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Relief for Troubled Hearts
“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)
The three verses before us are rich in precious Gospel truth. For more than 2000 years, they have been peculiarly precious to God’s elect throughout the world. Many are the hospital rooms which they have lightened. Many are the dying hearts which they have cheered. May God the Holy Spirit give us the comfort these precious words spoken by our dear Lord Jesus are intended to convey.
First, we have in this passage very precious relief for a very old problem. The problem is heart trouble. The relief is faith in Christ. — “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me” (John 14:1).
Heart trouble is the most common thing in the world. No rank, or class, or condition is exempt from it. No bars, or bolts, or locks can keep it out. Heart trouble comes partly from inward things and partly from outward things, partly from the body and partly from the mind, partly from that which we love and partly from that which we fear, partly from things we cherish and partly from things we despise.
The journey of life is full of trouble. Even the most faithful believer has many bitter cups to drink between grace and glory. Even those who walk in the closest communion with the Savior find this world a vale of tears. All of Zion’s pilgrims must pass through waters of trouble, rivers of pain, and fires of adversity. — “We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). There are Philistines without and Canaanites within who constantly wage war against our souls. Sooner or later, we all must face the Giant Despair. Sooner or later, we all must walk through Doubting Castle. Sooner or later, we all must be bound in the Dungeon of Darkness. Sooner or later, we all must be sifted as wheat.
When we read John 14, we should always consciously remember that there is no break between chapters 13 and 14. Our Lord Jesus is continuing the discourse he began after washing the disciples’ feet and the scene of Judas leaving him and the eleven faithful disciples to make his plans to betray the Master.
There may have been a slight pause after Judas left, as he turned again to the whole body of the Apostles; but there may have been no pause at all, as if to indicate that what Judas was about to do was in no way contrary to his purpose. Be that as it may, the place, the time, and the audience are all the same.
Our Lord’s great object throughout this and the two following chapters seems clear. — His intent is to comfort, stablish, and build up his downcast, heart troubled disciples. Our blessed Savior saw that their hearts were troubled by many things. They had seen him, their Master, whom they loved so dearly, “troubled in Spirit” (13:21). Their carnal, Jewish expectations of a temporal kingdom under a temporal Messiah were now shattered. The Lord Jesus had just told them that one of them would betray him. They had all watched Judas get up and walk out of the room. The Lord Jesus had just announced that he would only be with them a little while longer. Then, at last, he told them that they could not go with him. And the Lord Jesus had just told Peter that he would deny him three times before the rising of the morning sun. — “The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice. Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.”
For all these reasons, this little band of weak believers was disquieted, troubled at heart, cast down, anxious, and fearful. The Master saw it and proceeded to give them this sweet, blessed word of encouragement: — “Let not your heart be troubled.” Note this, too: — Our blessed Redeemer used the singular, “your heart,” not the plural, “your hearts.” He was saying particularly to Peter, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.” He was saying to them all, collectively, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.” And he was saying to you and me, to all his own, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.”
Only One Relief
Faith in the Lord Jesus is the only real relief for troubled hearts. To believe more thoroughly, trust more entirely, rest more unreservedly, lay hold more firmly, lean back more completely upon him is the prescription our Master gives all his beloved disciples. No doubt, the members of that little band which sat round the table at the last supper were believers already. They had proved the reality of their faith by giving up everything for Christ’s sake. Yet, once more, he presses on them and on us the old, much needed lesson, the lesson with which they first began: — “Believe! Believe more! Believe on Me!” — “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him” (Colossians 2:6).
Our Savior’s words, “Ye believe in God, believe also in me,” have caused much confusion to some; but the confusion is needless. The Lord Jesus was not implying that faith in God, and faith in him as the God-man Mediator were different. There is no faith in God apart from faith in Christ. Abel, Enoch, Abraham, Moses, and David, like all believers in the Old Testament, believed in the Savior, just as we do.
So why did our Master say to his disciples, “Ye believe in God, believe also in me?” The words should be read as a double imperative. The Master was saying, “Believe! Believe! Believe God! Believe me!” They might even be read as a double indicative: — “You believe God and you believe me. So stop letting your heart be troubled.”
Still, we should never forget that between faith in Christ and strong faith in Christ there is a great gulf. There are degrees of faith. Some believers are weak in faith, and some are strong in faith. Those who are strong in faith are very often very weak in faith. And those who are weak in faith are often strong in faith. Some of the martyrs who were burned at the stake, at first recanted; but later proved themselves strong, and sealed their testimonies with their blood.
We have all had to say, with the man who brought his demon possessed son to the Savior, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief” (Mark 9:24). But the weakest faith in Christ is saving faith. It should never be despised. Yet, weak faith is often the cause of great heart trouble. Vagueness and dimness of perception, fearfulness and fretfulness are the defects of weak faith. The disciples on the storm tossed sea were, at the time, weak in faith, though they were truly strong believers. The Master said to them, “How is it that ye have no faith?” (Mark 4:40).
