By Rev. Robert L. Donnelly
WORDS OF JESUS – “Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled...”
One of the best known and best loved of all New Testament Scriptures is the 14th chapter of John. It's read at funerals and in sick rooms. It's memorized by children, and parts of it are often quoted by the aged. The first verse especially has become an almost universal panacea for every time of trial or tribulation. “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.” And so on, through this wonderful chapter that contains the last words of the LORD Jesus before Gethsemane. Words of comfort, of assurance, with the promise of the very Peace of God to keep our hearts and minds.
Or DOES Jesus mean US, when He says, “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid”? (John 14:1, 27). Do WE have any right to take these words and promises and claim them as ours? Are WE included in this divine prescription for peace of mind? And if so, then why the unrest, the constant friction, the broken hearts, and broken homes that are all around us?
Those are questions that concern everyone, and I would like to answer some of them today. The first question, “Have we any right to claim this first verse of John chapter 14 as ours?” can be answered by asking another question: To whom was Jesus speaking? We agree, of course, that he was speaking to His disciples – the very same men to whom He spoke in the previous chapter, saying, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” (13:8). And then earlier still, “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.” (12:24). So then, there is a background of instruction that has to be taken into consideration, before we come to chapter 14.
We have no right just to start reading choice portions of Scripture, and ignore the great truths that led up to these wonderful promises. Putting it plainly, we have no right to claim the disciples' promises, unless we have followed in the disciples' footsteps, the path of obedience. You will notice that Judas left the company before Jesus said, “Let not your hearts be troubled.” His last words to Judas were, “What you do, do quickly” (13:27), and he went out immediately – and it was night.
For Judas, there were no words of comfort, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment. He had had every opportunity to be cured of his covetousness, of his avarice, of his meanness; but instead, he saw in Christ an opportunity of making more money, and satisfying his miserly soul with thirty pieces of silver.
I have heard these words, “Let not your hearts be troubled” read at funerals, when it would have been more fitting to have heard, “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3). The very same Jesus, who said “Let not your hearts be troubled” also said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).
“Let not your hearts be troubled” was spoken to men who had given up their all to follow Jesus. There was a growing sentiment against this young Galilean, Jesus; and before another day had passed, all their cherished hopes for the establishment of Israel's
The greatest disappointment of their lives was about to break on them, and they desperately needed the words of the 14th chapter of John. But now the question for us is – are those words still of value? Can we, too, claim the comfort they offer? and rest assured of a place where many mansions be? And the answer must be, and is, as plain as the question. The promise IS yours – if you identify yourself as a servant and a disciple of Jesus Christ. If you experience the cleansing of John 13, and you will know the comfort of John 14.
In fact, there are 13 chapters about the various experiences these disciples had, before they heard the words, “Let not your heart be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in Me.” The only way of knowing the blessing of the promise is by obedience to the precept.
And now, why all the broken hearts, broken lives, broken homes all around us, when the 14th chapter of John is still in the Bible? There is only one answer – men and women want the fruit, without planting the seed – they want harvest of good, without a surrender to the will of God – they want peace, but not through the Prince of Peace.
Or, to put it plainly again, before we leave, they want the 14th chapter of John without the 3rd chapter that tells of the New Birth; without the 4th chapter, that tells of the Water of Life, without the 6th chapter that tells of the Bread of Life, without the 9th chapter that tells of the Light of Life, without the 10th chapter that tells of following the Good Shepherd, without the 11th chapter that tells of Resurrection Life, without the 12th chapter that tells of the Surrendered Life, and without the 13th chapter that tells of the Cleansed Life.
Yes, the 14th chapter of John IS for us ALL, if we come to it the way the disciples did.