NT reading for Mar 24 -- John 14.
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid." (John 14:27)
Untroubled (Jn 14:1, 27). We, like the disciples in the upper room, are looking at a world which has great uncertainty about it. The corona virus pandemic has people asking, "How is this all going to end up? Will my family and my loved ones be all right? Am I ready for this?" Of course there are practical matters to attend to: enough canned goods on the shelf, making sure children know where important papers are, and so on. On the night of Jesus' betrayal the disciples were certainly beginning to ask similar questions -- what if things turn out badly? ...what if Jesus is not going to be here? ...what will we do and how will we manage? These days are -- as those days were -- uncertain and troubling. And Jesus begins by saying, "Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe [or, "you do believe"] in God; believe also in me" (14:1).
Not abandoned. In circular style, similar to the style of John's writing in his first epistle (I John), Jesus addresses a number of issues with his followers. The upper room discourse (Jn 13-16) is not as easily outlined as, say, the book of Romans. But there are a number of repeated themes (promises and truths) that Jesus speaks about, moves on from, and then comes back to: peace from God; trust and obedience; asking freely for the things needed; a promised Helper; the response of the world to the gospel; and others. Right off Jesus comforts his disciples that they -- and we who follow him today -- will never be abandoned or left to our own resources. "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you" (14:18).
He will come to them after he is raised from the dead (the apostles are witnesses to his resurrection). But further, he will come to them (and us) by the Holy Spirit and so dwell within us. And finally, he will return and take us to our real, final, ultimate Home: "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also" (14:3). We can be untroubled in these troubled times because God, though he is unseen, will never abandon us. Jesus was raised from the dead, and ascended to heaven, and he promised to send the Helper to be with us until Christ shall return. We will never be left alone.
Father and Son. Another theme, which weaves all through the gospel of John, is the personal, living, loving union of the Lord Jesus with his Father. It is a union of essence (shared nature as God) and of loving relationship (a son to father). No one can come to the Father but through the Son (14:6). "Whoever has seen me has seen the Father" (14:9). "I am in the Father and the Father is in me" (14:11). And here is the marvel: that we have been brought into that relationship! It is not just that we have been joined to Christ ("in him" is the phrase the Apostle Paul uses), but that we are brought into communion with the Triune God. "In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you" (14:20). In fact, through the indwelling Spirit the Triune God indwells us now: "...and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him" (14:23b). "We"... Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. How could we ever be fearful or troubled when we are included even now in communion with the Trinity?
Love is shown in obedience. This leads to another theme, that love is shown through obedience (14:15, 21, 23-24). The love that Jesus has for his Father is now in us. And like Jesus we seek, as sons and daughters, to be faithful to obey Christ our Lord and God our Father. Of first importance, we are to believe in Jesus, that is, receive him as he is offered to us in the gospel -- Savior from our sins and Lord of all. And in faith and obedience we are not to succumb to fear and panic. We are not orphans, so we should never act like orphans. We also have a role to play here on earth. We are witnesses to the world around us. We are to so live and so pray "...that the Father may be glorified in the Son" (14:13). How do I know if I have saving faith? This is seen when we desire to glorify God and to obey our Lord.
All of these words taken together give us great encouragement from the Lord. He will not abandon his own children. We are united to God through faith in his Son, Jesus. We are his and he is ours. Please take your time reading this upper room discourse! Pause at each statement, pray over it, and apply it to yourselves. These are very important words from the Lord Jesus, with much comfort for us in these troubled times!
Image credit: my photo of the gate at Bruton Parish Church, Williamsburg, VA.
We are following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson.
Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.