Our Lord Jesus Christ does not want people to be troubled. He wants us to be free from trouble.
There are many different things that trouble different people. Some people are troubled by clutter (the random stuff that we collect over the years), other people can’t live without clutter and they are troubled by the thought of losing it. Some people are troubled my cats, others are troubled if there are no cats around.
This passage is not about those sorts of troubles. As serious as those other troubles might be, they tend to be individual troubles affecting different people differently.
The trouble that Jesus is talking about is the trouble that we experience because of unbelief, particularly because we do not trust Jesus Christ as he is offered in the gospel.
The Lord Jesus wants people to be free of this most serious of troubles.
These disciples of Jesus had a serious faith problem. They had been called to follow Jesus, they had followed him through three years of his teaching ministry, they professed their loyalty to him, but they did not yet trust him as they needed to trust.
When our Lord Jesus said to them, “Do not let your heart be troubled, believe (trust) in God and trust in me,” he was addressing a serious lack of faith in these men.
As yet, they did not trust his words, they did not know Jesus as they should have known him, and they were most uncomfortable about the message of his impending death and resurrection.
These words were spoken to the disciples during or just after the last supper, where Jesus had spoken explicitly of his imminent betrayal and death. These coming events, he told them, were necessary so that human sin could be forgiven.
He had said at that last meal that the bread represented his body broken for them, and that the cup represented his blood shed for them – this indicated that his death was essential for their salvation. His death was to deal with their sins.
This was at least the fourth recorded occasion when Jesus spoke to his disciples about the necessity of his death. How did his disciples react to this message?
Each time they became troubled and they quickly changed the subject.
Most often, they changed the subject to a discussion as to which of them would be the greatest in the coming kingdom of God. They wanted to skip the cross and go straight to the glory.
In this they agreed with the Devil, who suggested the very some policy to Jesus in his temptation.
Jesus’ reply to Satan and to Peter was the same — get behind me Satan, that is, get out of my way. In Matthew 18, Jesus told these disciples that unless they were converted — changed — there was no way that they could enter the kingdom of God.
Again the disciples did not believe Jesus when he pointed out the desperate natured of their sinfulness.
When he told them that one would betray him and that the rest of them would abandon him, they did not believe him. Peter explicitly contradicted Jesus and declared that he instead would willingly died with him. We know how badly that turned out.
In this passage, Jesus speaks to his disciples in stunning ways. When Philip asks to be shown the Father, Jesus said, Have I been with you so long, and you do not know me?
“If you (plural) had known me, you would have also known the Father.” V.7
These men who had been with Jesus over three years did not really know Jesus. This is most significant. In chapter 17 of John’s gospel, Jesus said that eternal life was to know the Father and the one (Jesus) whom the Father had sent.
At this point in time, these disciples were not converted. They were not Christians. As yet, they were merely disciples — leaners — and pretty inattentive ones at that.
But they understood enough to be troubled by Jesus’ words regarding his betrayal and death. They were troubled that Jesus had pointed out their sin.
To alleviate this trouble of heart, this same trouble that they all felt, Jesus said:
“Let not your heart be troubled. Trust God and trust me. In my Father’s house there many mansions. I go to prepare a place for you.”
What the disciples needed to do was to trust Jesus. To receive his words and believe that he knows best, that Jesus is both God and man, and that his death and resurrection are essential if they were to be reconciled to God.
“Trust God and trust me” — These are not two distinct statements, but the second particularises the first (v.7). Jesus is identifying himself as God. He reaffirms this in vs. 7ff.
In my Father’s household there are many mansions. This means the was lots of room in God’s household already!
“I go to prepare a place” — Jesus was not going somewhere to make more room. As Jesus says, there is already plenty of room. Rather, he was going to make disciples fit for one of those places. Remember Matt 18.
The preparation that Jesus was speaking of was the same death that Jesus had spoken of and which had troubled his disciples so much.
Jesus death was the issue. By it the innocence Jesus took legal responsibility for the wrong doing of all his people. In fact, without Jesus taking responsibility for our sin, there was no way he could have died. The word of God says “the soul that sins shall die.” Jesus died because he bore the sins of other people. He willing became their substitute.
The principle of a substitute dying in the place of a sinner is reinforced throughout the Old Testament in the temple services. Jesus would be the fulfilment of those temple sacrifices (John 2:19)
By his death, he finished condemnation for his people.
The fact that Jesus rose from the dead is the great confirmation of this truth. If even one sin of his people remained unpaid for, Jesus would not have risen from the dead. But Christ is risen (14:19).
So he could say that, if he goes (to the cross), he will come again and receive (take) them to himself. Here Jesus again speaks of his death and resurrection, but adds the effect that his death and resurrection will have on these men.
He will take them to himself. (Like prisoners taken in battle, like a husband taking a wife.)
Jesus takes his people to himself
- In regeneration by the Spirit of God – changing their mind, will and attitudes by the new birth.
- At death they enter his immediate presence
- In the last day he will take them to new heavens and new earth.
So that where Jesus is, those who trust him will be also.
In vs. 5 and 6, Thomas tells Jesus that he doesn’t know where Jesus is going, and he cannot know the way. Jesus answer shows that the “where” and the “way” are intimately related.
Where was Jesus going? To the cross. Remember, Jesus had spoken of this to the disciples at least four times.
What is the way? Only Jesus brings sinners to God. He is the way. He opened the way to God by his own actions.
“I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the father but by me.”
Jesus is the narrow way. “Narrow” because he is the only way back to good relations with our Creator.
Jesus is trustworthy because he not only tells the truth, but he is the one who establishes truth.
Jesus also gives life as the creator and sustainer of all things, but most particularly as saviour. By his resurrection from the dead he shows that sin (which brings death) has had its condemnation completed in him.
For this reason, Jesus has the right and ability to raise those who trust him from the dead.
Is your heart troubles by your own sin? Are you troubled by the message of the gospel, that Jesus had to die if sin and death were to be defeated? Are you afraid to die?
Jesus meant it when he said, “Do not let you heart be troubled. Trust in God and trust in me.”
Our Lord Jesus has made sinners fit for a place in His Father’s household by his good life, by his death in our place, and by his resurrection from the dead.
If you trust him as he is presented to you in the gospel, you can know that he has done this for you.
Jesus said of himself, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me.”
The way to the Father is open through faith in Jesus Christ. Trust him.