“Let not your heart be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in me.” – John 14:1
This is the day in the “church year” some call “Maundy Thursday.” Since most Christians think of Good Friday as the day of the crucifixion, this evening is sometimes set aside to remember the origin of the communion service: the “Last Supper” Jesus had with his inner circle before the crucifixion.
In John’s Gospel we find the most detailed account of that evening they shared together. He gives three full chapters to the teaching Jesus gave them at that time, including some of the most beloved and often quoted things he ever said. One could write a book about that amazing and wide-ranging discourse.
One of the most astonishing things in it is its opening: “Let not your heart be troubled.”
Think of the circumstances! In the previous chapter we read that Jesus had just told them three things that shocked them profoundly:
1) He told them he was about to be killed.
2) He told them that one of them, a member of that close inner group of 12, was going to betray him.
3) Finally, he had just told them that brave Peter, a natural leader among the 12, was going to deny him three times before morning.
“But don’t be upset!” he tells them in the next breath. It is immediately after these three shocks that he gives them this firm order: “Don’t let it throw you; you have confidence in God, have confidence in me.”
That is one way we might translate into modern speech these familiar words: “Let not your heart be troubled.”
You and I have never faced any shocks as troubling as the three Jesus had just delivered to this group. First, he himself, their leader, their powerful protector, their teacher, their nation’s Messiah, the Son of the Living God, was to be taken from them, and taken from them through the violent process of being crucified.
We have all lost loved ones to death but none of us has lost anyone as close to us and as important in our lives as Jesus was in the lives of these men. But he tells them not merely that they should not panic, but that they should not even be troubled.
On top of that, they could not be sustained through the impending crisis by the solidarity of their support group. The one who seemed the strongest of them was going to deny even knowing Jesus, and another was actually going to sell him out to his enemies.
But he said “Let not your heart be troubled.” Don’t allow that; fight the impulse to fear; put it down.
What are the things that threaten to trouble you? Don’t let them. Do you have confidence in God? You may! In fact, you must. The same Lord Jesus who assured the disciples that night assures you now through the same word: “Have confidence in me.”
John 13:21 – 14:1