How to receive comfort when our hearts feel troubled (John 14:1-4)
By Andrew E. Courtis
Saying goodbye to a dear friend or family member can be a really hard experience. This is especially hard when you know you won’t see them for a long time due to distance, or even worse in the occurrence of death. Goodbyes, farewells, and departures can trouble our hearts and fill us with overwhelming sadness. Such an experience can be consuming and cumbersome and can really get us down.
It is important to note that trouble does come in the lives of God’s people (Job 14:1). Not all of us will experience the same level of trouble, but nonetheless, trouble is real and painful. When trouble overwhelms the heart of the child of God, what are they to do? In John 14:1-4 we will note the cure to trouble. J. C. Ryle calls this passage “a precious remedy against an old disease”. The disease is trouble and the remedy is faith adds Ryle. Our Lord spoke these words,
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going” (John 14:1-4).
The disciples were troubled because one of them was going to betray Jesus (John 13:22) and Jesus was going to depart from them (John 13:33). Our Lord provides an answer to their troubled souls and by extension the cure to all troubled souls.
Sermon Summary: In this message we will consider our Lord’s comfort and cure for troubled souls.
1. BELIEVE IN CHRIST’S PERSON
The first point of comfort to a troubled soul is to believe in Christ’s Person. The Lord Jesus simply said to His troubled disciples, “Believe in God; believe also in me” (14:1). This is a call and a reminder for the disciples to put their trust in Jesus Christ. As trouble begins to overwhelm them, Jesus reminds them of the importance of being persuaded of who He is and then trusting Him. This is designed to help the troubled disciples to take their eyes off a problem they can’t fix and instead, they are to fix their eyes upon Jesus. Notice that this verse places Jesus on par with God, because He is God (John 1:1; 8:58; Rom. 9:5).
They are to believe in His Person. This means among many other things they are to believe and trust that He is “the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God” (1 Tim. 1:17). He is the One “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3). He is “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). If you are a troubled soul, find your rest in Him. Turn your eyes upon Jesus and be persuaded of His glorious Person. Remember, He is aware of your situation (Heb. 4:15) and only He can provide you with the comfort you need. Remember who He is and what He has done. Remember what His Word says concerning who He is and rest in His Person.
2. BELIEVE IN CHRIST’S PREPARATION
The second point of comfort to a troubled soul is to believe in Christ’s preparation. He goes on to add, “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” (14:2). When He says, “my Father’s house” He is referring to Heaven. In Heaven there are many dwelling places. Jesus here tells His disciples that He is preparing a place in His Father’s house for His people. What a thought! This is a reminder that what we are experiencing now is not forever. For the Christian, regardless of what we see, taste, touch, feel or hear in this world the best is yet to come. Our eternal home is in Heaven with our Lord. This eternal home is for all in Christ, and it is a place of communion with God, changed conditions and converted citizens (Rev. 21:3-8). Furthermore, I think if you read John 14:2 in light of Revelation 21:9-22:5, it is possible that this reference to the “many rooms” refers to the many places within Heaven’s capital awaiting for God’s people. In those verses John describes the colossal measurements of this huge city and its glorious splendor.
The important truth to take away here is this: as God’s people, we are to be persuaded that the Lord Jesus Christ is in Heaven and right now He is personally and actively preparing a place for us. Child of God, Christ has made room for you there, therefore, be persuaded of this and trust, rely and rest in His preparations!
3. BELIEVE IN CHRIST’S PROMISES
The final remedy and point of comfort in this passage for the troubled soul is to believe in Christ’s promises. In a sermon Charles Spurgeon said,
“We sometimes read, or hear, or speak of the promises written in God’s Word, but do not give them as much credit as if they were the promises of a friend, or of our father, or our brother! If we valued them more, we should believe them better.”
The promises of God ought to be so precious to God’s people that we prize them more than anything. The wonderful thing about God’s promises is that we can trust them. It is not uncommon for us to hear about broken promises, but when it comes to God they are never broken. Alistair Begg once remarked,
“There is an important light in which God's promises are always to be seen, and that is in the light of the character of God.”
We can trust His promises because of who He is, which is what we considered under the first heading (Believe in Christ’s Person). Now let us consider the actual promise found in this passage. Jesus promised,
“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going” (14:3-4).
Christ assures His people that this is true. He has prepared a place for His people and He will come back for His people. When it comes to the return of Jesus Christ, we need to understand that the Bible says a lot about it. Jesus Himself said He would come back (Matt. 24:30; John 14:3). The angel who appeared to the disciples after the ascension of Jesus said it (Acts 1:11), Paul said it (1 Thess. 4:16), James said it (James 5:10), Peter said it (1 Pet. 1:7; 2 Pet. 3:10), Enoch said it (Jude 14), and John said it (Rev. 1:7; 19:11). This will be the dazzling and spectacular event in which the heavens will burst open and coming in blazing glory and beautiful majesty will be the Son of God. He is coming to take His people with Him.
We are to take refuge in this precious promise and long for His return. As we long for His return Peter says,
“But according to His promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by Him without spot or blemish, and at peace” (2 Pet. 3:13-14).
Our longing is to motive us to holy living. So as our hearts are troubled, Jesus calls for us to be persuaded of His promises which then turns our focus on serving Him as we long to be with Him.
The Lord Jesus Christ loves His people and He cares for them. He purchased His people by His own blood (Acts 20:28) and has provided them with complete forgiveness according to the riches of His grace (Eph. 1:7). He said to His disciples and He says it to you too, “Let not your hearts be troubled.” The cure for their troubles and our troubles is not found in a series of rules and regulations or even in the expectations of others. It is exclusively found by trusting in Christ. For this reason troubled soul, “consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted” (Heb. 12:3). We are to be persuaded that Jesus is who the Scripture says He is. We are to be persuaded that He is preparing a place for us in Heaven. And we are to be persuaded that He has made promises that will come to pass. These great realities are designed to bring comfort to our soul. After thinking carefully through all these things, let us be sensitive to the troubles and struggles of our suffering brothers and sisters by taking time to pray that they would find their rest and refuge in Christ.
 The ESV translates this verse as an imperative “believe” as does NASB and HCSB. Other translations such as KJV, NKJV and NIV translate this verse as an indicative “you believe”. Both are legitimate translations.