John 14 – The Departing Jesus
A. Calming troubled hearts with trust and hope in Jesus.
1. (1) A command to calm the troubled heart.
“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.”
a. Let not your heart be troubled: The disciples had reason to be troubled. Jesus had just told them that one of them was a traitor, that all of them would deny Him, and that He would leave them that night. All of this would legitimately trouble the disciples, yet Jesus told them, let not your heart be troubled.
i. Jesus never wanted us to have life without trouble, but He promised that we could have an untroubled heart even in a troubled life.
ii. This was in some sense a command. “The form of the imperative me tarassestho implies that they should ‘stop being troubled.’ ‘Set your heart at ease’ would be a good translation.” (Tenney)
iii. Jesus didn’t say, “I’m happy you men are troubled and filled with doubts. You’re doubts are wonderful.” “He takes no delight in the doubt and disquietude of his people. When he saw that because of what he had said to them sorrow had filled the hearts of his apostles, he pleaded with them in great love, and besought them to be comforted.” (Spurgeon)
iv. “His disciples felt His departure like a torture. And it was then that He consoled them with such simple and glorious speech that all Christendom is the debtor to their agony.” (Morrison)
b. You believe in God, believe also in Me: Instead of giving into a troubled heart, Jesus told them to firmly put their trust in God and in Jesus Himself. This was a radical call to trust in Jesus just as one would trust in God the Father, and a radical promise that doing so would bring comfort and peace to a troubled heart.
i. “What signalizes Him, and separates Him from all other religious teachers, is not the clearness or the tenderness with which He reiterated the truths about the Father’s love, or about morality, and justice, and truth, and goodness; but the peculiarity of His call to the world is, ‘Believe in Me.’” (Maclaren)
ii. “One who seems a man asks all men to give Him precisely the same faith and confidence that they give to God.” (Meyer)
iii. There is some debate as how the verb tenses of this verse should be regarded. It is possible that Jesus meant, You must believe in God, you must also believe in Me (imperative) or it is possible that He meant, You do believe in God, you also do believe in Me (indicative). On balance, the best evidence seems to be that Jesus meant this as a command or an instruction to the disciples.
· “The verb believe both times is imperative.” (Alford)
· “In view of the preceding imperative it is in my judgment best to take both forms as imperative. Jesus is urging His followers to continue to believe in the Father and to continue to believe also in Him.” (Morris)
iv. “Jesus’ solution to perplexity is not a recipe; it is a relationship with him.” (Tenney)
2. (2-4) Reasons for calming the troubled heart: a future reunion in the Father’s house.
“In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.”
a. In My Father’s house are many mansions: Jesus spoke with complete confidence about heaven, here spoken of as His Father’s house. Jesus didn’t wonder about the life beyond this earth; He knew it and told His disciples that there was room for all in heaven (many mansions).
i. “Plato tells of the last hours of Socrates in prison before he drank the poison….Like Christ, Socrates is going to die. Like Christ, his thoughts run on immortality. He discusses it with his friends, who come to visit him; he speculates, he argues, and he wonders. What a perfect and stupendous contrast between that and the attitude of Christ.” (Morrison)
b. Many mansions: In light of the ancient Greek, mansions is better translated “dwelling places.” The noun mone (connected to the verb meno, “stay” or “remain”) means “a place to stay.” In light of God’s nature, it is better to translate it mansions. Whatever dwelling place God has for us in heaven, it will be as glorious as a mansion.
i. There will be many such dwelling places. Jesus could see what the disciples never could – millions upon millions, even billions from every tribe, language, nation in His Father’s house. He may have even smiled when He said, many mansions – many indeed!
ii. “Mansions, monai, came into the AV and RV through the influence of the Vulgate mansions, which can mean ‘stations’ or ‘temporary lodgings’ where travellers may rest at different stages in their journey. In the light of this, many scholars, especially Westcott and Temple, following Origen, assume that the conception of heaven in this passage is that of a state of progress from one stage to another till the final goal is reached. This was not however the interpretation generally given to the word by the ancient Fathers, and by derivation it would seem to denote much more the idea of permanence. It is found once more in the New Testament, in John 14:23, where the permanent dwelling of the Father and the Son in the hearts of loving disciples is stressed.” (Tasker)
c. I go to prepare a place for you: Love prepares a welcome. With love, expectant parents prepare a room for the baby. With love, the hostess prepares for her guests. Jesus prepares a place for His people because He loves them and is confident of their arrival.
