I Am the Way, the Truth, and the Life

The Gospel of John and this passage (John 14:1–11), in particular, is very practical. It’s very relevant to one of the most common struggles we have, namely, the tendency to have an unholy heart-turmoil. Remember two weeks ago we saw in verse 21 that “Jesus was troubled in his spirit.” And I argued that there is, therefore, a holy turmoil of soul — a righteous unrest — caused by love, not unbelief.

But here in John 14:1 we meet an unholy heart-turmoil. “Let not your hearts be troubled.” This is a fretful failure to trust God fully for the problem we are facing. At first, it may look like Jesus is addressing an anxiety that isn’t the one you’re dealing with. But hang on, because Jesus takes a surprising turn in this story.

Recalling This Gospel’s Goal

You recall how this Gospel works. John tells us in John 20:31 what his goal for you is: “These are written so that you may believe (trust, be assured, treasure the reality) that Jesus is the Christ (the promise-fulfilling Messiah), the Son of God (the presence of God himself — God the Son — among us), and that by believing you may have life in his name.” And when he says “life” he means the connection with God’s life, through connection with Jesus. And that life includes the power not to have unholy turmoil of soul.

“Don’t let unholy turmoil rise in your heart. Trust Jesus. Trust God.”

So what we encounter in this Gospel is the living God, the Creator of the world, present among us humans, in our world in his Son — the infinitely loved, eternal, image and radiance of his essence — and through faith — through believing and receiving him for all that he is — we are connected to this One and through him to the Father, and so share in eternal, supernatural life, even now.

How Unholy Turmoil Is Overcome

And what Jesus does in today’s text, John 14:1–11, shows us how he and the Father team up to overcome our unholy turmoil of soul and give strength and peace to carry on in the sacrifices of love that we saw last week. And he does this by calling us to trust Jesus and the Father, and giving five reasons why we should. And between reason three and four Jesus takes the surprising turn in a direction that you may find more helpful than you thought.

So first notice that verse 1 and verse 11 — the first and last verses in the text — make the main point. Verse 1: “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.” Verse 11: “Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.”

So you can see what he is after: Belief. Faith. And this is the opposite of your hearts being troubled. Verse 1: Don’t be troubled: Trust me. Trust God. And twice in verse 11: “Believe me.” “Believe.” Trusting Jesus for who he really is, and trusting God, are included in each other. John 12:44: “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me.” We’ll see why that is before we are done. The point is: Don’t be troubled. Trust me, and in trusting me, trust God.

He had just told them at the Last Supper that he was going away (John 13:36). He had told them that they could not go with him. And he had told Peter he was going to deny Jesus before the night is over (John 13:38). In other words, I’m leaving you. And you’re not even able to make it through the night without me. This is ample reason for all of them at the table to be troubled.

And Jesus says in the next verse (ignore the chapter break) “Don’t be troubled.” Even Peter! That’s amazing. “Instead, trust me. Trust God.” And he is saying it to you now.

Five Reasons to Not Be Troubled, but Trust Jesus

The rest of this text (verses 2–10) is support for that exhortation. Why should they — and why should we — not be troubled? Why should we trust you in a situation like this? Or in our unique situation? Jesus now gives five reasons.

1. My Father has many rooms in his house and each of you will have one.

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. . . . (John 14:2–3)

Pause there and let the first reason for faith sink in. God’s house is large. It has many rooms. He won’t run out of space. And (see the end of verse 2) there is a place for you. “I go to prepare a place for you.” The argument for trust is based on three things: First, this is God’s house, not his hotel. His children live with him in his house. Second, it is very spacious so that he never runs out of room. And third, there is a room designed for each of the eleven, even Peter. And that means even you, if you trust him.

So Peter, and all us other fragile saints who follow Jesus so imperfectly, don’t let unholy turmoil rise in your heart. Trust Jesus. Trust God. You will have a place in his house — indeed in his household as his child. “To as many as received him, to them he gave power to become the children of God” (John 1:12).

Yes. I’m leaving. No. You can’t come with me now. Yes, you will be scattered this night when they strike the shepherd, and I will do this work alone. But don’t let your sorrow . . . Don’t let your fear . . . Don’t let your shame . . . produce an unholy turmoil in your soul. Let not your hearts be troubled. Trust me. Trust God. Why? There will be a place for you in my Father’s house, as my Father’s children forever.

2. I am going to make ready the place of dwelling with God.

Verses 2–3a:

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. . . .

So two times Jesus says, “I go to prepare a place for you.” What does that mean? Does it mean that things in heaven are in disrepair? Does it mean that the sweetness of fellowship with God is a defective thing and in need of improvement? Does it mean that Jesus can say in Matthew 25:34, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world,” but that he can’t say, “the rooms have been prepared from the foundation of the world”?

I don’t think so. The house of God is not in disrepair. The sweetness of fellowship with God does not need improvement. And this dwelling near the heart of God has been in one sense designed and suitable for redeemed sinners from before the creation of the world. But there are two senses in which things are not yet ready as Jesus speaks.

“The essence of heaven is the immediate presence of Jesus.”

One of these senses is this: What is not yet ready — not yet prepared — is the way to get your room in God’s presence. Sin has not been atoned for. And Jesus is the Lamb of God about to be slain (John 1:29, 36). The wrath of God, the condemnation, the curse of God, is still unsatisfied, and Jesus is about to become a curse for us (Galatians 3:13) and bear our condemnation (Romans 8:3) and endure the bruising of the Father (Isaiah 53:10). Death is yet to be defeated and Jesus is about to give his life and take it back again from the jaws of death (John 10:18).

