It is not necessary to follow Codex D and some of the versions, and here introduce into the text καὶ εἶπεν τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ . It is enough that the awful warning to Peter, which followed the announcement of the treachery of Judas and his departure, the solemnity of the Lord, and the clear announcement of his approaching death, had fallen like a thunderbolt into their company. Judas held the bag, and was their treasurer, their ἐπίσκοπος (see Hatch's 'Bampt. Lect.'), and a referee on all practical subjects and details. He had turned against the Lord; and now their spokesman, their rock of strength, their most prominent and their boldest brother, the senior of the group, and with one exception the disciple most beloved and trusted by the Master, was actually warned against the most deadly sin—nay, more, a course of conduct is predicted of him enough to scatter them all to the four winds. Is it possible to exaggerate the consternation and distraction, the shrieks of fear, the bitter sobs of reckless grief that convulsed the upper chamber? In the agony of despair, and amid the awful pause that followed the outburst of their confusion and grief, words fell upon their ears which Luther described as "the best and most consoling sermons that the Lord Christ delivered on earth," "a treasure and jewel not to be purchased with the world's goods." Hengstenberg has argued at length that the opening words of the chapter do not point to this scene of deep dejection, but to the conversation recorded in Luke 22:35-38 , where our Lord warned his disciples of the career of anxiety and dependence and struggle through which they would have to pass. They must be ready even to part with their garment to procure a sword, i.e. they must be prepared to defend themselves against many enemies. With his characteristic impetuosity Peter says, "Here are two swords;" and Jesus said, "It is enough." He could not have meant that two swords were a match for the weapons of the high priests, or the power of the Roman empire, but that the disciple had once again misunderstood the figurative teaching of Christ, and, like a child (as he was), had, in the intensity of his present feeling, lost all apperception of the future. True, the language of Luke 22:35-38 suggests an answer to the question, "Why cannot I follow thee now?" But these words in John 14:1-31 . more certainly contemplate that query, coupled with the other occasions that had arisen for bitter tribulation. To the faithful ones, to Peter's own nobler nature, and to them all alike in view of their unparalleled grief and dismay at the immediate prospect of his departure, he says, Let not your heart be troubled— the one heart of you all; for, after all, it is one heart, and for the moment it was in uttermost exacerbation and distress, lie repeated the words at the close of the first part of the discourse ( John 14:27 ), after he had uttered his words of consolation. The "trouble" from which that one heart of theirs is breaking is not the mere sentimental sorrow of parting with a friend, but the perplexity arising from distracting cares and conflicting passions. The work of love and sacrifice means trouble that nothing but supernatural aid and Divine strength can touch. The heartache of those who are wakened up to any due sense of the eternal is one that nothing but the hand that moves all things can soothe or remedy. Faith in the absolute goodness of God can alone sustain the mind in these deep places of fear, and under the shadow of death. But he gives a reason for their consolation. This is, Believe in God , i.e. the eternal God in all his revelations of himself in the past—in God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who has most completely been unveiled to you now in the word and light and life that have been given to you in me . Your faith in God will be equal to your emergencies, and, if you live up to such fairly, you will bear all that befalls you. But, he adds, as I have been in the bosom of God and have declared him to you, believe also in me, as his highest and most complete Revelation. He claimed from them thus the same kind of sentiment, as by right of creation and infinite perfection God Almighty had demanded from them. There are three other ways in which this ambiguous sentence may be translated, according as both the πιστεύετε are taken either as indicatives or imperatives, but the above method is approved by the great majority of interpreters from the early Fathers to Meyer and Godet. The vulgate and Authorized version and Revised version make the second only of the πιστεύετε imperative, and consequently read, "Ye believe in God, believe also in me ," which, in the revelation they had just given of their wretchedness and lack of adequate courage and faithfulness, was almost more than the Lord, in the deep and comprehensive sense in which he was using the word "God," would have attributed to them. The different order of the words in the Greek, bringing the two clauses, "in God" and "in me ," together, gives potency to the argument of the verse, which is that of the entire Gospel.
Comfort under separation.
There is no break between this chapter and the preceding.
I. MARK OUR LORD 'S SYMPATHY WITH HIS DISCIPLES . "Let not your heart be troubled."
1. The best of God ' s people may be at times in a desponding and distrustful mood .
2. Jesus takes delight in comforting his saints and lightening the burden of a heavy heart . "Come unto me, and I will give you rest."
