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Grace Notes

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“DO NOT LET YOUR HEART BE TROUBLED,” Part 1, The Comfort
by Philip Owen

          “Let not your heart be troubled” is how the King James Version rendered the words of our text—the beginning of one of the first passages I memorized as a young boy more than sixty years ago. Those words have stood the test of those sixty-plus successive years, as well as the myriad tests of the two millennia since they were first spoken. They are eternal words, as potent and pertinent as they were the day the Lord Jesus first uttered them.

            We must imagine how very much Christ’s disciples needed to hear those words, how timely and critical they were. The Lord had just revealed three overwhelming pieces of information to them. First, He had told them: “One of you will betray Me” (John 13:21). That they had left so much, learned so much, and loved and been loved so much only for one, not just to forsake the Lord, but to betray Him, must have seemed inconceivable. They “began looking at one another, at a loss to know of which one He was speaking” (v. 22).

            Then He dropped an even more devastating bombshell: He was about to leave them. “Where I am going, you cannot come” (v. 33). He was abandoning them? Hadn’t they, in some sense, forsaken wives and children; hadn’t they felt the alienation of their friends and family; hadn’t they experienced the hatred of their religious leaders, the certainty that, if not true already, they would soon be excommunicated from the temple and become societal pariahs? Hadn’t they staked their all in the belief that Jesus was their long-awaited Messiah, the one who would throw off the iron yoke of Rome and restore the throne in Jerusalem? And now He is leaving? Unfathomable!

            Peter, the boldest of the disciples, will have none of it. “Lord,” he responds, “why can I not follow You right now? I will lay down my life for You” (v. 37). Then follows the final blow to the disciples’ confidence. “Truly, truly, I say to you, a rooster will not crow until you deny Me three times” (v. 38). They had heard the Lord preface a profound reality with those words, “truly, truly,” many times before. The gravity and certainty of what followed them was undeniable.

            And it was in that context—a totally shattered worldview—that Jesus spoke the next words: “Do not let your heart be troubled” (14:1a). What comfort. What balm. The One who had halted the raging storm on the Sea of Galilee with the simple words, “Peace, be still,” now has uttered words to quiet the raging wind in their hearts and the engulfing waves in their minds.

            But why should they be quieted of soul? “Believe in God, believe also in Me” (v. 1b). I am the long-expected Jesus, He said in effect. You have seen and experienced all that your prophets predicted would occur when the Messiah came. I am the One you have been looking for, waiting for, hoping for. Believe in Me. Yes, I am leaving, but I am doing so in order to ”prepare a place for you,” and “I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also” (v. 3).

            Furthermore, I am not abandoning you, for “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My words; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him” (14:23b). “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you” (16:7).

            And so, believer-friend, we are living in an advantaged time. The winds are blowing, and the waves are raging, but Christ went away to prepare a place for us and may return at any moment to take us to be with Him. In the meantime, He has sent us His Holy Spirit to indwell us, never to leave nor forsake us. And so He assures us: “Do not let your heart be troubled.” “If God is for us, who is against us?” (Rom. 8:31b). “In all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us” (v. 37).

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