Let not your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in me.…
We have here -
I. FAITH SPECIALLY ENJOINED.
1. As to its Objects - God and Christ.
(1) These are its proper and highest Objects. Faith must have an object. God and Christ are the proper Objects of faith. It cannot ascend higher, and must not remain lower, than this. Faith in the Father and Son, in the Creator and Savior. This alone is worthy of an immortal and responsible spirit. This is the basis of true religion, the element of spiritual progress, the foundation of Christian character, and is alone capable of drawing out the soul into perfection.
(2) Faith is enjoined in both personally. It is not, "Believe in something about God or about Christ," but" Believe in both personally." It is most important to realize the personality of the Divine Being as he is in his spiritual, eternal, and infinite existence, or as manifested in the flesh, so that our ideas of him may not evaporate into vague generalities; hence faith is directed to a personal God and a personal Christ.
(3) Faith is enjoined in both equally. "Believe in God, believe also," etc. This is a strong, but by no means uncommon, circumstantial evidence of the Divinity of our Lord. This equal demand of faith inevitably and unquestionably indicates equality of nature, authority, and honor. On the supposition that Christ was a mere man, to couple himself thus with the supreme Being as the Object of human faith, would be nothing less than a willful misdirection and blasphemy.
(4) Faith in one involves faith in the other. This is not an arbitrary, but a moral and philosophical, injunction. Such is the relationship between God and Christ that faith in one involves faith in both. Whether faith begins from the human or Divine side, it will find itself embracing the Father and Son, or neither. Thus, when Christ appeared in our world, those who had genuine faith in God readily believed in him, and those who had not rejected him. Faith in the visible and incarnate Son was a test of faith in the invisible and eternal Father.
2. The objects of faith are pointed out in their natural order of sequence.
(1) God is the supreme Object of faith. Hence he is introduced first. Christ, as a Teacher, ever pointed to Divinity, as contemplated in the Father or in himself, as the supreme and final Object of human faith.
(2) Christ meets the present requirement of faith. First he points to the highest goal of faith, then to himself as the Way which leads to it. Therefore, "Believe also in me' is not retrogressive, but progressive, in relation to faith. Before the appearance of Christ, faith was weak, struggling and crying for help, for a resting-place, for a medium between heaven and earth. Pious souls yearned for it. Jacob dreamed of it, and in his dream saw a ladder reaching from earth to heaven. Christ responded to this cry and fulfilled this dream. In him faith found a present Help, Encouragement, and a Resting-place. He is the real Ladder between heaven and earth, over which souls by faith may reach the glorious heights of the eternal throne, and embrace him who sits upon it.
(3) In Christ faith in God alone can be perfected. "Looking to Jesus," etc. He is the lowest and the highest rung of the ladder - the lowest touching the lowest parts of the earth, and the highest touching the eternal throne. "The Son of man, when he comes, shall he find faith," etc.? Little of it he found; but ever since, he creates, feeds, helps, and perfects it. By his perfect life and self-sacrificing death and intercessory work, he is become the Author, Example, the Inspirer and Perfecter of faith.
3. The exercise of faith is the only way of Divine realization in the soul.
(1) Faith is the power which alone can see the Divine.
(2) Faith is the power which alone can realize the Divine.
(3) Faith is the power which alone can appropriate the Divine. There is a God, but not to us but by faith. There is a Savior, but not to us but by faith. Without love we are nothing, and it is equally true that without faith we are nothing - nothing to God and Christ; and they are nothing savingly to us, but by faith they are ours. Hence the soul's chief duty is to believe.
II. FAITH IS ENJOINED AS THE ANTIDOTE OF TROUBLE. "Let not your heart," etc. This implies:
1. That Christians, while in this world, are exposed to trouble. These are:
(1) General. "Man is born to trouble." Christians are men, therefore by birth, nature, and circumstances, are heirs of the common troubles of humanity. Enumeration is unnecessary, as we are all educated in the great university of trouble, and are very proficient in its arithmetic.
