How to Say Your Best Goodbye

Mike Miller, Speaker

John 14:1-14 | February 11 - Sunday Evening,

Sunday Evening,
February 11
How to Say Your Best Goodbye | John 14:1-14
Mike Miller, Speaker

Father, let the meditations of my heart and the words of my mouth be pleasing to You tonight. May You encourage Your people, strengthen believers, convict unbelievers, draw us to Yourself in absolute adornment of the Lord Jesus Christ tonight from these verses that we’re to look at. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

I invite you to turn to John 14. We’re going to be looking at the first 14 verses. Before we come up here as pastors, we always pray in this room over here and you see us all come out. The ruling elders join us, and one of our ruling elders, I won’t mention his name, was very tearful as he prayed for us because it was this day I think 14 years ago, maybe it was another number, but this passage was preached somewhere and he was converted. He came to Christ. So this is a special passage for him.

It’s always a challenge to title a sermon. Some people are really good at it; I am not. As I read this passage and began to study it in John 14, I thought about this as a title: A Remedy for the Troubled Heart. Or, this is where my mind goes, “There is no Better a Farewell.” Or “The Best Goodbye Ever.” All of those are pretty bad. So I landed somewhat in a rocky place with what you have in your bulletin – How Do You Say Your Best Goodbye.

Honestly, that’s not very good either. Okay, so, we’re going to move on to a different one. Just forget the title. We’re going to be looking at John 14.

The problem with those titles is it misses the main idea, I think, of the text that we are looking at this evening. 14, chapter 14, verses 1 through 14. It’s a part of our sermon series as we move into Easter. It’s called the farewell discourse, the upper room discourse for good reason. It is certainly a goodbye to the disciples. Yet the main idea that I believe from this passage tonight is this – the first 14 verses only an incomparable Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, can provide real peace for the troubled heart because of who He is and all He is doing. That’s what I think the main idea is. Only an incomparable Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, can provide for real peace for the troubled heart because of who He is and all He is doing.

So perhaps a better title would be An Incomparable Savior, Worthy of Our Whole Trust.

John is really spotlighting in these 14 verses how great Jesus is. He wants all to see that there is no better person than the Lord Jesus to give a farewell to those He loves. There is no one comparable.

Immediately with some thoughtful reflection on this, the context reveals the fact that Jesus is the One giving the encouragement, the instructions, the support, the promises, the comforts. In light of what is about to take place, Jesus should be the very one to receive emotional and spiritual support from His disciples.

Yet we find this reversal of roles. Jesus is the one giving the support. The writer John is one of the 12 disciples, must have had this picture just burned in his mind as he penned this farewell discourse. Here is Jesus who would not be self-preserving, looking for a quick way out, or self-serving, come meet My needs, guys. Or self-focused, I’m not interested in any of you. Or full of pity, woe is me. But rather extending promises, truths, and assurances to this frightful group of disciples.

It is a remarkable picture, worthy of worship, of this selfless servant.

So perhaps a better title is simply “The Incomparable Christ.”

So I want to begin by just making a few comments and remarks about this farewell discourse as a whole. Then I want to look at each of the assurances, or promise, that Jesus gave His disciples; there are six of them in the text. By inference, they are given to the whole Church, us. Then a few applications will be sprinkled throughout in the form of questions.

So some opening remarks about the farewell discourse, reinforced by what Tom and Zach preached last Sunday.

Number one. Though it is similar to other farewell discourses, such as Joshua, David, Moses back in the Old Testament, this one is distinct in that the person giving the discourse is coming back.

John writes these chapters knowing that Jesus will come back from the grave. He has made Himself present through His Spirit and He promises to return personally at the end of the age.

This is not written about someone soon to die and gradually just fade into history but someone who died, rose again, and continues to make Himself known to His disciples by His Word and Spirit. Jesus continues His ministry, must from a different vantage point.

Number two. Reflection.

Let’s remember that John’s Gospel is an evangelistic book, written that we might believe. John 20:21 – but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.

With that in mind, the primary focus as one commentator has said is not discipleship but the nature of Jesus’ mission and what will take place after His departure.

Number three. This evangelistic letter makes clear not only how to become a Christian, but also what it is to live like a Christian.

So there are themes of fruitfulness, beautifully displayed in the picture of the vine and the vine dresser in chapter 15, and life in the Spirit in this chapter 14 is explained as well.

