“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 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. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14: 1-3)
John 14 is commonly known as the “comfort chapter” of the New Testament. As our Saviour spent His final days with His disciples, He told them of his impending betrayal, death and resurrection: “Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death, 19 And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again” (Matt 20: 18-19).
The disciples would have to face a dismal future without their beloved Master. They would be left alone to endure opposition and hardships. They had given up all to follow their Lord. What would they do without Him now?
Anticipating the sorrow that would overwhelm them, the Lord Jesus encouraged His gloomy disciples. His comforting words are found in John 14: 1-3 (highlighted above).
“There is nowhere to be found a discourse so beautiful, so tender, so full of weighty thoughts, and so adapted to produce comfort, as that which occurs in these three chapters (John 14-16). It is the consolatory part of our religion, where Christ brings to bear on the mind full of anxiety, and perplexity, and care, the tender and inimitably beautiful truths of His gospel – truths fitted to allay every fear, silence every murmur, and give every needed consolation to the soul. In the case of the disciples, there was much to trouble them. They were about to part with their beloved, tender Friend. They were to be left alone to meet persecutions and trials. They were without wealth, without friends, without honours. And it is not improbable that they felt that His death would demolish all their schemes, for they had not yet fully learned the doctrine that the Messiah must suffer and die” (Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible).
o Do not be anxious
“Let not your heart be troubled”
The word, “troubled” used here by Christ, does not mean any kind of sadness or sorrow; it means, “to be agitated, perplexed, and thrown into confusion by life’s adverse circumstances”.
Within hours, their Master would be facing betrayal, denials, mock trials, scourging and the cross. Despite the weight of anguish on His mind, Jesus did not think of Himself and His own sufferings. At that critical point of time, instead of receiving comfort, the tender Shepherd comforted His disciples.
“The agonising shepherd, facing the cross, comforts others. He consoles the very men who have just demonstrated their selfishness and who are going to be ‘offended in Him’. Was there ever a kinder shepherd, half so gentle, half so sweet?” (Commentary on John – William Hendriksen).
Jesus knew that His disciples would find it hard to endure their coming trials. Soon they would watch Him being forcefully taken away by His enemies, tortured and crucified – painful scenes that would send them to the lowest depths of despair. They did not understand fully why He must leave them, why they could not follow Him and how they could “know the way” to Him (Jn 14: 5-9). The Lord wanted His disciples - though sad and perplexed – to find comfort in His reassuring words.
As their Master, Jesus knew His disciples well. He understood their fears and shared their sorrows: “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Heb 4: 15).
Even the best of God’s children and servants are prone to disquieting fears. How precious is the thought that the Lord knows our frailties and understands that we are but dust: “For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust” (Ps 103:14). He is always there to share our struggles and to comfort us. May this blessed truth encourage us to rest in our Lord Who loves us and cares for us. (… to be continued)