Words of Comfort

How precious are the words of Christ to His disciples in the upper room, and prior to His departure from them, as recorded in John 14. 1-3. What a comfort they have been to many since the day they were spoken by the Lord, and even today.

Undoubtedly, the cause of the ‘troubled heart’, was the fact that He was leaving them. Such an event was totally unexpected, and had for them its frustration, sorrow and disappointment. It was separation - the termination of a unique, loving and earthly relationship, and of their hopes and dreams relative to the kingdom. The Saviour, knowing their hearts, was able to minister to them accordingly.

1. The Trust of Faith, v. 1

The words, ‘Ye believe in God, believe also in me’, were a call to the trust of faith. We read of this trust of faith many times in the Old Testament, but it is also a requirement in New Testament times. As God was the worthy object of the disciples’ faith, so He, the Son of God, was also the worthy object of their faith. Only such faith could sustain them, quieten their spirits and dispel their fears. It was necessary in their present circumstances, and in the light of impending events.

Jesus knew all that lay ahead of Him, John 18. 4, but the disciples did not. It was true He had spoken to them about His death, but at this point in time, with Judas now gone from their midst, they could not possibly have envisaged all that was about to happen. It was therefore of importance that they trust Him fully and implicitly. He had never failed them, and He would not fail them now. Moreover He was going into death for them, going to the Father for them, coming again for them. How sad in the light of this that we read, ‘the disciples forsook him and fled’, Matt. 26. 56. We cannot however, be too critical of the disciples, for we perhaps, would have behaved in a similar manner in the same circumstances.

The ‘troubled heart’ however, does not only pertain to the disciples. Life for us also, has its problems, frustrations, sorrows and disappointments. In times of bereavement in particular, we need to be comforted and reassured. The words of the Master impart solace and strength to our hearts. He is ever worthy of our faith and trust, in the present, and for the future.

‘Simply trusting every day,
Trusting through a stormy way,
Even when my faith is small,
Trusting Jesus that is all.’

2. The Vision of Faith, v. 2

Having called the disciples to the trust of faith, the Saviour now directs their thoughts upward to the ‘Father’s house’ - ‘my Father’s house’. The place was personal to Him, and in fact the place from which He had come and to which He was going, John 13. 3. Never guilty of deception, He assures them, ‘if it were not so, I would have told you’.

The Fathers house’ was a heavenly house. The temple was an earthly house, John 2; the body is an earthly house, 2 Cor. 5. 1, but here was a heavenly house. The scriptures speak of a heavenly city or country, Heb. 11. 16, and of a heavenly inheritance, 1 Pet. 1. 4, but the Lord alone refers to heaven as the ‘Father’s house’. It is home. Heaven is home and home is the ‘Father’s house’. Christians are ‘strangers’ away from home and ‘pilgrims’ going home, 1 Pet. 2. 11. Secure in the Father’s hand!, John 10. 29, and soon to be safe in the Father’s house, John 14. We sometimes sing, ‘Heaven is my home’ but is our life and behaviour consistent with it?

In context and in contrast to earth there is also the suggestion that in the ‘Father’s house’ there is freedom from trouble and care. Nothing of that nature can possibly enter there. There is no sin or defilement there; no corruption there; no death there; no sorrow there; no crying there; no tears there; all is perfect there, 1 Pet. 1. 4; Rev. 21. 4.

It is also a house of ‘many mansions’ or abiding places. The thought is not of luxury or grandeur but of spaciousness and permanence. There is room for all God’s children, from every nation and denomination - yet there is room, Luke 14. 22. Our earthly life is short and this world transient, 1 John 2. 17, but the Father’s house is permanent, abiding and eternal, 2 Cor. 5. 1. The Psalmist speaks of dwelling in the house of the Lord for ever’ Ps. 23; and Paul of being forever with the Lord, 1. Thess. 4.

There is also a prepared place there, and it is the Saviour Himself who prepares it. It has been rightly said that, ‘He prepared a place by the way He took to prepare a place’. It is certain that no one could have had a place in the Father’s house had He not died and risen again. His presence there in heaven is the guarantee that all the redeemed will be there with Him.

The Hope of Faith, v. 3

Jesus said He would depart from this world, and He did. He said He would return, and He will. He gave the promise Himself, and He is coming Himself. His personal return is the hope of the Christian and of the church. It is a blessed hope, Tit. 2. 13; a living hope, 1 Pet. 1. 3; a purifying hope, 1. John 3. 3.

The promise was to His ‘own’ disciples, and he is coming for His ‘own’. He is not coming to give His life a ransom, as at His first coming, but to receive, and this reception is unto Himself. His ‘own’ had a unique place in their affections for Him, 1 Pet. 1. 8. His desire is to have His ‘own’ with Him, John 17. 24, and the desire of His ‘own’ is to be with Him - to see His face - to be satisfied in His likeness, Phil. 3. 21; Ps. 7. 15.

The promise in John 14 does not refer to His coming at death, as some have suggested, or to His coming to earth, of which so many other scriptures speak, but of His coming to the ‘air’, the subject of which is developed in 1 Corinthians 15 and 1 Thessalonians 4.

(The ‘descent’ is from heaven with archangel’s voice, and the trump of God. The ‘ascent’ is from earth. ‘The dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up … to meet the Lord in the air’, 1 Thess. 4. 16-17. This will be a glorious translation and reunion. ‘In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye’ corruption will put on incorruption and mortality immortality, 1 Cor. 15; bodies of humiliation changed like unto the body of His glory, Phil. 3. 21. This will be a glorious transformation. Death and the grave vanquished. This will be a glorious consummation, ‘Thanks be unto God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ, 1 Cor. 15. 57. And thus will be fulfilled the promise of John 14.

What a day of rejoicing that will be!


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