There’s a knock at the door. You open the door and there is a nicely groomed couple perhaps with a young child with them. They greet you with a smile and you suspect what it’s about. The Jehovah’s Witnesses are there to share with you about their faith.
I admire their commitment and courage to knock on a door to speak about their faith. One of the major differences that separates us from Jehovah’s Witness is their translation of John chapter one verse one which reads: In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.
Their translation is slightly different: In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was a God.
You mightn’t think there is much difference but one little word that can make a world of difference and can take away so much meaning. Their understanding is that Jesus was a god but not equal with God the Father.
One little word that makes a world of difference.
Earlier in our service we witnessed Mackenzey being baptised. God made a promise – whoever believes and is baptised WILL be saved. So much power in that one word – WILL be saved. Not might be saved or has a good chance at being saved. Will be saved.
In our bible reading today we also saw some quite definite promises made by Jesus. He says that in his Father’s house there are many rooms and that he is preparing a room for us and that he WILL return and take us to be where he is. I find that so comforting knowing that Jesus speaks in absolutes and he can do so because he is God. There are never any doubts and never any confusion when Jesus speaks. So when Jesus says, I am the way, the truth and the life – no one comes to the Father except through me – it can sound rather exclusive and limiting. It is a passage often used to reject other religions. But that was not the reason Jesus said those words. Jesus is providing us with absolute assurance that if we want to be sure about going to heaven then he is the only way to have that assurance. And that’s because he IS God – not a god.
We live with so much uncertainty in our lives and in most cases we can handle that. But the one area that we do not want uncertainty is regarding what happens when we die. I have seen the grief and despair that death causes so many times and the only comfort that can be given is knowing that the person who has died was a Christian and that they are now in heaven. And the only way that I can bring comfort is by speaking in absolute confidence. And the only way that I can have absolute confidence is because Jesus is God and has made that promise to us.
Eternal life is not something that we want to second guess with terms like – he should be in heaven because he was a good person. Or I really hope that he is in heaven. Those sorts of words don’t bring comfort.
It’s like doing an exam at school and feeling you went well but not knowing how you went or if indeed you actually passes until it’s been marked by an examiner. Or sitting your VCE and waiting for the ENTER score to see if you get into your preferred University course. We don’t want that same uncertainty when it comes to our appearance before God on Judgement Day. We want to know NOW that it’s guaranteed. And so Jesus speaks in absolutes when it comes to our salvation. Whoever believes and is Baptised WILL be saved. Whoever believes in Jesus Christ will not perish.
This IS my body – this IS my blood. When Jesus spoke these words he was just about to be arrested. His disciples would see some very worrying things and wonder whether they had made the right decision to follow Jesus. So he says – don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God and trust in me. Don’t trust what your eyes see – trust what I have said to you. Trust what I have promised.
Jesus won’t magically take away the terrible things happening in our lives and in the world. But he will bring comfort by assuring us that our home in heaven is absolutely guaranteed and in heaven there will be no more suffering, crying or death. That’s what Jesus has prepared for us and he will personally return and bring us home.
In this day and age home ownership is such a discouraging topic especially for our younger people who firmly believe they will never be in a position to own their own home; How amazing that Jesus himself has built our heavenly eternal home and will personally escort us there when our time comes. The disciples didn’t understand what Jesus was talking about. They were expecting from Jesus a military style battle against the enemy. But what Jesus was doing was giving them a farewell speech. Jesus knew that there was not going to be a battle. He was going to succumb to the violent arrest – an unfair trial – and a death he didn’t deserve. So his disciples were going to see some horrific things. So as his farewell speech he says to them – don’t let your hearts be troubled.
In life we will see some horrific things at times. Sickness, death, financial crisis, wars, natural disasters, relationship breakdowns. These can really trouble our hearts wondering how we are going to get through them. So Jesus says to us also – don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust God – trust Jesus. And we can trust Jesus because he is God – not a god. Jesus is God. Because no matter how bad things get – and even if the worse thing happens – Jesus has prepared a new home in heaven for us. That new home will be nothing like we have ever experienced or can ever experience in this life. It will be a home where God himself will be with us and be our God. He will wipe every tear from our eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain.