Because There Is Rest for Troubled Hearts

Dr. Rob Green July 18, 2021 John 14:1-31
Outline

6 reasons our hearts can rest when tempted to be troubled

I. Because Jesus Is Preparing Our Heavenly Home with Him (vv. 1-6)

A. Prepared and reserved for you (vv. 2-3)

B. Only accessed and assured through a saving relationship with Jesus (vv. 4-6)

John 14:6 - Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”

II. Because He Uses Us to Accomplish His Plan (vv. 7-14)

A. By doing “greater works” (v. 7-12)

B. By answering prayer that glorifies the Father (vv. 13-14)

III. Because He Has Given Us the Holy Spirit (vv. 16-20)

A. A helper for the rest of our lives (vv. 16-17)

B. A promise of unity that strengthens us (vv. 18-20)

IV. Because He Gives Us a Meaningful Purpose (vv. 15, 21-24)

A. To love Him

B. To obey Him

V. Because We Can Be Confident in His Word (vv. 25-26)

John 14:25 - These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 - All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

VI. Because He Grants Us His Peace (vv. 27-31)

A. Peace that He secured with God

B. Peace that He secured between us who believe

C. Peace that comes from knowing what comes next

Proposition: The disciples can have hope because they have a savior concerned about and providing the necessary resources to face the upcoming cross and the role they would have after Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Good morning. I am excited to speak every Sunday, but I am especially excited about our text this week. Why, you might ask? Since I do not make the preaching schedule, I have no idea what passages I will speak about.

  • Opening the preaching schedule is like attending a potluck where 52 chefs are making their best dish. You never know what you are going to eat, but you know it will be good.
  • This time, in the sovereignty of the Lord, I get to speak about one of my favorite chapters in the Bible. If you can stay awake for the entire sermon, you will learn why.

Has there ever been a time when your heart has been in turmoil?

  • As I point out several possibilities, please think of your life.
  • When was your heart troubled? If it currently is troubled, then why?

Let’s consider the following possibilities:

  • I imagine every family who lost a loved one in the building collapse and all those whose loved ones are still unaccounted for have troubled hearts.
  • How could you sleep at night if your son, daughter, or grandchildren were buried in ten stories of rubble?
  • Maybe we learn something about a child that changes what life will be for us.
  • Maybe we experience the death of a dream.
  • Maybe we learn that having children is not possible.
  • Maybe we want to be married only to look in the mirror at 38 and realize marriage may never happen.
  • Maybe we are struggling with a relationship and our heart churns over what to do next. There is no easy choice here, just a series of hard ones.

Been there? Done any of that? There right now?

That was the context when John 14 became one of my favorite chapters in the Bible. Stephanie and I were dating. We were at that point in our relationship where one of two things needed to happen.

  • Either we needed to part ways and allow each to move forward in their own direction or we needed to fully invest in determining whether God would be honored by a marriage. Our hearts, especially mine, were in turmoil.
  • Amid that troubled heart I went to our church’s Sunday evening service May 24, 1992. God used this passage to give my heart rest and he used my life circumstances to help me love John 14.

I went that evening, sang, and then Pastor Kevin asked us to open our Bibles to John 14. I invite you to do the same this morning. That is on page ___ of the back section of the Bible under the chair in front of you.

We are still in the upper room. John’s gospel has 21 chapters total and the final 8 are spent focusing on 10 days.

  • John 13 explained that Jesus washed his disciples’ feet and commanded them to love each other as he loved them.
  • In the process, they learn of a betrayer. Peter adamantly claims he would never forsake Jesus only to learn that he will deny him three times before the dawn breaks.
  • The upper room is a tense time. It is full of stress, fear, confusion, and uncertainty.

Jesus’ heart was troubled (12:27 and 13:21). He knows what is coming and what is happening. Judas is about to complete the betrayal process and Jesus knows the suffering that follows.

  • Yet, he continues his ministry to his disciples because they also have troubled hearts. They are under emotional pressure as Jesus’ hour has arrived.
  • Minute by minute the tension and pressure rises. Beyond the immediacy of what is happening around them, the disciples are also wondering what all this means for their life and future.

