“The Cure of Cures” (John 14:1-11)
The Fifth Sunday of Easter (Mother’s Day) (May 10, 2020)
To all you mothers this morning: a most blessed Mother’s Day! May I say, you are the blessing to all of us. As we grow and mature you are the one God has appointed to care, feed, educate, and protect us. By His grace you also provide the cure for our owies, our traumas, and the predicaments we so easily get ourselves into.
Sadly, however, as we age we soon discover that our problems become much more complex, our wounds much deeper, and our diseases much more difficult to cure. In fact, all children somewhere along their path to maturity discover that their mothers don’t have all the answers anymore. They have definite limits. There are many things they just cannot cure. Yes, we learn you, dear mothers, are only human, and like the rest of us, weak and sinful at that.
Speaking of wounds larger than Mom can even handle, today our whole world seems paralyzed by a tiny virus, known as Covid-19. Like all viruses it has caused much death and distress. But this is nothing new. Pandemics come and go and people of all ages suffer and many die from them. However, due to much whipped up hysteria by the media, our leaders have, under the guise of saving lives, shut the world down, devastating the economy of the world and wreaking total havoc in the daily lives of all of us. Among these leaders, there has been a singular focus to mitigate the spread of the virus and find a cure, that magic vaccination, to stop the virus in its tracks completely. As a result, they have lost all focus on how their measures, not the virus, have brought long-term injury in other ways to the health and lives of their constituents. Lost in all of this, however, is the fact that like all vaccinations, even if we are successful in finding an effective one, it will not be a cure. This virus in one form or another will recycle back. We see it every year with cold and flu viruses.
Perhaps the LORD God allows such virulent viruses to plague mankind to wake us up to the fact that there is only one cure, one silver bullet to destroy every disease, every evil, every tragedy. The best scientific research money can buy will never provide the cure for what truly ails us.
Why is this? Because no vaccine, no magic pill, can reestablish the broken relationship we have with our Heavenly Father, brought about by our sin. This is the plague that kills us all. And nothing that comes out of a bottle can provide us with the healing of the forgiveness of sins needed to make us well and cause us to live. No human technology can aid us in bridging the great gap, or chasm, that separates us from God. The cure we need must come from God Himself.
And this brings us to the good news of our text today! Here we hear once again that, indeed, our Heavenly Father has already graciously provided that cure for what ails us. He has done so in His Son, Jesus Christ. Accordingly, we hear Jesus say in His parting words to His disciples, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in Me.”
Jesus speaks directly to our greatest need, exhorting all His followers to quite literally, “stop being stirred up.”
This exhortation was first directed toward Jesus’ inner circle of the 12 apostles. With these words He was acknowledging that He knew what stirring was already going on in their hearts. It was Jesus’ last night with them before His arrest and crucifixion. He had only a few moments earlier forewarned them of His “going away” from them which would be set in motion by one of their own number betraying Him into the hands of His enemies. His going away would continue with His subsequent arrest, rejection by the Jewish authorities, suffering, and death at the hands of His enemies. He also had assured them that He would be raised from the dead.
Then to really stir up the boiling pot of their hearts, Jesus had also point blank confronted their stalwart leader, Peter, “the rock,” with the devastating reality that even he would deny Jesus three times.
To say that such prospects were unsettling was an understatement. These apostles’ hearts were nothing more than big, black, cauldrons, swirling with a heart-burning mixture of doubts, fears, and worries that not even a king- size bottle of Rolaids could settle. Their leader, mentor, friend, and Savior was going to be taken away from them. Where were they to go from here? They had so hoped that Jesus would bring about the deliverance of their people. Who now would speak God’s word to them? If Jesus was to be taken away, how would they ever see God in Heaven?
Jesus speaks the same exhortation to you and me today: “Stop being stirred up”. After all, we can relate to this same heartburn. Tragic events in our world: the latest pandemic, alarming rates of death, massive layoffs, businesses shuttered, schools closed, harsh and freedom robbing decrees by local and state political leaders, the inability to conduct corporate worship the way we are accustomed and the underlying economic uncertainty, the mud-slinging presidential campaign, and uncertainties about our jobs or our upcoming retirement, combine to stir up quite a fire burning within our bosoms. Adding to the mix, are, perhaps, griefs over the death of loved ones, and guilt brought upon us by our sinful behaviors which we are trying so desperately to keep secret.
Like the apostles, we can’t escape the feelings of abandonment. God seems so distant, not because He has gone away, but because we have moved away from regular communion with Him in His Word and Sacrament. Or, perhaps, also, the pains of an illness, or the loneliness left in the wake of losing a loved one to death, or even the worries over financial troubles have us wondering if God has abandoned us.
In our uncertainty we ask: “Where is God when I really need Him? What will happen to me? Where do I stand in relationship with my Heavenly Father?” Feel the heart burn?
There is no earthly cure for all of this heart churning. We need divine help! We need a miracle cure! The cure provided us is found in the miracle of the incarnation of God Himself! Jesus said, “Believe in God, believe also in Me.” The Son of God became man precisely to heal all that ails us.
