Citizens of Heaven

Sermon for the Fifth Sunday of Easter based on John 14:1-14

Dear citizens of heaven: grace, mercy, and peace to you from God the Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

Without Jesus, God is unseeable and unapproachable. God is Spirit, a blinding light and a consuming fire. He is the almighty creator, immortal, invisible, all-knowing, and omnipresent God, not part of creation. As God told Moses, “You cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” (Ex. 33:20)

However, in Jesus, God has come to earth, not only to be a part of creation, but also to partake of our very flesh. Thus Jesus, God in the flesh, tells His disciples, “Believe in God; believe also in me.”

This man, Jesus, is God. Believe in Him as you believe in God. Trust in Him as you trust in God. See this man Jesus as the almighty creator, immortal, all-knowing, and omnipresent God.

That is not how Philip saw Jesus, so he said to Jesus, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus responded to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.”

After all that time spent with Jesus, Philip still struggled to grasp that Jesus is God. This man who walked with them and talked with them and ate with them is God in the flesh. This man who grew up from a little boy is God. This man who was born of a woman, nursed and raised by her, and had his diapers changed by her is God. That just didn’t sit right with Philip, and we’d be lying if we said it sat right with us. Yet, it is true.

There’s even more. This man who was mocked and abused by men is God. This man who was shamefully treated, whipped, spit on, crowned with thorns and crucified is God. This man whose arms were outstretched on the cross at Golgotha is God. Colossians tells us that the fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily in this man Jesus, that He is the visible image of the invisible God (Col. 1:15; 2:9).

It is necessary that Jesus is God in order for Him to defeat sin, death, and the devil, and pay the price of our sins. It is necessary that Jesus is God in order to reconcile us to God.

Because we are reconciled to God by the death of Jesus, Jesus doesn’t just speak of God in a distant or generic sense. Jesus doesn’t speak of Him as if He is unseeable and unapproachable. Jesus calls Him Father. Because you are reconciled to Him through the Son, you can call Him Father.

And the Son invites you to His Father’s house, saying, “In my Father’s house are many rooms. 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, that where I am you may be also.”

Because God the Son has reconciled you to God the Father, you have a place in the Father’s house waiting for you. God is no longer unseeable or unapproachable for you. In His house, you will get to see Him face to face and live. He will then no longer be invisible to you or seem distant from you.

So whatever troubles you in this life, cast your burdens on Jesus, because He’s got a place waiting for you in the Father’s house. Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Jesus, His Son.

The man Jesus not only has a place for you in eternity, but He also has promised that He Himself will receive you into the Father’s house. At Jesus’ death, as the temple curtain was torn in two no longer separating God and man, so the doors of the Father’s house were flung wide open for you. This means that whenever you die, Jesus is ready to receive you into your eternal dwelling in the Father’s house. The doors stand open waiting for you.

Jesus said that He is in the Father and the Father is in Him. Thus, wherever Jesus is, there God is. Through Baptism, you are in Jesus. Those who have been absolved on earth in Jesus’ name are absolved before God in heaven. Those who have eaten and drunk the bread and wine of holy communion on earth have eaten and drunk the body and blood of God in the person of Jesus. You are in Christ; thus you are where He is.

Ephesians tells us that because we have been baptized into Christ, God the Father has taken us who were dead in our trespasses and made us alive together with Christ and has raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places (Eph. 2:4-6). To say that we are seated already now in the heavenly places sounds as crazy as saying that God was being nursed by Mary, but it also is true. Through our incorporation into Christ, we are where He is. We are not removed from earth physically, but we are already now sharing in the heavenly blessings. We already now reign over death which has no authority over us (Rev. 20:6). Our citizenship is already now in heaven; we’re already now enrolled in heaven (Phil. 3:20; Heb. 12:23). We already now have a place waiting for us in the Father’s house because we are already now alive in Christ.

God’s invitation to you through Jesus isn’t just for a nice meal at His house. There certainly will be many fine meals at the eternal banquet that never ends, but it is also so much more. God’s invitation is for you to live with Him eternally in His house where thieves cannot break in and steal; where tears will flow no more; where sin, guilt, and shame will be no more.

Since you are already enrolled in heaven; since your citizenship is already in heaven, let this be reflected in how you live here in exile, away from your eternal home. Live with your mind set on things that are above, not on things that are on earth (Col. 3:2). Put to death the sinful desires that you have (Col. 3:5). Live like your sin, guilt, and shame has been removed from you, because it has. Jesus took all your sin, guilt, and shame on Himself so He has taken it away from you. You are a child of the heavenly Father with a special place prepared just for you in the Father’s house.

No matter what happens in this life, let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Jesus, His Son. Jesus is the way, and the truth, and the life. He is the one and only way to the Father. He is the one and only way to the Father’s house. Since Jesus has died for you and prepares a place for you the Father’s house, you can be certain of your place there. You can be certain that He will return, and will take you to Himself, that where He is, you may be also. Amen.

The peace of God which surpasses all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

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