The scene is in the upper room, where Jesus met with His disciples to observe the Passover. He washed their feet as an example of humble serving. He instituted what we call the Lord’s supper. He predicted that one of them will betray Him. He gave them a new commandment, to love each other as He loved them.
And now He tells them He is about to leave them.
Peter, almost always the first one to speak up, wants to know where Jesus is going and why they can’t follow. He pledges to lay down his life for Christ.
And then Jesus stuns Peter by predicting Peter will deny Him—not once, but three times.
In John’s narrative, it looks like immediately after this exchange, Jesus goes on to some of His final teaching before He is betrayed and arrested. John is the only gospel-writer to record this extended discourse.
The disciples only know part of what’s coming: that Jesus is leaving, and that at some point persecution will come. Peter is told that he will spectacularly fail. None of them knows that Jesus is about to be arrested that very night and die the next day. But Jesus knew they needed comfort, hope, and strength for what was ahead.
Jesus opens and closes these words with the phrase, “Let not your hearts be troubled” (John 14:1, 27). I had never realized before this reading that Jesus said it twice or that He said it right after predicting Peter’s denial.
In Warren Wiersbe’s book, Be Transformed (John 13-21: Christ’s Triumph Means Your Transformation), he brings out six truths Jesus shared with His disciples at this time:
They are going to heaven (13:36-14:6). Not immediately, but someday they will follow Him to the place He went ahead to prepare.
They know the Father now (14:7-11). Wiersbe points out that “the word Father is used fifty-three times in John 13-17.” Heaven is “my Father’s house.” “Jesus said that knowing Him and seeing Him was the same as knowing and seeing the Father. He was claiming to be God.” Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). They could trust in the Father’s loving care.
They have the privilege of prayer (14:12-15). “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (14:13). Wiersbe notes:
The “whatsoever” in John 14: 13 is qualified by all that God has revealed in His Word about prayer; likewise, the “anything” in John 14:14. God is not giving us carte blanche; “in My name” is the controlling element. To know God’s name means to know His nature, what He is, and what He wants to do. God answers prayer in order to honor His name; therefore, prayer must be in His will (1 John 5:14–15). The first request in “the Lord’s Prayer” is, “Hallowed be thy name” (Matt. 6:9). Any request that does not glorify God’s name should not be asked in His name (Location 587).
They have the Holy Spirit (14:16-18). In God’s plan, the Holy Spirit would come to minister to God’s people in a special way when Jesus went back to heaven. He’s called the Helper and the Comforter. “He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (14:26).
They enjoy the Father’s love (14:19-24). Our love for Him will be manifested by keeping His Word.
They have the gift of His peace (14:25-31). “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (v. 27).
Though our circumstances are different, there is much in the world that could trouble us. The world has never been a friend of God, but it seems to be going further away from Him. Those who know God in Western society have had many privileges the last several decades, but those are fading fast. Christianity is not popular these days. Christ foretold a variety of bad things that would happen before the end.
And besides the large-scale issues, we face rising prices, discord in our country, new diseases, and physical issues.
And, like Peter, sometimes our personal failures haunt us.
Yet God has given us the same resources He gave the first disciples, hasn’t He? We have a relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God has prepared a place in heaven for us to look forward to. Meanwhile, we have the Father’s love, care, forgiveness, and grace, the Word of God, the Holy Spirit’s help, comfort, and guidance, and the peace of Jesus that overcomes the world.
Truly we have every reason to “let not our hearts be troubled,” no matter what comes our way in the future.
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