We receive the cure for what ails us through Faith. Please note, however, that this faith is not the faith we are counseled to have in our world today, a kind of faith for faith’s sake... a hope against all hope... a belief that everything will someday work out alright... that there will always be brighter days ahead. Such is not true faith. It is nothing more than a wish... a fanciful dream of our utmost desires. Such faith is an illusion from reality, which eventually will leave us dead.
Then, too, the faith Jesus speaks of is not this sort of faith in my own faith that is being espoused by so many Christian groups today. All this emphasis upon one’s decision for Jesus is simply directing people to place their trust in themselves or something they do. This sort of “reflective belief in your own belief” is not Biblical faith. Genuine faith does not rely on itself. It relies on God and His Word.
Think of the faith that you have that when you get into your car after service today and turn the key in the ignition your car will start. You generally have such faith that you take it for granted that your car will always start. However, it isn’t your faith that starts the car. It is the electronic ignition that fires it up. Your faith is not in itself, but it is in the vehicle’s starting mechanism. The security and confidence you have stems from the reliability of that essential part of your car.
Faith that cures our troubled hearts is faith that has as its object that which alone can cure all that ails us. That object of the faith that cures is God Himself, who alone can cure what really ails us. He has all power. He is the Creator and Preserver of all things. But He is also not just any god we might want to conjure up for ourselves. The true God that curing faith clings to is the God who has revealed Himself in the Man Jesus Christ. Faith in Jesus is faith in God the Father. Faith in Jesus is faith in the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
We are in essence being told in our text not to think of God apart from this Man who is God. Belief and trust in this man, Jesus, is belief and trust in God (Buls). When Jesus speaks, Who is the Word Made Flesh, it is God the Father who speaks, as well as God the Holy Spirit. Jesus never spoke anything on His own initiative. He and the Father spoke in unison. The works that Jesus did were the works the Father did in and through Him. Jesus is in the Father and the Father in Him.
The fact that Jesus is in the Father and the Father is in Him drives away all doubt, fear and gives true hope. For Jesus has put a human face on God for you. Now, you do not have to try to figure God out or try to contemplate the attitude of His heart toward you. God is not aloof to your plight. He has not removed His divine presence far from your reality. God has revealed Himself to you in true human terms in Jesus. To look upon the face of Jesus is to look upon the face of God; His smiling, merciful, and saving face toward you.
So we see as Jesus elaborates concerning who He is and what He does for you. He says emphatically, “I am the Way, The Truth, and The Life, no one comes to the Father except through Me.”
When one contemplates the way to God, we hear the clear warning from Holy Scripture, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death” (Prov. 14:12). There are hucksters aplenty in this world trying to sell you and me a faulty antidote to what ails us by showing us a false and misleading way to God and eternal life. They portend that through our good works and merits or through some other prophet or god you and I can have eternal life in heaven with God. But they are only selling us snake oil. In the end their so called cure will leave us with a burning pit in the middle of our soul and eternal death to boot.
Contrary to all this, the Truth about God, your relationship with Him, your way back to Him, and your cure for all that ails you, can be known only in Jesus. He is the revelation from God in your own flesh. Every teaching about God that is not in, through and about Jesus Christ is false and leads you on a false way. As we read in the very first chapter of John’s Gospel, “The Law was given through Moses, but Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”
The truth revealed in Jesus is that He alone is the Way of the cure for all that ails you. He alone has gone the Way to prepare rooms in the Father’s Heavenly Mansion for you. He alone removed the barrier wall of your guilt and God’s wrath against you by suffering in His flesh the due penalty for your sins. Jesus alone was raised from the dead to forever justify you before God in Heaven. Jesus alone, therefore, unites you with God.
This union with God that Jesus has given you kindles life in you (Lenski, p. 980). Jesus is the Life-giving Bread that came down out of heaven; “if anyone eats of this bread, he shall live forever...” (John 6:51). Again we hear Jesus say, “I am the resurrection and the Life, everyone who lives and believes in me will live even if he dies” (John 11:25).
Accordingly, every one of you who is baptized into Christ and believes in Him alone as The Way, The Truth and the Life, does indeed have the cure for all your troubles, maladies, guilt and fear. For you know the true God and have communion with Him... You have the forgiveness of all your sins. You have eternal life. You have a room in the heavenly mansion where Jesus Himself is.
In a very few minutes, you will once again have the opportunity to eat and drink of the precious cure for what ails you in a most tangible and real way. No mother in this whole world could ever serve you a greater meal! For right here in ordinary bread and wine, the very same Jesus who is God in Human flesh and has in His flesh swallowed up and abolished your guilt, as well as all eternal judgments in His atoning death and glorious resurrection, comes to feed you His precious, sacrificed, body and blood. In this holy food and drink you are given the antidote of antidotes… the cure of cures which imparts to you forgiveness not judgment… life not death…eternal health not temporary relief. By faith eat and drink of this true medicine and be truly and fully cured! Amen.