Every obstacle between us and our room in the Father’s house is about to be removed in the next three days. That’s the first thing I think Jesus means when he says: I am going to prepare a place for you. I’m preparing it not in the sense that’s it’s defective but that the way there is not prepared. I think Jesus confirms that he is thinking this way in verses 4–6:

“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.”

In other words: I go to prepare a place for you. And as I go I become the way that you get there. I am the truth that you hold onto to get there. And I am the life — the eternal life that you will enjoy when you get there. When I say, “I go to prepare a place for you,” I mean: I open the way. And I am the way. I confirm the truth. And I am the truth. I purchase the life. And I am that life.

In other words, Peter and the other disciples, and you and I, do not need to have an unholy turmoil of soul that we are imperfect, wrath-deserving, unworthy followers of Jesus. Our sin does not mean that our place in God’s household will be unavailable, or unsuitable. Because Jesus, this night, goes to purchase our forgiveness and become the way to the Father. He makes our room not only available, but suitable and certain for his redeemed sheep. So let not your hearts be troubled. Trust me.

But that is not all he means when he says “I go to prepare a place for you.” The third argument for why we should trust Jesus explains another meaning. There is a second sense in which things are not yet ready as Jesus speaks.

3. I will be your dwelling, and I will get you there.

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.

I think this is one of the most important phrases in this passage: I will take you to myself. This shifts the focus from a place to a person. Where Jesus is, there is heaven. What is the essence of heaven? The immediate presence of Jesus. So when he says, “I go to prepare a place for you,” isn’t the essence of what he is saying, “I go this night through death for you, and I go Easter Sunday morning out of death for you, so that I myself might be your living dwelling place”?

I am your room in my Father’s house. And I am not yet prepared to receive you there. I must die. I must rise. I must be glorified. I must intercede for you. And when I have done that, then I will be ready. I will come and take you to myself.

Don’t use this passage of Scripture to show that when Jesus comes back at the second coming he will take you to heaven. It does not say that. It says, “I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” And where will he be when he comes? We will meet him in the air, and he will establish his reign on the earth. And so we will forever be with the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:16–17).

What this text focuses on in the second coming is not a return to heaven but a reunion with Christ. “I will come again and will take you to myself.” Therefore, my beloved disciples, let not your heart be troubled. Trust. Trust me that I am coming for you. I will come. I will take you. And trust me because the dwelling I have prepared for you is my crucified, risen, and glorified self. Don’t be troubled, I will come and take you to myself.

“The Spirit did not come to us as an observer, but as a Helper.”

You might feel at this point: Those comforts are wonderful. But they are so far away — at death or at the second coming. What is causing the unholy turmoil in my soul now is that I don’t know what’s best for my children. My marriage is fragile and unaffectionate. My health is failing. I can’t stand my job. I am so lonely. If Jesus doesn’t want my heart troubled now, is there some encouragement for faith closer than the second coming? And here is where Jesus takes the surprising turn in the passage.

Look at what Philip says in verse 8: “Philip said to him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.’” Not “Show us the Father someday,” but now. We want to see the Father now. And if we do, that will be “enough.” That will be sufficient. It’s the same word Paul uses in 2 Corinthians 12:9: “My grace is sufficient for you.” Show us the Father now, and that will satisfy our troubled heart. Is God near now? Show us.

So the fourth argument Jesus gives us for trusting him is:

4. The Father is with you now.

The emphasis of verses 7–11 is crystal clear. Six times Jesus says virtually the same thing, that he and the Father are so profoundly one, that his presence is the presence of God the Father.

  1. Verse 7a: “If you had known me, you would have known my Father also.”

  2. Verse 7b: “From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

  3. Verse 9a in response to Philip’s request to see the Father: “Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip?’”

  4. Verse 9b: “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?”

  5. Verse 10a: “Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?”

  6. Verse 11a: “I am in the Father and the Father is in me.”

Therefore, Philip, is it enough? You said (verse 8), “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” I have showed you. He is here. As close to you as I am. Is it enough? Is it enough for you?

But you may respond to Jesus, “But you went away. You were there. And when you were there God was there. The Father was there in you. But now you’re gone.” Which brings us to one last argument for why our hearts should not be troubled. And this time he has you in mind very specifically, not just the apostles.

5. I will be with you always, not just at my return.

How can that be? He has left. He is in heaven with the Father interceding for us at God’s right hand. To see this argument we need to drop down five verses after our text — to verses 16–18.

I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. I will not leave you, I will come to you.

When the Helper, the Holy Spirit, came, Jesus came. When it says at the end of verse 17, “He dwells with you, and will be in you,” he means, I am with you now physically. And I will be in you spiritually — when the Spirit comes. This is why Paul talks the way he does about the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit of Christ, and Christ himself. Listen to these amazing words from Romans 8:9–10:

You are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

That Spirit of God dwells in you. That is, the Spirit of Christ. That is, Christ! This is not the second coming — as glorious as that will be — this is now. He has gone away physically, precisely so that he can be near to all of his own, not just the eleven. He has not left you as orphans. He has come to you.

He is right now more interested in, and more caring about, your parenting and marriage and singleness and failing health and job and loneliness than you can imagine. He did not come to us as an observer, but as a Helper.

Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled

Therefore, you who trust the Lord Jesus:

  1. Let not your heart be troubled, because there’s a place for you in my Father’s house.

  2. Let not your heart be troubled, because Jesus prepared the place for you. He opened the way. He is the way.

  3. Let not your heart be troubled, because Jesus himself is your dwelling place and he will come and take you to himself.

  4. Let not your heart be troubled, because Jesus and the Father are one, so that if have Jesus you have the Father.

  5. Let not your heart be troubled, because Jesus has come in the Holy Spirit. He is with you now, and will be with you always, not as an observer, but a Helper.