Do Not Let Your Hearts Be Troubled
New Year’s Eve
Do Not Let Your Hearts Be Troubled
Text: John 14:1-4
Things were not right and they knew it. Everything was screaming trouble to them. Clearly enemy opposition was at an all time high. It may have almost seemed dangerous to be around others. Then there was all this talk about suffering and death. Now there was talk about leaving and going away. What was going on here? What was going to happen?
On a quiet Thursday night long ago the disciples had heavy hearts that felt like a shaken champagne bottle. Everything was all mixed up, shaken, bubbling to the top, and about to explode. They certainly could see and sense the seething hatred of Jesus’ enemies boiling over. Jesus had been talking more and more about suffering and dying. Now minutes before he had just said that he wasn’t going to be with them any longer. Here they had this quiet little Last Supper together in an Upper Room but it certainly had the feel of Jesus’ last will and testament. Talk of betrayal and death. Judas had run out of the room for whatever reason. Talk of leaving. What was going on here? What was going to happen?
Almost two millennia later and here you are on a quiet Thursday evening and you feel exactly the same. Things are not right and you know it. Everything is screaming trouble to you.
Clearly the enemy opposition is at an all time high. If you hear another story about Isis and militant Islam you won’t know what to do. (If you hear Isis mentioned in another sermon by your pastor, you won’t know what to do.) But these days it’s hard to know exactly who your worst enemies are. We have this intense fear of someone running in here with a pack of dynamite strapped to the chest and shouting, “Allahu akbar,” but it’s actually much more likely that one of your fellow Americans will burst in and start shooting. And these days, it’s even more likely than either of those scenarios that you might be bold and stand up for your faith and be fined or end up in prison. For all the violent enemies out there, who knows what or where all the religious liberty stuff will lead to these days.
But maybe that’s the least of your concerns in life right now. I mean, how can you even think about that kind of stuff when you can’t even keep your life straight? Your life is so complicated and complex and because of it there are so many things going wrong and so many things you aren’t happy about in your life.
That’s why tonight is a big deal, right? It’s a new year tomorrow! Time to make some changes! Time to stop some of those bad habits. Time to lose some weight and eat better and exercise because you know you should and you know you would feel better if you did. Time to be nicer to your spouse, your kids, your friends, your neighbor. Time to read your Bible some more this year, to be more dedicated to God. It’s a new year, time to turn things around!
And yet here you are on New Year’s Eve and despite all the positively you are trying to inject into another new year, you’re scared. You’re scared of the world that we live in. You’re scared of a million different things that are going wrong or could go wrong in your life. You’re scared that 2016 is going to be just like 2015 and 2014 and 2013—just another year of broken resolutions and promises, just another year where you are stuck in a rut.
It’s an exciting night of lights and fireworks and champagne and music and celebration and a glittery disco ball dropping out of the New York sky line, but deep down inside you feel like you are simply counting down to another year of sadness and loneliness and trouble. It’s a relatively quiet Thursday evening but your heavy heart feels like a shaken champagne bottle. Everything is all mixed up, shaken, bubbling to the top, and about to explode.
But on a quiet Thursday evening 2,000 years ago Jesus knew exactly what was on the hearts and minds of his disciples, and on this quiet Thursday evening Jesus knows what’s on your heart and mind, too. The perfect Son of God had the perfect words for his disciples who were about to experience challenge and change, and they are the perfect words for us who are about to do the same.
Here’s what Jesus said to them and to us from John 14: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me.” Stop letting your hearts be stirred up like the crashing waves of an ocean, or like rough rapids on a river, or like a champagne bottle bubbling up toward explosion. There is no reason to be so stirred and mixed up with trouble and sorrow. You have God. Trust in him. Trust also in Jesus, because if you are going to trust in God that means you are going to trust in Jesus who is God. Trust in what Jesus says. Trust in what Jesus promises. Trust in what Jesus plans.
Think about the disciples that evening. What were they so upset about? They were upset about the rising opposition against Jesus. They were upset about the talk of Jesus’ suffering and death. They were upset about Jesus leaving them behind.
But take a moment to think about that. If only they knew! If only knew what God had planned and what was coming! Jesus was allowing this enemy opposition because Jesus was planning to suffer. The coming suffering was going to pay for all of their sins. The coming death was going to be in their place so that they didn’t have to suffer death and hell forever. He wasn’t going to stay dead either. He had told them he was going to rise back to life to prove his victory. Jesus had good reasons to be leaving them too. He was going to ascend into heaven and entrust all the work of his kingdom to those very disciples as he then would be preparing a place for them in heaven.
If only these disciples knew! If only they realized! If only they understood! All their worry and anxiety and fear were for nothing. They didn’t need to have troubled hearts. Were things about to be very different? Starting that night and that next day, Good Friday, things were going to be forever different. But it was all part of God’s incredible plan to bring those very disciples to heaven.
That’s what Jesus told them. Don’t be troubled because the end game in the plan is heaven. “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”
Friends, it has been almost 2,000 years since Jesus spoke those words. A lot of things have changed over the years. Technology has changed. Places have changed. People have changed. But Jesus has not. Those words are just as true on this quiet Thursday night as they were on that first Maundy Thursday night.
Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God. Trust in Jesus who is God. Trust in his words. Trust in his promises. Trust in his plans. The first time Jesus spoke those words he was less than a day away from dying for his disciples to win them life and salvation. He was 43 days away from ascending to heaven in victory to prepare a place for them. Trust in Jesus’ plans for your life.
It may not make sense to you why you are suffering right now—your sickness, your pain, your heartache. You might feel like the troubles and terrors of this world are overwhelming right now. You might feel like you are completely alone, like there is no direction to your life, like 2016 will be just another in a long series of bad years.
But trust in Jesus, because the end game of his plan for you is heaven. The day after that quiet Thursday with his disciples he was hanging from a cross and declared that your salvation was finished and that heaven was now open to you. And he’s there, right now, preparing a place for you. If it were not so he would have told you. And since he’s there preparing a place for you, he will also come back and take you to be there with him. That’s his promise.
Because that’s his promise, that means that everything in your life is leading toward that end plan. Through thick and through thin, through problem and pain, through headache and heartache, through danger and disaster, Jesus is taking you by the hand and leading you toward the place he has prepared for you. The road there might seem complicated and complex, but it’s actually not. “You know the way to the place where I am going,” Jesus said. Then he said, “I am the way and the truth and the life.”
Maybe while we are all celebrating outwardly tonight, inwardly we are all scared of what another new year might bring to us. 2016 might seem like another crazy and crooked leg in the journey of life. But it doesn’t have to be.
Stay with the Way, the Truth, and the Life this year. Commit yourself to staying close to Jesus. Be with him in his Word every day. Be with him in prayer every day. Be with him in worship every week. The more you stay close to Jesus, the more you trust in Jesus. The more you trust in Jesus, the less your heart is troubled.
Tomorrow is another new year. There’s no reason to fret or fear. This is exciting! Tomorrow is one more year, one more day closer to the room that Jesus has prepared for you, which is his plan for your life. So trust in God and trust also in him and your heart will not be troubled in this new year.
Posted on January 1, 2016, in Church, Sermons and tagged Church, Disciples, Doubt, Fear, Jesus, John, New Year's, New Year's Eve, New Year's Resolutions, Trouble, Worry. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.