Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled
From Notes of Addresses
There were three periods in the life of our Lord Jesus, as recorded in the Scriptures, when He was troubled. In the upper chamber before He suffered He turned to His disciples and said unto them, “Let not your heart be troubled.”
The three occasions when He was troubled are in themselves significant—Death is the great troubler.
(1) In the presence of death (John 11). This He could feel as none other. How it tarnished God’s fair creation as well as filled it with sorrow. As He witnessed the sorrow of those who were suffering through the inroads of death it says, “He groaned in the spirit and was troubled.” How sweet it is to hear Him turn to us in tender love and compassion and say to us in the presence of death and sorrow—Let not your heart be troubled. I have removed from death its sting and from the grave its victory. “I am the resurrection” and shortly I will triumph openly in that I will break the bands of death.
(2) In the presence of Judgment. In John 12, His spirit touched Gethsemane before He actually reached it. This time it is death, not in its outward effect on others, but death as God’s judgment, in its relation to Him who was so soon to enter it. In the bitterness of that moment He could say, “Father save me from this hour.” To us in view of these solemn realities He can turn and say as the result of His work, “Let not your heart be troubled.” He has known that trouble in order to lift it out of our hearts.
(3) In the presence of apostasy (John 13). He had before Him a sample and anticipation of the Man of Sin—the Lawless one in Judas. A man he was, that had companied with Christ for three and a half years, professed to be a disciple and had wrought miracles in His name, and then at the finish deliberately gave Him up, betraying Him into the hands of His enemies. When the Lord announced this fact, and in view of it, it is said, “He was troubled in spirit”—and well He might be at the incorrigible and innate wickedness of man’s heart. The presence of perfect goodness, even when shown in the Son of God Himself become man, only brought out implacable hatred. But soon after, and in the light of all He had said of His own trouble and its cause, He can say, “Let not your heart be troubled.”
There will be no giving you up! What a contrast is to be found in this in John 13. Here is Judas prepared to turn His back on his Master and betray Him, and Christ on the other hand borne witness to by the Spirit as One who, “having loved His own which were in the world He loved them unto the end.” We may have to learn our innate badness in horrible ways, and wonder at love being shown at any time to such unlovable creatures, but to find that His love is a love that will not let us go—no break down or failure in Him—this is what overwhelms us.
In John 14 the Lord is seen in the guest-chamber in Jerusalem on that night of nights—the night in which He was betrayed. Surrounding Him were eleven men whose hearts were filled with trouble, as He said, “Sorrow hath filled your hearts.” Let us think ourselves back into their circumstances and try to gauge what their feelings must have been.
They had followed the One then speaking as the Messiah of Israel, who, they thought, might at any time by one master-stroke overthrow the power of Rome and assume the reins of government as God’s anointed King. Now they are told this is not to be—He, as the nobleman in the parable, was to go into a far country and receive a kingdom and return.
The moment had arrived when in no parabolic figure, but in plain unvarnished fact, He told them death was coming in upon that circle. He was to leave them and all their hopes were not to be realized for the moment.
When grief surcharges the heart there is not much solace in merely being told not to weep. Can you hold out some prospect of the removal of all that causes the sorrow? In John 14:1-3 He ministers the solace. He was going to His Father’s house; He would prepare a place for them there, and presently He would come again and receive them to Himself, so that they should be where, He is.
There was no word of the Kingdom in all this, and further not one word of Old Testament Scriptures could be pointed to for their faith to lay hold of. They had His word for it, and only that, as ground for the hope that it would ever be realized. He was the divine Son and could speak with authority. God had promised and He had performed, not perhaps in the way they anticipated, but every word of God would stand, and now His word would stand. This is how He comforted them.
(1) He was a divine Person. “Ye believe in God, believe also in Me.” He was going, it is true, beyond the sphere of sight and sense but He would be none the less what He always was, and He desired that He might be the Object of their faith even there—as God was whom they had not seen —“Believe also in me.”
(2) He was going to a new place. He spoke not to them of Israel’s Kingdom on earth, but lifted their hearts away from earth to the home of divine love in the presence of the Father in heaven. A kingdom would speak of glory and display, but here is a scene that is characterized by divine affections and holy intimacy. A place there should be prepared for them. The comfort to them, should be so much greater as heaven is above the earth.
(3) He set before them the brightest prospect. Was the question rising in their minds—How can these things be? He told them, “I will come again and receive you unto Myself.” There was to be a glad reunion in that scene where there will be no more parting. They had had Him in the place where they were, and in circumstance of sorrow and death this had been their joy. The first breathings of this link being snapped had filled them with sorrow. Now they were to be in the place where links would be reunited and where such sorrow could never enter.
All this was to be as balm for their troubled heart, but we can see it would at the same time be a great test to their faith and affection. The sorrowing ones on the Emmaus road as recorded in Luke 24 evidently had not risen to it.