I believe part of the power of the evangelistic appeal of John’s Gospel is its display of the care of a perfect Savior Jesus. It’s as if John were saying not only look at who Jesus is and His supreme sacrifice of His own life, but also look at how He loves and cares for His own.

With those things in mind, let’s read the passage. John 14. I’m going to start in chapter 13, verse 36, chapter 13 verse 36 and go to 14.

“Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow Me now, but you will follow afterward.” Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow You now? I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for Me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied Me three times.”

Verse 1: ““Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me. 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? 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. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. If You had known Ye, you would have known My Father also. From now on you do know Him and have seen Him.””

“Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 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’? 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. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.”

““Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in Me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.””

In the moment, the disciples have many concerning questions for Jesus, who’s on the cusp of His departure via the cross, and Jesus’ answers reveal His caring heart to His disciples. It displays again His divine nature as the God-man, a mutual indwelling with the Father as He says, and gives the disciples His words of assurance, works they will do, and His promise of answered prayers spoken in His name.

So the first order of business that Jesus deals with is a troubled heart, confused, in turmoil, fearful, and the context lets us know this – the solution for a troubled heart is quite simple. It is a properly directed belief in God and by identity belief in Christ who is God in the flesh. There is no amount of faith mentioned here. It is the object of that belief that is of utmost importance. With crystal clarity, Jesus calls them to believe in God, in Christ.

The NIV has “trust in God, trust also in Me.” There is no other solution for a troubled heart but trust, belief, faith in God, in Christ.

So Jesus now, after setting that up for them, points out at least six reasons we can and indeed should trust Him, believe in Him.

Number one. The reassurance of a prepared place to live eternally in heaven, verses 2 and 3. What a comfort to know that Jesus prepares a place just for you and me in His Father’s house, referring to heaven.

Think on that just for a moment. There is no shortage of inventory. There is no competition to find the right place. No bargaining. Rather there are many rooms, dwellings, or we might say suites ready for His children to move in.

The only other place this word is used is in John 14:23 – My Father and I will come to him and make our home with him.

The word “home.” These are not way stations. They’re not temporary lodgings. But the simplest explanation is the best. My Father’s house is heaven and in heaven there are many rooms.

Notice Jesus says His going prepares the place. His going via the cross and the resurrection. What a comfort, what a Savior, who would prepare our eternal home.

One of the saddest and coldest discussions I’ve ever had was with a lifelong friend, actually a friend that became a friend to in college, who now believes there is nothing after death. Nothing. Empty. No conscious awareness of anything. The end of a recent brief discussion I sensed with him a profound sadness and once again, as he once again claimed there is no life after death. It’s this life and that’s all.

Do you know people like that? What a happy thought, as a Christian, to know the assurance of a Savior who prepares an eternal place for His children.

Are you assured of heaven this evening? Have you come to Christ in simple faith and trust? I’m not asking if you know a lot about Christ, but rather do you know Him by faith? He prepares a place for you in heaven.

It follows then that the One who prepares the place will also be the One who summons us home. Look at the end of verse 3 – that where I am you may be also. Here is the reassurance of His personal return for the express reason to take us where He is going. He will come again at the end of the age to take believers to be with Him in the place He has prepared. As with each of these assurances, the disciples especially needed to hear this promise, looking at their soon departure, Master and Lord, in just a short time. Questions must have rung in their minds, especially related to Jesus’ words “and you know the way, and you know the way to where I am going.” At some level they did not know a particular destination. The point is that because they know Jesus, they do in fact know the way, because He is the way, the truth, and the life.

So here’s a question – are you and I ready to be received by Jesus when He returns to be taken back to where He is?

This leads to a third reassurance. The reassurance of an exclusive claim said negatively, there’s no other way, Jesus puts it out there. Verses 4 through 6 – ““And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

Thomas, my middle name, is often called the doubting disciple, but in this instance is certainly one who is courageous enough to ask an honest question, for there is a lot at stake here. How can we be sure that we’re on the right track? The right path? And to this question from Thomas, and all the disciples, Jesus unequally answers, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but through Me.”

The emphasis in the verse is placed on the word “way.” That’s the principal theme. Truth and life are supporting words.

D.A. Carson writes: Jesus is the way precisely because He is the truth of God and the life of God. Jesus is the truth because He embodies the supreme revelation of God and does exclusively what the Father gives him to say and to do. He is God’s self-disclosure, His Word made flesh. Jesus is the life, the One who has life in Himself, the resurrection and the life, the true God, and eternal life. Only because He is the truth and the life can Jesus be the way for others to come to know God, and therefore the only way to answer Thomas’ important question. He is the way, the truth, and the life.

