In the upper room anxiety gripped the hearts of the disciples. They had heard the Lord state that "one of you shall betray me" (13.21), and the words after the departure of Judas Iscariot, "Whither I go, ye cannot come" (13.33), would have increased their unease. Yet the reply of the Lord to Peters question, "Lord, whither goest thou?" (13.36), was plain: "Whether I go, thou canst not follow me now" (13.36). But the Lord would not leave them struggling with fear. His response, when it came, was direct and clear, "Let not your heart be troubled" (14.1); it was not to be tossed about like water driven to agitation by the wind. He who calmed an agitated sea (Mt 8.23-34; Mk 4.35-41; Lk 8.23-37), is The One who can bring peace to the emotions of an agitated heart.
His promise, "thou shalt follow me afterwards", did not relieve the tension. So, in the midst of uncertainty, and even of fear of what lay ahead, He declared, with authority and tenderness, that the distress gripping them should be banished and belief in Him - trust in Him - take its place. "Ye believe in God, believe also in me", is a clarion call that rings through the ages. The danger of our trust in Him failing is overcome when our trust in Him overcomes fear.
How many of His own are beset today with fear and anxiety! The cause may not be that which puzzled the disciples, but they cannot understand circumstances through which they pass; disappointment has burdened them and there is no balm to ease their troubled hearts. To them He speaks confidently, "Ye believe in God, believe also in me". It is a command from the Lord - do not let your confidence slip, but rather continue as you have in the past, "Believe in God; believe also in me" (ESV); have complete confidence in God and in Him who is God manifest in flesh. Marcus Dods in his commentary on John puts this rather well: "Trust Him who over-rules all events. He will bring you through this crisis for which you feel yourselves incompetent: or if in your present circumstances that faith is too difficult, trust Me whom you know and whose word you cannot doubt".
Now He unfolds to them the reason for His going; He is going to the Fathers house. This is not a house of restricted room. On the contrary, it is commodious enough to allow all who have followed to enter. This is not a place that is only for the twelve disciples - clearly He states that it is for all to come through Him. If this had not been so He would have told them and told us. There was no need for anxiety. In the Fathers house there are "many mansions (abodes, JND)". This does not promise each believer a mansion such as is known on earth. It does, however, promise circumstances of peace and comfort, such as have never been experienced on earth.
There is, however, double security in His words. Not only has He spoken of the Fathers house, but He was leaving them in order to prepare a place there for them. His departure would guarantee their arrival and ours. To this place they would come, but, beautiful as it would be, it was not the place that would be the attraction. He would receive them unto Himself when they came and His presence, not the place, would be the cause of their joy. Is that not still the beauty of His promise? The place will be glorious, but His presence will far outshine its glory.
But He has yet one further point to bring to us: "I will come again" (v.3). It is worthy of note that He used the present tense and thus the words could be written, "I come again". But why does He not use the future tense? He is speaking here of the rapture to which all believers look forward and the use of the present tense emphasises that this could take place now. Let us not, therefore, allow the pressures and disappointments of life to dim the prospect but let us grasp and never let go that precious present tense.
So He gives comfort to us, through these words given to those who had followed Him. Let them grip us and help us through the vicissitudes of life, remembering His tender command: "Let not your heart be troubled".