Let not your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in me.…
The text is suggested of —
1. "All things change, and we with them." The earth and sun and stars are moving from their old forms into new, but their slow, stern cycles seem to us changeless when we think of ourselves. Let anyone who has advanced but a short way in life look round. Old times are away, old interests, old aims: the haunts, the friends, the faces of our youth, where are they? Gone, or so changed that we dare not think to recall them. And we are changing within. If we could keep up the life and freshness there it would be less sad. There is compensation for this, if we will seek it. If we have a home in God through Christ, it brings in something better than youthful brightness. But here, too, there is frequently change. The anchor of our hope seems to lose its hold, our sense of pardon and peace may be broken, and the face of God, if seen at all, may look dim and distant.
2. It is from such changes that the promise of Christ carries us to a fixed place of abode. The permanence of the dwelling shall ensure permanence in all that belongs to the dwellers in it. There must be, indeed, the change of progress: it is the permanence not of death but of life; and so the changes of decay, of loss, of bereavement, of the unretiring past, these are gone with the last great change, which ends the perishing and opens the eternal. There shall be no wavering of faith, no waning of hope, no chill of love. Here, change at every step leaves some lost good behind it; there change shall take all its good things forward into fuller possession, and thus become a growing performance. The way to be sure of a permanent home is to keep fast hold of Him who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
II. EXTENT. Our present life is related to it as that of childhood to manhood. Let us think of the dwelling of the child, where it looks from its little window on the few houses or fields which make up its world, and then let us compare it with what the man knows of his present world residence, when he has surveyed with his eye or his mind the breadth of the earth with its oceans and lands that stretch over continents by Alps and Andes. There enter at the wicket gate Christiana and also the children, many Ready-to-halts and Feeble-minds, and far-off pilgrims, for whom we can find no names, but who are written in the Lamb's Book of Life. Infants are carried through the door sleeping; and it is not for us to say by what far-off rays in dark nights, by what doubtful paths amid many imperfections, hearts have been yearning to this home. The notices of Rahab and Ruth, of Ittai and Naaman, of the wise men of the East, and the Greeks who came up to the Passover, of the Ethiopian eunuch and the devout Cornelius, are hints for the enlargement of our hopes about many who had the same yearning in their hearts, though they did not see the walls of any earthly Jerusalem. And, if we believe the Bible, there are long eras to run, when the flow shall be toward God more than it ever has been away from Him. And then there is to be a gathering together of all things in Christ, and the holy angels have relations to Him which will give them their share in His home. When we think of this, how the extent of the heavenly world grows I and the discoveries of science may help us to extend our hopes.
III. VARIETY. In all God's works the many means the manifold.
IV. UNITY. These abodes of the future, manifold as they are, have walls around, and an over-arching roof, which make them one house, and that house a home. The chambers of a house have their communication with one another, and the heavenly world, wide as it is, shall have a unity of fellowship. In the present world the children of God are far apart, separated by the emergencies of life, by death, by misunderstandings and prejudices, by chills of heart and jealousies; and they rear their many little mansions, forgetful of the one house. The word of the Saviour promises a reversal of this long, sad history. Conclusion:
1. Something is needed to secure all this, and our Lord teaches us to carry to the thought of heaven a filial heart. It is "the Father's" house. This is needed to make it a home in any sense; needed to give the heart rest either on earth or in heaven. Men who inquire into the facts and laws of the world, and find no God in it, have made themselves homeless. Men who have found human affection, but no God beneath it, have found only the shadow of a home. It is to teach us this that God has made a father's love the bond of a true human household. If it were possible to enter heaven and find no Father there, heaven would be the grave of hope.
2. Our Lord has taught us to connect heaven with the thought of Himself — "My" Father's house. Heaven is the house of Christ's Father.
(1) It is as when a palace has been raised with all its rooms and their furniture complete, but it is dark or dimly seen by lights carried from place to place. The sun arises, and by the central dome the light is poured into all the corridors and chambers, and by the windows there are prospects over hill and valley and river. Christ is the sun of this house.
(2) If we think of its mansions, and wonder where the final resting place shall be, it is where Christ takes up His dwelling, "that they may be with Me where I am."(3) If we think of its extent and variety, our imagination might be bewildered, and our soul chilled by boundless fields of knowledge, which stir the intellect and famish the heart; but where He is, knowledge becomes the wisdom of love — the daylight softened; and a heart beats in the universe which throbs to its remotest and minutest fibre; for "in Him is life, and the life is the light of men."(4) If we think of heaven in its unity of fellowship, it is in Him that it is maintained and felt. "That they all may be one, as Thou, Father, art in Me," etc.
(5) And if we think of a Father in heaven, it is Christ who has revealed Him. "No man hath seen God at any time," etc.
(6) But beyond all this, it is Christ's Father's house because He alone is the way and the door to it.
(J. Ker, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.