Here’s a question for us tonight. Is this the Jesus you embrace? The One whose claim is like no other? There are not many saviors, there is one. We are to believe the One who clearly claims to be the only way to God.

That leads us to the fourth assurance. The reassurance of His deity.

Verses 7 through 10: “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also. From now on you do know Him and have seen Him.” Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 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’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me?”

There certainly is a tinge of sadness in Philip’s questions. The disciples have been with Him since the start of His public ministry, hearing His words, witnessing His works. Yet their spiritual blindness is still evident in this hour. One would think by now that His closest, most loyal disciples would have remembered Him saying, “I and the Father are one.” The mutual indwelling of the Father and the Son, we are not just following a way, a truth, and life, but we are following God the Son, to know Him is to know the Father.

It is this degree of unity between the Father and the Son that reveals Jesus as God the Son to all. Are you trusting this evening in this Jesus, who is fully God and fully man?

That leads to the fifth reassurance He provides for His disciples, the reassurance of His words and works. Verses 10 and 11.

“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. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.”

“Believe me” doesn’t mean “trust me,” but in the context, believe what I have said that the Father is in Me and I and the Father and, Jesus adds, believe on account of the words that I have done. They are, as one commentator puts it, nonverbal, Christological signposts. They are signs that the saving kingdom of God is at work in the ministry of Jesus.

That leads to our last reassurance from Jesus. The reassurance of our own works and prayer, our own works and prayer. Verses 12 through 14.

““Truly, I say to you, whoever believes in Me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.””

It’s a staggering promise. The person with faith in Christ will do what Jesus has been doing and even greater works, greater works. So how are we to understand these greater works? And what is this answered prayer He refers to?

We can spend a lot of time on this, but let’s approach it this way. In summary, greater works does not mean more, better, more effective, more spectacular, nor is it because we are greater in some way. It does not mean a greater scope of activity as if Jesus left the scene and relinquished the grounds. Rather, the key is in the connected phrase “because I am going to the Father, because I am going to the Father.” That’s the hinge point.

Carson in his commentary says it well. The works that the disciples perform after the Resurrection are greater than those done by Jesus before His death in so far as they belong to an age of clarity and power introduced by Jesus’ sacrifice and exaltation.

Both Jesus’ words and deeds are somewhat veiled during the days of His flesh, even to His closest followers, as these verses make it clear. They grasped only part of what He was saying. Jesus is about to return to the Father, He’s about to be glorified, and in the wake of that glorification, His followers will know and make known all that Jesus is and does and their every deed and word will belong to the new age.

The greater works will be performed by Jesus through His disciples after exaltation and glorification. Redemption now won, the kingdom of God is triumphantly invading the nations with transforming grace and power. The disciples themselves are empowered and equipped to engage in far-reaching ministry.

Then the fruitfulness of their deeds is further clarified in the last two verses – prayers in Jesus’ name. Whatever you ask in My name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in His Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.

Works and prayer done and asked in His name with the ultimate goal of bringing the Father glory.

So rejoice today, Christian, if you are a part of the greater works that Jesus is referring to. If that is not your experience, and you are here possibly just to investigate what Christianity is, I ask you to call out to Him humbly in faith to save you, to follow Him, to be reassured in this life. The incomparable Savior is worthy of our whole trust. He calms the troubled heart, He prepares a place for His own, He personally returns to take us to be present with Him for eternity, He exclusively calls Himself the way, the truth, and the life. He dwells mutually with the Father. He speaks on His Father’s authority. He does His works. He enables us to do greater works. He answers prayer in His name for the glory of His Father and the good of His people. Hallelujah. What a Savior.

Let’s pray. Father, we are grateful tonight for this Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, that you have made known to us, who has called us to believe, to have faith, to trust, for a troubled heart, for a saved life, for a life ready to serve the Savior, to glorify the Father. Thank You that You have provided all that we need. Thank You for Your Word and Your Spirit. Take these truths, apply them to our hearts. Draw all men and women and boys and girls unto Yourself, those that know You tonight to be encouraged and strengthened in grace, those that have yet to call upon You to do so, humbly, simple faith, to trust in Christ for the first time. The way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but through Him. We pray these things in Jesus’ name, for His sake. Amen.