Theme: A Great Chapter
In these lessons we look at some of the final instructions Jesus passed on to his disciples, and see how they are also given to us for living godly lives even in the midst of difficulty.
Scripture: John 14
The fourteenth chapter of John’s gospel is great for several reasons. It is great because of its contents, and it is great because of the situation to which it speaks. The chapter begins, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” But the reason Jesus spoke those words is that the disciples were troubled and had every cause to be. As a matter of fact, earlier even Jesus was troubled. He said, “Now my heart is troubled” (John 12:27). Here the disciples are troubled, and Jesus says to them, “Do not . . . be troubled.”
The disciples were troubled because Jesus was going away. He had been intimating this all along, but they had been slow to understand it. His death was not part of their understanding of the way things were to fall out. The Messiah was to come, and then He was going to drive out the Romans and set up an eternal kingdom. That is what they were looking for. They believed that Jesus was the Messiah. So they were expecting to rule with Him on the throne of David forever.
Now He was saying that He was going to be arrested by the priests and rulers, and that He was going to be tried, and that they were going to deliver Him to death. Then on the third day He was going to rise again. The disciples did not even hear the last phrase. All they heard was, “I am going to go away.”
I can imagine them sitting sadly and silently in the upper room. Jesus was about to teach them some of the most sublime truths in the New Testament, but they were hardly listening to Him. This is because He was finally getting through to them. It was not going to fall out the way they thought it was, and their souls were troubled. What He says in this chapter—and what I want you to see—is that even though they had great reason to be troubled, they had even greater reasons not to be. When Jesus says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled,” He is issuing a command. He does not say, “I know you are troubled, but there is just nothing we can do about it, though here are a few things that might help.” He does not approach it in that way. He says, “There are very good reasons why you must not be troubled; therefore, do not be troubled.” He is saying, “Do not mull it over. Do not get in a despondent mood, even though I am going to die. Instead, think about these things. Seize upon them with your minds. Reflect on them and live by them, and do not let your hearts be troubled.”
That puts a burden upon us. For we have far less cause to be troubled than the disciples did. We know that Jesus rose from the dead. We know He is with us. We have even seen His power demonstrated in our lives and in church history. So if we do become troubled, let us heed Jesus’ admonition. Believe what He says. Apply it personally. Live it that you might be triumphant in the midst of the disappointments that naturally come in the course of human life.
Why did Jesus tell his disciples not to be troubled? What was happening that they did not understand?
What were they hoping for and expecting that was not going to happen?
Application: What troubles are you going through right now? How will you seek to apply Jesus’ teaching in John 14 to your circumstances?