Jesus’ sacrifice is meant to fill us with irrepressible joy, hope, and to settle us in His peace. If we link ourselves to Him and accept what He has to offer us, the life ahead is far superior to the life we have here - this is the promise of Easter.
All right, happy Easter, everyone. He is risen. If you’re joining us for the first time, I’m Pastor Terry, lead pastor here at Cornerstone Church in San Francisco. And it is a blessing to be able to share this time with you on this special day. As we celebrate, celebrate with people all over the world, our Lord’s resurrection.
Now, for some of you who are just jumping in, maybe for the past few weeks, you’ve been joining us. What we’ve been doing since we started this series is called I Am. And it really has to do with finding your story in the story of Jesus. And as it’s really been about two things: one, exploring the amazing, I Am statements that are recorded in the gospel of John.
There are seven of them, and we’re going to sit with the sixth one today as we celebrate Easter. But it’s also about finding our story in His story. It’s about how the most important thing we can ever do is ground our identity, not so much in what the culture or even our past scripting says we are or are supposed to be. But in who He says we are, and we’re created to be in Christ Jesus. And then our lives as we live them out of that identity as His beloved sons and daughters start to take on a whole new meaning.
And I really do believe on this special time, this Easter time that this is the grand invitation that Jesus is making to all of us to find ourselves in Him, the one whom death could not hold, who offers us the life that is truly life overflowing and everlasting. And so I just want to pray as we begin to share this time together and pray this blessing over you.
So Lord, I just ask that You would help us to be, mesmerized by Your love and the super abundance of life that You, You offer us. I asked that You would give us the gift of an open heart, that we would just be ready to receive what it is that You want to bless us with in this time that we’re sharing.
That’s what I pray, in Jesus name for all of you. So as we come to John 14, which is where I would like us to settle. We must set the scene. Jesus knows that on the following day, He will die. He knows how it will play out, that all things are as they should be. Hell is circling, like vultures, waiting for a dying man to breathe
his last breath. His enemies are mobilizing. The traitor has gone out into the night and soon the hour that Jesus was born for will reach its climax. The shadow of the cross is looming. He can sense it, feel it, knows it’s coming. And He is having what is called and celebrated as the Last Supper. And He is saying words that have even more meaning because they’re almost like His final words.
And He’s sharing with His disciples, His closing thoughts. And as He does, He can see in their eyes, fear, for all is being shaken. Judas, the traitor I referred to earlier, His own familiar friend has – in the language of the scripture – lifted up his heel against Him. And he was even at this very moment, making his way to those whom he would lead with a torch into the night to a garden spot,
he knew Jesus would be at. It was a place called Gethsemane, a garden on the Mount of Olives. You can still visit that today. It’s a great place. I’ve been there more than a few times. You get the feel of what it must’ve been like. But Jesus, knowing what was all about to happen, knowing what Judas was about to do, chose not to stop him in the upper room. Nor did He, nor did He decide to go to a different place.
Why? Why? Because He was following His Father’s plan. Honoring, He was honoring a decision that He had made a thousand different times in, in all kinds of different places to complete the assignment of love that He had been given. Jesus was going to abolish death once and for all. And this is the Easter message, that He was going to abolish death once and for all, by giving His all for us.
And that’s something that we just need to really be aware of; how deeply loved we are. You know, the Bible says in Romans 5:8, it says that, “but God shows His love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” And how we love Him for it. I had come across, uh, a poem that was written in just, really beautiful language that captured the love of God, that is really revealed to us in Jesus.
And I just wanted to share it with you. It was written by a man named Frederick Lehman way back in the early part of the 20th century. And this is what he wrote. These beautiful, poetic words that describe the love of Jesus. The mesmerizing love of Jesus, that is designed to call us to God. He said this, he said, “the love of God is greater far, than tongue or pen can ever tell;
it goes beyond the highest star, and reaches to the lowest hell. The wandering child is reconciled by God’s beloved son. The aching soul again made whole, and priceless pardon won. Oh, love of God, how rich and pure! How measureless and strong! It shall forevermore endure–the saints’ and angels song.” And then this beautiful, I love it.
“Could we with ink the ocean fill, and were the skies of parchment made; were every stalk on earth a quill, and everyone a scribe by trade; to write the love of God above would drain the ocean dry; nor could the scroll contain the whole, those stretched from sky to sky.” We’re talking about the limitless, the unlimited love of God.
