John 21 – The Restoration of Peter
Videos for John 21:
A. A miraculous catch of fish.
1. (1-3) Peter and six other disciples return to fishing.
After these things Jesus showed Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and in this way He showed Himself: Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We are going with you also.” They went out and immediately got into the boat, and that night they caught nothing.
a. After these things Jesus showed Himself again to the disciples: John recorded another of the several appearances of the resurrected Jesus to His disciples. This appearance took place in the Galilee region (at the Sea of Tiberias). Matthew 28:16 also records an appearance of the resurrected Jesus to His disciples in Galilee.
b. Simon Peter: Once again Peter was at the top of a list of the disciples. This time he was among seven who joined him in fishing at the Sea of Galilee.
i. And two others of His disciples: “There were ‘two other,’ and they are unnamed, and I believe purposely unnamed. They represent the anonymous and hidden multitudes of faithful souls, whose names are never published in human documents, whose deeds are never reported in human reports. To these He manifested Himself as surely as to the others. Those ‘two other’ represented the majority of the saints.” (Morgan)
c. I am going fishing: Some believe that Peter was wrong to go fishing, and that this was a compromised return to a former occupation. Others believe Peter disobeyed no command of Jesus and was simply wise and practical. In the end, only the attitude of Peter’s heart could determine if he was disobedient to go back to fishing.
i. It is important to remember that they went to Galilee because Jesus told them to (Matthew 28:7, 28:10).
ii. Adam Clarke put their fishing enterprise in the best possible light: “Previously to the crucifixion of our Lord, the temporal necessities of himself and his disciples appear to have been supplied by the charity of individuals: Luke 8:3. As it is probable that the scandal of the cross had now shut up this source of support, the disciples, not fully knowing how they were to be employed, purposed to return to their former occupation of fishing, in order to gain a livelihood; and therefore the seven, mentioned John 21:2, embarked on the sea of Tiberias, otherwise called the sea of Galilee.” (Clarke)
iii. At the best, it shows that Peter and the other disciples were uncertain as to what they should do next. “The fishing expedition plainly reveals the uncertainly of the disciples, an uncertainty which contrasts sharply with their assured sense of purpose from the day of Pentecost on.” (Morris)
d. That night they caught nothing: They fished through the night and had no success. Whether their motives were good or bad, that night they caught nothing.
i. “All night they had toiled without one sign of fish; they had lost heart; they were weary, hungry, hopeless. ‘Ah!’ they would whisper, ‘this lake is sadly changed; there used to be good fish in it. There doesn’t seem to be one in it now.’” (Morrison)
ii. “To be a fisherman, a man must expect disappointments; he must often cast in the net and bring up nothing but weeds. The minister of Christ must reckon upon being disappointed; and he must not be weary in well-doing for all his disappointments, but must in faith continue in prayer and labor, expecting that at the end he shall receive his reward.” (Spurgeon)
2. (4-6) Jesus directs their work.
But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Then Jesus said to them, “Children, have you any food?” They answered Him, “No.” And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.”So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish.
a. Jesus stood on the shore: The previous three resurrection appearances in John’s Gospel were each unexpected. This also seemed to be unexpected; the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.
i. “It seems to indicate the suddenness of the appearance.” (Dods)
ii. It’s wonderful to think that Jesus showed up at their work. He was interested in all their life, not just when they attended religious service. “The risen Redeemer and Ruler was showing men His interest and power in the commonplaces of their lives.” (Morgan)
iii. We don’t know exactly why they did not know that it was Jesus. “Perhaps they were preoccupied with their failure, or because they could not see him clearly through the morning mist on the lake.” (Tenney)
b. Children, have you any food: Jesus spoke to His disciples with a common greeting that working men used amongst themselves. Yet He also made them explain an unsuccessful night of fishing, causing them to answer Him no.
i. “It should be ‘lads’; paidion being the common term of address to men at work, see Aristophanes, Clouds, 137, Frogs, 33.” (Dods)
ii. “This he saith as seeming to be some housekeeper, who passing by fishermen, calls to them, as willing to buy their fish for the use of his family.” (Trapp)
c. Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some: Jesus made a strange suggestion to His disciples. There was no logical reason why fishing in the morning light would be better than fishing at night. There was no reason why fishing on one side of the boat would be better than the other side. It wasn’t even directly a test of trust in Jesus, because they did not know it was Him until the fish were caught. This was probably a test of their ability to find the guidance of God in small and unsuspected ways – such as a stranger calling out fishing instructions from the shore.
i. “I have been unable to find any evidence which indicates which side of the boat was normally used by fishermen on the sea of Galilee so that it is difficult to know whether this was unusual or not.” (Morris)
ii. This account illustrates the principle that we should never be afraid to change our method, as long as it is at the direction of Jesus.
d. They were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of the fish: The disciples did as the Man on the shore asked and were successful beyond expectation. This shows a difference between doing work without Divine guidance and with Divine guidance.
i. “The experience must have reminded the disciples of a similar incident many months before, though on that occasion the net was broken and the boat began to sink (see Luke 5:1-11).” (Takser)
ii. “There is no need to seek symbolical meanings for the right and left side. The difference is not between right and left, but between working with and without Divine guidance.” (Plummer)
iii. “The disciples’ haul of fish is a parable of their missionary activity in the time that lies ahead. But this activity, with its pastoral sequel, will be attended by success only as they follow the directions of their risen Lord.” (Bruce)
iv. We have even greater reason to expect blessing as He directs our service. Jesus never commanded these disciples to go fishing, but He commanded us to preach the Gospel and make disciples.
v. “Christ’s presence, if he would but come among us in the fullness of his strength, would do so much more for us than anything that we have ever seen yet that we should be as much astounded by the increase as the apostles were by the two great draughts of fishes. Christ had but to will it, and the fish came swimming in shoals to the net, and he has but to will it, and souls will be converted by millions to himself and his gospel.” (Spurgeon)
vi. “It is a miracle, certainly, but yet neither the fisherman, nor his boat, nor his fishing tackle are ignored; they are all used and all employed. Let us learn that in the saving of souls God worketh by means; that so long as the present economy of grace shall stand, God will be pleased by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” (Spurgeon)
vii. “Perhaps, if they had not fished at night, Christ would not, have given them fish in the day time. He does not often come to bless idlers; he acts sovereignly, as I have said, but he generally gives his blessing to those churches that do the most for him.” (Spurgeon)
3. (7-8) The disciples recognize Jesus on the shore.
Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment (for he had removed it), and plunged into the sea. But the other disciples came in the little boat (for they were not far from land, but about two hundred cubits), dragging the net with fish.
a. It is the Lord: John reached the tomb before Peter (John 20:4) and recognized the fact of Jesus’ resurrection before Peter (John 20:8). Here John also recognized the identity of the stranger on the shore before Peter did. John knew that anything this wonderful had to come from Jesus.
b. Plunged into the sea: John was first in recognition, but Peter would be first in devotion. He threw on his outer garment and threw himself into the water to reach Jesus as soon as possible. The boat couldn’t move quickly enough for Peter, and he didn’t want John to be first again. Perhaps – perhaps – Peter thought he might walk on the water to the shore.
i. “The probability here is that the word means that parts of the body normally covered were exposed so that Peter was not naked but rather ‘stripped for work’ (RSV, Barclay).” (Morris)
ii. “He was rowing, then, with as little on as possible, probably only a subligaculum or loin-cloth, and now picks up his ἐπενδύτηs, a garment worn by fishers (Theophylact), and girds it on, and casts himself into the sea.” (Dods)
iii. “He looks up, recognizes Him, casts all other care aside, slips on his outer-garment, for no Oriental would appear in undress before his superior, girds it to him, and casts himself into the sea, so eager is his love for the Lord.” (Trench)
c. Dragging the net with fish: The other disciples followed, doing the hard work of bringing the net full of fish with them.
4. (9-11) Jesus invites the disciples to breakfast.
Then, as soon as they had come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish which you have just caught.” Simon Peter went up and dragged the net to land, full of large fish, one hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not broken.
a. They saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid on it, and bread: When the disciples came to shore – including a wet Peter – they noticed that the resurrected Jesus was still a humble servant. He took the trouble to prepare a fire and cook the food for His disciples.
b. Bring some of the fish which you have just caught: The order of events shows that Jesus had food for them before the great catch of fish were brought it. What they caught added to the menu; it did not make it.
i. Simon Peter went up and dragged the net to land, full of large fish: “One hundred and fifty-three fish plus a wet net would probably weigh as much as three hundred pounds, or more. The observation of the exact number of fish and the fact that the net did not break reflect both an eyewitness account and a fisherman’s perspective.” (Tenney)
ii. “Peter’s hauling it up single-handed is a tacit tribute to his physical strength.” (Bruce)
c. Full of large fish, one hundred and fifty-three: Peter took the initiative and dragged the heavy net all by himself. The net was not broken and held a large catch of 153 fish. Through the centuries there have been many attempts to explain why the number was 153.
· Some interpreters (like Augustine) thought that because 153 is the sum of numbers 1 to 17, this catch of fish points towards the number 17 – which he thought to be the number of commandments (10) added to the sevenfold gifts of the Spirit.
· Some have noted that 153 is the added numerical value of the Greek words Peter and fish.
· Some note, “In Hebrew characters Simon Iona is equivalent to 118 + 35, i.e., 153.” (Dods)
· Some ancient writers (such as Jerome) believed there were 153 different types of fish in the world and this catch represented a full harvest of the entire world.
