I looked further and found three places where Jesus was troubled.
- John 11:33 – Jesus was troubled as He talked to Mary regarding the death of her brother, Lazarus. Jesus then proceeded to raise Lazarus from the dead.
- John 12:27 – Jesus said His soul was troubled as He faced His coming crucifixion.
- John 13:21 – Jesus was troubled as Judas’ betrayal began to play out.
My personal troubles grew when I noticed that in the very next chapter Jesus told us two times, “Let not your heart be troubled” (John 14:1, 27). Whoa. What? How’s that work? We’ve just seen three times where Jesus was troubled and then He told us not to be troubled?
After much note-taking and key-stroking, I found some answers for my dilemma.
In the first three passages, Jesus was troubled in His soul or spirit. The two words are similar in meaning; they refer to the part of us that has a relationship with God. In the last two passages, in John 14, Jesus said to not let our hearts be troubled. Beyond the literal meaning, the heart refers to the center of our understanding or our will. This is the part of our person which is conscious of ourselves and seeks to satisfy our own desires.
So, to sum up so far, troubled in spirit is OK, troubled in heart is not OK. Troubled in the part of us that relates to God is OK; troubled in the part that satisfies our own desires is not OK.
Does that seem backwards to our human way of thinking?
Why is it not OK for your heart to be troubled?Our heart is the seat of our emotions, our will, and our understanding. Not only should those things not control us, we should submit them to the control of our loving God. Our emotions, will, and understanding are not to be troubled because we can trust God and have His abundance of peace.
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid" (John 14:27).
Why is it OK to be troubled in spirit?When Jesus was troubled in His soul or spirit, all three situations involved death and separation from God.
- Mary seemed to have lost hope for Lazarus because Jesus didn’t come sooner to heal him from his sickness. She didn’t realize that through Jesus we have life now, not at some future event.
- Jesus took the sin of the world upon Himself at the time of His crucifixion. He was troubled as the time approached as He would spiritually separate from God. He would later cry out from the cross, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?”
- Jesus was troubled by Judas’ betrayal but not because it would lead to His death. That would happen regardless of Judas’ actions. Jesus was troubled because when Judas followed through with his plan he separated himself from relationship with Jesus.
All around us is a world of people whose deaths will lead to eternal separation from God. This fact troubled Jesus and it should trouble us as well.