The Sermon for Easter 5 April 29, 2018
Text: John 14:1-12 3 Year Series A 18:2066
Theme: In My Father’s House – Blessed Forever
Difficult was the trip. The journey wound through rough hills and traversed hot desert sands as the wind blew constantly in his face. There had been few trees along the way under which shade he could sit for a time and rest, so the traveler trudged on until he reached his destination that night. Surprisingly, the room in the inn was rather comfortable, although sparse of furniture and decorations, comfortable, yet nothing like home. Home – he longed to be there!
Tired from travel he laid down to rest that night, his thoughts returning homeward – the familiar faces, the friendly voices, the loved ones, all and more had inscribed themselves upon the photo album of his heart. As evening fell, his thoughts stole away from the weary world to the quiet of his family’s house. He longed to be there. It’s where his heart found rest – home.
So the Christian travels through life. He has a distant home, the Father’s House above. It lies beyond the valley of the shadow of death, more beautiful than one imagines. In that distant home lies the complete fulfillment of his dreams. There dwells the Savior, preparing a place for us. There live the saints, all the beloved who in faith have gone before us. And there we, too, some day shall abide.
It’s only natural that after a long, hard day and a difficult walk, the believer’s thoughts steal away to the inviting portals of the Father’s House above, the joys that await, the heavenly treasures that adorn it. Could the heart desire anything else? My Father’s House … (Zion #451; Peace #279:1-3).
I. It is a place of hope and eternal rest for the weary traveler…
…and there’s plenty of room there – plenty of room. You won’t be left out. Jesus said, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in Me. In my Father’s house are many mansions – many rooms. If it were not so, I would have told you.”
As the omniscient eye of the Savior looked out over the centuries of time, He saw the countless throng of those for whom He would die and of those who would believe in Him as their Savior from sin. He saw worried faces, much like the distraught faces of the disciples with whom He sat at supper that night. They didn’t know where He was going; they didn’t understand what would take place the next day; they were afraid of what Jesus said they would do and of what would happen to them. With such fear-filled faces before Him, He knew best to comfort them with thoughts of that expanse above that Jesus called My Father’s House. Its capacity is limitless. He is not deceiving us. There’s plenty of room for all who come to the Father through faith in the Savior. “Don’t let your hearts churn within you. In my Father’s House are many rooms. If it were not so, I would have told you.”
How comforting a thought for tired Christians who trudge through the ravages of sin in a fallen world – the illnesses, the pains, the cancers, the concerns, the heart disease, the financial strains, life’s disappointments, and, greatest of all, the sins that so easily beset and encumber our lives. Has God forgotten us?
No way! By faith in Christ Jesus we are not forgotten and our needs do not go unmet. At the cross we see a Father, a true heavenly Father who loves us so much that He sacrificed His only begotten Son in order to restore us to Himself. That Father has a house, a heavenly home to which He longs to bring us. It is the believer’s inheritance, a place of hope and eternal rest for the weary traveler.
In that distant home lies the complete fulfillment of the Christian’s highest hopes. There dwells the Savior. There dwell those who in faith have gone before us – all who clung in steadfast faith to Christ Jesus. They’re not there, not a one of them, because they were such good people here. No, they were sinful, too. Ask Moses or David or Paul and they would admit that shameful part of their lives. The confession of sins was a regular part of their day and should be of ours, too, for “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. No one is righteous; not even one.” On our own none is self-deserving. Yet the redeemed in Christ are there because of Christ and by faith in Him. In that House above the believer gets to see them all, blessed forever in the place of hope and eternal rest for the weary traveler.
Most of all Christians get to see the dearest One; they get to see their Savior and stand in the presence of God who loved, created, and saved them from the ravages that life in this fallen world bring. What hope and eternal rest that is for the weary traveler.
By faith those loved ones presently enjoy it all. No longer weary, frustrated, or in pain, no longer suffering or held back by sin, there the believer rests in his Lord forever. (Zion#332; Peace#656)
II. It is a place that the Savior has prepared – personally! He’s there, getting things ready. And He desires you to be there with Him.
Earlier in the day Peter and John had gone ahead to Jerusalem to “prepare a place” for Jesus where He could spend the Last Passover Supper with those who were closest to Him. They would make arrangements so that when the others arrived, everyone could move right in to enjoy food and fellowship with each other.
The picture reminds me of trips we made to Colorado when I was a boy. We’d travel all day long. As time grew late in the afternoon, Dad would stop the car at a motel and leave us behind with Mom while he went ahead to make arrangements for our stay that night. In those days there weren’t so many motels and restaurants as today. It was such a treat for us to get to go to such places. After making arrangements, my father would return and take us to our room. We unpacked our bags and then went out to eat. He made all the arrangements. We didn’t do a thing but enjoy our stay there.
Simple as it may seem, that picture stands out in my mind whenever I hear these words of the Savior: “I go 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.”
Christ, our fellow traveler and Guide on the highway of life who has tasted the hardships of the journey here, has gone ahead to get things ready. We may not be able to picture all that is meant by the Savior’s words, but this much is certain: He has gone ahead to the Father’s House for our good, to prepare a place for us. All of His present activity, His intercession for sin, His requests in our behalf, His rule over heaven and earth, His Shepherd’s care for the sheep, all prepare us for the eternal joy and glory that still await. His purpose is to get us there. “He lives my mansions to prepare. He lives to bring me safely there,” to My Father’s House above. (Zion #440; Peace insert #449).
III. Ah, the Father’s House – a place where we long to be! But how do we get there? Whenever one travels, he needs directions telling how to arrive at the destination. Do we know how to get there? The Savior simply assures, “You know the way.”
Frequently during His most intimate conversations with His disciples, Jesus spoke to them about the way to His Father’s House. In fact, you could say that it was the sum and substance of all that He taught. It was the reason He came here – to give the way to The Father’s House.
He paved the way by dying on the cross for our sin. He cleared all obstacles on the way by rising from the dead on Easter. And He proclaimed the way by sending His witnesses to the world to tell us that He is the only way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Christ Jesus. No one!
With those words my Savior assures me that God has done it all by Himself. I don’t get there because I’m such a great person. I don’t get there because I worked so hard to earn it. No, it’s by grace. God promised it and enabled it through Christ, the Way. And all who trust Him have it. “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe in me.” Jesus said. “I am the way. You know it. So come.” Ah, dear friends, that’s His invitation to us all.
When you talk to a friend and say, “You know the way to my house,” you are inviting him to come over. Likewise Christ says, “You know the way.” And with those words He bids us, “Come, join me. I want you to be where I am. There’s plenty of room. A place is prepared. Come.”
And then One by one the Savior calls us. The Good Shepherd leads His sheep onward. He raises his voice; they hear; He knows them; they know Him; and they follow to the place He has prepared. We call it heaven; the night before He died Jesus called it My Father’s House. God grant it to us by faith as we travel on the way; for Jesus’ sake. Amen. (Zion #579; Peace #646)