Please follow along as I read. This is the Word of the Lord. Read John 14:1-31. Our annual theme is Enjoying Life in His Name. The theme is connected to John’s purpose: he wrote so that we might believe that the long-awaited Messiah is Jesus and that by believing we might have life in his name.

The message title is Enjoying Life in His Name because there is rest for troubled hearts. I would like us to consider Six reasons our hearts can rest when tempted to be troubled.

The wording is very important. This passage does not change all the circumstances surrounding the troubled heart.

  • In context, Judas will still betray Jesus. Jesus is still going to the cross. He will be buried in a tomb.
  • The disciples will experience grief, heartache, and confusion. Peter will still deny Jesus three times and they will return to their old lives in rejection for a period of time.
  • The circumstances causing the trouble do not always disappear. Instead, the circumstances are reinterpreted and put within a larger context.
  • Just as it was true for the disciples so it is true for us. It is so easy to shrink our world to the size of our trouble --- it becomes all that we see.

First, there is rest for troubled hearts …

I. Because Jesus is preparing our heavenly home with him (vv. 1-6)

A Christian worldview always includes one eye to eternity. That by itself, does not remove the reason for the trouble. Health issues, relationship problems, dying dreams, and important questions are still there.

  • But a Christian worldview does not allow those circumstances to be ALL there is. That is a humanistic and materialistic worldview.

Jesus’ own troubled heart looks to the future too. He knows that God the Father will glorify him most supremely in the cross. He sees with a larger vision.

  • Therefore, even in the upper room, with a troubled heart, he ministers to and serves his disciples.

He comforts them and provides rest for their hearts because they see their own future.

  • Jesus will be restored to his heavenly home with the Father full of glory for accomplishing all that the Father gave him.
  • Jesus’ disciples can in turn see that they will be granted a heavenly home with Jesus.

Prepared and reserved for you (vv. 2-3)

In the old King James it says “mansions.” There were some great hymns of the faith emphasizing “I’ve got a mansion, just over the hilltop.” Heaven’s beauty is worth considering. Revelation 21 speaks openly about that beauty. However, heaven is more than just the beautiful, untainted view of God’s creation.

  • It is the place where all of God’s children have a home. No one gets left behind. There is no such thing as “sorry, we are full.”

We have had a very difficult time booking a particular hotel in Glacier National Park. COVID closed it in 2020. We tried to get it in 2021, but they were sold out.

  • Recently, we got a tip that we could book online starting at 2 am. Stephanie and I stayed up until 2 am to book the room, we wanted to be first in line. We had a little trouble and we tried to secure a room at 2:14 am and everything was gone. GONE! Everything in 14 minutes.

Verses 2-3 remind us that Jesus is going to prepare a place for his children and your reservation is guaranteed.

Only accessed and assured through a saving relationship with Jesus (vv. 4-6)

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

I have mentioned before that John wrote to convince, persuade, even command people to believe that Jesus is the Messiah and that by believing you may have life in his name.

  • That is why he said you must be born again, you must drink the living water, you must be spiritually raised to new life, you must eat the living bread, etc., etc.
  • It is not that Jesus is one way, he is the only way.

Every week we talk about the need everyone has to repent of their sin and trust Christ as their personal Lord and savior … to believe that Jesus is the Messiah and that there is life in his name. John 14:6 is as clear a verse as any.

  • But I want to say, just for a moment, that Judas’ betrayal in John 13 hangs like a shadow as we read chapter 14. Denying Jesus is one thing, betraying is another. The Bible provides many warning passages for those who actively participate in the church. Faithful attendance to a church does not make one a Christian.
  • It is the unqualified devotion to Jesus, the one who is the way, the truth, and the life.

Even if you have heard this 1,000 times, I am appealing to you, even commanding you to obey the gospel and place your faith in Christ. There is no decision that is more important than that one. Your pastors are always ready for a conversation at your convenience.

For those who know Christ, your assurance is that you have placed your trust in the one who is the way, the truth, and the life. He went to the Father, prepared a place for you, and will return to take you to him forever.

