"Let not your heart be troubled." John 14:27
It was a dark day for the disciples. They would soon be as orphans. They grieved for themselves and for their Lord. But they were also "troubled." Turning from His own approaching agony in Gethsemane, He strove to comfort them. How often our heart would be comforted if, in sacred sympathy with mourners, we said, "Let not your heart be troubled." Christ does not counsel the impossible. He was Himself the Man of Sorrows. What He forbids is not heart sorrow, but heart trouble—agitation of spirit, a mental hurrying to and fro in fear and perplexity.
The whole of the valedictory discourse was designed to calm the troubled hearts of the disciples. But for this they must believe what He said. So this is the practical cure of heart-trouble—"Believe in God." This alone can keep the heart tranquil. "Believe also in me." This was a stupendous claim if Jesus were merely man. The disciples did believe in God; but stronger faith would have resulted in better understanding of the Divine testimony to His Son. "Believe in me, not as dead or distant, but able to help in every necessity, and to welcome you in my eternal home." Then our Lord poured forth a full flood of comfort which, if received, would be an effectual preservative against heart-trouble. These "exceeding great and precious promises" are our inheritance also. Come, sad heart, and contemplate the reasons Jesus gives why, if sorrowful, you should not be troubled.
This world is not your home. There is a Father's house on high where Jesus is preparing a place for you (ver. 2). He soon will come again and take you to dwell with Him forever (ver. 3). Your reliance on Him will surely bring you to God, for He is the Way (ver. 6). His words and works are those of God, and worthy to be trusted (ver. 10). Prayer in His Name is sure to be answered (ver. 13). Another Comforter has been sent, who abides with us, the Spirit of Truth (ver. 16). We are not left orphans (ver. 18). Christ by His Spirit already comes to us, and is still with us (ver. 23). We have the privilege and solace of working for Him and with Him (ver. 21). In love and obedience we shall surely find comfort, and the Father will reveal Himself to us and dwell within us (ver. 23). We have a gift from Christ better than any the world can bestow—"My peace I give unto you" (ver. 27). We are not separated from Him, but are as branches in vital union with the Vine, by life from whom we bear fruit to His glory (15:5). Our joy will be complete if we abide in His love and laws (ver. 11). He laid down His life for us; could He show greater love? (ver. 13). He calls us His friends (ver. 14). If the world hates us, we only share with Him (ver. 18).
Let us not be surprised when troubles come of which He forewarned us. Let not sorrow fill our hearts when He has promised the Comforter to dwell within us, to guide us into all truth. He will Himself soon return. It is but a little while we have to wait. He will soon turn our sorrow into unclouded and everlasting joy. Meanwhile, whatever we ask according to the will of God and our real good, the Father will bestow. Let us ask and receive that our joy may even now be full. The Father Himself loves us, loves us especially because we love the Son. He is interceding for us, that we may have eternal life; that we may be bound in holy oneness with each other and Himself; that we may be kept by the power of His holy Name from the evil that is in the world; that Christ's own joy may fill us, and that hereafter we may be with Him where He is, beholding and sharing the glory of heaven. Such prayers for us by the well-beloved Son "whom the Father hears always," are sure to be answered (John 17).
Jesus said—"These things have I spoken unto you that in me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." The tribulations are on the surface. The wildest waves of ocean do not disturb the abiding calm of the waters not far below. In confiding communion with a dear friend, or in loving service, we do not notice the roaring wind and rattling rain against the window-panes. When the promise is fulfilled, "I will come to him and sup with him, and he with me"—though in the world of tribulation, we have peace in Christ.
Having this peace, we are enabled to overcome all difficulties and bear all trials. The disciples might well be dismayed by having to encounter a persecuting world, and by seeing their Champion in Gethsemane and on the Cross. But He sought to dispel their fears by a cry of victory in advance. He had no doubt of the outcome. He went forth to the battle with the shout of a conqueror—"I have overcome the world."
Christ overcame the sin of the world by atoning for it; the world's sorrows by suffering them; the world's hatred by love. The world would have overcome Him had He rendered evil for evil. He overcame persecution by perseverance; the allurements of the world by scorning them; the temptations of the world by resisting them; "the prince of this world" by casting him down from his usurped throne. He overcame death by dying, and thus "destroyed him who has the power of death, and delivered them who, through fear of death, were all their lifetime subject to bondage."
But why should His victory make us of good cheer? He showed us how to conquer. Let us overcome tribulation by patient suffering, carrying the cross, kissing the rod. Let us conquer hatred by love; difficulties by mastering them; persecution by perseverance; worldly allurements by the inner life of godliness; and Satan's temptations by the Word of God and prayer.
The example of Christ in overcoming cannot alone make us of "good cheer," as a giant's victory will not give confidence to a child when assailed by the same formidable foe. But He conquered as our Champion, to secure our salvation. We have now to fight a defeated, wounded, weakened foe. The enemy is in retreat. Before our David the Philistine armies fly, and we may now win an easier victory. Christ's triumph obtains for us the help of the Holy Spirit, so that we fight, not in our own weakness, but in the strength of God. "He has ascended up on high, He has led captivity captive, and has received gifts for men, that the Lord God might dwell among them." His victory proves that He survives the conflict, a living, not a dead Champion. He went down into the grave and came forth from it unhurt, "Mighty to save." He said, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth." He is stronger than the world. He can "put down all rule and authority and power."
Surely such a victory should make us of good cheer. This was its effect on the disciples. How these feeble few blew the trumpet of victory on the day of Pentecost! When scourged, they "rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer for the name of the Lord Jesus." Paul and Silas sang in the inner prison. Not the captive, but Felix, trembled. The apostle said, "Thanks be to God, who always makes us triumph in Christ." "In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loves us." The disciple who recorded these words of the Master said, "This is the victory that overcomes the world, even your faith." "You have overcome, because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world." And Jesus the glorified conqueror says, "He who overcomes, I will give to him to sit down with me in my throne, as I also overcame, and sat down with my Father in His throne."
Let afflicted believers be of good cheer. In Christ they have inward peace, and may well endure the world's outward trouble. Do not regard tribulation as an evil. Tribulation! It is a whetstone to sharpen the sword by which we are to win the battle! It is the harsh blast of the trumpet calling to the fight that shall secure the victory! It is the fire, not only of the purifying furnace, but of the flaming chariot to carry us to glory! Tribulation is the path to triumph—along which our Savior marched to the throne; it reminds us of Him who fought for us, conquered for us, won eternal life for us, and who is saying to us this very day, as He said to His disciples of old, "In the world you shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer—I have overcome the world."
Jesus! our Leader, Pattern, Guide,