i. James Barrie was the man who wrote Peter Pan, among other works. One of his books was about his mother, Margaret Ogilvy, and his growing up in Scotland. His mother endured a lot of misery in life, including the tragic death of one of her sons. According to Morrison, Barrie wrote that his mother’s favorite Bible chapter was John 14. She read it so much that when her Bible was opened and set down, the pages naturally fell open to this place. Barrie said that when she was old and could no longer read these words, she would stoop down to her Bible and kiss the page where the words were printed.
ii. I go speaks of Jesus’ own planning and initiative. He wasn’t taken to the cross; He went there. “They thought that His death was an unforeseen calamity. Christ taught them that it was the path of His own planning.” (Morrison)
d. I will come again to receive you to Myself: Jesus promised to come again for the disciples. This was not only in the sense of His soon resurrection or in the coming of the Holy Spirit. Jesus also had in mind the great gathering together of His people at the end of the age.
i. “They were not to think of Him as having ceased to be when they could not see Him. He had only gone to another abiding-place to prepare for their coming; and moreover, He would come back to receive them.” (Morgan)
ii. “The reference to the second advent should not be missed. It is true that John does not refer to this as often as do most other New Testament writers, but it is not true that it is missing from his pages.” (Morris)
iii. “This was a very precious promise to the early Church, and Paul may well be echoing it when he informs the Thessalonians ‘by the word of the Lord’ that Jesus will descend from heaven and gather believers unto Himself to be with Him for ever (see 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17).” (Tasker)
e. That where I am, there you may be also: The entire focus of heaven is being united with Jesus. Heaven is heaven not because of streets of gold, or pearly gates, or even the presence of angels. Heaven is heaven because Jesus is there.
i. We take comfort in knowing that even as He prepares a place for us, Jesus also prepares us for that place.
3. (5-6) Jesus is the exclusive way to the Father.
Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
a. Lord, we do not know where You are going: Thomas should be praised for honestly and clearly explaining his confusion. He thought Jesus was simply going to another place, as if it were another city.
i. “Though a necessity of human language compels Jesus to speak of ‘going away’ and of ‘a way to the Father’, these terms have no spatial or material significance.” (Tasker)
ii. “Thus we notice how they speak to him with a natural, easy familiarity; and he talks to them in full sympathy with their weakness, teaching them little by little as they are able to learn. They ask just such questions as a boy might ask of his father. Often they show their ignorance, but never do they seem timid in his presence, or ashamed to let him see how shallow and hard of understanding they are.” (Spurgeon)
b. I am the way, the truth, and the life: Jesus didn’t say that He would show us a way; He said that He is the way. He didn’t promise to teach us a truth; He said that He is the truth. Jesus didn’t offer us the secrets to life; He said that He is the life.
· I’m wandering about; I don’t know where I’m going. Jesus is the way.
· I’m confused; I don’t know what to think. Jesus is the truth.
· I’m dead inside and don’t know if I can go on. Jesus is the life.
i. In light of soon events, this declaration was a paradox. Jesus’ way would be the cross; He would be convicted by blatant liars; His body would soon lie lifeless in a tomb. Because He took that way, He is the way to God; because He did not contest the lies we can believe He is the truth; because He was willing to die He becomes the channel of resurrection – the life to us.
ii. “Without the way there is no going; without the truth there is no knowing; without the life there is no living. I am the way which thou must follow; the truth in which thou must believe; the life for which thou must hope.” (a’ Kempis, cited by Bruce)
c. No one comes to the Father except through Me: Jesus made this remarkable statement, claiming that He was the only way to God. In this He set aside the temple and its rituals, as well as other religions. It was a claim to have an exclusive way, truth, and life – the only pathway to God the Father, the true God in heaven.
i. Understood plainly, this was one of the more controversial things Jesus said and the Gospel writers recorded. Many people don’t mind saying that Jesus is one legitimate way to God, but other religions and even individuals have their own legitimate ways to God. Many think it isn’t fair for God to make only one way.
ii. Nevertheless, this is a consistent theme in the Bible. The Ten Commandments begin, I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me (Exodus 20:2-3). Throughout the Old Testament God denounced and mocked the supposed gods others worshipped (Isaiah 41:21-29; 1 Kings 18:19-40). The Bible consistently presents One True God, and Jesus is consistently presented as the only true way to the One True God.
d. No one comes to the Father except through Me: Simply put, if Jesus is not the only way to God, then He is not any way to God. If there are many roads to God, then Jesus is not one of them, because He absolutely claimed there was only one road to God, and He Himself was that road. If Jesus is not the only way to God, then He was not a honest man; He was most certainly not a true prophet. He then would either be a madman or a lying devil. There is no middle ground available.
