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John 14:1-6 Study Guide: The Way, the Truth and the Life

Community Group Study Guide — The Way, the Truth and the Life
John 14:1-6

Study Information:
There are so many things that can stress us out. Some of us are more easily stressed than others, but we all have to deal with being troubled from time to time. Stress can come from having too much information too quickly, being overwhelmed by events outside of our control or not knowing what will happen next. What does Jesus say to people who have troubled hearts? His disciples were overwhelmed by the first part of his teaching in the Upper Room Discourse (John 13-17).  Jesus had just taught them that one of them would betray him, another disciple would deny knowing Jesus and that he would be crucified as a common criminal. These disciples had spent 3 years with Jesus and gave up everything to follow him on their hope that he was the promised Messiah and now they received devastating news from Jesus and were full of turmoil. What does Jesus say to his followers in that situation?

The Remedy to a Troubled Heart is Active Trust
John 14:1
Jesus read the room and knew what was going on in the hearts of his disciples after they received all this unexpected news. This was not the first time they were troubled by his teaching; typically when Jesus gave them some hard news they would respond with questions, anxiety or doubt. Jesus’ statement “let not your hearts be troubled” is an interesting statement in the Greek. It is given as a command in the original language but communicated with a measure of gentleness. We can sometimes think that commands are harsh and direct, but Jesus gave it to them gently showing us that the commands of God are not a burden but can be a great reassurance.

There were many reasons hey were troubled…, Jesus was going away, they could not go with him and they struggled to understand where he was going. They did not yet know his divine mission and that he would actually return to them resurrected from the dead. What does Jesus say to the stressed out and troubled heart? John 14:1 “Believe in God, Believe also in me.” The word “believe” in Greek is constructed as “keep on believing.” This is something we’ve seen throughout John’s gospel. John used the word “believe” 98 times and always as a verb to teach us that faith is an active trust. To “keep on believing in God and keep on believing in me” teaches us that the remedy to a troubled heart is active trust. It is hard to do but during times of trouble we are to keep in mind God’s wisdom, power and care. Jesus had been completely faithful to them and even at this time of darkness that John described as “night” (John 13:30) he’d remain faithful to them; keep believing. God is the same yesterday, today and forever and the one you put your faith in is the same God you’re called to active trust in today. 

Jesus Prepares a Place For Us
John 14:2-3
We get an idea of what Jesus is “doing" right now in heaven from John 14:2-3. Jesus left to go and prepare a place for us. Jesus described heaven as a house with many rooms. This is not meant to give us a specific and literal image of heaven as a place with homes and mansions, though that could very well be true. Rather Jesus communicating a bigger picture for a greater need we all have. The word for “room” pops up again in John 14:23 when Jesus talks about the Spirit being sent to make us a home for God. This is temple language and pointing to how followers of Jesus will dwell with God eternally. 

Jesus took their trouble and anxiety and pushed them towards hope in eternity. We are all worshippers and long for heaven, but some of us instead of worshipping the right thing, Jesus, we look for temporary satisfaction in earthly things that cannot really satisfy us. The place Jesus prepares for us is an eternal home that brings rest to our souls and it is a place of peace and rest precisely because Jesus will be there and will return to take us to be with him. This means that heaven will be heaven because Jesus is there. The point of heaven is not the house, comforts, or whatever else we can imagine; the point of heaven is that we have security in relationship and communion with Christ because we will experience his presence unhindered by sin. When we’re troubled in our hearts one practical thing we can do is fight for faith and remind ourselves that Jesus is preparing a place for us so that we can be with him. 

He is the Way, the Truth and the Life
John 14:4-6
Thomas, expressed his doubt about the situation, like speaking up for the rest of the disciples (John 14:5). He felt like Jesus had been silent about his plans and that they were unable to respond in faith because they did not know where he was going. We can look back over the last few chapters of John and read that Jesus had been disclosing to them about going to the cross and being “lifted up.” The pathway forward for Jesus was suffering, death and resurrection. The disciples would not follow him in that way yet, but would need to follow him. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Christianity is more than a set of rules, teaching or religious practices; Christianity is about a person who is the truth and provides for us life as we follow his teaching out of love and faith. We can easily make Christianity just about worldview, winning an argument or a set of rules to live by but Jesus cannot be minimized to those things. Jesus being the Way, the Truth and the Life means that we take up our cross and follow him, and that what he taught is fully trustworthy and that as we surrender we find life. 

Jesus’ “I am” statement here can be read as exclusive and therefore off putting. Jesus is right that there is no other way to God except through him and no other truth and no other path to life. But remember he does not say this to keep people out, but declares this so we’d find life in him. Jesus makes these radically exclusive statements but lived the most radically inclusive life of anyone who ever lived. Jesus welcomed the weak, sick, outcast, hurting, the sinner and the religious elite; all kinds of people were offered relationship and reconciliation to God through his work on the cross. Jesus was exceedingly loving to point us toward the way to life rather than being “nice” and saying we can choose whatever way we’d like. Christ alone provided a way for forgiveness, reconciliation and new life in God. 

Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life; the trouble heart, more than anything, needs to remember that Jesus is everything. 

At your community group:

Take 15-20 minutes to share about how God has been at work in your life, prayer concerns and pray for one another.

How did God speak to you through the scripture and the sermon this week? 

Discussion Questions:

How does Jesus comfort his followers who are troubled in heart?

What is Jesus doing in heaven? What do verses 2-3 point to? Do you think it is a literal home with many rooms or is that image trying to communicate something else? 

How is Christian faith more than just a set of teaching or religious practices? 

John 14:6 gets some push back because it is seen as an exclusive statement. How was Jesus loving for telling us this and how did Jesus live a live that invited cultural outsiders to follow him?

Does this passage make you long for heaven, why or why not?