· Some (such as Cyril of Alexandria) thought that 100 stood for the Gentiles, 50 stood for Israel and 3 stood for the Trinity.
i. The truth is that all we know for certain is that 153 represents the number of fish in the net. The many allegorical interpretations of the number warn us against creating hidden meanings in the Biblical text.
ii. “Peter never landed a haul of fish without counting them, and John, fisherman as he was, could never forget the number of his largest takes.” (Dods)
5. (12-14) The disciples eat breakfast with Jesus.
Jesus said to them, “Come and eat breakfast.” Yet none of the disciples dared ask Him, “Who are You?”—knowing that it was the Lord. Jesus then came and took the bread and gave it to them, and likewise the fish. This is now the third time Jesus showed Himself to His disciples after He was raised from the dead.
a. Jesus said to them, “Come and eat breakfast”: We are again impressed at the servant nature of Jesus, even in His resurrection. He prepared breakfast for His disciples, no doubt a delicious one.
i. Boice reflected on the many invitations of Jesus in the Gospels.
· Come and see (John 1:39).
· Come and learn (Matthew 11:28-29).
· Come and rest (Mark 6:31).
· Come and dine (John 21:12).
· Come and inherit (Matthew 25:34-36).
b. Yet none of the disciples dared ask Him, “Who are You?”; knowing that it was the Lord: This is another indication that there was something unusual about the appearance of Jesus after His resurrection. Possibly it was a result of the beatings He endured at the cross, the scars of which remained at least in part.
i. “Formerly they would not have thought of asking him ‘Who are you?’ – but now they felt as if they ought to do so, because, after all, they knew who it was.” (Bruce)
ii. “The verb rendered ask signifies more: – to question or prove Him.” (Alford)
iii. “Not one of the disciples ventured to interrogate Him; ἐξετάσαι is ‘to examine by questioning’. Each man felt convinced it was the Lord, and a new reverence prevented them from questioning Him.” (Dods)
c. Jesus then came and took the bread: Jesus is often seen eating with His disciples after His resurrection. This is a picture of intimate, friendly fellowship.
i. Gave it to them, and likewise the fish: “Evidently there was something solemn and significant in His manner, indicating that they were to consider Him as the Person who supplied all their wants.” (Dods)
ii. “They ate the bread and fish that morning, I doubt not, in silent self- humiliation. Peter looked with tears in his eyes at that fire of coals, remembering how he stood and warmed himself when he denied his Master. Thomas stood there, wondering that he should have dared to ask such proofs of a fact most clear. All of them felt that they could shrink into nothing in his divine presence, since they had behaved so ill.” (Spurgeon)
iii. The third time: “This probably means the third of the appearances that he himself has recorded.” (Takser)
B. The public restoration of Peter.
1. (15-16) Jesus inquires about Peter’s love.
So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.” He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My sheep.”
a. Jesus said to Simon Peter: After their breakfast Jesus spoke directly to Peter. Jesus had already met with Peter individually on the day of His resurrection (Luke 24:34, 1 Corinthians 15:5). We can only wonder at what Jesus and Peter talked about at that first meeting. Nevertheless, it was still important for Jesus to restore Peter in the presence of the other disciples.
b. Simon, son of Jonah:Jesus addressed the leader among the disciples as Simon, not as Peter. This perhaps was a subtle reminder that he had not stood as a rock in faithfulness to Jesus.
i. “There is an air of solemnity about John’s use of the full name, Simon Peter, and then of his reporting Jesus as using the expanded form, Simon son of John.” (Morris)
c. Do you love Me more than these: Jesus asked Peter to compare his love for Jesus to the love that the other disciples had for Jesus. Before he denied Jesus three times Peter claimed to love Jesus more than the other disciples did (Matthew 26:33). Jesus wanted to know if Peter still had a proud estimation of his love and devotion to Jesus.
i. It is possible that these referred to the fish and a fisherman’s life. Some think that Jesus asked Peter if he was willing to give up fishing again to follow Him. Yet, Peter’s previous claim to a greater love suggests that Jesus referred to the other disciples, not the fish.
ii. Jesus asked Peter not so that He would know – He already knew, and Peter was aware that Jesus knew. It was for Peter’s self-examination the questions were asked.
d. Do you love Me more than these… You know that I love You: Jesus asked the question twice using the word agapas, which in its Biblical usage often speaks of an all giving, uncaused, unselfish love. Peter answered Jesus using the word philio, which in Biblical usage sometimes has in mind a more reciprocal love, a friendly affection. Some translations express Peter’s answer as, “I am your friend.”
i. Some commentators see no significant distinction between the two different ancient Greek words agapeo and phileo in this passage. Most believe that Peter was now more reserved in his proclamation of devotion. There is surely some significance that Jesus asked Peter this question twice, using the same ancient Greek word for love, and Peter answered twice using a different word for love.
ii. “He is simply saying that his heart is open to Christ and that Christ therefore knows that he loves Him with the best love of which he, a sinful human being, is capable.” (Boice)
iii. “There are preachers of the gospel among us who have dragged a full net to shore, the great fishes have been many; they have been great and successful workers, but this does not prevent its being needful for the Lord to examine them as to their hearts. He bids them put by their nets for awhile and commune with him.” (Spurgeon)
e. Feed My lambs… Tend My sheep: After Jesus asked and Peter answered, Jesus twice gave Peter an instruction regarding how he should act towards God’s people. The idea was that Peter could demonstrate his claimed love for Jesus by feeding Jesus’ lambs and by tending Jesus’ sheep. Jesus emphasized that they were His sheep, not Peter’s.
i. Tend My sheep: “The verb used here has a somewhat broader meaning. It is ‘Exercise the office of shepherd’ over against simply ‘Feed’.” (Morris)
ii. Tend My sheep: “By which he seems to intimate that it is not sufficient merely to offer the bread of life to the congregation of the Lord, but he must take care that the sheep be properly collected, attended to, regulated, guided, &c.; and it appears that Peter perfectly comprehended our Lord’s meaning, and saw that it was a direction given not only to him, and to the rest of the disciples, but to all their successors in the Christian ministry.” (Clarke)
2. (17) Jesus asks Peter a third time: Do you love Me?
He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.”
a. He said to him the third time: The two previous questions Jesus asked Peter in the presence of the other disciples were not enough to accomplish what Jesus’ wanted to do in the life of Peter. Jesus had to ask him the third time.
b. Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time: Peter understood the significance of the question being asked the third time. It was a plain reminder of his previous three-time denial.
i. “Peter had thrice denied his Lord, and now Christ gives him an opportunity in some measure to repair his fault by a triple confession.” (Clarke)
c. Do you love Me: The third time Jesus slightly changed His question. He asked Peter if he did in fact have a brotherly love, a friendly devotion to Jesus (phileis).
i. “Peter in his first two answers uses a less exalted word, and one implying a consciousness of his own weakness, but a persuasion and deep feeling of personal love. Then in the third question, the Lord adopts the word of Peter’s answer, the closer to press the meaning of it home to him.” (Alford)
d. Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You: Peter did believe that he loved Jesus (using the word philio), yet he relied on Jesus’ own knowledge of all things. Peter understood that Jesus knew him better than he knew himself.
i. Jesus didn’t ask Peter, “Are you sorry?” nor “Will you promise never to do that again?” Jesus challenged Peter to love.
ii. “Jesus Christ asks each one of us, not for obedience primarily, not for repentance, not for vows, not for conduct, but for a heart; and that being given, all the rest will follow.” (Maclaren)
e. Feed My sheep: Jesus restored Peter in the presence of the other disciples by causing him to face squarely his point of failure; then Jesus challenged Peter to set his eyes on the work ahead.
3. (18-19) Jesus’ call on Peter’s life.
“Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.” This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me.”
a. Most assuredly: Jesus prefaced these closing words to Peter with great assurance. What He was about to say needed to be remembered.
b. When you were younger: Jesus spoke of Peter’s past, reminding him of his younger days when he had less responsibility and could do more as he pleased. Most of us know what these younger years were like.
c. When you are old, you will stretch out your hands: Jesus spoke of Peter’s future, when another would bind him (gird you) and carry Peter to a place he would not want to go – a place with stretched out hands, crucified on a cross. It would be by this death he would glorify God.
i. “He will be restrained, no longer the master of his own movements.” (Morris)
ii. Trusting that Peter understood what Jesus meant, this must have given him a great chill. Peter, you will die on a cross. John the Gospel-writer understood, but wrote this many years after Peter’s death.
iii. Yet it also gave Peter assurance. In the crucial moment a few weeks before, Peter denied Jesus three times to save himself from the cross. Jesus assured Peter – most assuredly – he would face the challenge of the cross once again and he would embrace it. Jesus promised Peter that he would die in utter faithfulness to his Messiah and Lord.
iv. “Ancient writers state that, about thirty-four years after this, Peter was crucified; and that he deemed it so glorious a thing to die for Christ that he begged to be crucified with his head downwards, not considering himself worthy to die in the same posture in which his Lord did. So Eusebius, Prudentius, Chrysostom, and Augustin.” (Clarke)
v. “Jerome says, that ‘he was crowned with martyrdom under Nero, being crucified with his head downwards and his feet upwards, because he alleged himself to be unworthy of being crucified in the same manner as his Lord.’” (Alford)
vi. The Christian in death can glorify God. “Justin Martyr confesseth of himself, that seeing the piety of Christians in their lives and their patience in death, he gathered that that was the truth that they so constantly professed and sealed up with their blood.” (Trapp)
d. Follow Me: In this dramatic moment, Jesus gave these last words to Peter. Years before He called Peter to follow Him (Matthew 4:18-19). Now Peter knew that continuing to follow Jesus would mean a certain cross. Peter was once again challenged to follow his Messiah, Teacher, and Lord.
i. “Jesus placed Peter in a category with himself – a life spent for God and ultimately sacrificed to glorify God. Similar language was used concerning Jesus earlier in the Gospel (John 12:27-32; 13:31). The command ‘Follow me’ is a present imperative, which literally means ‘Keep on following me.’” (Tenney)
ii. “There is possibly significance in the use of the present tense here. ‘Keep on following’ will be the force of it. Peter had followed Christ, but not continuously in the past. For the future he was to follow steadfastly in the ways of the Lord.” (Morris)
4. (20-23) What about John?
Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also had leaned on His breast at the supper, and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?” Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, “But Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.” Then this saying went out among the brethren that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you?”
a. But Lord, what about this man: Jesus just renewed His challenge to Peter, follow Me (John 21:19). Peter’s first response was not to tell Jesus yes, but turning around he looked at the other disciple, John. Peter first response to the personal challenge from Jesus was to deflect it by wondering what Jesus wanted to do regarding someone else.
i. Peter represents most all of us. We find it easy to deflect any personal challenge from Jesus by wondering and even worrying about what other disciples are doing or what Jesus may require from them.
ii. What about John? “His unique contribution will come later. After he has settled in the pagan, cosmopolitan city of Ephesus, he will recall men from drifting on the uncharted seas of vague religious experience and abstract speculation to the sure and certain anchorage of God’s self-revelation in the historical figure of the Word-made-flesh.” (Tasker)
iii. “Paul might be the pioneer of Christ, Peter might be the shepherd of Christ, but John was the witness of Christ.” (Barclay)
b. If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you: Jesus answered Peter with another challenge. Though Peter was destined to die on a cross (John 21:18-19), Jesus wanted Peter to consider the possibility that He might have an entirely different destiny for John. Peter had to consider what Jesus required of him knowing that Jesus might require something different from John or other disciples.
i. “There is a touch of human interest in His rebuke of Peter for attempting to discover the divine will concerning another man.” (Morgan)
c. You follow Me: This was a powerful and pointed challenge to Peter. Without regard to how Jesus might deal with John or other disciples, Peter had to decide for himself whether or not he would follow Jesus. This is a challenge for every one of Jesus’ disciples.
i. “The use of the second person pronoun in Jesus’ command makes the statement emphatic: ‘You must follow me’.” (Tenney)
ii. “I have come to the conclusion that, instead of trying to set all my Master’s servants right at once, my first and most important work is to follow my Lord; and I think, my brother, that it will be wise for you to come to the same conclusion.” (Spurgeon)
d. Then this saying went out among the brethren that this disciple would not die: The challenge Jesus gave to Peter gave rise to a rumor among early brethren in the Christian faith. The rumor was that Jesus said that John would not die until Jesus returned. The fact that John was the last surviving disciple, having survived attempts to kill him, gave strength to this rumor.
i. This illustrates just how often and easily people misunderstand things, and how often the brethren misunderstand.
e. Jesus did not say to him that he would not die: One reason John added this appendix to his Gospel was to clarify what Jesus said about this and correct the rumor. Jesus did not say to John that he would not die, but simply used the possibility of that as an example to Peter.
i. “Rumour had it that the Lord had prophesied that the beloved disciple would be alive when He came again, and the evangelist is anxious to make it perfectly clear that Jesus had only spoken hypothetically about such a possibility.” (Tasker)
5. (24-25) The conclusion to the Gospel of John.
This is the disciple who testifies of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his testimony is true. And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.
a. This is the disciple who testifies of these things, and wrote these things: Here John explains that he was the unnamed disciple referred to in several previous places. John gave solemn testimony to the truth of what he wrote. His testimony is true.
b. Even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written: John wrote the truth about Jesus, but it was impossible for him or anyone else to write the whole truth about Jesus. There were many other things that Jesus did, and it would be impossible to write them all.
i. “With this delightful hyperbole he lets us see that there is much more about Jesus than we know.” (Morris)
ii. The many other things that Jesus did includes His ongoing work among His disciples and in the world today. John thought of a book that continues to be written, with so many volumes that the world could not contain them all.
©2018 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission
John 20 – An Empty Tomb and A Risen Jesus
Videos for John 20:
A. Discovery of the empty tomb
1. (1-2) Mary Magdalene comes upon Jesus’ tomb, finds it empty and tells the disciples about it.
Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.”
a. Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early: Jesus was crucified on Friday (or on Thursday by some accounts). After His entombment, the tomb was sealed and guarded by Roman soldiers (Matthew 27:62-66). The tomb stayed sealed and guarded until discovered on the first day of the week… early, while it was still dark.
b. Mary Magdalene… she ran and came to Simon Peter: Other gospels explain she was not the only woman to come to the tomb that morning (at least three other women accompanied her). Mary was the one who ran back and told the disciples about the empty tomb, so John mentions her.
i. Jesus had cast seven demons out of this Mary (Luke 8:2, Mark 16:9). Her troubled past didn’t disqualify her from being the first witness of the resurrected Jesus and His first commissioned messenger of His resurrection.
ii. The women came to complete the work begun by Joseph and Nicodemus. “Probably, in view of the lateness of the hour and the nearness of the sabbath, Nicodemus was not able to use all the spices he had brought in the way intended.” (Morris)
c. They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb: When she saw the empty tomb, Mary’s first reaction was to think the body of Jesus was stolen. She wasn’t wishing for or anticipating the resurrection of Jesus, and she certainly did not imagine it out of hope.
i. We do not know where: “The plural may naturally be accepted as confirming Mark’s account that she was not alone.” (Dods)
2. (3-4) Peter and John run to the tomb.
Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb. So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first.
a. Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple: Peter and John heard the news from Mary and immediately started for the tomb. In keeping with the author’s humility, John did not refer to himself directly, but only as the other disciple.
b. They both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first: John was humble enough to avoid the mention of his own name, but competitive enough to tell us that he outran Peter to the tomb.
i. By tradition, Peter was older than John. We might picture a man in his late forties or early fifties like Peter running to the tomb with great labor, and a man and his mid-twenties easily outrunning him.
ii. This shows that they both ran hard. Peter and John had just heard life-changing news: that the tomb was empty. They couldn’t be indifferent or detached to this news; they had to see for themselves.
3. (5-10) Peter and John examine the empty tomb.
And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there, and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed. For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. Then the disciples went away again to their own homes.
a. Stooping down and looking in: Arriving first at the tomb, John was looking in (the ancient Greek word blepei meaning “to clearly see a material object”), and he saw the grave wrappings of Jesus still in the tomb (saw the linen cloths lying there). John clearly saw this, and there was no mistake about what he saw.
i. Yet he did not go in: Something kept John from actually going into the tomb. “Having seen that the graveclothes were still within, the other disciple probably concluded that the body was also there and so refrained from entering. Either he felt that he should not enter the tomb out of respect for the dead, or else he feared the ceremonial defilement of touching a corpse.” (Tenney)
ii. A typical rich man’s tomb of that time would be large enough to walk into, with a place to lay out the body on one side and a bench for mourners on the other side. The entrance might be an opening only 3 feet (1 meter) high and 2.5 feet (.75 meters) wide. It was large enough to get into, yet there was a bit of bowing and turning necessary. There was some commitment needed to go inside the tomb, and for some reason John did not go in.
b. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb: Whatever ever kept John from going in didn’t stop Peter. When he finally arrived he immediately went into the tomb. This action-oriented impulsiveness was characteristic of Peter. John wanted to stop and think about it but Peter went right in.
c. He saw the linen cloths lying there: Going in, Peter then saw (the ancient Greek word theorei meaning “to contemplate, observe, scrutinize”) that the cloths were still orderly and neat. It looked as if the body evaporated out of the burial wrappings without disturbing their place.
i. The phrasing of linen cloths lying there and folded together in a place by itself indicates the orderly arrangement of the burial wrappings. Prepared for burial, those strips of linen cloths were smeared with ointments and aloes and spices, and the linen cloths were applied in several layers. The burial of Jesus on the day of His death was hurried, and the women came early Sunday morning to apply more layers.
ii. The mixture of ointments and aloes and spices would dry and harden the linen cloths, making something of a mummy or a cocoon. The normal removal of these burial wrappings would require some tearing or cutting; Peter saw that it was no normal removal of the burial wrappings. “The whole point of the description is that the grave-clothes did not look as if they had been put off or taken off; they were lying there in their regular folds as if the body of Jesus had simply evaporated out of them.” (Barclay)
iii. The neat, orderly arrangement of the linen cloths showed that a human hand, at least not in any way that was immediately apparent, did not remove the burial wrappings of Jesus. All this demonstrated that something absolutely unique had happened in that now-empty tomb.
· The linen cloths were there – the body had not been removed with them.
· The linen cloths were orderly – not removed in any normal way by the person wrapped in them.
· The linen cloths were orderly – not removed by grave robbers or vandals.
iv. It has been suggested that the burial wrappings of Jesus have been preserved in the Shroud of Turin. The Shroud of Turin can probably never be positively proved to be part of the burial wrappings of Jesus. But, “The evidence thus far indicates the probable conclusions that the shroud is ancient (perhaps from the first century), that it does not contradict the NT accounts, and that the image is not a fake. It may well be the actual burial garment of Jesus.” (Evangelical Dictionary of Theology)
v. The image on the shroud is of a crucified male, bearded, 5’11” in height, weighing about 175 pounds. His physique was muscular and well built, and he is an estimated age of 30-35 years. His long hair is tied into a pigtail and there is no evidence on decomposition on the cloth. Results of the Shroud of Turin Research Project in October 1978 determined that the Shroud is not a painting or a forgery. They determined that its blood is real blood and the image seems to be some type of scorch, though they cannot account for how it was made.
vi. The Shroud of Turin is an interesting object, yet there are also reasons for skepticism.