i. Sometimes people object and say, “I believe Jesus was an honest man, and I believe He was a true prophet. But I don’t actually believe He said those things about Himself in the Gospels. I believe Christians added those things in later on all by themselves.” But there is no objective reason for a person to make a distinction between “Jesus really said this” or “Jesus really didn’t say that.” We have no ancient texts showing us just the supposedly true sayings of Jesus. Any such distinction is based purely on subjective reasons – “I personally don’t think Jesus would have said that, therefore He did not say that – later Christians only put those words in His mouth.”
ii. If it is all up to personal opinion – if we can determine what Jesus said or didn’t say on our own whims – then we should reject the Gospels completely. It really is an all-or-nothing deal. Either we take the words of Jesus as recorded by these historically reliable and accurate documents, or we reject them completely.
iii. But is Christianity bigoted? Certainly, there are some who claim to be Christians who are in fact bigots. But Biblical Christianity is the most pluralistic, tolerant, embracing of other cultures religion on earth. Christianity is the one religion to embrace other cultures, and has the most urgency to translate the Scriptures into other languages. A Christian can keep their native language and culture, and follow Jesus in the midst of it. An early criticism of Christianity was the observation that they would take anybody! Slave or free; rich or poor; man or woman; Greek or Barbarian. All were accepted, but on the common ground of the truth as revealed in Jesus Christ. To leave this common ground in Jesus is spiritual suicide, for both now and eternity.
iv. “If this seems offensively exclusive, let it be borne in mind that the one who makes this claim is the incarnate Word, the revealer of the Father.” (Bruce)
v. The Christian faith will receive anyone who comes through Jesus. Jesus said, through Me: “It is not ‘through believing certain propositions regarding me’ nor ‘through some special kind of faith,’ but ‘through me’.” (Dods)
4. (7-8) Knowing the Father and knowing the Son.
“If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.” Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.”
a. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also: Jesus explained why He was the only way to God; because He was and is the perfect representation of God. To know Jesus is to know God.
b. And from now on you know Him and have seen Him: The disciples certainly had learned and known much about God in their three years of apprenticeship under Jesus. Yet Jesus understood that since they had not yet seen the full revelation of God’s love at the cross and His power at the resurrection, there was a sense in which they would only now know and see God.
c. Lord, show us the Father and it is sufficient: Philip had seen and experienced much in following Jesus, but had not yet seen God the Father with his physical eyes. Perhaps he thought that such an experience would bring life-changing assurance and courage.
5. (9-11) Jesus again explains His unity with and dependence on the Father.
Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.”
a. Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me: This means that Philip had been close to Jesus yet still did not understand Him. The same is possible and true for many today.
b. He who has seen Me has seen the Father: This gentle rebuke reminded Philip of what Jesus often said; that to know Him was to know God the Father. To see the love of Jesus was to see the love of God the Father; seeing Jesus in action was seeing the Father in action.
i. “It is difficult interpret it without seeing the Father and the Son as in some sense one. These are words which no mere man has a right to use.” (Morris)
ii. He who has seen Me has seen the Father: “No material image or likeness can adequately depict God. Only a person can give knowledge of him since personality cannot be represented by an impersonal object.” (Tenney) This forever finishes the idea that the Hebrew Scriptures present a cruel God and Jesus showed us a nicer God. Rather, Jesus shows us the same love, compassion, mercy, and goodness that was and is in God the Father. Exodus 34:5-9, among other passages, shows this nature of God the Father in the Old Testament.
iii. He who has seen Me has seen the Father: “Could any creature say these words? Do they not evidently imply that Christ declared himself to his disciples to be the everlasting God?” (Clarke)
c. The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority: Jesus repeated something emphasized in the Gospel of John; that Jesus lived and spoke in constant dependence upon God the Father and did nothing outside His authority and guidance (John 5:19, 8:28).
d. Believe Me… or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves: Jesus presented two solid foundations for our trust in Him. We can believe Jesus simply because of His person and words, or we can also believe Him for the sake of the works that He miraculously did.
i. The Father who dwells in Me does the works: “We are not only one in nature, but one also in operation. The works which I have done bear witness of the infinite perfection of my nature. Such miracles as I have wrought could only be performed by unlimited power.” (Clarke)
ii. Believe Me: “Here Jesus calls on Philip and the others (note the change to the plural) to believe Him, not only to believe in Him. Faith includes a recognition that what Jesus says is true.” (Morris)
iii. “Our Saviour allegeth for himself the Divinity both of his word and works. He was mighty, saith Peter, both in word and deed. Ministers also must, in their measure, be able to argue and approve themselves to be men of God, by sound doctrine and good life.” (Trapp)
B. Three assurances for troubled disciples.
1. (12-14) When Jesus departs to the Father, His work will continue on earth.
