Comfort for the Troubled Heart
John 14:1-6 (NASB)
“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way where I am going.” Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
To feel the impact of John 14:1-16, you have to read the end of the previous chapter, remembering there were no chapter breaks originally. This is part of the upper room discourse (John 13-17), as Jesus meets the final time with His disciples prior to His crucifixion. At the end of chapter 13, Jesus distressed His disciples by abruptly telling them He was leaving. He was going away and wouldn’t be with them much longer.
It’s important to see this context because it shows us that the truths of John 14 work in the most troubling times of life. These words weren’t spoken in the green pastures of Galilee on a cloudless spring day. They were spoken in a sealed room in a hostile city during a crisis in the face of impending doom. That’s why we know it’s able to reassure us, too, in life’s deepest valleys, darkest days, and strangest twists and turns. We trust in God and in God’s Son!
So, this second part of God’s testimony is that eternal life is found in His Son. This takes us back to the prologue wherein eternal life is found to be a person, Jesus, and not a possession. This supports Jesus’ own words wherein He identified Himself as “the resurrection and the life” to Martha (John 11:25) and “the way, the truth, and the life” to His disciples (John 14:6). Additionally, though possessing eternal life is an automatic result of regeneration, experiencing eternal life is contingent on one’s relationship with Jesus, who is eternal life itself. God’s testimony that life is in His Son speaks to two aspects of eternal life. No lost person can receive it apart from believing in His Son. No saved person can enjoy it apart from believing in His Son.
In John 14:2, you may be familiar with this verse from the King James Version: “In my Father’s house are many mansions.” It’s among the most precious verses in the Bible about heaven; but modern translations have replaced the word mansions with “rooms” or “dwelling places.”
I’m not happy that my heavenly accommodations have been downgraded from a mansion to a room. What gives?
Well, our English word mansion comes from a Latin word meaning “to live or dwell.” Originally the word simply meant “a place to live or a place to dwell.” When William Tyndale first translated the Bible into English, he used the word manse or mansion; it simply meant “dwelling place.” From there it came into our early English versions. That was also the meaning of the Greek word used by John, and it fits the analogy Jesus is using about His Father’s house.
But that doesn’t mean we’re all going to be confined to one-room efficiencies in some sort of heavenly tenement house throughout eternity. I actually think the word mansion is a pretty good one. After all, the smallest house in heaven is going to be a million times better than the grandest palace on earth, so I don’t think the idea of mansion is inappropriate. I’m going to stick to my old King James terminology here. In my Father’s house are many mansions.
What we often call heaven is referred to in Revelation 21 and 22 as the new heavens, the new earth, and the new Jerusalem. I’m convinced the Bible teaches that the new Jerusalem, is currently in the highest heaven and is the dwelling place of God. Christians are transported there instantly at death. At the end of earth’s history, this world and the entire universe will be recreated. This glorious, golden city will then descend from the heaven to the new earth, and the dwelling place of God will be with us, and we will be His people, and He will be our God. Our eternal home will be on the new earth and in this great city. There’ll be more than enough room for all the mansions, apartments, cottages, and dwelling places we’ll ever need.
Certainly, in the upper room the disciples had reason to worry. But in John 14:1-6, Jesus warned them not to remain in a worried state of mind. He was telling us all: Don’t surrender to a troubled heart. Don’t give in to panic. Don’t cave in to anxious care. We aren’t to let our hearts remain in a state of agitation, panic, terror, or of being upset.
I may not be able to avoid being frightened on occasion. I may be unable to avoid flashes of panic or aches of anxiety. Perhaps I can’t totally escape the temptation to worry. But I can avoid remaining in such a state or abiding in such a condition. In fact, it’s my obligation as a Christian to fight off the sin of anxiety just as I would resist the sin of drunkenness, profanity, lust, or idolatry.