For Troubled Hearts

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In John 13 Jesus washed the disciples’ feet. He bends low over a basin of water and cleans his people.

When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.” (John 13:12-20)

Then he says that one of them will betray him. After loving them in service, he loves them in prophecy. What will happen will not be a surprise.

John 13:21 says, “After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit.” What is about to happen is troubling to him. It will no doubt be troubling to them as well.

He goes on to explain that he is leaving. He gives them a new commandment to love one another. He explains that Peter will deny him. Then he speaks six words that floor me: “Let not your hearts be troubled” (John 14:1).

Let not your hearts be troubled? How could their hearts be anything but troubled? Jesus will be betrayed? He will leave? Peter will deny him?

He knew these men before him. He knew the anger they would have had towards Judas for his part. He knew the sorrow they would have had for their own failure to stay awake and pray. He knew Peter’s guilt over denying him. He knew it all – their past, present, and future sin – and he bore it all for them. Jesus is saying, “I am troubling for you.” He untroubled the troubled heart. He troubled on their behalf so that when they became troubled they would know the peace of God.

There is a strain of Christianity that says, “Let your hearts be troubled.” And there is a proper place in the Christian life for true conviction of sin. But the gospel does not consist in a troubled heart. There is a bigger truth, a bigger reality, than troubling over our sin. There is a gospel of grace that envelopes it all.

What if we dared to believe John 14:1? What if we took our troubled hearts to the One who troubled for us? What would we find there?