When we are doubtful and weak in faith, we do not see clearly whom we believe, what we believe, and why we believe. At such times, more faith is the one thing needed. Like Peter on the water, we need to look more steadily and firmly, more confidently and fully to the Lord Jesus, and less at the waves and wind. It is written, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee” (Isaiah 26:3).
Faith in Christ is the only real relief there is for heart trouble (1 Peter 5:6-7; Psalm 121:1-8).
Our Heavenly Home
We have, secondly, in this passage a very sweet and comfortable description of heaven and the blessed abode that awaits us on the other side of the grave. What a home our eternal home in heaven must be! We understand very little about heaven while we are here in the body. And the little that is revealed to us in the Scriptures is revealed more by negative than by positive statements. We know much more about what will not be there than we do about what will be there. But here the Lord Jesus assures us of four distinct things about our heavenly home. — “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.”
1. Heaven is the “Father’s house.” “In my Father’s house!” — Heaven is the house of that God of whom the blessed Savior said, “I go to my Father and your Father.” Heaven is our Father’s house. In other words, heaven is home: the home of Christ and his people. This is a sweet and touching expression. Home is the place where we are loved for our own sakes, and not for our gifts or possessions. Home is the place where we are always loved, and loved to the end. Home is the place where we are never forgotten, and always welcome. We are in a strange land here. In heaven we will be home. In the life to come we will be at home forever.
2. Heaven is a place of “mansions.” — It is a place of rich, lavish, lasting, permanent, and eternal dwellings. Here in the body we are in temporary lodgings, tents, and tabernacles. In these tabernacles of clay we experience many changes, both bad and good, both painful and pleasing. In heaven we shall be settled at last, and go out no more. — “Here we have no continuing city” (Hebrews 13:14). Our house not made with hands shall never be taken down. It shall never undergo change (2 Corinthians 4:17-5:9).
3. Heaven is a place of “many mansions,” not just mansions, but “many mansions.” — There will be room for all believers and room for all sorts, for little saints as well as great ones, for the weakest believer as well as for the strongest. The feeblest child of God need not fear there will be no place for him. None will be shut out but impenitent sinners and obstinate unbelievers. In heaven there are many mansions, because a great multitude shall dwell there with the Lord forever (Revelation 5:11-14; 7:1-17; 14:1-4; 19:1-9).
4. Heaven is a place where Christ himself dwells forever. — And he is not content to dwell there without us! — “Where I am, there ye shall be also” is his promise. We should never imagine that we are alone, or that we shall ever be alone or neglected. Christ is our ever present God and Savior; and he shall be with us and us with him forever (John 17:24). “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” Our Saviour, our elder Brother, our Redeemer, who loved us and gave himself for us, shall be in the midst of us forever. What we shall see and whom we shall see in heaven, we cannot fully conceive yet, while we are in the body. But one thing is certain: — We shall see Christ. And “when we see him, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is!”
O blessed hope! O sweet consolation! To the worldly and careless and unbelieving these things may seem to be the empty dreams of deluded and ignorant men and women full of religious superstition; but to all who feel in themselves the workings of the Spirit of God, to all in whom the Son of God dwells, they are full of unspeakable comfort, and fill our souls with joyful anticipation, as we look “for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life” (Jude 21).
Good Things to Come
Thirdly, we have in verse 3 solid ground for expecting good things to come. — “I go to prepare a place for you.” — Sweet, sweet promise! Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people: a place which the Lord Jesus Christ himself has made ready for us. He has prepared it by procuring a right for every sinner who believes to enter in by the merit of his obedience and the merit of his blood. None can stop us and say we have no business there. Our Lord Jesus has prepared it by going before us as our Head and Representative, and taking possession of it as our Forerunner, the Head, Representative, and Forerunner of all the members of his mystical body, the Church. As our Forerunner, he has marched in, leading captivity captive, and has planted his banner in the land of glory. He has prepared it by carrying our names with him as our High Priest into the holy of holies and making angels ready to receive us. When we enter the gates of heaven, we will find that we are neither unknown nor unexpected.
“I will come again and receive you unto myself.” — Our Lord Jesus Christ will not wait for us to come up to him. He will come down to us, to raise us from our graves and escort us to our heavenly home. As Joseph came to meet Jacob, so the Lord Jesus will come to call his people together and guide us to our eternal inheritance in heaven.
The second advent ought never to be forgotten. We do not think of it as we should, with constant expectation, standing as it were upon the tiptoe of faith and expectation. Great is the blessedness of looking back to Christ coming the first time to suffer and die for us as our sin-atoning Substitute. But let us never forget the glory that must and shall follow his sufferings (1 Corinthians 15:51-58; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10).
“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.”