Summary: Jesus is the way, truth and life; This passage enables us to take heart in times when we are not sure of our way ahead. The Holy Spirit guides us and helps us to see Jesus, and call on His name. Jesus is our way to the Father and enables us to know God.
In the last week of his life, Jesus had withdrawn from public ministry to spend time teaching his disciples and closest followers. He wanted to tell them the things that they needed to know to be prepared for what lay ahead –his death, the coming of the Holy Spirit, persecution, betrayal. He wanted to give more in-depth, personal teaching to those who believed in him. And also, because he had spent 3 years with these people, his final hours would be amongst his friends whom he loved.
This chapter starts with the kind of feeling that the disciples were downcast and discouraged. They were aware that their master would soon leave them, one of them would betray him, Peter would deny him, Judas had mysteriously left them, and they had just had quite a strange meal with Jesus in which he was visibly troubled. They were confused and getting nervous.
They had yet to be told that they will be persecuted and be outcasts, hated by the world, and would probably die for their faith.
So Jesus starts with a pretty amazing statement ‘don’t let your hearts be troubled’. Take heart.
How can he say that?!?!? Well, he goes on to say, you trust in God, so trust in me too. The disciples are able to draw comfort from Jesus’ strength, and from his own faith in his Father. Their Jewish faith said that they could trust God, well, Jesus trusted God too, and they could follow his lead. And it also showed that he wanted them to see that he was God – he was able to deal with their fears and problems and would save them – being their Christ, their Messiah.
He says that he is going away to prepare a place for them – for all those who believe in him. This can mean a place in heaven, but it can also mean a place here and now. Through his death and resurrection, we would be reconciled with God and through faith in Jesus we can have a relationship with God now, rather than waiting for heaven. The many rooms imply that there will be many people who trust in God and are united by their faith, and this makes up the body of the church.
This encourages the disciples, because he says that he will return, so they will only be temporarily separated. Jesus could have meant a couple of things here – he would see them after the resurrection, and that he would return for them in the second coming.
Maybe it had a double meaning – that he would come back after his death and resurrection, and will have prepared a way for Christians to enter into a relationship with God, returning to him and finding rest in him; and also, that at the second coming, he would return to take Christians home to heaven, where he had prepared a place there for those who love him.
There is comfort in this, as it shows his continual protection and presence with them. And he is saying that their time without him will only be temporary, as he would return to them. We too can draw comfort from this, as we were without God for a time when we had not committed our lives to Him, but now we have his constant protection and we can hold onto the truth that Jesus died and rose again for us; he is with us now, through the Holy Spirit; and that he will return to take us to heaven.