Why can your heart rest even in trouble? Because Jesus is preparing our heavenly home with him. A second reason is …

II. Because he uses us to accomplish his plan (vv. 7-14)

Troubled hearts often focus on the circumstances of their trouble. The trouble requires some time and effort. However, feeling worthless, unproductive, or useless is a potential by-product of trouble. We convince ourselves that God cannot do anything with us. It is not long before discouragement or discontentment settles into the crevices of our hearts.

But this is not how it has to be. Jesus and the Father are one. We have seen that before in John 5. Jesus explained that he and the Father are one for reasons including (1) the son only does what the father gives him (2) the Father loves the son (3) the Father and Son give life and (4) all judgment belongs to the son.

The unity of the Father and son is not just theological head knowledge. It has practical application. He still uses us to accomplish his plan.

By doing “greater works” (v. 7-12)

This is a shocking statement.

  • Does he mean that you and I will be able to do more amazing things than Jesus did?
  • Water into wine, walk on water, raise a person from the dead.
  • That is not true…

How can we honestly understand “greater”?

I believe that Jesus emphasizes God’s plan for salvation history. What was confusing has now become clear.

  • The Old Testament looked forward to a Messiah. They knew that the sacrificial system could not save them. They were waiting.
  • Jesus came as Messiah, but not as they expected. They wanted the national military conqueror.
  • Instead, he was the suffering servant who fulfilled the entire law making the once for all sacrifice.

Jesus calls their works great because after the cross, everything makes sense. Everyone can look back rather than look forward.

  • Even the works of Jesus, which caused some confusion at the time, are now seen for what they really are.
  • In that sense that the disciples will minister in an age of clarity, they will do greater works.

Our works are greater, not because they are more flashy or amazing. They are greater because we minister in a time when the ministry of Jesus is clear!

It is possible for a person with a troubled heart to accomplish great things for the cause of Christ. We are seeing that happen in Jesus’ life in the text. Despite the troubling circumstances, he ministers to accomplish all that the Father has given him to do.

By answering prayer that glorifies the Father (vv. 13-14)

At first this sounds like God will be our genie. All we must do is ask. But we know better. We know that there is an implicit condition – that God would be glorified. Sometimes I pray for things for my glory.

Our God is too loving for that. He wants us to pray so that Jesus and the Father receive glory as he answers our prayer.

On that night May 24, 1992 I remember thinking that I could honestly pray with an open hand.

  • Lord, you know my heart. You know that this relationship has reached a fork in the road. I am stuck not knowing which path to take. But thank you for allowing me to be here and for assuring me that my troubled heart can rest knowing that you want to answer prayer for your glory.
  • I am asking for you to lead, give me wisdom, courage, and strength.

I have prayed something similar many times. This passage has been a source of comfort for me through the years knowing that God plans to use me and plans to answer prayer so that Jesus and the Father get the glory.

Maybe that is the kind of prayer your troubled heart needs to pray. Lord, you know my heart … give me wisdom, strength, and courage to follow you so that you get the glory.

III. Because he has given us the Holy Spirit (vv. 16-20)

How does a troubled heart get rest? How can we enjoy life in Jesus’ name when our circumstances bring trouble to our soul? I have suggested that knowledge of our heavenly home and our continued usefulness form two reasons. The third one is hard for any of us to imagine. The gift of the Spirit.

When Jesus went to the Father, he sent the Spirit to dwell in our hearts. He is …

A helper for the rest of our lives (vv. 16-17)

Since I was saved as a young boy, I do not remember life without the Spirit. I don’t remember my thought processes when I bit other children in the nursery. I don’t remember what I wanted when I chose to disobey those in authority.

I have a hard time wrapping my head around what it would mean to live outside the Spirit. But I can try.

  • I can read the prayer of David in Psalm 51 “please do not take the Holy Spirit from me” and remember that David watched it happen to his father in law. Even if I cannot understand everything, I can understand something.

I can know that the Spirit of God works in my life in incredible ways. Verse 16 says “forever.” I no longer have to pray like David did (at least in that request), because God made new commitments.

Yes, I may have trouble, but I also have the Spirit of God indwelling me and ministering to me and using me in the cause of Christ.