II. MARK THE REMEDY FOR THE DESPONDENT MOOD OF HIS DISCIPLES . "Believe in God, believe also in me." It is faith. Jesus invites them to confidence.
1. There must be faith in God , who has provided a home for his children on high . There is great comfort in the thought of the Fatherhood of God.
2. There must be faith in Christ , who , as the Mediator , will realize what the Father has promised .
III. THE ARGUMENTS FOR CONSOLATION .
1. The existence of heaven as the home of the saints . "In my Father's house are many mansions."
(a) This does not signify that there are different degrees of happiness in heaven,
(b) but that there is room in heaven for the whole family of God.
(a) This implies that Jesus will go first to heaven.
(b) He enters within the veil as "Forerunner." What strong consolation is in this blessed truth!
2. Another argument for consolation is the promise of Christ ' s return to receive his disciples . "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I come again, and I will receive you to myself; that where I am, there ye may be also."
(a) at Pentecost,
(b) nor at conversion,
(c) nor at the day of judgment,
(d) but at the death of each disciple.
(a) Heaven is wherever Christ is; therefore "to depart and be with Christ is far better."
(b) Christ will be the Center of the believer's joys.
3. Another argument for consolation is that the disciples knew the way to heaven . "And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know."
The revelation made to faith.
The dark shadow of our Lord's approaching agony and death was now upon his heart. Yet he thought tenderly of the sorrow of his disciples on their own account. Hence the sympathizing and consolatory tone of his last sustained and leisurely conversation with them. Hence the special revelation with which they were on this occasion favored. And hence, too, the intercessory prayer which was at that juncture of their need offered so fervently on their behalf. The words which comforted them have proved consolatory to Christ's people in every age, and especially to those in affliction of spirit.
I. THE OBJECT OF FAITH , AS ENJOINED BY CHRIST . Faith was the condition of receiving the revelation and enjoying the promise which the Lord Jesus had to communicate. Now, it is a very common thing in our days for men to eulogize faith. But it is not infrequently forgotten that the virtue of faith depends upon its object. To believe is good, if we believe what is worthy of credit. To trust is good, if we trust one deserving of confidence. Our Lord enjoins faith:
1. In God. If there be a God, surely we can need no argument, no persuasion, to induce us to believe in him. We believe in our imperfect earthly friends; how much more reason have we to believe in our perfect God? Especially does this appear when we consider, not only what God is, but what he has done to justify and to elicit our faith.
2. In Christ. How shall we connect faith in the Savior with faith in the Father? Probably thus: we need some faith in God in order to believe in Jesus whom he sent, and then, trusting in Christ, we attain to a fuller, stronger faith in the Father. The apostles and disciples, whom Jesus gathered round him in his earthly ministry, had such experience of his truth, his tenderness, his fidelity, that they might well trust him entirely and always—trust him so as to receive his declarations, to rely upon his promises, to do his will. How natural and proper is it for the Christian, who knows alike his own need and the sufficiency of his Savior, to place in him an absolute and unfaltering trust! If such trust was becoming on the part of those who knew Jesus in his ministry, how far stronger are the inducements which our experience of our Savior's grace and power furnish to our confidence! We took back upon what Jesus suffered for us, upon his victory as our Representative, and upon his long unseen ministry of grace; and we respond to his summons, and renew our faith in his words and in his work.
II. THE REVELATION CHRIST MAKES TO FAITH . This unfolding of Divine counsels has reference to man's life and history as a whole; not only to the seen, but to the unseen, the eternal. Temporary sorrows and difficulties all but disappear when they take their place as incidents in an immortal existence.
1. The universe is our Father's house and temple. How far otherwise is it regarded by many, even of the inquiring and intelligent! To not a few the world is mindless, loveless, has no origin that can he understood, and no aim; and has, therefore, a very feeble interest. As God's house, it has been built and furnished by the Divine Architect, who has arranged it to suit the needs of all his children. As God's temple, it is the scene of his indwelling and manifestation, of his holy service and his spiritual glory. It is the place where he dwells and where he is worshipped, who is Christ's Father and ours. What sweet and hallowed associations are wont to gather around the house of the human father! Similarly to the Christian the universe is dear, because there the Divine Father displays his presence, exercises his care, utters his love. That rebellious and profane voices are heard in the house which is consecrated to obedience, reverence, and praise, is indeed too true. Yet the Christian can never lose sight of the true purpose, the proper destination, of the world; in his apprehension it has been formed for the Divine glory, and it is consecrated by the Divine love.
