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A commercial on TV shows a man opening a note that reads, ‘tomorrow you’re going to have a heart-attack.’ The point is, not everything comes with advanced notice. But if you just took a baby-aspirin, you could change tomorrow.
Chapter 14 of John’s gospel takes place in the Upper Room where Jesus has gathered His disciples for what will be the Last Supper. He doesn’t need a little note to tell Him what will happen to Him tomorrow. He is God. He knows everything. He knows that tomorrow, He will be crucified.
TALK ABOUT ‘ADVANCED NOTICE.’ From the beginning it was one note after another.
The first one read: “He shall bruise your heel.” (Gen.3:15).
Another one read: “False witnesses rise up against You and breathe out violence against You.” (Ps.27:12)
Another one read: “Even your close friend in whom you trusted, who ate your bread, will lift his heel against you.” (Psalm 41:9).
Another one read: “You give your back to those who strike, and your cheeks to those who pull out the beard.” (Is.50:6)
Another one read: “You will be pierced… crushed… chastised… oppressed… afflicted… led to the slaughter… And they will make Your grave with the wicked…” (Isaiah 53:5-9).
And another: “A company of evildoers will surround you and they will pierce your hands and feet… They will divide your garments among them and for your clothing they will cast lots.” (Ps.22:16-18).
And there were many more.
NOT EVERYTHING COMES WITH ADVANCED NOTICE. BUT THIS SURE DID.
SO WHAT DOES HE DO?
“My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” (Mat.26:39). And it was not the Father’s will to “let this cup pass.” Nor was it His really.
“Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” (John 12:27-28)
SO WHAT DOES HE DO? He prepares His disciples for tomorrow.
He knows that tomorrow, they will be deeply troubled with grief and despair and guilt and doubt.
He knows that tomorrow, they will think that the foundation of their life has crumbled beneath them and they will be terribly afraid.
Tomorrow, they will wonder why they left their fathers and fishing boats, and their tax collection booth and homes to follow Him.
Because He knows what will happen to Him tomorrow, He knows what will happen to them tomorrow. And so today He prepares them for tomorrow saying, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me.”
“I know what you will see, I know what you will hear, and I know what you will think. Despite all of that, trust me.”
“I know what fear you will experience, I know what guilt you will feel, and I know the doubts you will have. Despite all of that, trust Me.”
What Jesus is saying here to His disciples goes deeper than we may at first understand. When our hearts are troubled over the loss of someone or something precious to us, a loved one, or a marriage, or our health, we need to put our trust in God, trusting that He will take care of us and provide for all our needs of body and soul.
But Jesus’ concern for His disciples here is that tomorrow, they are going to experience THE LOSS OF GOD. All through out His 3 ½ years with them, all that He has wanted to teach them, the one point He wanted them to get, was this – “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30).
The big breakthrough came on the road to Caesarea-Philippi when Peter declared, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Mat.16:16). That Jesus Christ is God in the flesh, dwelling among us is the heart and soul of Christianity. If you don’t get that, you don’t get anything else.
That’s why Philip’s statement to Jesus is so disappointing. Looking at Jesus, Philip says, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough.” You can almost hear Jesus’ voice crack with sorrow. “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? How can you say ‘show us the Father… Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. If you know me you know the Father also…Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me?”
Surely by the end of that little scolding, they would all have confessed even if they didn’t comprehend, that Jesus is “God of God, Light of Light, true God of true God, being of one substance with the Father…”
So now we have a problem. Tomorrow, God will breathe His last and die. Tomorrow, God will be buried in a tomb. Tomorrow, men will murder God.
He has just convinced them that “He is the way and the truth and the life and that no one comes to the Father except through Him”? Tomorrow they will not know the way or the truth or the life. They will be like sheep without a shepherd.
This is the ‘heart-attack’ that Jesus knows they will have tomorrow. They don’t know it, but He does, because He is God and He knows everything. And so, to them He says, “Do not let your heart be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me.”
As we now know, which they did not, Jesus knows more than just what will happen to Him tomorrow. He also knows what will happen to Him two days after tomorrow. From the beginning it was one note after another.
One read: “Your soul will not be abandoned to Sheol. God will not let His holy one see corruption.” (Ps.16:10).
