Afraid, Confused, Searching and Doubting
AUGUST 15, 2018
One of the great things about the Bible is that it allows us to see people the way they really are. Moses made it bush by bush. Peter, James, John, Paul and Timothy made it the same way—bush-by-bush, sin-by-sin, doctrine-by-doctrine, step-by-step.
John gives us an accurate and honest picture of the disciples (John 14).
They were afraid. They were in a panic situation. The cross was near. It was getting scary. Jesus was talking to scared men, telling them to stop being afraid, literally, “Stop being troubled and afraid.”
They were confused. “Thomas said to Him, ‘Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?’” (John 14:5). Jesus had just said in John 13 that he was going and they couldn’t go. Now Jesus tells them that they will go as well. Jesus is talking about death…and about life. He talked about kingship and coupled it with servanthood. And Thomas says, “I don’t understand.”
They were searching. “Philip said to Him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us’” (John 14:8). These men had left everything and followed Jesus because they were hungry. Now they wanted to know about being satisfied.
They were doubting. “‘Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me?…’” (John 14:10). The disciples had doubts.
If you’re afraid, confused, searching and doubting, Jesus offers you comforting words…how to move from panic to peace to power.
Jesus goes there first.
Jesus is a predecessor. “‘In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you’” (John 14:2).
The New Testament has a lot of names for Jesus, but one of the most beautiful is the Greek word, “Prodromos.” Barclay says that the word is used in the Roman army to describe the reconnaissance troops. In the harbor of Alexandria, where the way was difficult, a little ship was sent out from the city to guide the great fleets of ships safely into the harbor. That ship was called “Prodromos.”
That is also the Greek word used in Hebrews 6:19-20, “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner [the Greek word] has entered for us, even Jesus…” That is what Jesus is saying in John 14. He is going there first. Jesus is our predecessor.
The Scripture in Colossians speaks of Jesus as the “firstborn from the dead” and the “firstborn over all creation.” Jesus goes there first. You’re tempted, afraid, lonely, worried, facing suffering and death—He was tempted, afraid, lonely, worried, faced suffering and death, all first. Jesus is your predecessor, your forerunner.
Jesus gives us a permanent place.
Someone tells the story about an Italian philosopher who met a young man coming down the street, whistling as he walked. The philosopher asked why and he replied, “Because I have been accepted in a law firm as an apprentice.” “What after that?” the philosopher asked. The young man said, “Well, I will become proficient in the law, become successful and make money.” “And after that?” the philosopher asked. “I will get a wife and have lots of children.” “And after that?” he asked. “I will enjoy my retirement years,” the young man answered. “After that, what?” the philosopher asked. In answer, there was only silence. The young man walked away, no longer whistling.
We are all looking for a permanent place. Do you know the only thing permanent about this world? Nothing.
Have you ever been in a situation that you hoped would last forever? Everything was just right and you thought, “If only, if only, it could always be like this.” The fact is it won’t always be like that. God has put the desire for a permanent place in us.
The Bible teaches about a permanent place: “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland…now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them” (Hebrews 11:13-16).
Jesus spoke of change here and permanence there. Jesus spoke of rejection here and acceptance there. Jesus spoke of being cast out here and having a place there. You have a place.
Jesus makes a promise (and he always keeps his promises).
“‘And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also’” (John 14:3).
The Gospel of John has a lot less to say about the Second Coming of Christ than the Synoptic Gospels, but it is not silent. Jesus said, “I will come again and will take you to Myself.”
People cannot operate without hope. It is terrible to live with ambiguity, confusion, fear and doubt; but it is simply the way things are. But Jesus gives us hope. The fact is you can stand hell if you know there is an end to it.
The hope of the Christian is that the hell won’t last forever, either I will go and meet God or he will come and meet me. Either way, it is okay. Jesus Christ is coming back. You can count on it. He has promised.
Jesus offers himself.
“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me’” (John 14:6).
Jesus is the way. Jesus is the truth. Jesus is the life. Without him, we are lost.
Jesus comes. He is the real answer.
The fact is none of the above even matters…if Jesus is just like us. But if Jesus is the Father then, in his person, he himself is the real answer to our fear, confusion, searching and doubt.
Jesus said, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” (John 14:9).
Jesus says to me, “Steve, have I been with you so long and yet you do not know me? He who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say ‘Show me the Father’?”
The study of Christ (Christology) must precede theology. If it doesn’t then we are just muddling in the muddle. There are no answers and you must continue in your fear, confusion, searching and doubts because that is all there is.
Let me let you in on a secret. I have checked it out and it is absolutely true. When you see and follow Jesus, you see and follow the Father.
And in him there is great comfort.
“‘Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions…I go to prepare a place for you.’” He has promised.