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.”
a. Most assuredly: Jesus began the first of three assurances given to His disciples on the night of His departure. The first assurance answered their fear, “This is the end. The work is over and we all got fired.” They didn’t get fired; they got promoted, and promoted to greater things.
b. He who believes in Me: Jesus just encouraged the disciples to trust in, rely on, and cling to Him in faith, because of who He is, the words He spoke, and the miracles He has done. Now Jesus described the benefit or blessing that comes to this one who believes.
c. The works I do he will do: Jesus expected those who believe in Him to carry on His work in the world. He did not expect the disciples to disband after His departure, but to carry on His work in even greater magnitude (greater works than these he will do).
i. “The ‘greater works’ of which he now spoke to them would still be his own works; accomplished no longer by his visible presence among them but by his Spirit within them.” (Bruce)
d. Greater works than these he will do: Jesus did not mean greater in the sense of more sensational, but greater in magnitude. Jesus would leave behind a victorious, working family of followers who would spread His kingdom to more people and places than Jesus ever did in His life and ministry.
i. This promise seems impossible; yet after Peter’s first sermon there were more converted than are recorded during Jesus’ entire ministry.
ii. “The literal rendering of the word translated by av greater works is ‘greater things’; and probably this should be retained. The works of the apostles after the resurrection were not greater in kind than those of Jesus, but greater in the sphere of their influence.” (Tasker)
iii. “The word ‘works’ does not actually occur. There is no word at that point, so our best translation would be ‘and greater things.’ The point is that Christians will do something greater even than the works of Jesus.” (Boice)
iv. “What Jesus means we may see in the narratives of the Acts. There there are a few miracles of healing, but the emphasis is on the mighty works of conversion. On the day of Pentecost alone more believers were added to the little band of believers than throughout Christ’s entire earthly life. There we see a literal fulfillment of ‘greater works than these shall he do.’” (Morris)
v. William Barclay considered the difficult of taking this to mean that Jesus intended His followers to do more miracles and more impressive miracles than He Himself did: “Though it could be said that the early Church did the things which Jesus did, it certainly could not be said that it did greater things than he did.” (Barclay)
vi. There are some who believe that Jesus meant that individual believers can and should do more spectacular works than Jesus did in the years of His earthly ministry. We earnestly await proof of those who have repeatedly done greater works than walking on water, calming storms with a word, multiplying food for thousands, raising people from the dead (more than the three recorded in Jesus’ work). Even if it were proved that one person after Jesus had done such things, it still does not explain why there are not now or have been thousands of people who have fulfilled this wrong and sometimes dangerous understanding of what Jesus meant when He said, greater works than these he will do.
e. Because I go to My Father: Jesus would soon explain that when He ascended to heaven, He would send the Holy Spirit (John 14:16, 14:26, 15:26, 15:7-9, 15:13). It was because Jesus went to the Father that the Holy Spirit came upon His people, enabling them to do these greater works.
i. “The reason why you shall do these greater works is, on account of the all-powerful Spirit of grace and supplication which My going to the Father shall bring down upon the Church.” (Alford)
f. Whatever you ask in My name, that I will do: Jesus further explained how greater works would be possible for His followers. It would be possible because Jesus would do His work through His prayerful people, who asked and acted in His name. He promised to do anything that His trusting followers asked for in His name; that is, according to His character and authority.
i. In My name is not a magic incantation of prayer; it speaks of both an endorsement (like a bank check) and a limitation (requests must be in accordance with the character of the name). We come to God in Jesus’ name, not in our own.
ii. “The test of any prayer is: Can I make it in the name of Jesus? No man, for instance, could pray for personal revenge, for personal ambition, for some unworthy and unchristian object in the name of Jesus.” (Barclay)
iii. “To ask ‘in His name’ or do anything ‘in His name’ argues a unity of mind with His, a unity of aim and of motive.” (Trench)
g. That the Father may be glorified in the Son: These greater works Jesus promised would bring glory to both the Father and the Son. Prayers prayed with a passion for the glory of Jesus and God the Father will truly be in the name of Jesus and be the kind of prayer God will answer.
2. (15-17) When Jesus departs, He will send the Holy Spirit.
