October 4, 2016
In my years of being a pastor, I have stood by folks dying. I have held hands and prayed with family members grieving. I listened to folks as they have drawn their last breath. It is hard to imagine the family members of the dying not having troubled hearts. In fact, they all did. It is natural, isn’t it? It’s natural that our hearts break when we face the reality of death in a loved one’s life. Yet we hear a command of God that goes against what is natural for us.
Jesus says (twice) in chapter 14, “Let not your hearts be troubled.” Yep, twice Jesus says this to His disciples. He apparently knew they needed it. This whole chapter is one that leads the disciples (and me) to not only believe that Jesus has conquered death, but He gives us assurance that we too have victory over death as we trust in Him as our Savior.
Yet I wonder, did the disciples feel any comfort by Jesus’ words? Or, did comfort fly out the window as chaos moved in during this final day of Jesus’ earthly life?
When I look at my life, I’m amazed how easily the struggles of this world and the worries of the flesh can cause me to lose the comfort of the assurance of my salvation. Oh, to read again and again the words of Jesus, “Let not your heart be troubled.”
But this chapter is not simply about God’s love for us. These words of Jesus are not simply that He will prepare a place for us in the life still to come. No, this chapter also contains words of Jesus that call us to be obedient to His word. We are called to be obedient. Even though Jesus knows none of us can do this perfectly, even though Jesus knows that all of us are sinful, Jesus still issues the call to keep His commands, as this is a sign that we love the Lord. But what are the commands of Jesus? To Love the Lord with all your heart, mind, body and soul and to love your neighbor as yourself. To believe in God the Father and in His Son, Jesus, whom He has sent. To keep God’s word faithfully is to repent of sin and trust in the work of Christ on our behalf. This is keeping with the word of God. Following the Law (commands) does not bring salvation. However, as we love God, we can’t help but be drawn to the Light and thus, by the work of the Holy Spirit in us, we seek to be obedient to Him. Obedience to God is not to earn salvation. Jesus took care of that. Instead, obedience is not losing faith while seeking to live a life that brings glory to God.
PRAYER: O Holy Spirit, work in me the faith that seeks to be obedient to my Heavenly Father. I realize His love for me is not dependent on my ability to love Him, but may His love inspire me and encourage me to live a life that brings Him honor. I humbly ask You to bring me peace (v. 27) unlike that the world offers. Grant this to those I love as well as my enemies. Amen.