Another read: “You will ascend on high and lead a host of captives in your train and receive gifts among men.” (Ps. 68:18)
Another read: “The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” (Ps.110:1).
And another read, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” (Ps.118:22).
And there were many more.
So Jesus says to His disciples, “when you see God die on the cross, do not let your heart be troubled.” In fact, do the opposite. LIFT UP YOUR HEARTS. Your hopes are not being broken – but fulfilled. Your future is not being destroyed – but established. Your life is not in danger – but it is being secured for all eternity. “Do not let your hearts be troubled.”
Let tomorrow come with whatever tomorrow may bring. “Tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword.” Come what may, “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, who will he not also with him, graciously give us all things?” (Rom.8:31-35) “Do not let your hearts be troubled.”
“Though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling…” “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:2-3, 10) “Do not let your hearts be troubled.”
Notice please, that no one is saying that if you believe in God and in His Son Jesus Christ that bad things will not happen to you, and that your life will be all happiness and health and prosperity.
And no one is saying that if you are experiencing hard times, it must be because you don’t believe in God and in Jesus enough.
The Christian religion is a ‘realistic’ religion and the disciple of Jesus is a realist and even a pessimist. We understand the nature of sin and its effects. No matter how good things are, we expect there to be trouble ahead. We expect bad things to happen to good people – just look at Jesus.
Of all of the wonderful promises that Christ makes to His Christians, we dare not forget this terrible one, “In this world you will have trouble.” But we also dare not forget His words that immediately follow, “But take heart, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
“Do not let your hearts be troubled.”
But they were, weren’t they? Like Martha, they were anxious and troubled by many things.
Their hearts were troubled with ‘FEAR.’ The same men who had Jesus put to death would certainly not rest until they eliminated every one of His disciples.
Their hearts were troubled with ‘GUILT.’ They should have done more, tried harder, listened more carefully, been better disciples. How many times do you think they must have said, “If only…”?
Their hearts were troubled with ‘SHAME.’ They had said, ‘Let us also go that we may die with Him.’ (John 11:16). ‘Lord, I will lay down my life for you.’ (John 13:37) But they all ran away and disserted Him.
FEAR, GUILT and SHAME. Of all the things that TROUBLE OUR HEARTS, these are the BIG THREE. And it’s no different for us as it was for them. The DETAILS may be different, but the HEADINGS are the same.
Isn’t it true that as long as things are going well and life is good that we have a STRONG FAITH; but when things are bad and we are faced with temptations or rejection or pain and suffering, we quickly become aware of just how weak our faith really is, and what cowards we really are, and how selfish we have become? Each and every one of us has our own reason for FEAR and GUILT and SHAME before God.
So, isn’t it the most remarkable thing that when God stands before us men and women in the person of Jesus Christ, He says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.”
“Believe in God. Believe also in Me.” There are a lot of people who say that they believe in God, but not in Jesus. They believe in a ‘deity,’ a ‘higher power,’ a ‘creator.’ But not a God in the flesh dwelling among us. Not in a God who suffered and died on the cross to atone for all of our doubt and weak faith and sin.
To believe in God but not Jesus is to believe in a God who is not reconciled with this world; who has no reason to forgive our sins but rather every reason to count men’s sins against them. To believe in God but not Jesus is to believe in a God that requires sinners to justify themselves before God by their own merits and worthiness. And there is no relief for a troubled heart in that.
“Believe in God. Believe also in Me.” This is the only relief for hearts that are troubled with FEAR or GUILT or SHAME before God. Jesus Christ is God in the flesh, dwelling among us, crucified for us, atoning for all of our sins, reconciling the Father to us, not according to our merits and worthiness but according to His. For His sake, the Father forgives us all of our sins. God cannot deny God.
Only if Jesus is God, are sinners declared righteous before the Father. “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession… called out of darkness and into His marvelous light.” (2 Peter 2:9-10)
We ‘believe in God the Father,’ who sent His Son into this world to be our Savior. We ‘believe in Jesus Christ’ who laid down His life for us and who was raised again on the 3rd Day, and who has prepared a place in His Father’s house for us.
And in this faith alone, our hearts are not troubled.