2. The universe is further represented by Jesus as containing many and varied abodes for the spiritual children of God. Why is the great house so spacious and commodious? Because it is constructed to contain multitudes of inhabitants, and to afford to all a scene of service and of development. "Many abiding-places" are for the use of many guests, of many children. There are many citizens in the city, many subjects in the kingdom, many children in the household, many worshippers in the temple. Among those of whom we have little knowledge are the angels, thrones, principalities, and powers. Among those known to us by the records of the past are patriarchs and prophets, apostles, saints, and martyrs. There is room for all—for the young and the old, the ignorant and the learned, the great and the despised. No reader of Christ's words can doubt that his purpose and his promise included untold myriads of mankind. His life was given a ransom "for many." He designed to "draw all men unto himself." He foresaw that many should enter his kingdom, from the East and from the West. In the Book of his Revelation by John, it is foretold that "a great multitude, whom no man can number," shall assemble before the throne of glory. The pilgrim shall leave his tent, the captive his prison, the voyager his ship, the warrior his camp, and all alike shall repair to "the house which hath foundations, whose Builder and Maker is God." It is a glorious spectacle, one which reason is too dim-sighted to behold, but which is clear to the eye of faith.
III. THE PROMISE CHRIST GIVES TO FAITH . Many of our Lord's earlier sayings had been vague; now, in anticipation of his departure, his language is plain and clear.
1. Jesus has gone to prepare. Not indeed for himself, but for his people. When earth has no longer a place for them, a home will be found to have been made ready for their reception elsewhere. There is much that is mysterious in the exercise of our Savior's mediatorial grace in the sphere of his present action; but we have no difficulty in believing that he concerns himself above with the work which he commenced below.
2. He will come again to receive. Shall we take this assurance to refer to his resurrection, or to his second coming yet in the future? Of has it not rather reference to that perpetual coming of Christ unto his own, of which his Church has always and everywhere had experience? When the earthly service of a faithful disciple is finished, then Jesus comes to welcome that beloved and approved one to rest and recompense. Concerning our dear ones who are dead to earth, we have the assurance that they have not been overlooked by the Divine and tender Friend of souls.
3. He assures his people of his blessed fellowship. The language in which Jesus conveyed the assurance must have been peculiarly affecting to those who had been with him during his earthly ministry. They knew by experience the charm of their Lord's society, and the strength it gave them for work and for endurance. What more attractive and glorious prospect could the future have for them than this—the renewal and the perpetuation of that fellowship which had been the joy and the blessing of their life on earth? But the same is in a measure true of every Christian. What representation of future happiness is so congenial and so inspiring as this—the being "ever with the Lord"?
IV. THE PEACE WHICH IS THE FRUIT OF FAITH . Much was at hand which was likely to occasion alarm and dismay. Events were about to happen which would crush many hopes and cloud many hearts. This was well known to the Master. Hence his admonition to his disciples, "Let not your heart be troubled." An admonition such as this, when it comes alone, is powerless. But Christ, by revealing himself and his purposes to the minds of his brethren, supported the precept he addressed to them. What might well distress and even overwhelm those who were without the support and consolation of a sustaining and inspiring faith, would be powerless to shake such as built their hopes upon the sure foundation of unchanging faithfulness, immortal love. Those who have faith in Christ are the possessors of true peace—the peace which "passeth understanding," the peace which the world can neither give nor take away.—T.
Faith banishing fear.
We have here—
I. FAITH SPECIALLY ENJOINED .
1. As to its Objects—God and Christ .
2. The objects of faith are pointed out in their natural order of sequence .
3. The exercise of faith is the only way of Divine realization in the soul .
II. FAITH IS ENJOINED AS THE ANTIDOTE OF TROUBLE . "Let not your heart," etc. This implies:
1. That Christians , while in this world , are exposed to trouble . These are:
2. That trouble naturally attacks the heart . Hence our Savior says, "Let not your heart," etc. The heart is the seat of emotion, the avenue of good and evil, and is impressible to every passing influence, and troubles which would be rejected by reason will be admitted by the trembling and undefended heart.
