“Let not your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.” (John 14:1)
Few words in the Bible are better known or more often quoted than these, but for all their timelessness, they were addressed to a very specific situation.
The demeanor and language of Jesus had filled his disciples with foreboding. He was going to leave them, and that itself would reduce their world to rubble. But they would also have to cope with the manner of his departure. They would see him betrayed by one of their own, arrested and condemned to a death that would not only wrench him from them, but would cover his name with ignominy and bury all their hopes.
What is before the Lord’s mind here, then, is not how he himself would cope with the cross, but how his confused and bewildered disciples would cope. It is the trouble in their minds that troubles him, and he addresses it not only with soothing words, but with powerful arguments—arguments they must remember when they see him hanging on the cross, and which we, too, must remember when God leads us where we cannot cope and cannot understand.
Trust in God—and Me
“Trust in God,” he says. What is going to happen is demonic and dark, yet behind the demonic is the hand of God. He had already told them that no man would take his life from him. Instead, his dying would be an act of obedience to his heavenly Father; and he had told them, too, that though what he was doing was at the moment beyond their comprehension, they would understand later (John 13:7).
They had to trust God even when they couldn’t see his reasons; and we can be sure that the arguments Jesus presented to the disciples were the very arguments he presented to himself. He, too, “the man, Christ Jesus,” had to trust God, laying down his life (to all human appearance an unfinished life), risking all on the “sure and certain hope of the resurrection.”
“Trust also in me.” Did they notice that he was asking them to have the same faith in him as they had in God? He, too, had his reasons for leaving them. Later, he would tell them one of them: Unless he went, “the Helper” would not come (John 16:7).