· John described two aspects of the grave wrappings: the linen cloths and the handkerchief that had been around His head. This would imply that the head and the body of Jesus were wrapped separately, while the Shroud of Turin presents an image of an entire body on one cloth. It is possible that the Shroud was underneath those two sets of wrappings and unmentioned by John, but we can’t say that John describes a fabric such as the Shroud of Turin.
· However, Trench suggests: “The winding sheet which had been folded over all (Matthew, Mark, Luke) must have been unfolded and laid back along either side so as to leave the bandage-casing exposed.”
· We may suppose a good reason why God would not want or allow the preservation of Jesus’ burial wrappings, not wanting to leave behind a relic that would be inevitably worshipped.
vii. The handkerchief that had been around His head: “This means the headcloth still retained the shape the contour of Jesus’ head had given it and that It was still separated from the other wrappings by a space that suggested the distance between the neck of the deceased and the upper chest, where the wrappings of the body would have begun.” (Tenney)
d. The other disciple… he saw and believed: After Peter went into the tomb John also went in. He then saw (the ancient Greek word eiden meaning, “to understand, to perceive the significance of”) and then John believed. The distinctive arrangement of the burial wrappings convinced him.
i. Generally, the very first Christians did not believe in the resurrection only because the tomb was empty, but because they saw and met the resurrected Jesus. John was something of an exception; he believed simply by seeing the empty tomb, before meeting the resurrected Jesus.
ii. “He believed that Jesus was risen from the dead. He received into his mind, embraced with his assent, THE FACT OF THE RESURRECTION, for the first time. He did this, on the ocular testimony before him; for as yet neither of them knew the Scripture.” (Alford)
iii. “John believed, but Peter was still in the dark. Again the former had outrun his friend.” (Maclaren)
iv. “Some of the best books on the Resurrection have been written by lawyers, some of whom originally set out to disprove it. I am thinking of men like Frank Morrison, Gilbert West, J.N.D. Anderson, and others. Sir Edward Clark, another English jurist, once wrote: ‘As a lawyer I have made a prolonged study of the evidences for the first Easter day. To me the evidence is conclusive, and over and over again in the High Court I have secured the verdict on evidence not nearly so compelling… As a lawyer I accept it unreservedly as the testimony of men to facts that they were able to substantiate.” (Boice)
e. For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead: At this point Peter and John were persuaded of the fact of the resurrection; they believed. Yet because they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead, they did not understand the meaning of the resurrection.
i. Knowing the fact of the resurrection is an important start, but not enough. We need to let the Bible tell us the meaning and the importance of Jesus’ resurrection.
· The resurrection means that Jesus was declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead (Romans 1:4).
· The resurrection means that we have assurance of our own resurrection: For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus (1 Thessalonians 4:14).
· The resurrection means that God has an eternal plan for these bodies of ours. “There was nothing in the teaching of Jesus approaching the Gnostic heresy that declared that the flesh is inherently evil. Plato could only get rid of sin by getting rid of the body. Jesus retains the body; and declares that God feeds the body as well as the soul, that the body is as sacred thing as the soul, since the soul makes it its sanctuary.” (Morgan)
· The resurrection means that Jesus has a continuing ministry: He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He ever lives to make intercession for them (Hebrews 7:25).
· The resurrection means that Christianity and its God are unique and completely different and unique among world religions.
· The resurrection proves that though it looked like Jesus died on the cross as a common criminal He actually died as a sinless man, out of love and self-sacrifice to bear the guilt of our sin. The death of Jesus on the cross was the payment, but the resurrection was the receipt, showing that the payment was perfect in the sight of God the Father.
B. Mary Magdalene meets the risen Jesus.
1. (11-13) Mary, stricken with grief, sees two angels in the empty tomb.
But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. Then they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.”
a. Mary stood outside the tomb weeping: Peter and John examined the evidence of the empty tomb and John was persuaded that Jesus rose from the dead, though he did not yet understand the meaning of it all. Mary did not yet have the confidence that Jesus was resurrected, so she wept.
b. As she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb: Mary wanted to see what Peter and John saw, so she made her own examination. Yet in the moment between their examination and Mary’s, something was different in the tomb.
c.She saw two angels in white sitting: Mary didn’t notice the burial wrappings and their curious arrangement; now there were two angels in the tomb. Mary didn’t seem to react with shock or fear; she probably did not immediately perceive that they were angels (Hebrews 13:2).
i. “The presence of angels was a trifle to Mary, who had only one thought – the absence of her Lord.” (Maclaren)
ii. “Sent for her sake, and the rest, to certify them of the resurrection. It is their office (and they are glad of it) to comfort and counsel the saints still, as it were by speaking and doing after a spiritual manner.” (Trapp)
iii. One at the head and the other at the feet: “So were the cherubim placed at each end of the mercy-seat: Exodus 25:18, 19.” (Clarke)
d. They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him: Mary wasn’t thinking or dreaming that Jesus was alive. She believed He was still dead, and only wanted to know where He was so she could do the final work of preparing His body for burial. This is more evidence that she didn’t notice the burial cloths because of the angels.
2. (14-16) Mary meets Jesus.
Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him, “Rabboni!” (which is to say, Teacher).
a. She turned around and saw Jesus standing there: Mary wondered and worried about where Jesus was, but He wasn’t far away.
i. “Perhaps Mary withdrew abruptly. She may have heard a movement behind her. Or, as many commentators from Chrysostom down have held, the angels might have made some motion at the sight of the Lord behind Mary. We do not know.” (Morris)
b. Did not know that it was Jesus: Mary certainly knew who Jesus was, and it was strange that she did not immediately recognize Him. Some think it was because she was emotionally distressed and had tears in her eyes. Others speculate it was because Jesus looked somewhat different, retaining at least some of the marks of His suffering.
i. “She did not expect Him to be there, and was wholly preoccupied with other thoughts.” (Alford)
ii. “Not merely because her eyes were dim with tears, but because He was altered in appearance; as Mark (16:12).” (Dods)
iii. “There seems to have been something different about the risen Jesus so that He was not always recognized.” (Morris)
c. Why are You weeping? Whom are you seeking? Jesus did not immediately reveal Himself to Mary. It wasn’t to play some trick on her; it was to break through her unbelief and forgetfulness of Jesus’ promise of resurrection.
d. Tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away: It’s possible that Mary was a large, strong woman and was physically capable of carrying away the body of a dead man. It is more likely that she was simply so filled with sorrow and devotion that she isn’t thinking through her plans carefully.
i. “Her words reveal her devotion. She never paused to consider how she would carry the corpse of a full-grown man or how she would explain her possession of it.” (Tenney)
ii. “How true is the proverb, Love feels no load! Jesus was in the prime of life when he was crucified, and had a hundred pounds weight of spices added to his body; and yet Mary thinks of nothing less than carrying him away with her, if she can but find where he is laid!” (Clarke)
e. Jesus said to her, “Mary!” Jesus had only to say one word, and all was explained. She heard in the name and the tone the voice of her beloved Messiah, and instantly called Him Rabboni (as did another Mary in John 11:28).
i. “Jesus says to her, ‘Mariam,’ the Hebrew name, of which the Greek form is Maria.” (Trench) Jesus didn’t reveal Himself to Mary by telling her who He was, but by telling her who she was to Him.
ii. Her eyes failed her, but her ears could not mistake that voice saying her name. “Many had called her by that name. She had been wont to hear it many times a day from many lips; but only One had spoken it with that intonation.” (Meyer)
iii. “Never was a one-word utterance more charged with emotion than this.” (Tasker) “Jesus can preach a perfect sermon in one word.” (Spurgeon)
iv. “In the garden of Eden, immediately after the Fall, the sentence of sorrow, and of sorrow multiplied, fell upon the woman. In the garden where Christ had been buried, after his resurrection, the news of comfort — comfort rich and divine, — came to a woman through the woman’s promised Seed, the Lord Jesus Christ. If the sentence must fall heavily upon the woman, so must the comfort come most sweetly to her.” (Spurgeon)
3. (17-18) Jesus sends Mary to tell the disciples.
Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her.
a. Do not cling to Me: Some confusion has come regarding what Jesus meant, mostly owing to the phrasing of this in the older King James Version: Touch me not. Some think Jesus told Mary not to touch Him in any way, as if her contact would somehow defile Him. Yet the sense is that Mary immediately held on to Jesus and did not want to let Him go.
i. “Probably we should understand the Greek tense here in the strict sense. The present imperative with a negative means ‘Stop doing something’ rather than ‘Do not do something’.” (Morris)
ii. “Jesus was not protesting that Mary should not touch Him lest He be defiled, but was admonishing her not to detain Him because He would see her and the disciples again.” (Tenney)
iii. “We need not be detained by that curiosity of exegesis which supposes that he still had to enter the heavenly holy of holies to complete the antitype of the Day of Atonement initiated by his sacrifice on the cross.” (Bruce)
iv. This also shows that the resurrection body of Jesus was different, yet similar to His pre-resurrection body. It was definitely real and tangible, and Jesus was not a phantom.
b. Go to My brethren and say to them: Jesus made a woman the first witness of His resurrection. The law courts of that day would not recognize the testimony of a woman, but Jesus did.
i. This also argues for the historic truth of this account. If someone fabricated this story, they would not make the first witnesses to the resurrection women, who were commonly (if unfairly) regarded as unreliable witnesses.
ii. “Celsus, the anti-Christian polemicist of the later second century, dismisses the resurrection narrative as based on the hallucinations of a ‘hysterical woman’.” (Bruce)
iii. My brethren: It is touching that Jesus referred to His disciples – those who had all forsaken Him, except for John – as His brethren. It’s also touching that Mary understood exactly who He meant.
iv. “I do not remember that the Lord Jesus ever called his disciples his brethren till that time. He called them ‘servants’; he called them ‘friends’; but now that he has risen from the dead, he says, ‘my brethren.’” (Spurgeon)
c. I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God: Jesus did not say, Our Father and God, and therefore pointed out a difference between His relationship with God and the disciples’ relationship with God. The One enthroned in the heavens is certainly their Father and God, but not in the identical way that He is Father and God to Jesus.
i. “He says not ‘Our Father’: in one sense therefore, He is mine, in another sense He is yours; by nature mine, by grace yours… my God, under whom I also am as a man; your God, between whom and you I am a mediator.” (Augustine)
ii. He also made specific mention of His coming ascension. The word of His ascension let them know He was raised never to die again.
