“After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me” (John 13:21).
We are working through John in our women’s bible study this year and this verse struck me a few weeks ago when I studied John 13. I taught on John 15-16 last Thursday, and it stayed with me even as I looked at those chapters to prepare to teach. Sometimes we can forget that Jesus was human. He had friends. He loved people. And he felt betrayal.
But what is even more comforting about Jesus in these chapters is that in his greatest turmoil he continued to serve. All of this happens in the middle of the Upper Room Discourse (John 14-17), where Jesus is preparing his disciples for his impending death. He is preparing them for his departure. He is preparing them for what he will endure for them, but what they will also endure by being associated with him. He washed the feet of his betrayer. He discipled the disciples to the end. But he is still troubled. There is horror on the horizon, and the Savior in his humanness feels the weight of that horror. When I am troubled I want to run away and hide. When he was troubled he pushed forward in love.
This is the kind of Savior he is. And this is the kind of Savior I’m not. He pursues to the end. I retreat trying to escape the end. He, in his trouble, loves his own all the way to death. I, in my trouble, reject those I love the most.
That can beat a person down hard if you let it. Or it can bolster your faith. Just after this verse Jesus tells them of his new commandment to love as he loves. He then moves on to tell them about the fruit of abiding in him. Basically saying “I know you can’t do this like I do it, so I’m giving you God the Spirit to help you.” He is giving what he commands. He commands obedience—he gives a way to obey. He commands love—he gives a way to love. He commands joy—he gives a way to get joy, even in trouble.
The humanness of the Savior is such a comfort to us feeble humans. We are frail. We are weak. We are troubled. So was he. And then he gives us the same grace, power, strength to endure the trouble that he himself possessed. He gives more of himself, even in his death and resurrection.
The point of Jesus’ turmoil is not to show us stoicism, but to show us realism. This world is troubling. It’s scary. It’s hard. The Savior felt it. We feel it. But he also hasn’t left us as orphans (John 14:18). He has overcome the world and in overcoming the world he gives us the strength to stay in the world as beacons of light for his name.
He gets you, friend. He was troubled. He knows your trouble. And he hasn’t left you alone. This is your hope. It’s not just that you have a Savior who saves, but that you have a Savior who understands you in ways you never even fathomed possible. You can trust him. The troubled Savior understands and strengthens his troubled people. Let that truth sustain you today.