been rushing. Rain has been off and on. A few trees and tree branches went down. I wonder how many parents woke up in the morning to find they suddenly had one or two more bodies in the bed.
Children feel safe when their parents are near. They snuggle up in bed during storms. They reach out to hold hands when crossing the street. They hide behind legs when meeting strangers. They cry when left with a babysitter.
Once when I was younger we were getting ready to go to grandma’s house. I was behaving so poorly that my parents tried to teach me a lesson. They walked out the door and pretended to leave without me. As I saw them walking to the garage I was so terrified that I ran to the back window and started crying and screaming, “No! Don’t leave me! Don’t leave me!” I was so terrified that I pounded hard enough on the window to put my hand all the way through the glass.
How often do you feel like that with the Lord? “No! Don’t leave me! I don’t want to be alone! Why won’t you help me? Where are you, Lord? Don’t leave me, Lord!”
I should have known better as that young child that my parents would have never left me. We should know better as God’s children that he would never leave us. Look at the love he has for us! God has lovingly revealed to us through holy Scriptures that he sent his Son for us. There are seven billion people in this world—most of whom are unbelievers—yet God has worked faith in our hearts to trust in Jesus as our Savior. He has filled us with his forgiving love which then overflows in our thankful love for him. Thus we have this loving promise from God in verse 23: “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.”
Judas—not traitor Judas but the other Judas also known as Thaddeus or Jude (whom we remember on this special day)—had some questions about whom the Lord would reveal himself to. The answer is that Jesus reveals himself very clearly to all in the Bible. The problem is that most don’t love Jesus and don’t believe him. Yet for those who do love Jesus, for us, we have this incredible promise: “My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”
We are not alone. Ever. Our God is always with us—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. When you are confused and concerned, God knows and God is there. When you are troubled and afraid, God knows and God is there. When you don’t know what to do or what’s going to happen next, God knows and God is there.
As we reach up like little children looking to grasp God’s hand for safety and security, what we do not realize is that our loving Father already has us completely wrapped up in his loving embrace. Just because we sin, just because we stray, just because we doubt—these don’t change that our Father always loves us and is always with us. So Do Not Let Your Hearts Be Troubled. You have God’s presence every moment of every day.
Sometimes it’s amazing, isn’t it? It’s amazing how foolish we humans can be. What incredible promises we have from God! These are things that we know and have heard over and over and over again. He takes pleasure in us and loves as his own children. He promises that he will never leave us alone but will always be with us. These are things are the very basic fundamentals of Christianity. Yet not only do we constantly need to be reminded of these things, we constantly act as if they don’t make a difference in our lives!
What do you do when you have problems come up in your life? I suppose it depends how big of a problem it is. The smaller problems we sit down and try and figure out. How am I going to take care of this? What are we going to do to fix this? The really big problems we can judge by our reactions. Instant tears. Or constant tears. Loss of sleep. Tossing and turning. Wandering minds. Anxious looks. Anger. Fear. Worry. It’s amazing, isn’t it? It’s amazing how foolish we humans can be.
Let the words of Jesus be fulfilled today amongst us. He told his disciples in verse 25: “All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” Jesus promised that after he ascended into heaven he would send the Holy Spirit to teach and instruct and even remind us of everything we need to know.
The Holy Spirit is working today through these very words. Today he is teaching and reminding us of something that we can always remember. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
Foolishly we forget what God is reminding us of right now: We have something that the world cannot offer. It’s better than sleeping pills. It’s better than world-renowned doctors or psychologists. It’s better than high tech alarm systems. It’s better than bank accounts overflowing with money. It’s better than fame and glory, wealth, and even health. We have peace.
Yes, we might have sicknesses and money problems and family problems and work problems. We might have stress. We might have struggles. But we also have a Savior who marched on with those disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane and then to a mount called Calvary. We have a Savior who destroyed death and erased sin. We have a Savior who gave himself to appease anger against sin and to end spiritual war with God. We have a Savior who gave us peace.
This is not what the world gives. But this is what God gives. He gives us peace. Peace with him now through forgiveness. Peace with him forever in heaven. So Do Not Let Your Hearts Be Troubled. You have God’s peace now and forever.
Occasionally Christians take the time to look back at history and remember those who have gone before us. October 28 is the day that Christians have marked as a day to remember Simon and Jude. Not much is known about these two disciples. This is Simon the Zealot, not Simon peter. And Jude, or Judas, is not the famous traitor Judas Iscariot. This Jude is also known as Thaddeus. Some think he is the same Jude who wrote the letter you heard earlier and also the half-brother of Jesus.
Historic legend has it though that both became great missionaries of the church. They went all over the Middle East, perhaps even down to Africa, preaching and teaching about Jesus as Savior of the world. It could be that they are grouped together on this same day because historic legend also has it that both were martyred in Syria around 65 A.D. Many ancient images of Simon the Zealot depict him holding a saw because some sources claim that Simon was killed by being sawn in half.
Regardless of how they died, we relate so well to these two men, as to all the disciples. So often they were worried and troubled and scared. But Jesus continually reminded them of his love, his presence, and his peace. That carried the disciples forward, including Simon and Jude, to be fearless witnesses for the rest of their lives.
You might have quite the share of troubles right now in your life—more pains and problems than you would care to count or even think about it. But our heavenly Father takes great pleasure in you and loves you as his own child. Our God is always with us every moment of every day. And our God has given us the greatest of all gifts—eternal peace in heaven.
God loves you. God is with you. God will bring you safely home. So Do Not Let Your Hearts Be Troubled.
Posted on October 28, 2012, in Church, Sermons and tagged Church, Concern, Confusion, Disciples, Fear, God's Presence, John, John 14, Judas, Jude, Maundy Thursday, Peace, Philip, Sermons, Simon, Simon the Zealot, Thaddeus, Thomas, Trouble. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.