And so what I want us to do, is return in our mind’s eye to the upper room, and those moments that I was referring to earlier, those moments before the cross. And I want to, I want to read what John 14 tells us was the opening words of Jesus. As this chapter sort of opens up, we can get a sense of what He’s feeling in His words,
that mean so much for us, here, now, at Easter time. But Jesus, Jesus said this. He said, “let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. And if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you.” Now think about that. That 14th chapter opens up with, “let not your heart be troubled.”
And the reason He told them to not let their hearts be troubled is because he knew they were in trouble. That they were shaken and staggered. He could see the panic in their eyes. Again. Why? Because as we mentioned earlier, He had told them He would die. He made it clear as He passed the bread, that one of them would betray Him.
And they all were wondering, is it I? And then He said another thing. He said He was going away. Where? And then if that wasn’t enough, His final statement shook them all to the core. When He said, in front of them all, that Peter, their recognized leader, was of all people going to deny Him. Just check out the final words of chapter 13, the words that immediately proceed what we just read at the opening of John 14.
Look how Jesus says it to Simon Peter, verse 36. He says this “Simon Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, where are you going?’ And Jesus answered him, ‘Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow me afterwards.’ And Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, why can I not follow you now?'” And then this statement, “‘I will lay down my life for you.'”
And I believe he meant it, at that moment. But then Jesus answered. And again, this is being said in front of all the disciples in this beautiful, sacred moment. This Last Supper moment. “Jesus answered, ‘Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow until you have denied me three times.'”
I mean, these were incredibly devastating words. It’s hard. It was hard to believe what Jesus was saying. And it hit the disciples so hard. I mean, think about it. He was their teacher. I mean, He was their master. He, He had mentored them. He was the Messiah they believed. And also in some mysterious way, they had believed this, that He was the very Son of God come to us.
They believed in Him. That’s the point. They tied their hopes to Him. They had left everything to follow Him. And now they were being told the entire dream was about to implode. And it looked bad. And again, Jesus could tell they were shaken by His words. And so in the midst of all the things that He said, that concluded with His statement about how Peter was going to deny Him, Jesus then, perhaps after a pause, perhaps after glancing around the room and looking into their eyes, it was with these thoughts in all of their minds, in this tender moment where they were trying to process the incredible things that Jesus was saying. Trying to understand how devastating things were about to become. Trying to make sense of it all.
It was with that as the backdrop, that Jesus says the words that open up this 14th chapter. It’s when He said do not let your hearts be troubled. Think about it. As He’s looking at them, having told them all the things that are about to rock their world, He says to them, let not your hearts be troubled. I’ll tell you, that really is a good word.
Isn’t it? For all of us in these troubled and anxious and uncertain times. I mean, we’re leaving, living in some really crazy times. We’ve got wars breaking out. We’ve just come out of a pandemic. Um, people are just polarized all over the place. The world as we know it is being shaken. We’ve got geopolitical shifts taking place, economic things that are happening, that are affecting all of us.
It’s certainly logical that many of us would be carrying–after such an amount of time of, of just seemingly non-stop bad news–a kind of weight. We’ve been under duress, you’ve been under duress, all of us have. And many of us have had troubled hearts. Some of us have troubled hearts right now, and it may not have anything to do with the big picture of what’s actually happening in our world.
It might be connected to something that is very much personal to us. Perhaps on this Easter day, some of us are having a hard time. We can relate totally to the disciples and their anxious thoughts and their panicked eyes and their troubled hearts. Because maybe there are some things in our lives that make us afraid and maybe it’s been hard and maybe some of us are really struggling. And I can’t help
but think that the Lord’s word to us would be at least, in some small way, or maybe some very profound way. Do not let your heart be troubled. And then what He said right behind that, makes it even more meaningful because He said, “do not let your hearts be troubled.” And then He told them in this moment, you believe in God, believe also in me.
And I think about that and I say, wow, what is Jesus saying in this moment? Because I think these were not only words for them. They are words for you and me. There are going to be times, like I said, when we feel troubled, it might have to do with, like I mentioned, relationships that are in some issues that are happening in our life,
relationally. It might have to do with some of us may be having some things that are hitting us at a health level. Or it might be financial, or it might be just a general sense of disappointment with our life. And we just been afraid a lot. Or maybe we’re afraid of things that haven’t even happened, but we’re having a hard time not envisioning them. In other words,
these words that Jesus gave His disciples, in their moment of being really knocked off a place of stability. And there they were staggering, under these words. Maybe some of us can really relate to that. But what Jesus said to them, He says to you now. And I know I’ve heard these words said to me as well, “do not let your heart be troubled.”
