Believe in Me
Scripture reading: John 13:31-14:6
“Believe in me” is one of those blessed imperatives used by our Lord. Its assertions were directed especially to those men who eventually became the foundation of the whole Christian Church, our representatives.
Let us examine the circumstances in which this imperative was used, then its very structure, and ultimately the results.
In the circumstances the Lord and His disciples were all involved.
The Lord. The Lord Jesus knew who His betrayer was. Satan had already entered into the heart of Judas Iscariot to betray Him. He had already bargained with the Jewish leaders to do this for thirty pieces of silver. Judas, therefore, arose at the supper and went out with a full understanding of his deception and wicked intention on his part. The Lord Jesus in His discourse recorded here spoke of His peace. He said, “My peace I give unto you” (John 14:27). Thank God for the holy calm, the divine tranquility, that was seen in the Master!
The disciples. Obviously, according to John 14:1, their hearts were troubled. There were numerous matters which had transpired in the upper room that evening to trouble and perplex them. For example, they had seen the Master troubled in spirit (v. 21). They had heard that one of themselves would betray Him (vv. 18-21). They were baffled by the mysterious disappearance of Judas (vv. 27-30), and by the predicted inexplicable departure of the Lord Himself (v. 33), and by the warning to Peter (v. 38). Sufficient had happened on this occasion to really upset the disciples and to fill their hearts with dejection.
It was to these troubled and bewildered disciples that the Lord said, “Let not your heart be troubled, ye believe in God, believe also in me.” Inasmuch as our Lord’s words are always contemporary, today He speaks these same words to each one of His own. What a proof that there is consolation in Christ (Phil. 2:1)!
The words of John 14:1 are difficult to understand because of the conflicting opinions of scholars and translators. There are some who look upon both clauses as being in the indicative mood: “Ye believe in God and ye also believe in me.” These are merely statements of facts. Others look upon both of them as being in the imperative mood: “Ye must believe in God and ye must also believe in me.” There are still others, along with the translators of the KJV, who believe that the first of these statements is in the indicative and the second in the imperative. The verse may thus be paraphrased: “Inasmuch as ye believe in God whom you haved never seen, when I am no longer with you, and am out of sight, ye must believe in me.” Sight may affect our feelings, but it should not affect our faith. Even in His absence, the Lord was to be the anchorage of their faith.
Their behavior. The manner in which the disciples conducted themselves between that night and the resurrection of the Lord Jesus indicates how little they understood what was said. How little they obeyed!
Think of the ignorance of Thomas (John 14:5), the denial of Peter (Luke 22:62-64), the departure of most (Matt. 26:56), the despair of the two from Emaus (Luke 24:13-32), and then again, the doubts of Thomas (John 20:4). Need we condemn them? Under trials much less severe our faith has failed us, and we have become very, very troubled.
Hope is a catalyst of faith; by it faith is prodded and becomes more operative. Such is the force of the remainder of this paragraph in John 14. The hope of a glorious future is to stimulate faith now. Let us look at some of the highlights of this paragraph.
My Father’s house. Through these words we think instinctively of heaven, but when the disciples of our Lord first heard them it is doubtful that they thought of heaven. They had heard the Lord make reference to the temple, even Herod’s temple, as His Father’s house. He had asserted, “Make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise” (John 2:16). The temple is used by the Lord as an illustration of the dwelling place of the redeemed.
Many mansions. There were three stories of apartments under the temple court and sanctuary. In heaven, the Father’s house above, there are many mansions or dwelling places: a place for seraphim, a place for cherubim, a place for the archangel, a place for the elect angels and for the legions of angels. In heaven there are dwelling places for the complete hierarchy of celestial beings and powers.
I go to prepare a place. It is obvious that none of the mansions, those beautiful dwelling places, were suitable for His bride, the Church, so He went to prepare a special place for her, a place near to Himself.
He did not go directly to heaven to sweep and furnish one of the mansions for us. He went to the cross to rend the veil and to open the way into the most intimate place in glory. In this work His death, burial, resurrection and ascension are all involved.
To prepare a place for you. Elizabeth Dark in her splendid hymn designates the place for us:
Soon shall all Thy saints be gathered
Inside the veil;
All at home, no more be scattered,
Inside the veil.
Naught from Thee our hearts shall sever;
We shall see Thee, grieve Thee never;
Praise the Lamb! Shall sound forever
Inside the veil.
Until Calvary the Holy Spirit signified that the way into the holiest was not yet opened (Heb. 9:8). Since Calvary the way has been open, and in spirit even now we may enter into the intimate, holy place (Heb. 10:19-25). In heaven even the rent veil will be removed completely (Rev. 8:3).
When Moses for the first time raised Israel’s tabernacle in the wilderness, we read, “He put the golden altar in the tent of the congregation before the veil” (Ex. 40:26). This veil hung before the ark, the throne of God, who dwelt between the cherubim. In the glory this order will be changed. We read of the golden altar which is before the throne (Rev. 8:3). There is now no veil before the ark, the throne; it was removed at Calvary.
“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there ye may be also.” The Lord’s departure becomes the very pledge of His return. What they feared most became a great blessing to them. Christ’s very absence gave assurance of His eternal, intimate presence in a glorious future. He seems to say, “Just as I surely go away, so surely will I come again. Believe in me. Believe in me when you cannot understand the purposes of God. Believe in me when hope of advancement and success wane. Believe in me when others like Peter fail. Believe in me when some inward Thomas cries, “How can we know the way?”