C. The disciples meet the risen Jesus.
1. (19) Jesus appears in their midst.
Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
a. The same day at evening: This took place on the same day that the tomb was found empty and Mary met the resurrected Jesus. We are told of five appearances of Jesus on the resurrection day.
· To Mary Magdalene (John 20:11-18).
· To the other women (Matthew 28:9-10).
· To the two on the road to Emmaus (Mark 16:12-13, Luke 24:13-32).
· To Peter (Luke 24:33-35, 1 Corinthians 15:5).
· To ten of the disciples, Thomas being absent (John 20:19-23).
b. Where the disciples were assembled: It was good that the disciples stayed together. Jesus told them that when He departed they must love one another, which assumes that they would stay together (John 15:17). He also prayed for their unity after their departure (John 17:11). This command was fulfilled and prayer was answered, at least in the days immediately after His crucifixion.
c. When the doors were shut: The sense is not only that the doors were shut, but secured and locked against any unwelcome entry. The idea is that the room was secure when suddenly Jesus came and stood in the midst. We aren’t told how Jesus entered the room, but the sense is that it was not in any normal way and that He seemed to simply appear.
i. “When he tells us that the doors were ‘shut’ we should understand this to mean ‘locked’ as the following explanation, that this was due to fear of the Jews, shows.” (Morris)
ii. The doors were shut and locked so they wouldn’t get hurt. Those shut and locked doors also shut out Jesus. Thankfully, Jesus was greater than the shut and locked doors, and made His way in despite them. Still, it’s better to unlock and open the door for Jesus.
iii. “Afterwards, when the Spirit came down upon them, they not only set open the doors, but preached Christ boldly in the temple without dread of danger.” (Trapp)
iv. Jesus came and stood: “The word describes that unseen arrival among them which preceded His becoming visible to them.” (Alford)
v. This strange and miraculous appearance of Jesus apparently was to demonstrate that resurrection bodies are not subject to the same limitations as our present bodies. Since we will be raised in the same manner as Jesus (Romans 6:4, 1 Corinthians 15:42-45), this gives us some hint of the nature of our future body in the resurrection.
vi. “We can scarcely say more than that John wants us to see that the risen Jesus was not limited by closed doors. Miraculously He stood in their midst.” (Morris)
vii. Jesus might have gone anywhere and done anything after His resurrection, but He wanted to be with His people. He sought out His people.
d. Peace be with you: After their desertion of Jesus on the day of His crucifixion, the disciples probably expected words of rebuke or blame. Instead, Jesus brought a word of peace, reconciling peace.
i. “‘Peace to you,’ is an assurance that there is no cause to fear, and that all is well: for they (Luke 24:36) were alarmed by His manifestation.” (Trench)
ii. “Our Master came to his cowardly, faithless disciples, and stood in the midst of them, uttering the cheering salutation, ‘Peace be unto you!’ My soul, why should he not come to thee, though thou be the most unworthy of all whom he has bought with his blood?” (Spurgeon)
2. (20-23) The risen Jesus serves His disciples.
When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
a. He showed them His hands and His side: Jesus assured them He was actually Jesus of Nazareth and that He was really raised from the dead. Jesus did this for more than the 10 disciples present; Luke mentioned this gathering as including not only the disciples but also those who were with them gathered together (Luke 24:33) and that Jesus invited them to actually touch His body to see that it was real (Luke 24:39-40).
i. “Jesus did not come into their midst to show them a new thought, a philosophic discovery, or even a deep doctrine, or a profound mystery, or indeed anything but himself. He was a sacred egoist that day, for what he spake of was himself; and what he revealed was himself.” (Spurgeon)
b. Peace to you! Jesus just gave them the blessing of His peace (John 20:19). Perhaps the emphasis there was to calm their fear and shock at the moment (Luke 24:36). The repetition of this promise makes this gift of peace much larger and more significant. The resurrected Jesus brings peace.
i. “He had faced and defeated all the forces which destroy the peace of man. As He said, ‘Peace be unto you,’ He was doing infinitely more than expressing a wish. He was making a declaration. He was bestowing a benediction. He was imparting a blessing.” (Morgan)
· My sins are forgiven – peace.
· The slavery to sin is broken – peace.
· My Savior takes my fears and cares – peace.
· My life is settled for eternity – peace.
ii. “We must ourselves have peace both inwardly and outwardly, before we can effectively preach the gospel of peace to others.” (Boice)
c. As the Father has sent Me, I also send you: Jesus gave His disciples a mission, to continue His work on this earth. This was the commission to do what Jesus had already prayed for in John 17:18: As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.
i. This means that both then and now, disciples are sent after the pattern of the Father’s sending of the Son. As previously observed on John 17:18, this means that disciples are sent ones – missionaries, after the Latin verb “to send.”
ii. Luke 24:33 described this meeting on the evening of Resurrection Sunday and is important: the eleven and those who were with them gathered together. It means that it was not only the 10 disciples (lacking Judas and Thomas) who received from Jesus the Holy Spirit and this commission. It means that Jesus sends every believer into the world on mission.
iii. As with John 17:18, we think of how Jesus was sent and connect it with the truth, I also send you. We are sent the same way Jesus was.
· Jesus was not sent as a philosopher like Plato or Aristotle, though He knew higher philosophy than them all.
· Jesus was not sent as an inventor or a discoverer, though He could have invented new things and discovered new lands.
· Jesus was not sent as a conqueror, though He was mightier than Alexander or Caesar.
· Jesus was sent to teach.
· Jesus was sent to live among us.
· Jesus was sent to suffer for truth and righteousness.
· Jesus was sent to rescue men.
d. Receive the Holy Spirit: Jesus gave His disciples the Holy Spirit, bringing new life and the ability to carry out their mission. It seems John noted a deliberate connection between this breathing on the disciples and when at creation God breathed life into man. This was a work of re-creation, even as God breathed life into the first man. This is where the disciples were born again.
i. “Intimating, by this, that they were to be made new men, in order to be properly qualified for the work to which he had called them; for in this breathing he evidently alluded to the first creation of man, when God breathed into him the breath of lives.” (Clarke)
ii. “The Greek word is the same as used by the LXX in those two pregnant phrases of the O.T., viz. Genesis 2:7, ‘the Lord God breathed into man’s nostrils the breath (or The Spirit) of Life’; and Ezekiel 37:9, ‘breathe into these slain and they shall live’ (the vision of the Dry Bones).” (Trench)
iii. “At an earlier stage in Jesus’ ministry the evangelist had said, ‘the Spirit was not yet present, because Jesus had not yet been glorified’ (John 7:39): now the time for imparting the Spirit has come.” (Bruce)
iv. They received the same Holy Spirit that was in Jesus; the same Spirit that empowered and enabled all His words and works. “The breathing upon them was meant to convey the impression that His very own Spirit was imparted to them.” (Dods)
e. If you forgive the sins of any: Jesus gave His disciples authority to announce forgiveness and to warn of guilt, as authorized by the Holy Spirit. We can say that Peter’s preaching on Pentecost (Acts 2:38) was an exercise of this promised power to announce forgiveness of sins.
i. The connection with the reception of the Holy Spirit is important. “The words of Jesus emphasize that the Holy Spirit is not bestowed on the church as an ornament but to empower an effective application of the work of Christ to all men.” (Tenney)
ii. This lays down the duty of the church to proclaim forgiveness to the repentant believer, and the duty of the church to warn the unbeliever that they are in danger of forfeiting the mercy of God. We don’t create the forgiveness or deny it; we announce it according to God’s word and the wisdom of the Spirit.
iii. “The Church collectively declares the conditions on which sins are remitted, and with the plenary powers of an ambassador pronounces their remission or their retention.” (Trench)
iv. “He is saying that the Spirit-filled church has the authority to declare which are the sins that are forgiven and which are the sins that are retained. This accords with the Rabbinical teaching which spoke of certain sins as ‘bound’ and others as ‘loosed’.” (Morris)
v. The work of Jesus for His disciples on resurrection Sunday gives an ongoing pattern for His work among His people. Jesus wants to continue this fourfold ministry of assurance, mission, the Holy Spirit and authority to His people today.
3. (24-25) The skepticism of Thomas, the absent disciples.
Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”
a. Thomas… was not with them when Jesus came: We are not told why Thomas was not with them and Thomas was not criticized for his absence.
b. We have seen the Lord: Thomas was not criticized for his absence, but he still missed out. There was a blessing for those present that Thomas did not receive.
i. “Thomas did the very worst thing that a melancholy man can do, went away to brood in a corner by himself, and so to exaggerate all his idiosyncrasies, to distort the proportion of the truth, and hug his despair, by separating himself from his fellows. Therefore he lost what they got, the sight of the Lord.” (Maclaren)
c. Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe: Thomas is often known as Doubting Thomas, a title that misstates his error and ignores what became of him. Here we could say that Thomas didn’t doubt; he plainly and strongly refused to believe.
