In these verses we have,
I. A general caution which Christ gives to his disciples against trouble of heart (John 14:1): Let not your heart be troubled. They now began to be troubled, were entering into this temptation. Now here see,
1. How Christ took notice of it. Perhaps it was apparent in their looks; it was said (John 13:22), They looked one upon another with anxiety and concern, and Christ looked upon them all, and observed it; at least, it was intelligible to the Lord Jesus, who is acquainted with all our secret undiscovered sorrows, with the wound that bleeds inwardly; he knows not only how we are afflicted, but how we stand affected under our afflictions, and how near they lie to our hearts; he takes cognizance of all the trouble which his people are at any time in danger of being overwhelmed with; he knows our souls in adversity. Many things concurred to trouble the disciples now.
(1.) Christ had just told them of the unkindness he should receive from some of them, and this troubled them all. Peter, no doubt, looked very sorrowful upon what Christ said to him, and all the rest were sorry for him and for themselves too, not knowing whose turn it should be to be told next of some ill thing or other they should do. As to this, Christ comforts them; though a godly jealousy over ourselves is of great use to keep us humble and watchful, yet it must not prevail to the disquieting of our spirits and the damping of our holy joy.
(2.) He had just told them of his own departure from them, that he should not only go away, but go away in a cloud of sufferings. They must shortly hear him loaded with reproaches, and these will be as a sword in their bones; they must see him barbarously abused and put to death, and this also will be a sword piercing through their own souls, for they had loved him, and chosen him, and left all to follow him. When we now look upon Christ pierced, we cannot but mourn and be in bitterness, though we see the glorious issue and fruit of it; much more grievous must the sight be to them, who could then look no further. If Christ depart from them [1.] They will think themselves shamefully disappointed; for they looked that this had been he that should have delivered Israel, and should have set upon his kingdom in secular power and glory, and, in expectation of this, had lost all to follow him. Now, if he leave the world in the same circumstances of meanness and poverty in which he had lived, and worse, they are quite defeated. [2.] They will think themselves sadly deserted and exposed. They knew by experience what little presence of mind they had in difficult emergencies, that they could count upon nothing but being ruined and run down if they part with their Master. Now, in reference to all these, Let not your heart be troubled. Here are three words, upon any of which the emphasis may significantly be laid. First, Upon the word troubled, me tarassestho. Be not so troubled as to be put into a hurry and confusion, like the troubled sea when it cannot rest. He does not say, “Let not your hearts be sensible of the griefs, or sad because of them” but, “Be not ruffled and discomposed, be not cast down and disquieted,” Ps. 42:5. Secondly, Upon the word heart: “Though the nation and city be troubled, though your little family and flock be troubled, yet let not your heart be troubled. Keep possession of your own souls when you can keep possession of nothing else.” The heart is the main fort; whatever you do, keep trouble from this, keep this with all diligence. The spirit must sustain the infirmity, therefore, see that this be not wounded. Thirdly, Upon the word your: “You that are my disciples and followers, my redeemed, chosen, sanctified ones, however others are overwhelmed with the sorrows of this present time, be not you so, for you know better; let the sinners in Zion tremble, but let the sons of Zion be joyful in their king.” Herein Christ’s disciples should do more than others, should keep their minds quiet, when every thing else is unquiet.
2. The remedy he prescribes against this trouble of mind, which he saw ready to prevail over them; in general, believe—pisteuete. (1.) Some read it in both parts imperatively, “Believe in God, and his perfections and providence, believe also in me, and my mediation. Build with confidence upon the great acknowledged principles of natural religion: that there is a God, that he is most holy, wise, powerful, and good; that he is the governor of the world, and has the sovereign disposal of all events; and comfort yourselves likewise with the peculiar doctrines of that holy religion which I have taught you.” But, (2.) We read the former as an acknowledgment that they did believe in God, for which he commends them: “But, if you would effectually provide against a stormy day, believe also in me.” Through Christ we are brought into covenant with God, and become interested in his favour and promise, which otherwise as sinners we must despair of, and the remembrance of God would have been our trouble; but, by believing in Christ as the Mediator between God and man, our belief in God becomes comfortable; and this is the will of God, that all men should honour the Son as they honour the Father, by believing in the Son as they believe in the Father. Those that rightly believe in God will believe in Jesus Christ, whom he has made known to them; and believing in God through Jesus Christ is an excellent means of keeping trouble from the heart. The joy of faith is the best remedy against the griefs of sense; it is a remedy with a promise annexed to it; the just shall live by faith; a remedy with a probatum est annexed to it. I had fainted unless I had believed.
II. Here is a particular direction to act faith upon the promise of eternal life, John 14:2, 3. He had directed them to trust to God, and to trust in him; but what must they trust God and Christ for? Trust them for a happiness to come when this body and this world shall be no more, and for a happiness to last as long as the immortal soul and the eternal world shall last. Now this is proposed as a sovereign cordial under all the troubles of this present time, to which there is that in the happiness of heaven which is admirably adapted and accommodated. The saints have encouraged themselves with this in their greatest extremities, That heaven would make amends for all. Let us see how this is suggested here.
1. Believe and consider that really there is such a happiness: In my Father’s house there are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you, John 14:2.
(1.) See under what notion the happiness of heaven is here represented: as mansions, many mansions in Christ’s Father’s house. [1.] Heaven is a house, not a tent or tabernacle; it is a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. [2.] It is a Father’s house: my Father’s house; and his Father is our Father, to whom he was now ascending; so that in right of their elder brother all true believers shall be welcome to that happiness as to their home. It is his house who is King of kings and Lord of lords, dwells in light, and inhabits eternity. [3.] There are mansions there; that is, First, Distinct dwellings, an apartment for each. Perhaps there is an allusion to the priests’ chambers that were about the temple. In heaven there are accommodations for particular saints; though all shall be swallowed up in God, yet our individuality shall not be lost there; every Israelite had his lot in Canaan, and every elder a seat, Rev. 4:4. Secondly, Durable dwellings. Monai, from mneio, maneo, abiding places. The house itself is lasting; our estate in it is not for a term of years, but a perpetuity. Here we are as in an inn; in heaven we shall gain a settlement. The disciples had quitted their houses to attend Christ, who had not where to lay his head, but the mansions in heaven will make them amends. [4.] There are many mansions, for there are many sons to be brought to glory, and Christ exactly knows their number, nor will be straitened for room by the coming of more company than he expects. He had told Peter that he should follow him (John 13:36), but let not the rest be discouraged, in heaven there are mansions for them all. Rehoboth, Gen. 26:22.
(2.) See what assurance we have of the reality of the happiness itself, and the sincerity of the proposal of it to us: “If it were not so, I would have told you. If you had deceived yourselves, when you quitted your livelihoods, and ventured your lives for me, in prospect of a happiness future and unseen, I would soon have undeceived you.” The assurance is built, [1.] Upon the veracity of his word. It is implied, “If there were not such a happiness, valuable and attainable, I would not have told you that there was.” [2.] Upon the sincerity of his affection to them. As he is true, and would not impose upon them himself, so he is kind, and would not suffer them to be imposed upon. If either there were no such mansions, or none designed for them, who had left all to follow him, he would have given them timely notice of the mistake, that they might have made an honourable retreat to the world again, and have made the best they could of it. Note, Christ’s good-will to us is a great encouragement to our hope in him. He loves us too well, and means us too well, to disappoint the expectations of his own raising, or to leave those to be of all men most miserable who have been of him most observant.
2. Believe and consider that the design of Christ’s going away was to prepare a place in heaven for his disciples. “You are grieved to think of my going away, whereas I go on your errand, as the forerunner; I am to enter for you.” He went to prepare a place for us; that is, (1.) To take possession for us, as our advocate or attorney, and so to secure our title as indefeasible. Livery of seisin was given to Christ, for the use and behoof of all that should believe on him. (2.) To make provision for us as our friend and father. The happiness of heaven, though prepared before the foundation of the world, yet must be further fitted up for man in his fallen state. It consisting much in the presence of Christ there, it was therefore necessary that he should go before, to enter into that glory which his disciples were to share in. Heaven would be an unready place for a Christian if Christ were not there. He went to prepare a table for them, to prepare thrones for them, Luke 22:30. Thus Christ declares the fitness of heaven’s happiness for the saints, for whom it is prepared.
3. Believe and consider that therefore he would certainly come again in due time, to fetch them to that blessed place which he was now going to possess for himself and prepare for them (John 14:3): “If I go and prepare a place for you, if this be the errand of my journey, you may be sure, when every thing is ready, I will come again, and receive you to myself, so that you shall follow me hereafter, that where I am there you may be also.” Now these are comfortable words indeed. (1.) That Jesus Christ will come again; erchomai—I do come, intimating the certainty of it, that he will come and that he is daily coming. We say, We are coming, when we are busy in preparing for our coming, and so he is; all he does has a reference and tendency to his second coming. Note, The belief of Christ’s second coming, of which he has given us the assurance, is an excellent preservative against trouble of heart, Phil. 4:5; Jas. 5:8. (2.) That he will come again to receive all his faithful followers to himself. He sends for them privately at death, and gathers them one by one; but they are to make their public entry in solemn state all together at the last day, and then Christ himself will come to receive them, to conduct them in the abundance of his grace, and to welcome them in the abundance of his love. He will hereby testify the utmost respect and endearment imaginable. The coming of Christ is in order to our gathering together unto him, 2 Thess. 2:1. (3.) That where he is there they shall be also. This intimates, what many other scriptures declare, that the quintessence of heaven’s happiness is being with Christ there, John 17:24; Phil. 1:23; 1 Thess. 4:17. Christ speaks of his being there as now present, that where I am; where I am to be shortly, where I am to be eternally; there you shall be shortly, there you shall be eternally: not only there, in the same place; but here, in the same state: not only spectators of his glory, as the three disciples on the mount, but sharers in it. (4.) That this may be inferred from his going to prepare a place for us, for his preparations shall not be in vain. He will not build and furnish lodgings, and let them stand empty. He will be the finisher of that of which he is the author. If he has prepared the place for us, he will prepare us for it, and in due time put us in possession of it. As the resurrection of Christ is the assurance of our resurrection, so his ascension, victory, and glory, are an assurance of ours.