3. Faith in God and Christ fortifies the heart against trouble . "Let not your heart," etc. It was the aim of Christ now to strengthen them against the impending trouble and shelter them from the thunderstorm of sorrow and perplexity which had already begun to break out. This he does by fortifying their heart. This fortification is to be made by faith in God and Christ. For heart-disease there is but one remedy, and it is infallible, prescribed by the infallible Physician. "Believe in God," etc. This will fill the soul with elements of comfort and security, and while full of these, it is impregnable to trouble. What are these?
1. The freedom of the heart from trouble depends upon its own state and action . With the heart we grieve, and with it we also believe. If the heart is idle and stagnant, it will be filled with trouble; but if active in faith in God and the Savior, it will be filled with hope and joy.
2. The means of fortifying the heart against trouble are within our reach . The remedy for heart-trouble is ever at hand. The ingredients of the Divine prescription might be difficult to procure, but they are easy and near. "Believe," etc.
3. To keep troubles out from the heart is far easier than to drive them out once they are in . Hence our Lord's special injunction is, "Let not your," etc. Prevention is ever better than cure, and the prevention of trouble is the constant activity of the heart in a large and genuine faith in God and Christ.—B.T.
Trouble on the surface, peace in the depths.
I. AN APPEAL TO A FAMILIAR EXPERIENCE . Most of the disciples, perhaps all of them, were well acquainted with the sea of Galilee. Some of them had earned their livelihood on its waters. They knew it in calm and in storm; and when their Master spoke of hearts being troubled , there was everything in this word "troubled" to make them think at once of the sea they had so often to do with. Their hearts were not to be as the waters of the lake, instantly responding to every breeze that set them in agitation. The surface is a mass of tossing billows; it cannot for a moment resist the wind; but the wind tries in vain to blow its turmoil down into the depths. So we cannot help the surface-trouble; but, whatever the changes of life, our hearts are kept in peace.
II. FUTURE TRIALS FORSEEN . We must recollect a little of the after experience of those whom Jesus here addresses. They were nearing a time of tempest and troubling, well perceived by him, altogether unexpected by them. They were to lose the visible presence of their Master. Persecution awaited them. They would have to go far from familiar and secluded Galilee out into all the world, to preach the gospel to every creature. So far the disciples had been like mariners, dropping down the harbor and making seaward under One whom they reckon as Captain. He is still with them, and they reckon on his continuing with them. And so he will, but in another guise from that which they expect. Thus Jesus would do his best to make them ready. The greatest of all dangers is that which for a while they will think of least, even the danger of trouble penetrating to the heart, and leaving not one single calm and blessed region in the whole of their experience.
III. THE SURE WAY TO UNBROKEN CALM . It is well for us when we come to estimate the perils of life according to the standard of Christ. Some people get no enjoyment out of life from their nervous apprehension concerning all sorts of temporal dangers. They are ever mounting sentinel against foes that no sentinel can keep out. But here is a peril only too easily overlooked—that of neglecting a real faith in God and in Christ. Remember the story of the man who was running full speed across a field to escape a thunderstorm. All at once he was gored by a bull, whose presence in the field he had altogether forgotten. This is a sample of the prudence of some people. The man had no certainty of escaping the lightning wherever he might go. But he could easily have escaped the bull by keeping out of the field where it was. Thus men thinking to save their lives, lose them. If the roots of our life are deepening and extending and intertwining into the life of God , then the fabric of our best interests cannot fall. We must be careful, too, to act on the double reference. Jesus does not stop with saying, "Believe in God." Nor does he begin with saying, "Believe in me." Jesus opens up all the resources at once. Jesus himself had believed in his Father. The disciples had to pass through tempests; Jesus himself had to pass through hurricanes and tornadoes, and say to himself, "Let not thy heart be troubled; believe in God." Believe in Jesus for the very works' sake. They will take him to prison; they will crown him with thorns; they will fasten him to the cross, and he will die; and still believe. Believe in Jesus, who himself has trod all the path, from earth's deepest sorrows to heaven's fullest joys. Who has better right to say, "Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me"?—Y.