A promise of unity that strengthens us (vv. 18-20)

With the Spirit also comes unity. There is unity between the Son and Father. Now that I am united with Christ through the Spirit I join in the unity with the Son and Father.

In addition, v. 18 says, “I will not leave you as orphans.” This coming again would mean very little to the disciples unless he is talking about the post-resurrection appearances. Jesus is going to come to them again in about 3 days!

Troubled hearts tend to isolate us. We convince ourselves that we are the only ones who suffer like this, no one understand us, and no one cares.

  • Even in the time of Jesus’ own struggle, he ministers to his disciples to show them that these things are not true.
  • He may not eliminate the circumstances of the trouble, but he will provide rest in it.

God fully intends to help you not only by reminding you of your future home in heaven … and I have heard many people say, “you know heaven is great and I am glad for it, but that does not take away the pain of today.”

  • That is true, but it is also true that heaven is not the only resource. You can rest because God is still using you, you can rest because he sent his Spirit so that you would never, ever, ever be alone.

I have 6 reasons. I am not expecting you to remember them all. I suspect that I will not remember them all in a few hours. But on May 24, 1992 when a 21-year-old walked into the evening service with a trouble heart I will tell you two things I never forgot:

  • Let not your heart be troubled … That message that day was to an audience of 1; and
  • I knew a text (John 14) that I could run to in trouble. I don’t even know how many times I have come back to this passage in the last 29 years, but I can tell you it is high, very high.

Well… reason #4.

IV. Because he gives us a meaningful purpose (vv. 15, 21-24)

In some ways the Christian life is really complicated and in other ways it is extremely simple. In John 14, we find two basic purposes. Of course, we will have to work them out in our day to day life, sometimes it helps to go back to the basics. The two purposes here are closely tied together.

To Love Him

To Obey Him

The Bible often links both ideas. They go together. Again, it is incredible how well this speaks to the troubled heart. You see, the troubled heart is tempted to be mad at God – to believe that their faithfulness has been rewarded with heartache. Those who are troubled are tempted to believe that they deserve something far more and far better than what they have.

  • The couple has a right to children
  • The man has a right to high paying job
  • The parents have a right to children who follow the Lord
  • The person has a right to good health

These thoughts intensify when they see a “less worthy” person receiving what they want. It does not take long for discontentment to produce anger and anger to produce bitterness.

Thankfully, the Lord gave us a solution. He said that to faithfully follow him we need to love him and obey him. The Bible consistently reminds us that God wants all of us.

  • He wants us to love him with all our hearts – that is the affective side of life … the things we love. He wants us to obey him – that is the action side of life … the things that we do.
  • But inherently bound up in these commands is the relational side of life … he wants to be near us and wants us to be near him.

Yes, there might be times when we obey solely out of duty, but that should not be our ending place. I will obey the Lord, but I also want to grow in obeying him out of a growing affection for him.

  • These verses also warn those who refuse to obey, that obedience itself is a form of love. It is not appropriate for a person to say that they love the Lord without obeying him too.

Troubled hearts are often helped by focusing on very simple purposes. You do not have to solve everything. You do not have to fix every circumstance. The Lord was gracious to provide very simple instructions. Love him and obey him amid our trouble.

I find that when you do that, your trouble is set in its larger context. Yes, it is there and it is real, but it is not the total of life.

  • There is still a heavenly future, there is still meaningful ministry, there is still the indwelling Holy Spirit and there is still a simple purpose.

Reason #5 we can rest …

V. Because we can be confident in his Word (vv. 25-26)

John 14:25 “These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you. 26 “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.

These verses have been confusing to some. Some suggest that the Holy Spirit will give us the words to speak when we need them. We need to be careful here. This was given to the 11 disciples remaining in the upper room.

  • In the coming days they were under tremendous pressure. Without a book, how do you remember all that Jesus said? When John wrote his gospel some 50 years later, how would he remember everything?

This passage is not about you and I getting direct revelation from God. It is about the confidence we have that when we read the Bible, we are reading the words of God.

  • Even more specifically, when we read the gospels and we see all the red letters (the stuff Jesus said) we can be confident that it is accurate.

