Let not your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in me.…
I. THE TROUBLE IN THE HEART OF THE DISCIPLES. The trouble —
1. Of agonized ignorance and blank bewilderment. Long before, Jesus had dropped hints of a mysterious journey that He had to take. As the time went on, He spoke of it more frequently, and in terms more and more darkly suggestive of horror. This had not seemed to trouble their heart at first; they regarded His language as metaphorical Probably they had the impression that first some great battle had to be fought, or some unknown trial to be gone through; that would last three days. So just before, Peter asks, "Whither goest thou?"
2. Of bereaved love. "Do I love the Lord, or no?" was not a question in any heart there. Jesus had poured upon them all the very essence of kindness, and had received them into the very sanctuary of His heart. Naturally, it was this mighty love that made bereavement of its object so intolerable. Christ had not yet left them; but love may feel a bereavement before it is bereaved.
3. From the thought of having no share in the last passion of their Lord. "Why cannot I follow Thee now?" Love said then, as love says now, "Give me some work to do; some cross to carry; some block to lay nay head upon." It is impossible to stand idly by while Christ gives and suffers all.
II. THE ANTIDOTE.
1. A peculiar, most tranquillizing revelation of the heaven to which He is going — "a place." Along with other elements of comfort, our nature needs this. We have been told that this is a doctrine of Materialism, and that heaven is in character rather than in condition. This is only a half-truth, and we want the whole. "Heaven is principle," said Confucius; but a house to live in must be built of something besides principle. Heaven is for the complete man, body and soul; and a body asks for a place, understanding that heaven is at least a place, we are ready to ask a thousand questions about it as such; and one of the first will be, "Where is it in the map of the universe?" In times not a few has this been made a question of astronomy, and to suggest the possibility of some central heaven amongst the stars. Well, the inquiry must start from our own solar system. This, with its circle of at least 5,000,000,000 miles in diameter, is but a speck in the creation. Its stars burn and roll round the sun, their centre. The sun, carrying all these his satellites with him, is moving round another centre, with its system; that, about another; that, about another; and where is the fixed ultimate centre round which all the other centres are wheeling and moving? The only One who could have settled this question was silent about it. He says nothing of its whereabouts, of its beauty, of its music, except in signs that are manifestly but hieroglyphic. He knew that the most exact precision of statement and the most dazzling magic of description would leave the greatest as well as the least of mortals as much in the dark as ever. Therefore Christ, aiming at our spiritual profit rather than at our scientific enlightenment, leaves for future solution all problems that have only to do with place.
2. That the heavenly place is His home and theirs. He has just addressed them in the language of family affection as His "little children." With this word of love still in the air, He proceeds to speak of heaven as "My Father's house." A little child looks upon his father's house as his own, and so would Christ have us look upon heaven. Even on earth, a father's house is his child's home; and the dearest place to the best man, woman, child, is home. "Home, sweet home." Earth is one of My Father's battlefields, farms, foundries, factories, roads that He travels on; but heaven is our "Father's house," and therefore the home of all His family.
3. That in that home are many mansions, i.e., settled abodes; the same word as in ver. 23. Emphasis resting on the idea of permanence. Jesus was speaking to the sad thoughts then stirring in the hearts of His mourners on account of the shortness of the time they had spent with Him, and which seemed, in the review, only like a dream. "What does this lack to make it perfect?" asked an old Roman of his companion, as they were together looking on some imperial show; and the answer was, "Permanence." "Permanence adds bliss to bliss." In the word "many," He spoke to the thoughts of the company. When one of the disciples, on the notice of His near departure, asked if he might go with Him, the virtual answer was "No." This refusal to the "one" was a blow to "the many." If the happiness of going with the Lord is not to be given even to Peter, what is to become of the many? We had all expected that we should go with Him into His kingdom. If these happy dreams of ours are all to melt into misery, why were we not informed of this before? Before now, on some festive day, when a man has asked his friends to his house, he has been forced to ask only a few, because, though his heart was large enough for many, his house was not. Before now, in the straits of some war, some iron captain has spared the lives of only a few prisoners, simply on the ground of lacking room to accommodate the many. God has room in His purpose, in His heart, in His house, for all His captives. By the miracle of His grace He first changes all His captives into children, then welcomes them all home. No limitation is suggested by the indefinite plural, "many." "Many" simply stands for all the children, "a great multitude which no man can number," "and yet there is room!"
4. That He is going "to prepare a place" for them. While man is asleep in the night, the sun goes before him, that he may prepare the day for him to wake in. Thus he prepares light for him to see by, power for him to work with, and the spirit of gladness. So does Christ prepare heaven for the heirs of heaven. There can be no heaven without the revelation of God, and there can be no revelation of God without Christ. He prepares heaven for them, not only by preparing their right to the place, but by preparing their fitness for it. "Why cannot I go with Thee now?" asked Peter; and the saying, "I go to prepare a place for you," is an answer to this "Why?" Christ was going to prepare a place for them; first, by His Cross; next, by the Spirit, who would change their hearts and train their natures for the rank they would inherit, as well as for the work they had to do.
5. That He would come again, and receive them unto Himself. Dying may be regarded as a mode in which Christ comes for His people, one by one. Death is not coming; death is not a person, only a door, to which Christ, the sovereign Lord who has at His girdle the keys of death and the unseen state, comes.
(C. Stanford, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.