“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.
And you know the way to the place where I am going.”
“Do not let your hearts be troubled.” These are words of comfort for people Jesus loved. Jesus knew that they would be coming to arrest him, that he would die the following day. Jesus knew, and yet, he comforted his disciples. I imagine them, going out of the Upper Room into the darkness of that bitter night. Walking together – as Jesus speaks words of comfort to them. Perhaps they stop, in the vineyard on the hillside below Jerusalem, and he speaks. Believe in God, believe also in me.
Believe – this does not mean saying some formulaic words – we say “I believe” every Sunday when we repeat the Affirmation of Faith; but saying words doesn’t make it so. Believing is in your heart. It is trusting God. If we trust God, we are not always worrying about things – our hearts are not troubled.
Jesus is going to be with the Father. The disciples do not understand that he means he is going to die – they have said they want to go with him. Now he says he goes to prepare a place for them to come. There is plenty of room there with the Father, plenty of rooms, or “mansions”, or “dwelling places”. But consider that if we consider this as only a preparation for the afterlife, we are missing, again, the nuance in what Jesus is saying. To dwell with is a term that refers to relationship – Jesus goes to the Father, Jesus dies, in order that we might have relationship with God. And in the Spirit, Jesus returns to them, and to us, as a part of that relationship. Thus, Jesus’ return speaks of not only his final return, but of his present return, to relationship with us through the Spirit.
Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe. Trust God.