Summary: With that superlative peace and such like promises, why should our hearts be troubled?
WORDS OF COMFORT
“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.”
These are precious words of comfort from the lips of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Cross was imminent, and no doubt a sense of foreboding had dampened the Passover celebrations of the little apostolic band. It would not be long before the discussion at the table would be reduced to a monologue, and having “loved them to the end” (John 13:1) Jesus felt the need to encourage His disciples at a time when, humanly speaking, perhaps they should have been encouraging Him!
It is ever the way in times of distress, that our own sense of grief makes us oblivious to the anguish of others, and we become so wrapped up in our own sense of inadequacy to face an event that we might happily sleep in whilst another’s “sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling to the ground” (Luke 22:44). How often we must hear the gentle reminder from the lips of the Saviour: “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41).
We must learn to reprove ourselves in the words of the sweet Psalmist of Israel: “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted within me? Hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God” (Psalm 43:5).
In our text, John 14:1, there is a discouragement to Christians to be overmuch troubled. There is no doubt that it is a temptation to Christians, as to others, to be overburdened with cares. We see it in Rachael’s “give me a son or else I die” - dangerous words, which led not only to the birth of two precious sons, but to her death in labour!
We see it in David (Psalm 77:3). We see it in Hezekiah (Isaiah 38:14). Surely, too, it was a temptation to Jonah, “who cried by reason of mine affliction unto the Lord, and he heard me” (Jonah 2:2). Supremely, indeed, one wonders whether Christ Himself might not have had to overcome the temptation to despair: “He was tempted in all points like as we are and yet without sin.”
It is a sin to be so troubled even with legitimate concerns that it robs us of our joy in the Lord. There is nothing, perhaps, so dishonouring to Christ, nor which so mars the Church’s witness in the world than the almost proverbial long faces of Christians. It grieves the Holy Spirit, I am sure, and it no doubt betrays our unbelief.
Why should we worry, particularly of temporal things, when we have the promise of our Lord, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you”? Why should we be so full of cares, even in eternal things, when we have the “precious promises” of the Gospel?
The resolution of all our cares and concerns is found in our faith: “Ye believe in God, believe also in me.” Not indeed, that we trust our ability to believe, for “faith is the gift of God … not of ourselves.” Jesus Christ, and Him crucified, is the object of our faith in all things: “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32).
Faith in Christ brings relief to the troubled soul. It brings comfort, rest and security as we repose in Christ not only at the outset of our Christian pilgrimage, but day by day. As faith carries the soul out of self to God, thus it elevates our thoughts. It sees things in their true perspective: after all, “What is Pharaoh to God?” asks Richard Sibbes.
“Being justified by faith,” says Paul, “we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). When Jesus our Saviour becomes “our peace” (Ephesians 2:14), then we are enabled to lay hold upon the promises, such as those in John 14: “I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2); “I will come again, and receive you unto myself” (John 14:3); “He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do” (John 14:12); “whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do … If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it” (John 14:13-14).
There is the promise of the help of the Holy Spirit and, implicitly, of the Lord’s second coming; and finally, explicitly, of “the peace of God which passes all understanding”: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world gives, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).
With that superlative peace and such like promises, why should our hearts be troubled?