“If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever; the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.”
a. If you love Me, keep My commandments: Jesus had just demonstrated His remarkable love to the disciples by washing their feet (John 13:1-5). He told them what their loving response should be; to keep His commandments.
· He commanded them to wash one another’s feet, after the example He just displayed (John 13:14-15).
· He commanded them to love one another after the pattern of His love to them (John 13:34).
· He commanded them to put their faith in God the Father and in Jesus Himself (John 14:1).
i. Keeping the commandments of Jesus does speak to our personal morality, yet His emphasis was on love for others and faith in Him as demonstrations of obedience to His commandments.
ii. This is a fair measure of our love for Jesus. It is easy to think of loving Jesus in merely sentimental or emotional terms. It is wonderful when our love for Jesus has sentiment and passion, but it must always be connected to keeping His commandments, or it isn’t love at all.
iii. For the believer, disobedience is not only a failure of performance or a failure of strength. In some sense, it is also a failure of love. Those who love God most obey Him most joyfully and naturally. To say, “I really love Jesus. I just don’t want Him to tell me how to live my life” is a terrible misunderstanding of both Jesus and love to Him.
iv. Jesus also spoke to the proper source of our obedience. It isn’t fear, pride, or desire to earn blessing. The proper source of obedience is love. “Obedience must have love for its mother, nurse, and food. The essence of obedience lies in the hearty love which prompts the deed rather than in the deed itself.” (Spurgeon)
v. “Some persons think that if they love Jesus, they must enter a convent, retire to a cell, dress themselves queerly, or shave their heads. It has been the thought of some men, ‘If we love Christ we must strip ourselves of everything we possess, put on sackcloth, tie ropes round our waists, and pine in the desert.’ Others have thought it wise to make light of themselves by oddity of dress and behavior. The Savior does not say anything of the kind; but, ‘If ye love me, keep my commandments.’” (Spurgeon)
b. I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper: This was the second in this series of three assurances. The disciples feared, “Jesus is abandoning us. When He leaves we won’t know what to do.” They wouldn’t have less help; they would have more help because the Father would send another Helper.
i. Jesus understood that His disciples (both those with Him on that evening and those across the centuries) would need God’s presence and power to keep His commandments. God the Son promised to pray to God the Father and ask for the giving of God the Holy Spirit to the believer to accomplish this.
ii. This statement is one wonderful example of the Trinitarian idea of God woven into the fabric of the New Testament. Jesus didn’t intend to give a complicated lecture on the Trinity; He simply spoke of how the Persons of the Trinity interact and work for the good of God’s people and the furtherance of His plan.
iii. The sense is that this prayer would be made when Jesus ascended to heaven. “I will pray betokens, probably, a manner of asking implying actual presence and nearness, — and is here used of the mediatorial office in Christ’s ascended state.” (Alford)
c. He will give you another Helper: The word Helper translates the ancient Greek word parakletos. This word has the idea of someone called to help someone else, and it could refer to an advisor, a legal defender, a mediator, or to an intercessor.
i. The King James Version translates parakletos with the word Comforter. That translation made more sense understanding the meaning of the word in older English. “Wicliff, from whom we have our word Comforter, often used ‘comfort’ for the Latin confortari, which means to strengthen… Thus the idea of help and strength is conveyed by it, as well as of consolation.” (Alford)
ii. One way to understand the work of the Helper is to understand the opposite of that work. “The devil is called the accuser, κατηγορος, in full opposition to this name and title given here to the Holy Spirit.” (Trapp)
iii. Another Helper: The word another is the ancient Greek word allen, meaning “another of the same kind” (Tenney) in contrast to another of a different kind. Just as Jesus shows the nature of God the Father, so the Holy Spirit – being another of the same kind – would show the nature of Jesus.
iv. “That our Lord here calls the Holy Spirit ‘another Comforter (allon paraklhtoV)’ implies that He Himself claimed to be also a paraklhtoV, as John in his first epistle (1 John 2:1) calls Him.” (Trench)
v. It would be wonderful to live the Christian life with Jesus beside us each step of the way. Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would fulfill just that role for us, being sent to empower and help the believer. The greater work described in John 14:12-14 is impossible without the empowering described in John 14:15-18.
d. That He may abide with you forever: Jesus would give the Holy Spirit so that He (indicating a person, not a thing) may abide in us permanently and not temporarily, as in giving of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament.
i. “The Advocate will be with the disciples ‘for ever’. The new state of affairs will be permanent. The Spirit once given will not be withdrawn.” (Morris)
e. Whom the world cannot receive: The world cannot understand or receive the Spirit, because He is Holy and true. The Spirit of truth is not popular in an age of lies, and the world cannot perceive the Spirit and does not know Him.
i. “If the world cannot receive the Holy Spirit, shall we wonder that we in our collective worldliness see and show collectively so little of His power?” (Trench)
f. But you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you: Jesus spoke of three aspects of a disciple’s relationship to the Holy Spirit.
