This is yet another passage it is difficult to imagine your Bible not having. Where would we be without the opening verses of John 14?
It is also another passage it would be very difficult to imagine any man contriving of his own accord. Indeed, these are the words of Christ – and of God.
And they are very important words.
Words of reassurance – in the first place for His very frightened disciples – and then for all men for all time. And we need reassurance, don’t we? Because we have always all been afraid to die.
Now some might say they don’t fear death, but we know deep down in their hearts they’d be lying, don’t we? And that’s because deep down in our own hearts we’ve probably heard ourselves say, “I’m not afraid to die,” all the while knowing it’s a lie. The fact of death in our future is terrifying.
Here, now, Jesus tells us we need not fear death. He’s told us this before, but in a slightly different context. He told us we don’t need to fear those who can kill our body, but cannot kill our soul. That was an exhortation to not be afraid to speak out the truth of the gospel of Christ in the face of death. Those were words of bravery.
The words here are words of comfort. Jesus is telling His men, (boys, really,) that He is going away. This prospect is frightening to those who have become so DEPENDENT upon Jesus for, well, everything. But beyond separation from Christ, what His followers are beginning to understand – as much as they try to refuse the notion – is that Jesus is not just leaving, He is dying. Right before their eyes, Jesus is going to His death.
Can you imagine this night of nights? So terrifying, and yet so filled with compassionate words of comfort that totally belie the situation.
“Yes,” Jesus is saying, “I am going to die. You are going to die.” But you have NO reason to fear death any longer because you believe in Me.” And then I love that He says, “If it were not so, I would have told you.” Isn’t it amazing that no matter how many times Jesus tells us not to fear death – we struggle to believe Him?