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Teaching in the Upper Room: Comfort for the Troubled Heart–The Diagnosis and Remedy [1]

Teaching in the Upper Room: Comfort for the Troubled Heart–The Diagnosis and Remedy [1]

John 13:31-14:4

“In every pew sits a broken heart.” If the title of the book co-authored by Billy Graham’s daughter Ruth is true, then surely in every pew there must be multiple troubled hearts. Circumstances tend to send our minds swirling as we ponder the hypothetical outcomes of our present dilemmas. We have all been there: distracted in our seats by events that are affecting our lives, tuning in and out of reality. For the disciples in the upper room, bewilderment was agitating what should have been a peaceful Passover meal. However, the Master of the gathering was near to assure them that their heart didn’t need to be troubled if they would just have faith. We will examine this cause and cure that the Lord presents to the troubled heart.

Why Were They Troubled?

With the words and works of the Lord in the upper room, everything the disciples lived for seemed to be unraveling before their eyes. The assumptions they had built after three years of spending time with their Master were being shaken to the core. Previously we noticed that the disciples were embarrassed at their own lack of humility compared to the Lord’s. Worse, one among them was said to be both unclean and a betrayer – and they couldn’t identify who it was. Further, the Lord told the disciples that He was not only leaving but couldn’t be followed. Then the final blow was that Simon Peter, who seemed to have the qualities of the incumbent spearhead of the band, was going to face a trial so fierce that he would deny the Lord three times before the morning.

Who wouldn’t be troubled? Certainly less overwhelming moments than these deflate us and cause a stall or spiral in our Christian experience. The minds of the disciples were running a million miles per minute.

What They Missed

In ch13:31-38, there are a couple key points the disciples missed.

Suffering would lead to glory

The Son of Man was glorified and God glorified in Him because the Son knew the will of God. The Son said this because He knew that Judas going out would involve being betrayed into wicked hands. The wickedness of the action only sets apart further the obedience and submission of the Son. God was glorified in this obedience and the willing step of the Son.

Not only would God be glorified in Him, but God would glorify the Son as a result. God to glorify this man in a way that Christ hadn’t been glorified until that moment through the obedient embrace of suffering and death in accordance to the will of God. God would glorify, manifest the excellence, of Christ in resurrection and ascension.

The reality of love

They are commanded to love, understanding the expression of their Master’s love for them to be that He would never depart from them to leave them worse off; and that they would be recognized as disciples by their love for one another. This says something about the love of the Master, and the way that we should be acting. The Lord states that believers and observers of the believer’s life in the world alike would recognize that they are followers of Him by love. This is because Christ loved the unlovable, cared for the castaway, and was sympathetic toward the shunned. This is how Christ lived. He was doing what was best for the disciples, even though these moments were hard for them. This is how we will be recognized in connected with Him. In moments of struggle, these details would have been easy to miss.

Words for the Troubled Heart

How could their Master depart and leave them better off? Chapter 14 is dedicated to this very point.

First, they simply needed to trust Him. This is the cure for heart problems. There are a few different ways of interpreting verse 1, but what seems to make the most sense is that the Lord is appealing to them to simply trust Him even though they can’t understand what’s happening. In some situations, this is exactly what God requires of us. Though it may seem that all things can’t work together for good, we know they do because the God is sovereign and says it must be so (Rom 8:28-30).  

Next, His leaving is to prepare a place for them. Just as the temple in Jerusalem was surrounded by many dwelling places for the temple workers, and just as the tabernacle in the wilderness was encompassed by an encampment of God’s people, so will be the Father’s House. Marvellous the thought that He has gone to prepare a place for you and I through His death, resurrection and ascension. Since He is in glory, the place is now prepared for us and for Him to come at any time.

Thirdly, He will come again. The Lord clearly states that His coming will be such to receive us and take us to be with Him where He is, in His Father’s House. This is a rock solid description of the Rapture. He is not coming so that He might be where we are. We will “meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (1 Thes 4:17).

Our times are in Thy hand;
We’ll always trust in Thee,
Till we have left this weary land
And all Thy glory see.
-William F. Lloyd (1824)

 

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