Monday, February 04, 2019

Sermon Starters: Don't Be Troubled

Chapel, Indiana Wesleyan University, February 4, 2019 (Bible Monday)

Text: John 14

  • For the next four weeks--Farewell Discourse. Quite unique in the Gospels, very theological/philosophical. Go to place for the Holy Spirit's job description. Culminates in Jesus' high priestly prayer in John 17.
  • Starts by telling them not to be troubled: "Do not let your heart be troubled."
  • We could probably all use the secret sauce for that--it is an anxious time.
  • Gen Z, the freshman, is said to be an anxious generation. Why? Let's see. There was 9-11 in 2001. There was the Great Recession in 2008-9. These last three years have been a political roller coaster in America.
  • For the disciples? Jesus is about to be arrested, tortured, crucified, buried. The disciples have to sense it is coming. There will be plenty to be troubled about in the next couple days.
Jesus' Answer #1
1. I'm going to make the way to the safe house.
  • I'm going to prepare a place for you. I'll come back to take you there so that you can be where I am. There is plenty of living space in my Father's house (p.s. there usually aren't mansions in a house, so the KJV probably doesn't give the best translation here).
  • Queue the hero movie. We're in danger. The house is on fire. The place is filling with water. There's gun fire all around us. The hero says, "Wait here. I'll find a way out and come back for you." Indiana Jones in first movie, "If you insist, señor."
  • But why can't Jesus just take us with him. He can deflect the bullets, right?
  • Turns out the way is dying. That's the path. OK, Jesus, you go on ahead. We'll wait for you to come back and take us in a rapture or something like that!
And now, Silly Songs with the Disciples, the part of the Gospel where the disciples ask Jesus a silly question.

Batter #1: Thomas
  • How are we going to know the way?
  • Come on, man, Jesus just said he was coming back for you! Swing and a miss.
  • But since you asked, John 14:6--"Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life."
  • The Father is the safe house.
  • His death and resurrection are the way. The only way. Even if God judges people by the light they have, Jesus is still the one and only way.
  • He is the truth. Not as in, "1 + 1 = Jesus." He is the key to everything. He is the logos, which means he is the will and purpose of the universe.
  • He is the life. He is the way to eternal life.
Batter #2: Philip
  • Show us the Father, and we'll be fine.
  • A swing and a miss.
  • Reminds me of Monty Python 
  • Illustration: the magic food bowl needs the human to put food in it for the dog. So we cannot simply go around Jesus to get to the Father. It's when we see Jesus that we see the Father.
  • We can't be good or victorious in our own power. We can't cast out demons in our own power. Only Jesus can empower us for these things.
Jesus' Answer #2
2. I'm going to send you a guide to help you through the minefield of life: The Holy Spirit.
  • But I'm only sending the Spirit to those who believe in me. Only those who keep my commandments will know the truth of the Spirit. The world won't.
Batter #3 Judas (not Iscariot)
  • Why aren't you telling everyone these truths? Why only those who keep your commandments?
  • This is a good question. I'll give it a bunt.
  • 1 Corinthians 1:18-25 - the world thinks Christ-thinking is foolishness, stupid. But there is a spiritual wisdom for the mature in Christ (2:6).
  • Reminds me of Pascal - if the truth were completely obvious, we wouldn't know people's hearts. Because the evidence is susceptible to multiple interpretations, God can see our heart.
  • I thought of a scene in the first Poseidon Adventure. There are some who realize they need to go up, which is toward what used to be the bottom of the boat. Many others think they need to stay down, near the top of the boat where you can get out. The second group all die.
What is this way of spiritual insight that is different from worldly wisdom?
  • It is away from self. Jesus' commandment is to love one another. Jesus' commandment is for us to give to others of our abundance, to forgive, to sacrifice. (1 John 3:17)
  • It is away from idols (last verse of 1 John). It's easy for us to rely on what we can see rather than God whom we often cannot see.
  • It is away from security. John 6:54. We are not to be troubled while we undergo the deeply troubling. The way is not a way of safety. It is a miraculous way of peace in suffering.
  • It is away from worldly victory. Nietzsche hated this "slave morality." We may be called to choose to lose.
"My peace I leave you, not a peace that the world gives." This is a peace that passes understanding. It is a peace that does not escape the trouble, but can be at peace in it.
  • Jesus is the way through the trouble to the safe house, the Father's house.
  • The Spirit is the one to bring us through the minefield of this world.
  • This peace is a miracle. There's no magic food bowl. Only Jesus through the Spirit gives us this calm, this peace in the midst of the storm.

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