· Thomas refused the believe the testimony of many witnesses and reliable witnesses.
· Thomas made an extreme demand for evidence; evidence of not only sight but of touch, and to repeatedly touch the multiple wounds of Jesus.
· Thomas steadfastly refused to believe unless these conditions were met (I will not believe).
i. “Normally this is taken to indicate that Thomas was of a more skeptical turn of mind than the others, and, of course, he may have been. But another possibility should not be overlooked, namely that he was so shocked by the tragedy of the crucifixion that he did not find it easy to think of its consequences as being annulled.” (Morris)
ii. “Perhaps he had abandoned hope; – the strong evidence of his senses having finally convinced him that the pierced side and wounded hands betokened such a death that revivification was impossible.” (Alford)
iii. Adam Clarke called Thomas’ unbelief unreasonable, obstinate, prejudiced, presumptuous, and insolent. Still, it was good and significant that Thomas still wanted to be around those who believed.
iv. The unbelief of Thomas was strong, but honestly spoken. It was good that he refused to pretend to believe when he did not believe.
v. Some find it interesting that Thomas made no mention of wounds in the feet of Jesus. “There is no mention in this Gospel, or in Matthew or Luke, of the piercing of the feet. That the feet of Jesus may have been nailed to the cross, rather than fastened with a rope, which was the common practice, is an inference from Luke 24:39.” (Tasker)
4. (26-27) One week later, Jesus speaks to the skeptic Thomas.
And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!” Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.”
a. After eight days: The idea is that Jesus had this meeting with the disciples now including Thomas on the following Sunday. Jesus entered the room in the same mysterious and remarkable way (the doors being shut, and stood in the midst). Jesus also gave the same greeting (Peace to you!).
i. The locked doors of their meeting room show that though they believed Jesus to be raised from the dead, that truth had yet to work its meaning and significance into every area of their thinking and actions.
ii. There is significance in that these two important meetings with Jesus and His assembled disciples took place on Sundays; this is the first indication we have of Sunday meetings of the disciples. “The memory of this coming of the Lord to his disciples may well have something to do with the church’s early practice of meeting together on the evening of the first day of the week and bespeaking his presence with them in the words Marana tha, ‘Our Lord, come!’” (Bruce)
b. Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side: Jesus granted Thomas the evidence he demanded. We suppose that Jesus was not obligated to do this; He could have rightly demanded faith from Thomas on the basis of the reliable evidence from others. Yet in mercy and kindness, Jesus gave Thomas what he asked for.
i. It must have been a surprise to Thomas that Jesus repeated back to him just what he said to the other disciples (John 20:25). Jesus knew the demands and unbelief of Thomas.
ii. “There is no surer way of making a good man ashamed of his wild words than just to say them over again to him when he is calm and cool.” (Maclaren)
iii. Jesus’ interaction with Thomas shows that the resurrected Jesus is full of love and graciousness and gentleness to His people. That didn’t change. “The whole conversation was indeed a rebuke, but so veiled with love that Thomas could scarcely think it so.” (Spurgeon)
iv. There is a clear lesson: When you want assurance, look to the wounds of Jesus. They are evidence of His love, of His sacrifice, of His victory, of His resurrection.
c. Do not be unbelieving, but believing: Jesus clearly commanded Thomas to stop his unbelief and to start believing. Jesus was generous and merciful to Thomas and his unbelief, but Jesus did not praise his unbelief. Jesus wanted to move him from doubt and unbelief to faith.
i. Jesus did not even credit to Thomas his prior belief, or his belief in the prior teaching and miracles of Jesus. Because Thomas did not believe in the resurrected Jesus, Jesus considered him unbelieving.
ii. Often God does not condemn our doubt and He also often reveals and does remarkable things to speak to our doubt and unbelief. But doubt and unbelief are not desired conditions for the disciple of Jesus. If they are checkpoints along a path leading to faith they should be dealt with a generous love; but doubt and unbelief should never be thought of as destinations for the disciple.
5. (28-29) Thomas responds in faith.
And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
a. My Lord and my God: Thomas made an immediate transition from declared unbelief (John 20:25) to radical belief. He addressed Jesus with titles of deity, calling Him Lord and God. It is also significant that Jesus accepted these titles, and did not tell Thomas, “Don’t call Me that.”
i. “Sight may have made Thomas believe that Jesus was risen, but it was something other and more inward than sight that opened his lips to cry, ‘My Lord and my God!’” (Maclaren)
ii. “Thomas now avows the faith which a foretime he had disclaimed. ‘I will not believe,’ said he, ‘except-except- except.’ Now he believes a great deal more than some of the other Apostles did; so he openly avows it. He was the first divine who ever taught the Deity of Christ from his wounds.” (Spurgeon)
iii. “The words are not a mere exclamation of surprise. That is forbidden by [greek text]; they mean, ‘Thou are my Lord and my God’. The repeated pronoun lends emphasis.” (Dods)
iv. “For a Jew to call another human associate ‘my Lord and my God’ would be almost incredible….Thomas, in the light of the Resurrection, applied to Jesus the titles of Lord (kyrios) and God (theos), both of which were titles of deity.” (Tenney)
v. “In Pliny’s letter to Trajan (112 A.D.) he describes the Christians as singing hymns to Christ as God.” (Dods)
vi. Thomas was honest enough to say when he didn’t believe (John 20:25), but also honest enough to follow the evidence to its full meaning. Thomas wasn’t given to half-unbelief or half-faith.
vii. Spurgeon considered many aspects of Thomas’ declaration.
· It was a devout expression of holy wonder.
· It was an expression of immeasurable delight.
· It indicates a complete change of mind.
· It was an enthusiastic profession of allegiance to Christ.
· It was a distinct and direct act of adoration, worship.
viii. “Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he be able to unite with Thomas heartily in this creed, ‘My Lord and my God.’ I do not go in for all the minute distinctions of the Athanasian Creed, but I have no doubt that it was absolutely needful at the time it was written, and that it materially helped to check the evasions and tricks of the Arians. This short creed of Thomas I like much better, for it is brief, pithy, full, sententious, and it avoids those matters of detail which are the quicksands of faith.” (Spurgeon)
b. Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed: Commentators divide over whether or not Thomas actually did as Jesus invited him, to actually touch the wounds of Jesus. That Jesus said, because you have seen Me and not because you have seen and touched Me gives some evidence to the idea that Thomas did not actually touch the wounds of Jesus.
c. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed: There is a special promise blessing given to those who believe. Thomas demanded to see and touch before he would believe in the resurrected Jesus. Jesus understood that the testimony of reliable witnesses was evidence enough, and there was a blessing for those who accepted that sufficient evidence.
i. “I believe He is speaking, not of a subjective faith, but of a satisfied faith. He is speaking of faith that is satisfied with what God provides and is therefore not yearning for visions, miracles, esoteric experiences or various form of success as evidence of God’s favor.” (Boice)
ii. “From this we learn that to believe in Jesus, on the testimony of his apostles, will put a man into the possession of the very same blessedness which they themselves enjoyed. And so has God constituted the whole economy of grace that a believer, at eighteen hundred years’ distance from the time of the resurrection, suffers no loss because he has not seen Christ in the flesh.” (Clarke)
iii. These words of Jesus are another beatitude, and promise a great blessing. Spurgeon considered some ways that this blessing would be diminished.
· When we demand for a voice, a vision, a revelation to prove our faith.
· When we demand for some special circumstances to prove our faith.
· When we demand for some ecstatic experience.
· When we demand for an answer to every difficult question or objection.
· When we demand what men think of as success in our work of Jesus.
· When we demand that others support us in our faith.
iv. The faith of Thomas becomes the climax of the book. Throughout the Gospel of John Jesus has triumphed over sickness, sin, evil men, death and sorrow. Now with Thomas, Jesus conquered unbelief.
6. (30-31) The summary statement of the Gospel of John.
And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.
a. Jesus did many other signs: John admits that he presented an incomplete collection. He couldn’t possibly record in writing all that Jesus said and did (John 21:25).
i. One collects everything possible about a dead prophet; it is all one has of him. But one only tells enough of a living person to introduce one’s hearers to him. John trusts that a personal relationship with Jesus will reveal more to the believer.
ii. In this book: “That this was the original or intended conclusion of the gospel is shown by the use of the words ‘in this book,’ which indicate that the writer was now looking back on it as a whole.” (Dods)
b. These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God: Though there were many other signs, John selected the signs presented in His Gospel to explain Jesus and bring readers to faith in Jesus as Messiah and God. This really isn’t a book about signs – it is a book about Jesus. The signs are helpful as they reveal Jesus.
i. The Gospel – and all of the Bible – was written so that we may believe, not that we might doubt. “There is no text in the whole Book which was intended to create doubt. Doubt is a seed self-sown, or sown by the devil, and it usually springs up with more than sufficient abundance without our care.” (Spurgeon)
ii. John 2:11 speaks of the beginning of signs, and throughout his Gospel John has listed at least seven signs.
· John 2:1-11 – Water into wine.
· John 4:46-54 – Healing of the nobleman’s son.
· John 5:1-15 – Healing at the pool of Bethesda.
· John 6:1-14 – Feeding the 5,000.
· John 6:15-21 – Jesus walks on water.
· John 9:1-12 – Healing of the man born blind.