Look at me. Believe in God. Believe also in me. It’s almost like Jesus was saying, believe in God, as I know you do; that He is real, that you are not alone in this world, simply a tragic, worthless aberration of nature with no real purpose or meaning. Like I’ve heard some people say a kind of cosmic accident, that
makes life bereft of any real meaning beyond what you can experience. But that’s not what Jesus taught us, is it? He said, believe in God, as you should, but He went even further. It’s important for us to remember this on this Easter day. He said, it’s good to believe in God as you should, but believe also in me. Look at me. Right now,
look into my eyes. Remember what I have taught you about what I have come to do. Listen, I have not tricked you. I have not deceived you. I have not manipulated you. I’ve not filled you with false hopes. I am telling you right now, there is so much more, that this is not the end. That this life–and what I’m about to do is going to make this even more possible–that this life is just the beginning.
And then Jesus utters these other words, right on the back of what He just said. He says, listen to me. “In my Father’s house,” verse two, John 14. “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?” It’s like Jesus was saying, in my Father’s universe are many dwelling places, and I am going to prepare a place for you.
I remember reading something, G. Campbell Morgan, a great commentator on the Gospels, the four books that talk about the life and ministry of Jesus, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Morgan wrote these words about this very moment. And I, I remember them. I have kept them in my mind for many years, now. He says “In this, this very scene, we have a great revelation
of Jesus’ attitude towards life. These men were earth bound in their thinking. They were engaged in a quest, asking strange, strange questions in an honest blundering way; and in the middle of that, He flung around them the vastness of God’s universe.” How can I say this loved ones? But I think we are too often earth bound in our thinking.
And I think that’s why we get afraid. I know I do. The times when I’m most afraid is when I’ve allowed myself to be only earth bound in my thinking. The times when I forget what Jesus taught about what life really is and about how this life really is, but a prelude to the life that He has given us.
Because of what He did on the cross and having risen from the grave secured for us. Right? I’m talking about the life that is truly life that extends beyond this life. The life that Jesus said is as real as anything that He could ever, ever give us. That is as true as night follows day. That the life that He offers us, secured by the gift of His love, is something that should affect how we live and think about our life in this present.
Again, according to Jesus, and hear me out. If we link ourselves to Him, if we link ourselves to Him and accept what He has to offer us, then the life ahead, he says is far superior than to the life that we have here. Not just in terms of duration, but Jesus said in terms of quality. Look how He put it, verse three. He says, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again
and I will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” And then Jesus said, “and you know the way to where I am going.” And I can see them in that moment. And they looked at each other with dazed and wondering eyes. We do? We know where you’re going? Thankfully, Thomas. Yes. Thomas the doubter. The truthful, or as Morgan called him the magnificent. Thomas, the honest man, who had a hard time confessing what he was not sure
he believed. He burst out with the question that all of them were thinking, but no one was willing to say. Thomas said to Him, verse five. “Lord, we do not know where You are going. How can we know the way?” What are You talking about? Where are You going? We don’t know where You’re going. Now, listen, it is a question for which we should all be grateful. Because it is what gave us verse six. Without the question that Thomas asked in verse five, we never get verse six. Because verse six, which is going to be the sixth
great I Am statement of Jesus, is essentially the final word on who Jesus said He was. And remember it only comes because someone spoke up and said, he basically said what they were all thinking. And because of his willingness to do that, it gives us this statement by Jesus. That is for all time. For Jesus said, John 14:6, here it is.
I am, Thomas. I am the way. Do you understand this? I am the truth and I am the life. That no one comes to the Father, except through me. That’s a direct result of that question. And we’re given this wonderful statement of Jesus about how He has come to change everything that we experienced in this world.
And on this Easter Sunday, let us remember. He did not leave us the option of Him, of embracing Him only as a good teacher or a way of many ways. No He said, I am the way, I am the truth, I am the life. And no one comes to the Father, Father God, except through me. There’s no qualification there. There’s no attempt to minimize. Jesus of Nazareth, lays it out there for all of us to accept or reject. According to Jesus, the truth is not a concept, it’s not a principle, it’s not a philosophy. It’s not about self-actualization, it’s not even a theology. You know what He says truth is? A person. And what He says to Thomas is this. And Thomas, you are face-to-face with it right now. You’re face-to-face with Him in this very moment.
I think it’s good for us to remember. I hope you do. I want you to. That in the end, this is all about relationship. I know sometimes it can feel, maybe that it’s about rules or about maybe even being religious. And I’m not saying that there aren’t things that God wants us to honor, and there aren’t principles that He wants us to build our life around and upon.
