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May 10th, 2020

John 14:1-14

Pastor Jenny Lee, Ph.D.

Upper St. Croix Parish UMC

 “The Cure for the Troubled Hearts

It is mother’s day today. I think that every home has some kind of a family tradition for Mother’s day and Christian home month. I wonder what kind of customs you have for it because I am not familiar with American family cultures. Last week, I got a beautiful flowering plant. It was at the front of my office door with a note, “Jenny, Happy May Day.” It is the first time for me to hear about “Happy May Day.” The flower made me to remember my mother on Mother’s Day when it was my childhood.

Every year when it was on Mother’s Day, I used to make a paper flower for my mother and put it on her shirts, which she would wear that day. My mother used to feel proud of my paper flower on her shirts. I never forget my mother’s smile with the flower.

When I visited my mother with a heart attack in the hospital, she was full of anxiety for me, not for herself. She told me, “When you were in a hospital without any hope to walk again due to your broken spine, I had no idea for you. I believed that the only way is to pray to God.  I promised God to offer you in my prayers if God would heal you. You would be a good pastor over the world, so please go to America. I worry you how you could go this way.”

However, I did not understand what my mother meant at that time. I just tried to stop my mother from talking more to save her energy. I wondered why my mother told a lot and worried about me, not about herself. Later on, I realized that it was the last moment she could talk to me. She perhaps knew at that moment what I did not know.

Today, in the Scripture, Jesus knew that it is time to go to God. It is the last discourse for him to give his disciples. It is like Jesus’ last wishes to his disciples. Jesus stands on the threshold in which is near almost terminal to departure. Jesus stayed with his disciples for three years, doing his ministry of teaching, preaching, and healing. After he washed his disciples’ feet, he is ready to go.  But he still worries about his disciples because they do not understand yet what will be going on for Jesus tomorrow.

Jesus taught them about his death and resurrection, but they seemed not to understand them yet. Actually, in Chapter 13, Jesus said to them, “I am with you only a little longer. Where I am going, you cannot come.” Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, Where are you going?” His disciples wondered where he is going. However, Jesus answered incoherently, “Where I am going, you cannot follow me now.” Peter said, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus said, “Will you lay down your life for me? Very truly, I tell you, before cock crows, you will have denied me three times.” So, they are troubled in their hearts about where Jesus would leave for, and they deny and betray him. Their hearts are troubled with unknown anxieties.

Jesus tells his disciples, “do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, and also believe in me. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will be back to you again and will take you to myself. And, you know the way to the place where I am going” (vv. 1-4). In the middle of Jesus’ talking seriously, Thomas interrupts him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” He meant that ‘You did not answer Peter’s question yet about where you are going.’ Thomas is honest about what he does not understand. Jesus says to them, “I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Jesus seems to give them an answer besides the mark again.

Jesus points out the event of the cross, which will be going on tomorrow. The way Jesus died is to give many people life. Through the cross, Jesus finally could reveal the way of life to his people. Jesus says that “I am the way, and the truth and the life.” The disciple John wrote it later in 1 John 5:11-12, “God gave us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God not have life.” Jesus is the way to go to salvation and the way to eternal life. What is eternal life? I like to let scripture interpret scripture.  In the Gospel of John 17:3, Jesus says, “This is eternal life that they [people] may know you [God], the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”  So, if you know God and Jesus Christ, eternal life is already in you.

But, it is a problem that his disciples did not know yet that Jesus Christ is the true Living God, and that they have to believe in God and Jesus Christ whatever happens on them. The remedy for the troubled hearts is only to believe in Jesus Christ, who is our savior.

Jesus tells his disciples, “do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, and also believe in me. In my Father’s house, there are many dwelling places. I will come again and will take you to myself.” Jesus wanted his disciples to believe in God and him whatever happens on them, giving them specific promises. Jesus gave them the reasons not to trouble in their hearts.  It is just to believe in God and Jesus’ words that “there are many dwelling places in the Father’s house, and after preparing for a place, Jesus will come back to take you to me.” It is the obvious promise to them.

However, they do not know how God relates with Jesus even though they heard many times that Jesus talks about God my Father. Moreover, how do they know about the Father’s house? You may think of it as heaven and the Kingdom of God, which is God’s reign. Yes, you are right. After Jesus died on the cross, and lift up to heaven, and then God sent us the Holy Spirit. We believe that God dwells within us and between us by the Holy Spirit, and then reigns over the whole universe. Therefore, wherever God dwells is where it is heaven and the kingdom of God. Jesus came to us to teach the kingdom of God.  And,  through his death on the cross, resurrection, and his ministry, he shows the kingdom of God.

However, as his disciples did, we also couldn’t focus on our faith in God when we have trouble in our life. God’s work does not make sense to us sometimes. So it is not an issue for understanding, but for believing because it is mysterious. In other words, do not try to understand God’s work, but just believe in God and Jesus Christ’s promise that he loves us, and come back to us himself again. And believe that God is with us through the Holy Spirit.

How important it is to believe that Jesus Christ is the true Messiah, the living God! Jesus says, “I am in the Father, and the Father is in me.”  Jesus emphasizes that if you do not believe that God is in me, and I am in God, and then believe me because of the works themselves. What did Jesus do for three years? His disciples saw many miracles Jesus made: “The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, and the dead are raised” (Luke 7:22). It is the good news that God would heal the weakness and restore the brokenness through Jesus Christ. Please believe that the cure for the troubled hearts is only God, Our Lord.

We live in a world in which is full of the unknown and uncertain future. The world may say to you that there is no hope. Furthermore, the world may judge that your choices are wrong. Many situations, including COVID 19, may give you depressed and hopelessness, but believe in God and hold Jesus Christ so God may keep you with his victorious right hand and lift you from your heart trouble into peace.

The next day, when I heard that my mother passed away, I recognized that it was the last moment to listen to her. Remembering my mother’s love, I would be a good daughter to my mother. Many people, who knew my mother, may remember my mother through me. Jesus’ disciples remembered Jesus’ teachings and taught the next generations. The early Christians recognized Jesus through his disciples. We remember Jesus Christ through church history, through the church community and church family, and our mother and family members as well. And, our children and the next generation will remember Jesus and God’s love through us. All of us would be a channel of God’s love. Do not be troubled in your hearts in any circumstance, but just believe in God and Jesus Christ. He is the Healer. His love is the remedy. Thanks be to God, Amen.