World Wide Study Bible
a Bible passage
1. Let not your heart be troubled. Not without good reason does Christ confirm his disciples by so many words, since a contest so arduous and so terrible awaited them; for it was no ordinary temptation, that soon afterwards they would see him hanging on the cross; a spectacle in which nothing was to be seen but ground for the lowest despair. The season of so great distress being at hand, he points out the remedy, that they may not be vanquished and overwhelmed; for he does not simply exhort and encourage them to be steadfast, but likewise informs them where they must go to obtain courage; that is, by faith, when he is acknowledged to be the Son of God, who has in himself a sufficiency of strength for maintaining the safety of his followers.
We ought always to attend to the time when these words were spoken, that Christ wished his disciples to remain brave and courageous, when they might think that every thing was in the greatest confusion; and therefore we ought to employ the same shield for warding off such assaults. It is impossible for us, indeed, to avoid feeling various emotions, but though we are shaken, we must not fall down. Thus it is said of believers, that they are not troubled, because, relying on the word of God, though very great difficulties press hard upon them, still they remain steadfast and upright.
You believe in God. It might also be read in the imperative mood, Believe in God, and believe in me; but the former reading agrees better, and has been more generally received. Here he points out the method of remaining steadfast, as I have already said; that is, if our faith rest on Christ, and view him in no other light than as being present and stretching out his hand to assist us. But it is wonderful that faith in the Father is here placed first in order, for he ought rather to have told his disciples that they ought to believe in God, since they had believed in Christ; because, as Christ is the lively image of the Father, so we ought first to cast our eyes on him; and for this reason, too, he descends to us, that our faith, beginning with him, may rise to God. But Christ had a different object in view, for all acknowledge that we ought to believe in God, and this is an admitted principle to which all assent without contradiction; and yet there is scarce one in a hundred who actually believes it, not only because the naked majesty of God is at too great a distance from us, but also because Satan interposes clouds of every description to hinder us from contemplating God. The consequence is, that our faith, seeking God in his heavenly glory and inaccessible light, vanishes away; and even the flesh, of its own accord, suggests a thousand imaginations, to turn away our eyes from beholding God in a proper manner.
The Son of God, then, who is Jesus Christ, 6161 “Le Fils de Dieu done, qui est Jesus Christ.” holds out himself as the object to which our faith ought to be directed, and by means of which it will easily find that on which it can rest; for he is the true Immanuel, who answers us within, as soon as we seek him by faith. It is one of the leading articles of our faith, that our faith ought to be directed to Christ alone, that it may not wander through long windings; and that it ought to be fixed on him, that it may not waver in the midst of temptations. And this is the true proof of faith, when we never suffer ourselves to be torn away from Christ, and from the promises which have been made to us in him. When Popish divines dispute, or, I should rather say, chatter, about the object of faith, they mention God only, and pay no attention to Christ. They who derive their instruction from the notions of such men, must be shaken by the slightest gale of wind that blows. Proud men are ashamed of Christ’s humiliation, and, therefore, they fly to God’s incomprehensible Divinity. But faith will never reach heaven unless it submit to Christ, who appears to be a low and contemptible God, and will never be firm if it do not seek a foundation in the weakness of Christ.
2. In my Father’s house are many dwellings. As the absence of Christ was a cause of grief, he declares that he does not, go away in such a. manner as to remain separate from them, since there is room for them also in the heavenly kingdom. For it was proper that he should remove the suspicion from their minds, that, when Christ ascended to the Father, he left his disciples on earth without taking any farther notice of them. This passage has been erroneously interpreted in another sense, as if Christ taught that’ there are various degrees of honor in the heavenly kingdom; for he says, that the mansions are many, not that they are different or unlike, but that there are enough of them for a great number of persons; as if he had said, that there is room not only for himself, but also for all his disciples.
And if it were not so, I would have told you. Here commentators differ. Some read these words as closely connected with what goes before: “If the dwellings had not been already prepared, I would have said that I go before you to prepare them.” But I rather agree with those who render it thus: “If the heavenly glory had awaited me only, I would not have deceived you. I would have told you that there was no room for any one but myself in my Father’s house. But the case is widely different; for I go before, to prepare a place for you.” The context, in my opinion, demands that we read it in this manner; for it follows immediately afterwards, If I go to prepare a place for you. By these words Christ intimates that the design of his departure is, to prepare a place for his disciples. In a word, Christ did not ascend to heaven in a private capacity, to dwell there alone, but rather that it might be the common inheritance of all the godly, and that in this way the Head might be united to his members.
But a question arises, What was the condition of the fathers after death, before Christ ascended to heaven? For the conclusion usually drawn is, that believing souls were shut up in an intermediate state or prison, because Christ says that, by his ascension into heaven, the place will be prepared. But the answer is easy. This place is said to be prepared for the day of the resurrection; for by nature mankind are banished from the kingdom of God, but the Son, who is the only heir of heaven, took possession of it in their name, that through him we may be permitted to enter; for in his person we already possess heaven by hope, as Paul informs us, (Ephesians 1:3.) Still we will not enjoy this great blessing, until he come from heaven the second time. The condition of the fathers after death, therefore, is not here distinguished from ours; because Christ has prepared both for them and for us a place, into which he will receive us all at the last day. Before reconciliation had been made, believing souls were, as it were, placed on a watch-tower, looking for the promised redemption, and now they enjoy a blessed rest, until the redemption be finished.