Some people believe that when they accept Christ, they will receive a Get Out of Stress Free card and live a life of uninterrupted bliss. To be honest, when I became a believer, I picked up a few new problems I hadn’t had before. Jesus never offered a false promise. At every point, He warned us that troubles would follow our path and that obedience to Him would actually increase our persecution. But He is also the one who said,
These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. — John 16:33, emphasis added
Jesus Himself felt pressure. He was distressed as He watched Mary weep over the death of her brother Lazarus. He “groaned in the spirit and was troubled” (John 11:33). As He contemplated the cross, He felt genuine anxiety (John 12:27). As He waited for Judas to betray Him, He was troubled (John 13:21). He is a high priest who can “sympathize with our weaknesses” (Hebrews 4:15).
As the death of our Lord Jesus came near, His disciples began to be anxious about their life situations, and Jesus comforted them with these words:
Let not your heart be troubled; you 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 to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.”
Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?”
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. — John 14:1-6
The Ultimate in Comfort
We need to return to this passage whenever we are besieged by worry. Remember, Jesus didn’t say these words as He stood beside a Galilean stream on a sunny day, without a care in the world. He said them as He stood near the jaws of hell itself. He didn’t speak from the all-protective shelter of His Father’s arms. He sat with His frightened disciples in the Upper Room, preparing for the worst of humanity and the silence of heaven. His words were,
Let not your heart be troubled.
It encourages me to realize that He faced what He did, felt the worst of what we would feel, and still drew enough strength to comfort others. He looked at His friends and felt compassion for them. These were men He had asked to follow Him. For three years He had been their life. Then He had begun to speak of leaving them. In John 13, He had told them that the time was drawing near for Him to leave, and that this time they would not be able to follow Him. Peter asked Him exactly where He was going. Jesus told him again that it was a place to which he could not come until sometime in the future (John 13:36).
This conversation would have been terribly upsetting for the disciples who had depended on Jesus for everything. Our Lord’s words of encouragement to His close friends were preserved by the apostle John so that they are available to give comfort to us as well. Jesus gave His disciples some things to believe, things to hold on to. He asked them to put their trust in four things that He promised would provide courage and renewed strength for their troubled hearts. These timeless truths are just what you and I need in these chaotic days.
Jesus Asks Us to Believe in a Person
When a child is afraid during the night, who but a parent can provide comfort? The child will cling to Mommy or Daddy and begin to feel calm. That’s how it is with Jesus. His comfort begins with His very identity. “Let not your heart be troubled,” He told us.
You believe in God, believe also in Me. — John 14:1
The people of Judea believed in one God. The center of their faith was expressed in the Shema:
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. — Deuteronomy 6:4-5
These Jewish followers of Jesus had been trained since infancy to love God exclusively. Now Jesus was telling them something shocking; He wanted them to believe in Him in the exact same way — because He was God’s Son. If the divine nature of Jesus is difficult for us to understand, you can imagine how the disciples would have struggled to wrap their minds around such an idea. In fact, it wasn’t until after His resurrection that they began to process what He was telling them.
Jesus was asking people who had been schooled in the Hebrew Scripture to expand their faith in their heavenly Father to include His Son, their earthly teacher. Calling on His full authority as the Lord of heaven and earth, He said,
I and the Father are one. — John 10:30 NIV
To believe in what Jesus says, you must believe who He is.
Jesus Asks Us to Believe in a Place
Next Jesus told His disciples,
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. — John 14:2
A man takes a new job in another city. He is in the process of moving his family to a brand-new home there, but he must travel ahead of them and start his work earlier. His child cries because he will be gone for a week, but the father stoops, pulls him into an embrace, and says, “I’ll be there getting your new room ready. You’re going to have a place to ride your bicycle, and I’ll be starting on that tree house we’re going to build.” The tears dry as the child sees all this in his mind.
That’s a picture of what Jesus was doing here. He encouraged His disciples to think of the wonderful future He planned for them. The Scriptures include many synonyms for Heaven. We know it is vast, we know it is beautiful and wonderful beyond all imagining. We know it is a country, one about which our most gorgeous earthly landscapes are only rough drafts. It is, in another way, a magnificent city, built and perfected by the Architect of this universe. Then we can think of it as a Kingdom, the realm of the powerful King. Heaven is also called Paradise, a word suggesting its supreme beauty. Those metaphors are beautiful pictures of our future home, but Jesus’ description of Heaven is my favorite: “My Father’s house.” We know what that means. Many of us had favorite grandparents we visited. We think, This is where Dad was a little boy. This is my father’s house! It holds a special charm and wonder for us, associated with Christmas, joy, and laughter. I like to think of Heaven that way. There was a special house where I grew up. My parents, as they grew older, finally moved away from it, and that was hard for me to take. I hadn’t lived there for some time, but the house symbolized my whole past, my first memories, my childlike innocence and security. It was part of me.
Praise God, He never decides to move to a smaller home. There is ultimate security in the eternal nature of Heaven. Author Thomas Wolfe wrote a book called You Can’t Go Home Again, but there is one Home we can never lose or leave. Christ has gone there to prepare it for us, and that gives us comfort.
Heaven is real. Cloud-and-golden-gate-laden cartoons, movies, and jokes have reduced Heaven to a stereotype. We need to realize just what is being stolen from the sanctified imagination when this precious image is made trivial to us. We are not yet in Heaven, but it has power for us right now. It extends its hope to us. It guides our aspirations. It soothes our hearts when we lose a loved one. And when we think of its eventuality, we realize there is nothing mundane or insignificant about any of us — we are children of the Kingdom; we are bound for Heaven! It is real, and it is Home.
Excerpted with permission from Living with Confidence in a Chaotic World by Dr. David Jeremiah, copyright David Jeremiah.
* * *
Earth is not a stress-free place. Oh boy, no! We’ve got trouble with a capital T, don’t we? But, part of that is because this isn’t our home. Heaven is. Jesus went ahead of us to prepare that place for us. Let’s look forward to it together! Come share your thoughts. ~ Devotionals Daily