The saying, “If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” offers a necessary caution. If the television infomercial for the latest wonder product (that has not been tested or approved by anyone significant) offers results that seem unrealistic, be careful. For example, if a diet pill will help you lose fifty pounds in a month, you would be wise to question the legitimacy of the offer. The ability of the person making the offer to deliver on the promise is crucial to our confidence in purchasing whatever it is they are selling.
In that upper room, Jesus made an offer to His troubled disciples. He offered them peace—and He would deliver on His promise.
As John 14 opens, Jesus reminds His disciples that they can trust Him. His words would have been a voice of calm in the midst of their confusion—and it can be in ours as well. “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me” (john 14:1).
These words were not spoken to tranquil people enjoying a pleasant evening together. Jesus spoke those words to men like Peter who were grief-stricken, troubled, and confused. In response to their hearts, Jesus gave two thoughts of comfort:
Stop letting your heart be troubled. This is a negative command, and it is strong. The word troubled means “stirred up, disturbed, thrown into confusion.” Literally, Jesus was saying, “Stop the shuddering and trembling of your heart.” Heart speaks of the seat of understanding, the private world, the part of you which makes you “you.” In the core of who we are, Jesus says to stop being troubled.
Why were their hearts troubled? Fear of the unknown, of the future—perhaps most of all fear of themselves. Jesus told them to stop allowing fear and confusion to reign in their hearts. It is important to notice, though, that Jesus didn’t simply say, “Don’t worry, be happy; everything will be just fine.” He gave them a reason to stop being troubled. He gave them Himself as their reason for peace.
Believe in God, believe also in Me. Jesus didn’t simply tell them to buck up, keep a stiff upper lip, or get over it. He gave them a starting point for peace—trust. He challenged them to allow their confidence in Him to overcome their fear and despair. Jesus’s words challenged them to believe in Him in the exact same way that they had been taught to believe in God.
Swimming in their fear, these words were a lifeboat. Words that offered rescue and safety. It was as if Jesus were telling them (and us), “You will fail, but I never will. Believe in Me and trust Me during the dark hours ahead. I will not fail you or abandon you, even though you will abandon me. You can trust Me—no matter what you are facing.” His promise of peace is directly linked to our trust in Him and His ability to bring us through.
For followers of Christ on this side of the cross and resurrection, this confidence is even more profound. We have experienced the reality of the victory won by His resurrection. The One who conquered death has never failed, and He won’t now. (See 1 corinthians 15.) We can have peace—His comfort is real and His promise is trustworthy (romans 5:1–2).
It is important to remember that Jesus doesn’t offer us an empty faith free of problems or troubles. He acknowledges the reality of heartaches and failures and calls us to see that He is greater than any and all of that.
But Jesus doesn’t stop there. He not only promises peace in the coming trials, He goes on to tell them of a place of peace that will be eternally removed from the trials of this broken world.