· In contrast to the world, the disciple of Jesus should know the Holy Spirit.
· In contrast to the world, the disciple of Jesus should have the Holy Spirit with them.
· In contrast to the world, the disciple of Jesus should have the Holy Spirit in them.
i. For those 11 disciples, the Holy Spirit was already with them, and would later be in them. This was fulfilled when Jesus breathed on them and they received the Holy Spirit, when they were regenerated and born again (John 20:22).
ii. In addition to with and in, Jesus used a third preposition to describe the relationship of the disciple to the Holy Spirit: you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you (Acts 1:8). This upon experience is the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the outpouring of the Spirit.
iii. “Between Christ on earth and his disciples what a distance there was! In his condescension he came very near to them; but yet you always perceive a gulf between the wise Master and the foolish disciples. Now the Holy Ghost annihilates that distance by dwelling in us.” (Spurgeon)
3. (18-21) When Jesus departs, He will make Himself known to His disciples.
“I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”
a. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you: Jesus began His third assurance. The disciples feared, “When Jesus leaves, then our discipleship program is over and it has barely started.” Their discipleship program wasn’t finished; it was only just beginning.
i. “The disciples of a particular teacher among the Hebrews called him father; his scholars were called his children, and, on his death, were considered as orphans.” (Clarke)
ii. Spurgeon considered several ways that the followers of Jesus are not like orphans.
· An orphan has parents who are dead; the Spirit shows us Jesus is alive.
· An orphan left alone; the Spirit draws us close to God’s presence.
· An orphan has lost their provider; the Spirit provides all things.
· An orphan is left without instruction; the Spirit teaches us all things.
· An orphan has no defender; the Spirit is protector.
b. I will come to you: Jesus again promised to come to the disciples (previously in John 14: 3). This was a broad promise fulfilled by His resurrection, by the sending of the Spirit, and by the promise of His bodily return to this earth.
i. “Every phase of his promised coming is embraced in this assurance: ‘I am coming to you.’” (Bruce)
c. The world will see Me no more, but you will see Me: This was true in one sense when Jesus rose from the dead. Yet it true even when He ascended to heaven. Jesus would reveal Himself to the disciples in a real and powerful way after His departure. They would see Him a way even greater than seeing Him with physical sight.
i. The Apostle Paul later wrote, Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer (2 Corinthians 5:16). There was something more compelling about knowing Jesus by the Spirit than even knowing Him in the flesh.
d. Because I live, you will live also: The disciples would not only see Jesus by the Spirit, they would also continue to live in Jesus through the work of the Holy Spirit. Their dependence on the life of Jesus would not end when He departed; it would continue in greater measure through the Holy Spirit.
i. “A man is saved because Christ died for him, he continues saved because Christ lives for him. The sole reason why the spiritual life abides is because Jesus lives.” (Spurgeon)
e. You will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you: Through the Holy Spirit they would know a life of relationship, shared life, and union with God the Father, God the Son, and in the disciple.
· This union is marked by knowledge of God’s will (has My commandments).
· This union is marked by obedience to God’s will (and keeps them).
· This union is marked by love (is he who loves me).
· This union is marked by relationship and reception of love with God the Father (will be loved by My Father).
· This union is marked by a revelation of Jesus Himself (and manifest Myself to him).
· All this flows from the union with God in the disciple through the Holy Spirit.
i. This relationship is for the disciple’s experience now, not only in the age to come. “For he reserves not all for the life to come, but gives a grape of Canaan in this wilderness, such as the world never tasted of.” (Trapp)
ii. He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me: “The love to which Christ promises a manifestation of Himself is not an idle sentiment or shallow fancy, but a principle prompting obedience.” (Dods)
iii. He who has My commandments: “The man who loves Christ is the one who ‘has’ His commandments and keeps them. To ‘have’ commandments is an unusual expression and does not seem to be exactly paralleled (though cf. 1 John 4:21). The meaning appears to be to make the commandments one’s own, to take them into one’s inner being.” (Morris)
4. (22-24) Answering the question of Judas (not Iscariot).
Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, “Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.”
a. How is it that You will manifest Yourself to us: Judas asked an excellent question. The idea of manifest is to reveal, to make plain. It wasn’t immediately apparent how in His departure Jesus could reveal Himself to His disciples and not to the world at large.
i. Judas had heard Jesus teach that all the earth would see the Messiah in His glory (Matthew 24:30). It was hard for him to understand Jesus when He now spoke of a revealing of Himself that the world would not see.
ii. “Judas is called ‘Judas of James’ in Luke 6:16 and Acts 1:13; and on each occasion AV translates ‘the brother of James’, and RV and RSV, more naturally, ‘the son of James’. He seems to be identical with the Thaddaeus of Matthew 10:3 and Mark 3:18. Some of the apostles clearly had more than one name.” (Tasker)
iii. “The words not Iscariot are in reality superfluous, after John 13:30, but are added by St. John from his deep horror of the Traitor who bore the same name.” (Alford)
b. If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word: In answering Judas, Jesus repeated the themes from the previous verses. Jesus would be revealed to and among the disciples through love, obedience, and union with the Father and the Son. These were not and are not primarily mystical or ecstatic experiences, but real life lived out in the presence and work of the Holy Spirit.
· The love is personal; Jesus said, if anyone loves Me.
· The love has a reverent regard for the teaching of Jesus; Jesus said, he will keep My word.
i. He will keep My word: “That is more than a ‘commandment,’ is it not? Christ’s ‘word’ is more than precept. It includes all His sayings, and it includes them all as in one vital unity and organic whole. We are not to go picking and choosing among them; they are one.” (Maclaren)
ii. We will come to him and make Our home with him: “Where love and obedience are shown, the presence of God and of Christ is realized; the Father and the Son together make their home with each of the children.” (Bruce)
c. The word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me: Jesus again emphasized His total reliance upon and submission to God the Father. Jesus openly stated both His equality with the Father (John 14:1, 14:3, 14:7, 14:9).
C. As Jesus departs, He gives the gift of the Holy Spirit and His peace.
1. (25-27) The departing Jesus leaves the gifts of the Holy Spirit and His peace.
“These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
a. The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name: Jesus first mentioned the Helper in John 14:16. He returned to the wonderful promise that as He left them with His physical presence, Jesus would ask the Father to send the Holy Spirit to help His disciples.
i. Will send in My name: The Holy Spirit is sent to the disciples on the merits of Jesus and in the nature, the character of Jesus. “The Spirit would be Jesus’ officially designated representative to act in his behalf.” (Tenney)
· The disciple does not have to ask for the Spirit on his or her own merit; they can receive Him in the merit of Jesus.
· The disciple should expect that the work of the Spirit would look like the nature and character of Jesus as revealed in God’s Word.
ii. This is another wonderful example of the truth of the Trinity woven into the fabric of the New Testament. God the Father sends God the Holy Spirit at the request of God the Son.
iii. The Holy Spirit: “This characteristic designation, found throughout the New Testament, does not draw attention to the power of the Spirit, His greatness, or the like. For the first Christians the important thing was that He is holy.” (Morris)
b. He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you: In His departure, Jesus finished His direct work of teaching the disciples as a rabbi taught disciples. Their training was not finished, but would be continued by the Helper, the Holy Spirit.
i. The Holy Spirit would teach the disciples what more they needed to know and would also supernaturally bring to remembrance the words of Jesus, both for their own benefit and for the writing of the Gospels.
ii. This means that the work of the Spirit would be a work of continuation. His teaching would continue what Jesus already taught. The Spirit does not wipe clear the previous teaching of Jesus and begin again. “The Spirit will not dispense with the teachings of Jesus. The teaching to be recalled is His.” (Morris)
iii. There is something general in this promise for every believer. The Holy Spirit teaches us and brings God’s word to our remembrance (if we are careful to receive it). Yet the fullness of this promise was reserved for those first-generation disciples and apostles, upon whom Jesus established the church (Ephesians 2:20).
iv. “It is on the fulfillment of this promise to the Apostles, that their sufficiency as Witnesses of all that the Lord did and taught, and consequently THE AUTHENTICITY OF THE GOSPEL NARRATIVE, is grounded.” (Alford)
c. Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you: In one sense this was a common thing to say at a departure in that culture, to wish peace (shalom) to others as you left them. Jesus took this normal good-bye and filled it with deep strength and meaning.
