John 14:1-4

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. 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, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.” John 14:1-4

Give me an open canvas for a wedding and I am probably going to use the story from John 2 where Jesus turns the water into wine. Do the same for a funeral and you’re probably going to hear from John 14. I love/hate both of these passages.

How can you love and hate the same passages from the Bible? Easy. Just read them closely.

Expecting a miracle in your marriage is a pathway to disaster. And telling people at a funeral “do not let your hearts be troubled” is cruel. That’s what I hate about those passages. And it is also what I love.

I love, at a wedding, a story that promises that Jesus can take what is good and make it even better. I love how the story says, even though mass producing magnificent wine is a pretty cool parlor trick, the best is yet to come. Coming so early in John’s book, like the ceremony coming so early in a life long marriage, it draws you into the beauty of the story yet to come. I love it because it is so hopeful.

And here, in John 14, while Jesus clearly skipped his Clinical Pastoral Education 101 class which warns us against telling people how they are supposed to feel, I have to admit there is something powerful in the words “do not let your hearts be troubled.”

Think about it a bit. Someone has just been crushed by the death of a loved one. Whether a sudden tragic death or a long lingering suffering death, the loved ones left behind feel powerless, empty, grieving. They feel victimized by the forces of the universe. Like God turned God’s back on them. Like they are being punished. Their hearts are feeling explodedly troubled.

And Jesus leads with “do not let your hearts be troubled.” Jesus appeals to us, not as victims but as survivors, not as helpless children at the mercy of raging emotions, but as human beings capable of self-reflection and redirection and hope. And he doesn’t stop with that opening line but goes on to words of promise.

Jesus says he has prepared a place for us. He will come and take us to that place. He says there is life after death just as there is life within grief and life after grief has become something else. We are hanging then, with one hand on don’t let your hearts be troubled and the other hand on I will come again and take you to myself, until we finally realize that we don’t need to decide which hand needs to squeeze the hardest to hold on. We realize that we can just let go. And Jesus will take care of us.

Here too, the best is yet to come. I love/hate this passage. I can’t read it often enough.

Let us pray: Gracious Lord, you love us in the face of life and you love us in the face of death. When we see death as a bleak brick wall or an enormous black hole in the ground and in our hearts, help us see it instead at the gate to eternal life. Help us see death through the lens of the resurrection, the miracle of life after life, that we might again see the miracle of life within life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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2 Responses to “John 14:1-4”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Thank You!

  2. Carolee Groux Says:

    This message begs us to trust in the Lord’s promises. Whether we are changing directions in life, or facing death, we must trust in Him.

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