John Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

1 (John 14:1)

Verse 1

1.Let not your heart be troubled. Not without good reason does Christ confirm his disciples by so many words, since a contest so arduous and so terrible awaited them; for it was no ordinary temptation, that soon afterwards they would see him hanging on the cross; a spectacle in which nothing was to be seen but ground for the lowest despair. The season of so great distress being at hand, he points out the remedy, that they may not be vanquished and overwhelmed; for he does not simply exhort and encourage them to be steadfast, but likewise informs them where they must go to obtain courage; that is, by faith, when he is acknowledged to be the Son of God, who has in himself a sufficiency of strength for maintaining the safety of his followers.

We ought always to attend to the time when these words were spoken, that Christ wished his disciples to remain brave and courageous, when they might think that every thing was in the greatest confusion; and therefore we ought to employ the same shield for warding off such assaults. It is impossible for us, indeed, to avoid feeling various emotions, but though we are shaken, we must not fall down. Thus it is said of believers, that they are not troubled, because, relying on the word of God, though very great difficulties press hard upon them, still they remain steadfast and upright.

You believe in God. It might also be read in the imperative mood, Believe in God, and believe in me; but the former reading agrees better, and has been more generally received. Here he points out the method of remaining steadfast, as I have already said; that is, if our faith rest on Christ, and view him in no other light than as being present and stretching out his hand to assist us. But it is wonderful that faith in the Father is here placed first in order, for he ought rather to have told his disciples that they ought to believe in God, since they had believed in Christ; because, as Christ is the lively image of the Father, so we ought first to cast our eyes on him; and for this reason, too, he descends to us, that our faith, beginning with him, may rise to God. But Christ had a different object in view, for all acknowledge that we ought to believe in God, and this is an admitted principle to which all assent without contradiction; and yet there is scarce one in a hundred who actually believes it, not only because the naked majesty of God is at too great a distance from us, but also because Satan interposes clouds of every description to hinder us from contemplating God. The consequence is, that our faith, seeking God in his heavenly glory and inaccessible light, vanishes away; and even the flesh, of its own accord, suggests a thousand imaginations, to turn away our eyes from beholding God in a proper manner.

The Son of God, then, who is Jesus Christ, (61) holds out himself as the object to which our faith ought to be directed, and by means of which it will easily find that on which it can rest; for he is the true Immanuel, who answers us within, as soon as we seek him by faith. It is one of the leading articles of our faith, that our faith ought to be directed to Christ alone, that it may not wander through long windings; and that it ought to be fixed on him, that it may not waver in the midst of temptations. And this is the true proof of faith, when we never suffer ourselves to be torn away from Christ, and from the promises which have been made to us in him. When Popish divines dispute, or, I should rather say, chatter, about the object of faith, they mention God only, and pay no attention to Christ. They who derive their instruction from the notions of such men, must be shaken by the slightest gale of wind that blows. Proud men are ashamed of Christ’s humiliation, and, therefore, they fly to God’s incomprehensible Divinity. But faith will never reach heaven unless it submit to Christ, who appears to be a low and contemptible God, and will never be firm if it do not seek a foundation in the weakness of Christ.

- John Calvin's Commentary on the Bible