The night was young as Jesus began teaching His disciples, “Whither I go you cannot come.” After years of faithfully following Jesus, Peter answered Jesus with anxiety and emotion, “Lord, whither goest thou?” Peter obviously struggled to understand Jesus, so He clarified His statement further, “Whither I go, thou cannot follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards.” Even the proposition to eventually be able to follow Jesus was not good enough for Peter, “Lord, why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my life for thy sake.”
The next phrase that Jesus spoke must have been unnerving for everyone in the upper room. Before Judas left, Jesus had said, “one of you shall betray me.” When Judas departed, the majority of the disciples assumed that he was just going to prepare for the Passover feast or to give money to the poor. They were not yet thinking that Judas was going to betray Jesus. This misconceived notion was probably furthered by the next statement of Jesus to Peter, “The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice.” In essence, Jesus just explained to the boldest disciple, Peter, that by the next morning he would disclaim and reject Jesus not just once, as if it were an accident, but three separate times.
This was a nuclear reality. As it seemed to the disciples, it was Peter who would betray Jesus. Peter was one of the closest to Jesus, how could this be? Certainly the tension was thick in the room as Peter reeled from the unhesitatingly accusing prophecy of Jesus.
While the burn was stinging, Jesus poured an ointment of comfort to settle all the hearts of those at the table. “Let not your heart be troubled.” Their hearts were certainly troubled. Jesus was about to leave and go away without them. He had been talking about dying, and now, He was talking about betrayal and Peter falling away from the faith. John began chapter 13 with, “He loved them unto the end.” Certainly as they sat around on this dark night, He was there to speak comfort into their darkness.
The loving, empathetic, compassionate Jesus gave them hope. “You believe in God, believe also in me.” For centuries, the people of God had learned to rely on God. It was ingrained in their genes to constantly look to the God Who had delivered their forefathers. Now, Jesus was telling them that as much as they trusted God, they could trust Him.
There was a purpose for His leaving them. He was leaving them for a short time so that He could accomplish an incredible opportunity for them. He was leaving so that He could create a place in Heaven for them. For us, the word “mansion” is a bit misleading or even distracting. Jesus’ point wasn’t that they would have a giant house with a butler, statues, and a wrought-iron gate, rather, the word used by Jesus and the word chosen by the translators simply stated would be “Heaven is filled with places for you to stay.”
Jesus went on further to explain that He was the one who was preparing the places for them to stay, and that He would come back again so that He could take them there. Again, they could trust Him, as much as they trusted God the Father. He would do this. By His death He would accomplish this for them.
Food For Thought: Why perhaps were the disciples “troubled” as we enter chapter 14? What is a “mansion” in old English?