When someone gives you news that you don’t want to hear such as their serious medical diagnosis, the passing of someone you love, news of a close friend or family member moving far away, or of a marriage ending, it’s difficult to process the initial thoughts and feelings.
An audible gasp, followed by murmuring and furrowed brows swept across the room where the disciples were finishing the Passover meal after Jesus told them that He will be going away soon.
I remember when Kim and I told my family and friends that our family was moving 1,500 miles away, to Maine in order to plant a church; their reactions were understandable. The proverbial shoe had long ago been “put on the other foot” when at least three of my siblings had left to live in different parts of the United States. I totally understood what I felt in those moments when I found out, (one of them only left me a note to tell me they were leaving); I had no difficulty empathizing as they expressed their feelings.
The gravity of the situation around the Passover Meal in John 13 and 14 is intensified by Jesus’ command for the disciples to love each other in the same way (or capacity) which He has loved them.
It reminds me of how we would beg our kids “love each other, treat each other like you love each other, be good to each other” just before we would go on a date.
He tells them that if they love each other people will know that they are His disciples. Certainly, the disciples must have thought “yes, but… if you’re around, they will know that we’re your disciples… wait…what’s going on here?!”
These men had abandoned everything, they were part of a movement which stood in direct opposition to the established religion, left their families and their occupations, stood beside Jesus as He made some pretty incredible claims (most of which they didn’t understand at first); even if they wanted to, they would never be accepted back into society again.
The panic and anxiety in the room was reaching a fervor as the loving Master offered these words to His friends,
“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in Me.” John 14:1 ESV
First, Jesus addresses their feelings of panic and their anxiety by telling them to calm down and choose to not LET their hearts be troubled or stressed out. In our moments of anxiety we need to recognize that ultimately, we have a choice.
Then, Jesus points back to the Father and commands them as if saying, “No matter what, always believe in God – trust in God, don’t let anything sway your faith in God.” This isn’t a suggestion on how to get through this, it’s a command. Believe in God – this is absolute foundational truth for us to get to the next step. If you can believe in God then you can believe in Jesus, whom God sent.
Finally, He follows up by telling them to take that same unshakeable faith and apply it to Him. He’s not asking them to believe in some ethereal concept or ideology – He’s asking them to believe IN Him.
My precious wife and children have had some pretty big favors asked of them by me; many times I’ve required them to “believe in me” as we made some major life decisions over the years.
One of the greatest compliments I’ve ever received has been my wife telling me that she believes in me. I know that she believes in my ability to make decisions, trusts that I have her’s and my family’s best interests in mind, and she believes that I know how to hear from God.
It’s important that we understand that Jesus isn’t asking us to simply acknowledge some new information or to assent to some new philosophy; He is asking us to believe IN Him. Jewish people understood what it meant to believe in God (they had that under control) but believing in Jesus in the same way was a new thing.
I would argue that it’s a new thing for some Christians.
Jesus isn’t asking us to simply acknowledge some new information or to assent to some new philosophy; He is asking us to believe IN Him.
Do you believe in Him? Do you trust Him to be capable of handling your life? Do you trust Him to cause “everything to work together for the good”?