Scripture Text – John 14:1-3, 18-19, 25-27
The fourteenth chapter of John’s Gospel falls into a portion of Scripture which has been called Jesus’ farewell discourse. Jesus and His disciples were facing the reality of Jesus’ death and the grief and pain of separation. For the disciples there also was the fear of living without the immediate presence of their Lord and the haunting unknown, simply not knowing what the future would hold, what death meant, and how to cope without the direct guidance of a person of strength among them.
When Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled,” He wasn’t suggesting that the disciples should pretend not to hurt in their loss and separation which was to come. Rather, His pastoral imperative urged them, in spite of the pain, not to be worried and upset as if all dimensions of their happiness and usefulness were coming to an end, as if through the dark clouds there could be no more light. There was reason for Jesus’ friends and followers, the children of God to hope because God in the great by and by pulls together all the loose strands of tragedy, misunderstanding, and rough edges.
As an antidote to despair Jesus bade them believe both in God and in himself. In an ongoing relationship with our gracious God and our Lord Jesus Christ there are, ultimately answers and, where no answers are possible, peace that surpasses understanding.
God knows when our hearts are troubled and how deeply we can despair; often these feelings come precisely because we feel forsaken by God. Right at the outset of Jesus’ conversation with the hurting disciples, He pointed them not only to the providence of God in a broad sense, but also, more particularly, to God’s concern for and involvement with individuals. Jesus chose a striking metaphor to describe the qualities of life in the world, where He would be going, and where His disciples, indeed, all the people of God, would someday follow Him. Jesus declared that life there would be like living in God’s own house. It’s a big house with many rooms; nobody who wants to be there will be deprived of a place. Some have talked about God’s big house as a “mansion.” What Jesus really wanted to stress was not the impressiveness of the accommodations but the marvelous assurance of having a place to be with God, in as intimate a place as God’s own home, for all eternity.
There is still further assurance. God’s own Son, though He too would have to walk through the valley of the shadow of death, was the One who went ahead to that big house to make sure everything was in order when the time comes for folks like us to join them there. Jesus stated that He Himself will come to take God’s children home. Perhaps He referred primarily to His reappearing at the end of time, but I cannot get past the personal emphasis in the passage which suggests, to me, that Jesus’ presence undergirds the child of God in death as in life. There is no separation, no abandonment, and no loneliness during the experience of death and beyond. The fact that the risen Lord has, in the power of God, overcome death means eternal life for the rest who know Him as Lord.
God’s people are well taken care of. What about those left behind at a time of loss? The presence of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, remains with you through the Holy Spirit. It is on Him that you will lean and in Him that you will find comfort for this day and the days ahead. This will mean peace for you. If the world has any peace to offer, it is merely external and usually transitory. This is not the kind of peace Jesus promises, not the kind He wants you to experience. The peace He offers is in His undying presence with you; it is that internal, deeply spiritual realization that you do not carry your weariness, fears, burdens, and grief alone.
So, in the name of Jesus Christ and because of His promises and His peace, don’t be worried and upset. Don’t be afraid. This one whom you love is in the loving hands of God, death passed; all struggle and pain and sickness are no more.