And that there isn’t a truth that we’re supposed to use as a way of viewing life, that His words have tremendous meaning, value, and give us clarity and understanding of what life that is pleasing to God looks like. I’m not suggesting that those things aren’t important at all. I, I, they’re totally important.
I mean, God has given us His words for a reason. They’re a guide. They show us the way that is pleasing in His eyes, the way that we’re supposed to live and love. But in the end, this is so important for us to remember. To me, this is the essence, or at least a big part of the Easter message. This is about relationship.
This is about you and me having a relationship with the Savior, with the God who did for us, what we could never do for ourselves. That He came to pay a price for us that we can never pay. And in so doing, He gave His life. And by giving His life, He made it possible for us to have a life that is not only truly life in this life, but a life that extends far beyond this life.
It’s part of what He was trying to teach them. It’s a relationship that is secured by His death and resurrection. A relationship that has been given to us so that we can make our way joyfully through this life. Yes. With a lot of it, it’s pain and sometimes disappointment. And, things don’t always go as we were hoping. We, we, say goodbye to people
we love. Some dreams don’t come true the way we wanted them to; some prayers don’t get answered the way that we maybe were hoping they would be answered. And yet through it all, we are given this invitation to allow His love to penetrate our life in such a meaningful way, that we have His joy with us. That it’s possible that we can go through anything with Him.
Again, I go back to that moment when they were shaken, when they were troubled, because of what Jesus was saying was about to happen. Now, remember what, even when Jesus says those words, He’s, He’s about ready to walk through the worst of humanity. I mean, He’s literally going to be just devastated, stripped down, abused, broken, forsaken of the Father.
I mean, what Jesus goes through on our behalf, we can never repay Him for. Ever. But what He ended up doing by giving Himself for us, is making it possible for us to have not only a future with Him, but a relationship with Him in the now. And like I say, it’s meant to do two things. One fill us with joy, an irrepressible joy, and then also to fill us with hope.
And I guess if I was adding one more thing, and to settle us in His peace. Those things really stand out to me. To give us a joy that just stays with us all of our days. To fill us with a hope that will take us, and I know this may not mean as much to some of you who are younger, it may, but a hope that will carry us, not just through life, but actually even through the aging process of life. That as the years go by, should we be given the gift of a long life,
that hope becomes even more meaningful. That promise secured in Christ that He’s prepared a place for us, right? That is such– do you understand what a gift that is? What that means? What it means to allow ourselves to think about a promise of what is yet to be. That the God who made this beautiful world,
and I know it’s got a lot of things that are wrong with it, but there’s a lot of beauty in it. He said, what’s coming next, this one can’t compare to. I often think of the human experience as being almost like living in a womb. The way Jesus kind of explains it, being birthed into the next life is like coming out of a womb.
Well, that’s the only world we’ve known. It’s impossible for us to envision anything beyond that in so many ways. There’s represents warmth and security it’s everything we know. It’s our universe. But what God is saying through Christ is that there’s so much more. Remember what Jesus said? Look at me. If it were not
so, I would have told you. Right, His rising changes everything. The fact that He rose again, means that we get to rise again. It is just so important that we do not allow ourselves to just simply be earthbound and our perspectives. When we are earthbound in our perspectives, fear is a natural outcome. But the more we are anchored in Christ and in conviction, He really has overcome the grave.
What that does, is it invites us into His love as we embrace His love as a way of life and a promise to hold on to. All of a sudden, all of a sudden we see things in a very different way. Everything must in a sense, be effected by it. You can almost make the case that perfect love casts out all fear.
That’s kind of what God’s word tells us. That when we really allow His love to be the anchor of our life, we don’t need to be afraid of anything. I’m still afraid. But I remember the promise of Jesus, right? I go back to something, C.S. Louis said. He said, “Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you’ll get neither.”
I want you to aim at heaven. I want you to be able to live. Actually, I want to live this way too. Under the vast spell of His love. I want us to be mesmerized by a love on this Easter day that even death could not defeat. I hope we understand how greatly loved we are. And I’m so excited about where we’re still going to go in the rest of our time together.
When we come back after our song that we want to share with you, I have another word that I want to leave you with. I also want to take this moment as I get to do. To remind all of you that, and this is the time I get to do it, that this is our time of giving. And, and don’t forget, there are different ways
you can honor Jesus. You can in your giving, and I was talking to our church primarily right now, but remember when it comes to our tithes and our offerings and the way that we honor Him with our first fruits, as far as our church is concerned, you can send that in. You can, you can, you know. Go online or you can use the app, which is what I do.
But like I always say, may you first give Him your heart. May you first be mesmerized by His love. A love that is stronger even than death. For indeed. He is risen. So here we go.