John 14 opens and closes with our Lord’s loving admonition, “Let not your heart be troubled.” The word “troubled” is “tarasso” meaning “to shake up or stir up,” used to describe the stirring up of the waters at the pool of Bethesda (John 5:7). It speaks of severe mental or spiritual agitation. Of course the disciples were troubled: Jesus had announced that one of them was a traitor, that Peter would deny Christ multiple times, and worst of all, Jesus was going to leave them (13:33). But in today’s passage we see Jesus offering His followers some wonderful, comforting assurances.
First, Christ is preparing a home (1-3). Jesus reaffirms His deity. Israel had believed in God as He revealed Himself to them. Jesus encouraged his followers to put their faith and trust in Him as the Son of God. “In my Father’s house are many mansions.” The word is “mone” meaning “rooms” or “abiding places.” The idea that Christians will have a huge palatial estate or sprawling manor house comes from a couple of Christian songs but not from the Bible. The promise is that we will be living in a wonderful, close fellowship with other believers, unhindered by sin! While on earth, Jesus was a carpenter. Now that He has returned to heaven, He is building his church on earth and a home for that church in heaven. Heaven is a place of indescribable beauty. John tried to describe it in Revelation 21-22, but ran out of symbols and comparisons. Jesus promised He would return to take those who belong to Him to their eternal dwelling place (3). Heaven is a real, spectacular, loving and an exclusive place. You must have a reservation! You can’t get on a flight without a reservation or get a table at an exclusive restaurant without a reservation, yet some people think they will die and go to heaven without any prior preparation! Have you made your reservation? Do you have a home waiting for you in Heaven?
The second comfort is that Christ explains the way (4-11). Thomas’ question brings greater clarity for all of us. If we don’t know the destination, how can we know the way? The answer is by knowing and following the Guide! Here Jesus made His sixth “I AM” statement: I AM the way the truth and the life. Jesus alone is the way to God, because He alone is the truth about God, and He alone possess the life of God. The Bible teaches that God may be approached exclusively through His only begotten Son. “There is salvation in none other under heaven” Peter affirmed (Acts 4:12). “There is one God and one mediator between God and men” (I Timothy 2:5). It may seem religiously narrow, and offensively exclusive, but the Bible says Jesus alone reveals God and anyone who rejects that claim does not know God (John 5:23; I John 2:23). Jesus does not simply teach the way or point the way: He is the way. In fact, “the Way” was one of the early names for the Christian faith (Acts 9:2; 19:9). According to Jesus’ statement any other way to heaven–good works, religious ceremonies, costly gifts–is worthless in God’s sight.
Jesus’ statement, “If you had known me you would have known my Father also,” is nothing more than a claim to deity and equality with the Father. How a person reacts to Christ’s claims determines their eternal destiny. Philip’s request piggybacks on Thomas’ question. He asks for a theophany! Christ’s rebuke to the disciples is tinged with sadness. All this time together and their faith is still infantile. Jesus doesn’t throw up His hands and say, “You guys will never get it!” No, He promises help.
And here we see the third comfort: Christ promising help (12-14). The greater works that Jesus referred to in verse 12 were not greater in power than the ones Jesus performed, but greater in extent. Yes, the Apostles would do physical miracles, but the greater works Jesus had in mind speak of the miracle of salvation. Jesus’ preached in Israel and had hundreds of converts. The Apostles would take the gospel to Gentile nations with converts someday numbering in the millions. Not only would the Holy Spirit come to empower them for these “greater works” but they would also have access to the resources of heaven. Prayer allows us to tap into the limitless warehouses in glory. To ask in Jesus’ name does not mean just tack the words “in Jesus name” onto the end of a prayer. It is not a magic formula that obligates God to grant our selfish requests. “In Jesus name” means that what we are asking is consistent with what Jesus would want if He were on earth, that this petition would bring Christ glory. It is also an admission of our spiritual poverty, our lack of self-sufficiency and unworthiness to receive anything from God based on our own merits.
Prayer is one of the best remedies for troubled hearts. Consider these words from the famous song, What a Friend we have in Jesus:
“O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear;
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer.”