· John 11:1-44 – Lazarus raised from the dead.
iii. The greatest signs of all were the death and resurrection of Jesus. Collectively, these signs give strong foundation for faith in Jesus as Messiah and God. That faith isn’t a blind leap; it is a reasonable step based on strong evidence.
iv. The Son of God: “The title does not, of course, imply biological descent like that of the Greco-Roman demigods; but the metaphor of sonship expresses the unity of nature, close fellowship, and unique intimacy between Jesus and the Father.” (Tenney)
c. And that believing you may have life in His name: John understood that faith in Jesus as Messiah and God had value beyond the honorable recognition of truth. It also carried the promise of life in His name. This was life that transformed John himself, and he wanted that same life and transformation for all through his Gospel account.
i. This belief isn’t complicated. Our response is as simple as ABC: Accept, Believe, and Commit. It isn’t always easy, but it isn’t complicated.
ii. Life in His name: “Through his name does not mean ‘through the naming of His name’, but through the power of the Person who bears the name. In the Bible the ‘name’ of God is not merely the name by which He is designated, but all that He is in Himself.” (Tasker)
©2018 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission
John 19 – Jesus Is Crucified
Videos for John 19:
A. Jesus is condemned to crucifixion.
1. (1-4) Pilate hopes to satisfy the mob by having Jesus whipped and mocked.
So then Pilate took Jesus and scourged Him. And the soldiers twisted a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and they put on Him a purple robe. Then they said, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they struck Him with their hands. Pilate then went out again, and said to them, “Behold, I am bringing Him out to you, that you may know that I find no fault in Him.”
a. So then Pilate took Jesus and scourged Him: Previously Pilate said of Jesus, I find no fault in Him at all (John 18:38), yet he commanded this severe, brutal punishment for a Man he knew was innocent. It has been suggested that Pilate wanted to help Jesus, hoping the mob would be satisfied with the scourging.
b. Scourged Him: Pilate gave the order, so Jesus was scourged according to Roman practice. The blows came from a whip with many leather strands, each having sharp pieces of bone or metal at the ends. It reduced the back to raw flesh, and it was not unusual for a criminal to die from a scourging, even before crucifixion.
i. Scourging had three purposes. It was used to punish prisoners, and to gain confessions of crimes from prisoners. Also, in cases of crucifixion scourging was used to weaken the victim so he would die more quickly on the cross. Pilate hoped that this punishment of his prisoner would satisfy the crowd. “Neither, then, as part of the capital punishment, nor in order to elicit the truth; but in the ill-judged hope that this minor punishment might satisfy the Jews, Pilate ordered the scourging.” (Dods)
ii. “The victim of this severe punishment was bound in a stooping attitude to a low column and beaten with rods or scourged with whips, the thongs of which were weighted with lead, and studded with sharp-pointed pieces of bone, so that frightful laceration followed each stroke.” (Dods)
iii. “It literally tore a man’s back into strips. Few remained conscious throughout the ordeal; some died; and many went raving mad.” (Barclay)
iv. “It is a further example of the reserve of the Gospels that they use but one word to describe this piece of frightfulness. There is no attempt to play on our emotions.” (Morris)
c. The soldiers twisted a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and they put on Him a purple robe. Then they said, “Hail, King of the Jews!”: Everything about this was intended to humiliate Jesus. The Jewish rulers had already mocked Jesus as the Messiah (Matthew 26:67-68). Now the Roman powers mocked him as king.
· The soldiers twisted a crown of thorns: Kings wear crowns, but not crowns of torture. The specific thorn-bushes of this region have long, hard, sharp thorns. This was a crown that cut, pierced, and bloodied the head of the King who wore it.
· Put on Him a purple robe: Kings and rulers often wore purple, because the dyes to make fabrics that color were expensive. The purple robe was intended as cruel irony.
· “Hail, King of the Jews!” Kings are greeted with royal titles, so in their spite they mocked Jesus with this title. It was meant to humiliate Jesus, but also the Jews – saying, “This is the best King they can bring forth.”
· The soldiers also struck Him with their hands, beating and mocking Jesus simply to gratify cruelty and wickedness.
· The Gospel of Matthew adds that Jesus was stripped, given a reed as mocking a royal scepter, that the soldiers bowed their knee before Jesus, offering mocking homage and honor to Him, and that they spat on Jesus.
i. We can also decide to do the opposite of what these did to Jesus. “Oh, that we were half as inventive in devising honor for our King as these soldiers were in planning his dishonor! Let us offer to Christ the real homage that these men pretended to offer him.” (Spurgeon)
d. That you may know that I find no fault in Him: Pilate repeated the statement first recorded at John 18:38, declaring Jesus innocent of any wrongdoing. As a judge Pilate had both reason and responsibility to set Jesus free with no punishment instead of the humiliation and brutality that He endured.
i. “Pilate made five several attempts to release our Lord; as we may learn from Luke 23:4, 15, 20, 22; John 19:4, 12, 13.” (Clarke)
2. (5-6) Pilate presents Jesus to the crowd.
Then Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And Pilate said to them, “Behold the Man!” Therefore, when the chief priests and officers saw Him, they cried out, saying, “Crucify Him, crucify Him!” Pilate said to them, “You take Him and crucify Him, for I find no fault in Him.”
a. Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe: Pilate presented Jesus to the crowd as One beaten and mocked, with blood, sweat, and spit all over His body. Perhaps Pilate hoped the sad sight would make the crowd feel sorry for Jesus.
i. “This crown He continued to wear to the end: both Origen and Tertullian, two of the earliest Fathers of the Church of east and west, assert that He was crucified with it on His head.” (Trench)
ii. “Many a crown has been secured by blood, and so is this, but it is his own blood; many a throne has been established by suffering, and so is this, but he himself bears the pain.” (Spurgeon)
b. Behold the Man: Pilate invited the crowd to look at this suffering One, and to look with careful consideration (behold). There is a sense in which Pilate spoke for God here, who invites all humanity to behold the Man, to see the Man of men, the Perfect Man, the tested and approved Ideal of all humanity.
i. “The man is contemptuous. Pilate is saying in effect ‘Here he is – the poor fellow. Can you really think that such a caricature of a king is really a danger either to Israel or Rome?’” (Tasker)
ii. “If ye be men, take pity upon a man so miserably misused; and if ye be good men, let him go who is innocent.” (Trapp)
iii. Pilate thought he might save Jesus through humiliating Him. Some modern people also do that; they think that by saying Jesus is not God or that He wasn’t right about everything they can “save” Jesus, keeping Him relevant to a modern, progressive, scientific age. Such attempts are as wrong as what Pilate did.
iv. “Whatever Pilate’s intention, the vision of Jesus failed to arouse in the hearts of the multitude any pity for Him, and the clamored for His death.” (Morgan)
c. When the chief priests and officers saw Him: We aren’t told the immediate reaction of the crowd; perhaps they did feel a moment of sympathy for this remarkable, strong man in such circumstances. Whatever the crowd felt, the religious leaders immediately screamed “Crucify Him, crucify Him!”This was pure hatred, man’s hatred of God.
i. “Some pity may have stirred in the crowd, but the priests and their immediate dependents silenced it by their yell of fresh hate at the sight of the prisoner.” (Maclaren)
ii. “So afterwards the primitive persecutors cried out, Ad bestias, ad bestias, Christianos ad leones, To the beasts, to the beasts, Christians, to the lions, imputing the cause of all public calamities to them, as Tertullian testifieth.” (Trapp)
d. You take Him and crucify Him, for I find no fault in Him: For the third time, Pilate pronounced Jesus innocent of all charges.
i. “Pilate must have realized that the Sanhedrin could not execute the sentence. His apparent relegation of Jesus to them was an act of sarcasm.” (Tenney)
3. (7-11) Pilate learns of the charge against Jesus.
The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to our law He ought to die, because He made Himself the Son of God.” Therefore, when Pilate heard that saying, he was the more afraid, and went again into the Praetorium, and said to Jesus, “Where are You from?” But Jesus gave him no answer.
a. Because He made Himself the Son of God: In John’s account, with this the religious leaders showed their true charge against Jesus. They wanted Him dead not because He claimed to be King of the Jews, but because He claimed to be God, the uniqueSon of God.
i. “It is certain that the Jews understood this in a very peculiar sense. When Christ called himself the Son of God, they understood it to imply positive equality to the Supreme Being.” (Clarke)
b. He was the more afraid: Pilate was not angry or amused when he learned that Jesus made Himselfthe Son of God, he was more afraid of Jesus than ever. Pilate saw something in Jesus – even beaten, bloodied, and spat upon – that made him think that it could be true that the Man before him was more than a man.
i. “It may be that the comparative the more afraid should be given a superlative force, such as it often has in New Testament Greek, and rendered ‘exceedingly afraid’.” (Tasker)
ii. “He can scarcely be called a religious man, but the news that his prisoner had made divine claims scared the governor…every Roman or that day knew of stories of the gods or their offspring appearing in human guise.” (Morris)
c. Where are You from: Pilate wanted Jesus to defend Himself and give Pilate more reasons to let an innocent Man free. He wanted Jesus to explain what made Him different than the dozens of other prisoners Pilate had judged. Yet Jesus already told Pilate that He was King of a kingdom not of this world (John 18:36); Jesus already said where He was from. Therefore, Jesus gave him no answer.
i. Though he already had the answer, one could say Pilate asked the right question. “His question is almost the most pertinent question that can be asked about Him, for to know where Jesus comes from is to know the most important thing about Him.” (Tasker)
4. (10-11) Pilate and Jesus speak about power.