In many ways John 14:25-26 serves as a foundation for a much more common verse.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

I might not be able to change all the circumstances causing the trouble, but I can open my Bible and fill my heart and mind with the truth of God’s Word.

Finally, … we can rest even during trouble …

VI. Because he grants us his peace (vv. 27-31)

We want peace. We want it in our homes, neighborhoods, workplaces, churches, and country. Yet, peace is hard to come by. It always has been. During the Roman occupation of Israel, Rome offered peace through brutality. A brutality that Jesus was about to experience personally. He was kind enough to offer us a different kind of peace – his peace.

I do not have time to unpack it all, but here are a couple simple aspects of that peace.

Peace that he secured with God

We can have peace with God because Jesus took the wrath of God for us. There is no other way to enjoy that peace.

Peace that he secured between us who believe

Those who know Christ have also been reconciled together. We struggle working it out, but it is there. As brothers and sisters in Christ we share the greatest bond – a relationship with Jesus.

Peace that comes from knowing what comes next

This passage ends (as does the entire Bible) by giving us a picture of what is still to come. The disciples were told in advance and so were we. It allows the chaos of the moment to have the right context.

John 14 is such a hopeful passage even amid one of the most intense scenes in the Bible.

  • John’s gospel covers Jesus’ entire ministry of 3 years but spends 33% of it on 10 days. John 13-14 cover just a couple hours in one room on one night.
  • Despite his own trouble Jesus offers rest for the heart and soul.

I have one more matter I must finish. Why is this passage one of my favorites?

First, On May 24, 1992 I learned that it was possible to rest even when my heart was troubled. I learned that I could pray knowing that God wanted to say yes if it brought him glory. I woke up the next day with a new attitude.

  • The Lord gave me courage and strength to love him and trust him knowing that he gave me his Spirit, a simple purpose, a heavenly home, His Word, peace from him and a meaningful chance to serve. Stephanie and I had a planned date for Memorial Day and from that point forward I invested. Four months later we were engaged. A year after that we married. Today, we are about to celebrate our 28th anniversary.

I led her on a wild ride. She likes the chaos of adventures and I create chaos of a different kind.

  • Her contribution to my life and our family cannot be measured and her sacrifice has been unbelievable.
  • There was no way I could have known on May 24, 1992 what God had in store, but I am very thankful that I learned there can be rest for a troubled heart.

Second, I can point to many other significant life events when John 14 was the meditation of my heart and vv. 13-14 were the prayers from my mind.

  • It has not always taken the circumstantial trouble away, but it has always put that trouble in the larger context.
  • It has allowed my heart to rest, it has given me courage to embrace the next step, and the confidence that the Lord has it all under control so that he gets the glory.

Pray

  • Confess that we often have troubled hearts
  • Thank you for the future reminder that you are preparing a place for us so that we can be with you.
  • Thank you that you use us to accomplish your plan even when our heart struggles with our circumstances.
  • Thank you for the promised indwelling Spirit who is ours forever. Thank you for the ministry of the Spirit in our lives.
  • Thank you for that we can rest knowing that you gave us a simple yet meaningful purpose so that loving you and obeying you could cut the noise that our trouble creates.
  • Thank you for your Word that we can hide in our hearts that we might not sin against you.
  • Thank you for your peace. Peace that we have with you and with others because Jesus died on the cross and made that peace possible.

Authors

Dr. Rob Green

Roles

Pastor of Counseling and Seminary Ministries - Faith Church

MABC Department Chair, Instructor - Faith Bible Seminary

Bio

B.S. - Engineering Physics, Ohio State University
M.Div. - Baptist Bible Seminary
Ph.D. - New Testament, Baptist Bible Seminary

Dr. Rob Green joined the Faith Church staff in August, 2005. Rob’s responsibilities include oversight of the Faith Biblical Counseling Ministry and teaching New Testament at Faith Bible Seminary. He serves on the Council Board of the Biblical Counseling Coalition and as a fellow for the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors. Pastor Green has authored, co-authored, and contributed to 9 books/booklets. Rob and his wife Stephanie have three children.

Read Rob Green's Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Green to Faith Church.