December 3, 2018

Who Needs Some Comfort?

By: Larry Shaffer

Who Needs Some Comfort? 

John 14, part one 

Little Children, I am with you a little while longer. You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, now I also say to you. Where I am going, you cannot come…Do not let your heart be troubled, believe in God, believe also in Me. 

Jesus and His disciples are in the upper room for the Passover supper. This is the same night that Jesus will be betrayed and arrested. He first washed their feet as an object lesson on servanthood. Next, Jesus tells Judas to go and do what you need to do and do it quickly. Judas had been included in all of Jesus’ teaching and mentoring over the last three years. Jesus treated just like the others. But now he tells Judas to go and He turns His full attention to the remaining eleven. These eleven are truly His own. 

Jesus is very emotional. He knows what is coming. The disciples do not comprehend what is about to take place. As we move into chapter 14, Jesus begins to teach and comfort them. 

There are many familiar verses here in John chapter 14 that we often quote in an isolated fashion. Today I am reminded of how helpful it is to read progressively through bible books and see the context and better understand Jesus’ statement.  

The key to understanding chapter 14 is found in the end of chapter 13. In 13:33, Jesus scared them to death by saying little children, I am with you a little while longer…where I am going, you cannot come.  The progression of the teaching of chapter 14 flows from this frightening reality. After 3 years of 24/7, Jesus announces He is leaving them.  

If we Transport ourselves into their shoes (sandals), this reality first strikes their pride and then triggers fear.  

  • Pride, because they were hoping that this miracle worker was leading them to rule in the Kingdom; with hope they would sit on his right and left but at a minimum they would be close to Him, the King, and rule with Him.  
  • But pride quickly faded into outright fear. They were thinking, “Please don’t leave us! We have given up everything for you and now you’re leaving us??? We are lost without you.” 

This is what triggered Jesus’ often quoted verse in John 14.1: Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe in Me.  

The flow of Jesus’ teaching in this section comes from four progressive statements & questions that come from four disciples.  

  • Simon Peter’s statement in 13:36.
  • Thomas’ question in 14.5.
  • Then Phillip asks kind of a dumb question that irritates Jesus a bit in 14.8.
  • Then finally, Judas (not Iscariot) asks a question in 14.22.  

It is a few hours before Jesus is betrayed and arrested. Jesus tells them that He is about to leave them. From an earthly perspective, it should have been the disciples praying and comforting Jesus since He is about to endure not only torturous physical pain but also the grief, sorrow and weight of the wrath of God for the sins of the world. But the loving, servant heart of Jesus remains focus on them.  

Jesus is ministering and preparing the disciples. Their world is about to be shattered. Jesus is their comfort and their hope. He is mine as well. They don’t like the uncertainty of life without Jesus. We do not like uncertainty as well when we go through life changes. Jesus comforts them and He comforts us.  

This isn’t a time when Jesus says “Man up”. He addresses them as little children. He says do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. 

Jesus, thank you for Your kind and tender heart toward us, Your beloved. We wander and do foolish things just as your disciples did. But we are Yours and you will love us to the end. But being Yours doesn’t go without much responsibility. Help us to surrender to you in the quietness of prayer right now and then go out and love and serve others, in Your name. Amen.