Jesus speaks to troubled hearts. “Stop that. Let your hearts not be troubled.” It didn’t work. It’s not just you. The disciples are still anxious too. Remember where they are. Jesus isn’t talking to them on a sunny day in a scenic field. This is the great speech right before Gethsemane. Jesus is going to be arrested. Crucified. Murdered. It’s called the last supper. That’s at least a little ominous.
Sorry. It’s what we do when we can’t just believe away our troubled hearts. We hide behind jokes and memes. We hide behind anger. We hide behind vice. All of it’s easier to feel than the pain.
Troubled hearts. It’s almost a kind way of talking about the anxiety and fear and shame and guilt and worry that eat away at us bite by bite. When your heart is troubled, it hurts and it doesn’t just go away. Even Jesus can’t get you to just knock it off. And it’s easier to hide from pain behind sarcasm or anger or vice. It gives us the chance to pretend we don’t hurt.
“Believe in God; believe also in me.” We know it’s supposed to help, but honestly it doesn’t. We believe, Lord, but everything’s still pretty messed up down here. And that contrast has lead us to do some pretty weird stuff with religion. We start to connect belief with the lack of troubled hearts instead of hearing that hope is medicine for troubled hearts. We start to measure how much we believe by how troubled we feel instead of recognizing that Jesus is talking to a group of disciples who are freaking out and sinning. Religion can’t be measured by your troubled heart. Religion is for your troubled heart.
That matters because if I’m being honest the only time my heart isn’t troubled is when it doesn’t have reason to be. Lord, I’ll stop worrying when You stop giving me a reason to worry. If believing means not hurting, the only ones who really believe are the ones who have no problems of the world, no sins of the flesh, and no devil to harass them. In other words, if belief and inner peace are the same thing, the only people who believe are the ones who need nothing from God because they already have it.
It leaves us talking about Christianity in the future tense, not the present. Everything might be awful, but there will be a big house for you one day though. It’s supposed to help. It doesn’t. Because I need help now, not someday. Thomas gives words to the disciples’ anxiety. Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way? I want to go to there. But I don’t think I can get from here to there anymore than I can make my troubled heart go away. The best we can do is fake it, just like we do behind the jokes and the anger and the vice. In other words, the more we keep Jesus in heaven away from our troubled hearts, the more we fall into doubt and sin, the things that threaten the very salvation He promises.
In all of it, our troubled hearts miss the point. This isn’t about what or how or when or where. It’s about who. This isn’t about what’s wrong or how to fix it or when it’s going to get better or the where Thomas begs for. It’s about who. Who is your God? Jesus said “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” We usually stop here, the rest gets confusing. It isn’t just a diatribe on the doctrine of the trinity. It’s Jesus pointing disciples with troubled hearts to the truth about God we’d otherwise miss. Our hearts are troubled because we try to measure God in power, not mercy. When we measure God in His power to give us what we want so our hearts won’t be troubled. We miss why He’s there in the first place.
He’s there to be merciful to sinners with troubled hearts. He’s there to bear our sin and worry and vice upon the cross. No one goes to the Father expect through me. But Jesus is not a generic coloring page of a God left for you to fill in the lines. He is not the God of politic or self improvement. He is not the God of fixing all your problems so you won’t need Him anymore. God reveals Himself in action. God shows us who He is by what He does. And Jesus came into the world not to exercise power but mercy. He came to die for sinners that we would live. To say “no one goes to the Father expect through me” is to say No one goes to the Father expect through the cross. We get to the Father only through death and resurrection. Not having no sins and no problems, but having a God that forgives our sins and works mercy and life even in the face of everything that has our hearts so troubled in the first place.
Jesus is the way to the Father. The cross and the empty tomb unite us with God. You are baptized. Not someday. Today. Now. Christ is risen! “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” How can we know the way? How can we fix our hearts? It’s not about you. It’s about to Jesus for you . Look to the empty tomb. rejoice. It’s already done. Not someday. Now.
See the love of the Father who draws you to His side. See the God who works through crosses, not sunny fields. See the God who is glorified in mercy, not just power. See the God who promises you will do works you could never do on your own. You will even rise from death. Let not your hearts be troubled. That doesn’t mean shut off worry. That doesn’t mean God will fix all your problems and that’s proof He loves you. That means even your problems and your sins cannot divorce you from the love of the Father. Your sins are forgiven you and your problems won’t keep you in the tomb. On the last day you will rise in your body free from all of them. Free from the pains of the world. Free from death and all it’s ugly symptoms. Free from the devil. Free to live. Until then, when your hearts are troubled, stop looking to what or how or when or where. It’s about who. Remember who your God is. Not someday. Today. He is the Jesus who conquered death for you. He is the way and the truth and the life, and He is the way and the truth and the life for you.