It’s All In The Greek

“Stop letting your hearts trouble you”
John 14:1

Today a subscriber to my daily devotionals commented on an observation I made regarding our Lord’s Jewish trial. I was encouraged as the reader received a blessing from how Jesus protected His followers by not answering the question about who they were. Not many readers of John 18 pick up on that detail.

As I thought about the Good Shepherd shielding His sheep from harm, my mind went to other helpful detail in the Gospels and John 14:1 quickly came to mind. When I was in Central Baptist Seminary (1963-1966), I had to translate portions of the Gospel of John in a Greek course. When I came to the Upper Room Discourse I observed that John 14:1 is best translated “Stop letting your hearts trouble you.” In other words, their hearts were very troubled, and Jesus wanted them to calm down. The dean of CBS—when I attended there —would often say, “It’s all in the Greek!” In this instance it certainly helps to see the proper meaning of the text in the Greek.

If we look at the context for this command by Jesus, we can well understand why the disciples were so upset. I have commented different times in these devotionals on how our Lord caused the disciples to become extremely upset by what He said and did as recorded in John 13. The Master told the disciples three devastating things as we see in John 13. First, He told them that He was leaving, and they could not come with them. Second, He said that one of them was a traitor. Third, in front of them all, He told Peter he would deny his Master three times before dawn. Also, He washed their feet, an action Peter initially rejected vigorously.

The disciples loved their Teacher and knew how very much they needed Him. They must have wondered how they would ever survive without Him. Then they were horrified at the thought they might be the one to betray Him. Betrayal of such a devoted Master seemed unthinkable. Finally, they wondered what catastrophic event would descend on them to cause brave, bold, strong Peter to deny the Teacher he so clearly loved intensely.

This context from John 13 makes my translation of John 14:1 most appropriate. They were in trauma and needed a lot of help to settle down. It also puts the teaching of John 14:1b through to the end of John 17 in a new light. What Jesus does in John 14:1b to John 17:26 is to teach the disciples how to obey His command to calm down. This is rightly dividing the Word of truth.

So, if life has caused you to be in trauma, look at a group of trembling disciples in the Upper Room, hear their beloved Teacher commanding them to calm down and then ponder His teaching on how to be calm in the midst of great crisis. This is the proper way to apply this rich teaching from our sovereign Lord.

1 God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
and rides upon the storm.

2 Deep in unfathomable mines
of never-failing skill;
He treasures up his bright designs,
and works His sov'reign will.

3 Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
the clouds you so much dread
are big with mercy and shall break
in blessings on your head.

4 Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
but trust Him for His grace;
behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

5 His purposes will ripen fast,
unfolding ev'ry hour;
the bud may have a bitter taste,
but sweet will be the flow'r.

6 Blind unbelief is sure to err,
and scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
and He will make it plain

William Cowper

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