i. “It was customary to take leave with wishes of peace: — so 1 Samuel 1:17; Luke 7:50; Acts 16:36; 1 Peter 5:14; 3 John 15.” (Alford) “‘Peace (shalom) be with you’ was (and is) the usual Jewish greeting when friends met and parted.” (Bruce)
ii. Not as the world gives do I give to you: When someone in that ancient culture said peace as they departed, they said it without any special meaning. It was like when we say goodbye. Literally that means, God be with you – but we don’t really mean it that way. Jesus wanted them to know that when He said peace I leave withyou, it wasn’t in the casual, empty way that most people said it.
iii. The peace of this world is often based on distraction or deliberate blindness and lies. Jesus offers a better peace, a real peace.
iv. Jesus had no inheritance or fortune to leave to His followers in a last will and testament. Yet Jesus gave them two things greater than any fortune: the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, and the peace of Jesus Himself. This is the peace of God the Son, with His complete trusting love in God the Father.
v. “He carefully described the peace as ‘My peace.’ His peace was a heart untroubled and unfearful in spite of all the suffering and conflict ahead of Him.” (Morgan)
vi. “In the Bible the word for peace, shalom, never means simply the absence of trouble. It means everything which makes for our highest good. The peace which the world offers us is the peace of escape, the peace which comes from the avoidance of trouble and from refusing to face things.” (Barclay)
d. Let not your heart be troubled: Jesus returned to the theme recorded in the first verse of John 14. With faith in God and His Son, with the receiving of His Spirit and His peace, we can have an untroubled heart in a quite troubled life.
2. (28-29) The goodness of Jesus’ departure to the Father.
“You have heard Me say to you, ‘I am going away and coming back to you.’ If you loved Me, you would rejoice because I said, ‘I am going to the Father,’ for My Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe.”
a. If you loved Me, you would rejoice: The disciples were troubled at the news of Jesus’ departure. In faith, they should instead rejoice, for the sake of Jesus, for their own sake, and for the sake of the world. The work of Jesus through the sent Holy Spirit would be greater than His work during the years of His earthly ministry.
· Jesus, when I think of all You gave up, all You took upon Yourself when You came from heaven to earth – it makes me happy that You are going to the Father to have it all restored to You.
· Jesus, when I think of all You will give to me and all Your people when You ascend to glory and from there send forth the Holy Spirit, pray for Your church, and prepare a place for us – it makes me happy that You are going to the Father, also for my sake.
b. Because I said, “I am going to the Father”: We sense a joyful anticipation in Jesus, happy in His soon return to heaven’s fellowship between Father and Son.
c. My Father is greater than I: The Father is greater than the Son in position, especially in regard to the incarnation. Yet the Father is not greater than the Sonin essence or being; They are both equally God.
i. It is remarkable that Jesus should even say this. “That it should require to be explicitly affirmed, as here, is strongest evidence that He was Divine.” (Dods)
3. (30-31) Jesus goes forth willingly, not as one who is being overwhelmed by Satan.
“I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me. But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment, so I do. Arise, let us go from here.”
a. The ruler of this world is coming: Jesus knew that Satan was coming for Him. At that moment Judas Iscariot was arranging the arrest of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. The loving, others-centered calm of Jesus in such circumstances is remarkable.
b. He has nothing in Me: Jesus could confidently and truthfully say that Satan had absolutely no hook, no foothold, no toehold of deception in Him. Satan could not push Jesus to the cross; Jesus went in loving obedience to God the Father and out of love for the world (that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment, so do I).
i. “Has nothing in Me — no point of appliance whereon to fasten his attack.” (Alford)
ii. “Jesus goes to death not crushed by the machinations of Satan, ‘but that the world may know that I love the Father and as the Father has commanded me.’” (Dods)
c. Arise, let us go from here: At this point, Jesus and His disciples left the table and slowly made their way toward the Garden of Gethsemane. It is clear they did not immediately leave (John 18:1), but here began to.
i. “Anyone who has tried to get a group of a dozen or so to leave a particular place at a particular time will appreciate that it usually takes more than one brief exhortation to accomplish this.” (Morris)
ii. “Probably the rest of the discourse, and the prayer, chapter 17, were delivered when now all were standing ready to depart.” (Alford)
iii. “Whether chapters 15-17 were spoken en route to Gethsemane or whether he and the disciples lingered while he finished the discussion is not plain.” (Tenney)
iv. Notably, they got ready to go together. “One would have thought that on such a night as that, the deepest craving of Jesus would have been to be alone… He could not leave them to go out alone. He loved them far to deeply for that. They might forsake Him, as they were soon to do. It was impossible for Him to forsake them.” (Morrison)
©2018 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission