“Hush baby… Don’t cry!” Those are the words we have grown to associate with a loving mother’s reassurance to her little baby that, regardless of how things may look or feel, everything is going to be OK, because mam’s got this one covered. But how common is it for a similar sentiment to be expressed to a group of young men in their late teens or early 20’s? These young men were supposed to be rough and tough and in fact, some were fishermen… not a trade for the weak of spirit and faint of heart. Add to that the fact that the person expressing the sentiment was a man, and you have a highly unlikely scenario. And yet, here we have the God of Creation in male human form, reassuring His Disciples who were deeply saddened and confused by what their Master told them was about to happen to Him.
First, he was going to die, and it was one of them that would be the betrayer. Even when Jesus clearly indicated that it would be Judas, the fact did not fully resonate in their minds, and they were still wondering to themselves, “Is it I?” And then when it was explicitly clear that Jesus would be taken away from them and killed, their spokesman Peter volunteered as usual without being asked… “I will lay down my life for you!” (John 13:37) And when Jesus told Peter that when things got rough, he would actually deny Him, that was a shocker. If big mouth, up-in-your-face, walk-on-water, self-appointed spokesman Peter would deny Jesus, then surely, all of the others would!
But there’s more… These men had taken a gamble, albeit a calculated gamble based on their declaration that He is the Messiah. But their Messiah could not be crucified by anybody, much less by the wicked Romans, even if they were inspired by the hateful leaders of their own people. On the contrary, their Messiah had come to destroy their oppressors and restore the Kingdom to Israel (Acts 1:6). Their Messiah was a conquering Messiah… and they were not shy in jockeying for a place on His right and left hand in his Kingdom (Matthew 20:21 & Matthew 18:1). How were they to feel now that their Leader for whom they had left and forsaken all, is letting them know plainly that He would be killed?
Against this backdrop, Jesus says in John 14:1-4, “Do not let your hearts be troubled…”
The Jews, including the Disciples were all steeped in the tenets of Judaism. They had absolutely no difficulty in believing in God the Father. Abraham was their Father and the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who could not be touched or approached, except under very harsh prescribed circumstances. Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. (Deuteronomy 6:4). They also understood that God would send the Messiah, but their Theology of the Messiah was far from clear. The challenge that Jesus faced was getting them to understand and/or believe that He their Lord and Master is God the Son and the Messiah. And whereas it is true that they were far advanced along this path, there was still a ways to go. It is against this backdrop that Jesus says, “You believe in God; believe also in me.” (John 14:1) And again in John 14:9 – “… Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father…” So central was this challenge that His discourse extend extends to John 14:11 – Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me.”
But Jesus wastes no time in establishing an equally important related truth. Step 1 is believe in God. Step 2 is believe that Jesus is His Son and His 100% authentic manifestation. But Step 3 is that it is only through Jesus that the Father can be accessed. Jesus who reads our thoughts, can also set them up. He does this in John 14:4, full well knowing that one or all of them would ask exactly what Thomas asked in John 14:5. Thus having set up the question, In John 14:6-7, Jesus provides the answer which is a critical component of the Theological Foundation of the Christian faith – “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Interestingly enough, the assurance of Jesus in John 14:1-4 did not seem to have its desired effect. After His crucifixion they were scared out of their wits and totally demoralized. It was not until Jesus was resurrected and after He imparted the Holy Spirit to them that they were transformed into the fighting force that changed the course of the world forever.
Today, we have not only the Word of God, but God’s Holy Spirit living within us. Not only are we not in need of comfort and reassurance, but we have all that it takes to be part of that fighting force that is still changing the world.
Remember to visit RBC’s Our Daily Bread Devotional today at www.ODB.org