(2) Special. As Christians, the disciples had their special trouble now arising from the impending departure of their Lord. This event already cast its dark shadow upon them. The little society, to all appearances, was on the verge of disorganization. The departure of their Lord would leave such a vacancy so that trouble, sorrow, doubts and fears, threatened to invade them as a sweeping flood. The road to Canaan is ever through the wilderness, and the way to life through tribulation.
2. That trouble naturally attacks the heart. Hence our Savior says, "Let not your heart," etc. The heart is the seat of emotion, the avenue of good and evil, and is impressible to every passing influence, and troubles which would be rejected by reason will be admitted by the trembling and undefended heart.
3. Faith in God and Christ fortifies the heart against trouble. "Let not your heart," etc. It was the aim of Christ now to strengthen them against the impending trouble and shelter them from the thunderstorm of sorrow and perplexity which had already begun to break out. This he does by fortifying their heart. This fortification is to be made by faith in God and Christ. For heart-disease there is but one remedy, and it is infallible, prescribed by the infallible Physician. "Believe in God," etc. This will fill the soul with elements of comfort and security, and while full of these, it is impregnable to trouble. What are these?
(1) Consciousness of the Divine indwelling. Believe in God and Christ, and they are yours. By faith the Divine Father and Son become the tenants of the heart and soul. "We will come unto him, and will make our abode with him." What powerful inmates! How near, sympathetic, and able! Who can take the heart with these within?
(2) The possession of adequate knowledge. Ignorance is weakness and trouble, knowledge is strength and happiness. Christ reveals himself to faith, and gives every necessary information. He gave this with regard to his departure, and faith followed him through the gloom of death, and especially through the effulgence of his ascension up to the right hand of power, and waited his return to fetch the spirit home. In the light of Jesus faith can see the invisible, and see the Divine movements proceeding in the direction of the soul's good; and where it cannot trace, it can trust.
(3) Consciousness of Divine care and love. A sense of loneliness and even apathy is a source of great trouble to a sensitive heart; but the possessor of faith need not feel this. His heart is filled with the sweet consciousness of a Savior's love, and a Father's tender and constant care.
(4) Infinite supplies. It is an old tactic of the foe to attempt to stop the supplies by besieging the heart with doubts and fears, and these threaten it with physical and spiritual destitution. But this can never be in the presence of a strong faith. If the water without become dry, there is still a perennial fountain within; and should the rivers about Jerusalem cease to flow, there is still "a river, the streams;" etc. The supplies come from above, and often meet faith midway, and often the suppliant can scarcely rise from his knees under the delightful burden of his prayer's speedy answer.
(5) The possession of glorious prospects. Much of our present trouble or comfort depends upon the future. If it be gloomy, there is trouble; but if bright, there is joy. The future of Christian faith is bright and full of hope. Faith often penetrates the intervening gloom, and opens the portals of immortality and the door of our Father's house, and returns with her wings laden with blessings, tinged with the light and beauty of the happy place, her garments perfumed with delightful aroma from the gardens of spices, her face beaming with the awaiting glory, and sings many a sweet song of the future amid the present discord of earth. The God and Savior of the past and present will be those of the future, and he who prepared for us homes and friends on our entrance to this world, shall meet us with even more surprising and congenial preparations on our entrance into other scenes. The departures of dear friends by death, to faith, are only apparent and temporary; they are only removed from the cold and damp kitchens of earth to the grand drawing-rooms in our Father's house. Death does not really separate the possessors of faith, but leads them into a more permanent and closer union. With these elements of comfort the heart is not only fortified against trouble, but filled with joy and ecstasy.
1. The freedom of the heart from trouble depends upon its own state and action. With the heart we grieve, and with it we also believe. If the heart is idle and stagnant, it will be filled with trouble; but if active in faith in God and the Savior, it will be filled with hope and joy.
2. The means of fortifying the heart against trouble are within our reach. The remedy for heart-trouble is ever at hand. The ingredients of the Divine prescription might be difficult to procure, but they are easy and near. "Believe," etc.
3. To keep troubles out from the heart is far easier than to drive them out once they are in. Hence our Lord's special injunction is, "Let not your," etc. Prevention is ever better than cure, and the prevention of trouble is the constant activity of the heart in a large and genuine faith in God and Christ. - B.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.