“Do not let your hearts be troubled,” Jesus said in John 14:1 (NIV). What does this verse mean in context? Jesus had just announced that He would be crucified and would be taken away. In the immediate context, the verse meant that Jesus’ followers should not be worried or afraid when they saw Jesus die. It also meant that Peter should not have been afraid to die with Jesus—even though Jesus had just warned him that he would be afraid and would betray his Master. It might also have meant that Peter should not despair over his betrayal and that even after this failure there would still be hope.
In a larger context, the verse means that believers in Jesus should not fear death: “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?” (John 14:2 NIV) or “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2 NASB). The Pharisees and Sadducees had a great debate going about whether there was life after death (see Matthew 22:23-33, Acts 23:6-9). The Old Testament teaching was not clear on the subject. But Jesus spoke with authority, stating emphatically that there is life after death: “If it were not so, I would have told you.” Therefore, Jesus was assuring His followers that they should not fear or be upset over His death because He would live on after death. Similarly, Jesus’ followers should not fear their own deaths because they would live on after death also—and Jesus would be with them there, having gone ahead to prepare a place for them. He would do this by His death and resurrection, which would atone for their sins, give them forgiveness, restore them to life, and overcome the curse of death, which was the penalty for sin.
We should not underestimate the power of Jesus’ words and the assurance they offer. Years ago, when my wife and I were preparing to undertake a long-distance move to the city of Winnipeg, we packed the TV and radio. We stopped delivery of the newspaper. We returned our home phone to the phone company (there being no cell phones in those days). We were, in a sense, cut off from reliable sources of information. Then, just as we were setting out, we heard rumors that there were floods in Winnipeg. We began to worry, wondering whether the house we had recently purchased had been washed away by the flood. We did not know whether we had a home to go to. Then we found a telephone and talked to someone who was already there in Winnipeg, a man who was taking care of our new home and getting it ready for us. He assured us that the rumors had greatly exaggerated the seriousness of the flood. We were relieved to learn that our house was still standing and we had a home to go to.
Certain words, reliable information, from someone who has been there can blow away our fears, worries, and uncertainties. “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” Jesus said. “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”