Then Pilate said to Him, “Are You not speaking to me? Do You not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?” Jesus answered, “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above. Therefore the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.”
a. Are You not speaking to me: Pilate couldn’t believe that Jesus would not speak to defend Himself. He couldn’t believe that Jesus would not beg for His life as many others had done. Pilate also couldn’t believe that Jesus was not awed and intimidated by the representative of Rome who judged Him.
i. “Me is very emphatic in the Greek; it is the refusal of Jesus to speak to one who possesses such supreme human authority that amazes Pilate.” (Tasker)
ii. The general silence of Jesus before His accusers and judges fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah 53:7: And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth.
b. Do You not know that I have power: Pilate was amazed that Jesus was not intimidated by his power as judge to condemn and crucify. In his understanding of power, Pilate felt that he held the power position and was mystified that Jesus didn’t see it.
i. Pilate thought he had power, but what he had was the power to do wrong, to do harm. He didn’t have the power to do what was right. The right thing to do was to release an obviously innocent Man instead of sending Him to death, but Pilate was weak before the strength of the religious leaders and the crowd they commanded. To say, “I have power to do what the crowd wants me to do” is to say you have no power at all.
ii. The same man who claimed to have all power tried to wash his hands of the decision (Matthew 27:24) claiming, “I didn’t really want to do this.”
c. You could have no power at all against Me unless it have been given you from above: Jesus answered, explaining the true nature of power to Pilate. In the thinking of the Roman governor, Rome had the power. In reality, God held the power.
i. Jesus understood that Pilate had power; He simply insisted that this power was granted by God and not inherent in Pilate or Rome.
d. The one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin: Jesus didn’t say Pilate was without sin; simply that the religious leaders were guilty of greater sin.
i. “He that delivered me could be a reference either to Judas or Caiaphas and the language of the evangelist seems to be deliberately vague.” (Tasker)
ii. “The verb ‘hand over’ (Gk. paradidomai) has been used repeatedly in the earlier part of the narrative to denote Judas’s act of betrayal.” (Bruce)
5. (12-13) Pilate brings Jesus out for judgment.
From then on Pilate sought to release Him, but the Jews cried out, saying, “If you let this Man go, you are not Caesar’s friend. Whoever makes himself a king speaks against Caesar.” When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus out and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called The Pavement, but in Hebrew, Gabbatha.
a. Pilate sought to release Him: We sense panic in the Roman governor. The panic was greater when his wife told him to let the accused free because of a dream she had (Matthew 27:19-20). He knew this innocent Man, a Man not like any other prisoner he had seen before, should be set free – yet he felt the full force of the crowd and religious leaders demanding His crucifixion.
i. From then on: “Can be interpreted in either a temporal sense ‘from that moment’; or inferentially, as in RSV, ‘Upon this’. The latter is more probable. Pilate is flattered by what Jesus has said in verse 11 and in consequence tries still harder to release Him.” (Tasker)
b. If you let this Man go, you are not Caesar’s friend: By some accounts (such as Boice), Pilate was an unremarkable man who only had his position because he married the granddaughter of the emperor. Holding his position only by relationship, Pilate would be greatly concerned that the relationship was damaged. The religious leaders and the crowd knew Pilate’s weak point and they pressed upon it.
i. “Humanly speaking, the mention of Caesar sealed Jesus’ fate.” (Morris)
ii. “The phrase ‘a friend of Caesar’ was more than a casual allusion to Roman patriotism. It usually denoted a supporter or associate of the emperor, a member of the important inner circle.” (Tenney)
iii. “He wanted so much to be a friend of Caesar. But he was not Caesar’s friend; he barely knew Caesar. And what is even more significant, Caesar was not his friend at all.” (Boice)
c. He brought Jesus out and sat down in the judgment seat: Pilate was ready to deliver his final judgment, presenting Jesus both before the crowd and the judgment seat. In truth it was Pontius Pilate who was on judgment, not Jesus Himself.
i. Gabbatha: “That is, an elevated place; from gabah, high, raised up; and it is very likely that the judgment seat was considerably elevated in the court, and that the governor went up to it by steps; and perhaps these very steps were what was called the Pavement.” (Clarke)
6. (14-16) The crowd rejects Jesus and Pilate sentences Him to death.
Now it was the Preparation Day of the Passover, and about the sixth hour. And he said to the Jews, “Behold your King!” But they cried out, “Away with Him, away with Him! Crucify Him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar!” Then he delivered Him to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus and led Him away.
a. It was the Preparation Day of the Passover: This again raises the difficult chronological questions previous mentioned at John 18:28. John’s point is nevertheless clear: the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29) is ready for sacrifice at Passover.
i. About the sixth hour: This introduces a point of some controversy, because Mark states the crucifixion was at the third hour (Mark 15:25). Several attempts have been made to reconcile John 19:14 and Mark 15:25.
· Some think John and Mark used different reckonings of time. “Westcott gives good reasons for supposing that this evangelist, instead of reckoning hours from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., and 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., as was the Jewish custom, reckoned them from midnight to noon, and noon to midnight – a practice which we know from the Martyrdom of Polycarp was in use in Asia Minor at the time that document was written, and which is still followed in the West today. On this reckoning, it was… about 6 a.m. when Pilate passed sentence on Jesus.” (Tasker)
· Some think that John and Mark never intended exact markers of time. “The ‘third hour’ may denote nothing more firm than a time about the middle of the morning, while ‘about the sixth hour’ can well signify getting on towards noon. Late morning would suit both expressions unless there were some reason for thinking that either was being given with more than usual accuracy. No such reason exists here.” (Morris)
· Some think the problem is with early errors by copyists of the text and John originally wrote the third hour. “We must certainly suppose, as did Eusebius, Theophylact, and Severus, that there has been some very early erratum in our copies; whether the interchange of 3 and 6, which when expressed in Greek numerical letters, are not unlike one another, or some other, cannot now be determined.” (Alford)
b. Behold your King: Pilate offered this sacrificial Lamb before the people for their inspection. He may have meant to mock Jesus and the crowd, presenting a thorn-crowned, bloodied and beaten Man with a purple rag across His ripped-open back as their King. The crowd saw Jesus in all His misery and dignity and responded by screaming, Away with Him, away with Him! Crucify Him!
i. “The words Behold your King seem to have been spoken in irony to the Jews – in the same spirit in which afterwards the title was written over the cross.” (Alford)
ii. But they cried out: “Probably the well-attested imperfect tense should be followed, giving the sense ‘they kept shouting’. It was the persistence of the Jews in making a political issue of the case that was wearing Pilate out.” (Tasker)
iii. There are times when people are angry enough with God and His goodness that they think or wish Him dead. It is far more common for people to simply want God to disappear; for people to wish away with Him, away with Him!
c. We have no king but Caesar: The crowd rejected Jesus and chose Barabbas, a revolutionary against Rome. In the crazy and contradictory manner common among crowds, they both chose the revolutionary and swore allegiance to Caesar.
i. “Driven by hate, they deliberately disown their Messianic hope, and repudiate their national glory. They who will not have Christ have to bow to a tyrant. Rebellion against Him brings slavery.” (Maclaren)
d. Then he delivered Him to be crucified: It appeared that Jesus was on trial before Pilate, but in an even greater sense Pilate was on trial before Jesus. Pilate failed his test. In fear of the crowd he sent a Man he knew to be innocent to a tortured death. Thus the ancient creed notes, Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilate.
i. “You may do today exactly what Pilate did. He is simply an example of a man who lacks decision of character, who does not possess the courage of his convictions, who tries to compromise with wrong, who disobeys conscience through fear of personal loss.” (Erdman)
B. The crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth.
1. (17-18) Jesus is crucified.
And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha, where they crucified Him, and two others with Him, one on either side, and Jesus in the center.
a. And He, bearing His cross: According to Roman custom Jesus carried His cross from the place of sentencing to the place of crucifixion, the Place of a Skull. Before the Romans put a man on a cross, they put the cross on the man, forcing him to carry it in a public procession intended to draw attention to the condemned, his crime, and his fate.
i. “It was normally the cross-piece (patibulum), and not the complete gibbet, that the condemned man carried into the place of execution; the upright stakes were probably standing there already.” (Bruce)
ii. “Since Tertullian (adv. Jud., 10) a type of this has been found in Isaac’s carrying the wood for the sacrifice.” (Dods)
b. They crucified Him: The Persians invented crucifixion, but one could say that the Romans perfected it and made it an institution. It was the form of execution reserved for the worst criminals and the lowest classes. Crucifixion was designed to make the victim die publically, slowly, with great pain and humiliation. This was the form of death God ordained for Jesus to die, and the death that He submitted to in the will of God.
i. Crucifixion was so awful and degrading that polite Romans wouldn’t talk about it in public. The Roman statesman Cicero said of crucifixion: “It is a crime to bind a Roman citizen; to scourge him is an act of wickedness; to execute him is almost murder: What shall I say of crucifying him? An act so abominable it is impossible to find any word adequately to express.” The Roman historian Tacitus called crucifixion “A torture fit only for slaves.”
ii. The Gospel writers do not give a detailed explanation of crucifixion. There were several reasons for this.
· Their original readers were familiar with the practice, so they needed no explanation.
· The Gospel writers take care to not use language or descriptions that could manipulate the emotions; they simply tell the story.
· The greater suffering of Jesus was inward and spiritual; even greater than His outward and physical suffering.
iii. Archaeologists discovered in 1968 the remains of a man crucified in Jesus’ era. The study of the remains revealed that the victim was nailed to the cross in a sitting position, both legs over sideways, with the nail penetrating the sides of both feet just below the heel. The arms were stretched out, each stabbed by a nail in the forearm. Dr. Nico Hass, Hebrew University anatomy professor described it as “a compulsive position, a difficult and unnatural posture,” meant to increase the agony of the sufferer. (Tenney and others)
iv. “There was a horn-like projection (the sedile), which the crucified man straddled. This took some of the weight of the body and prevented the flesh from tearing from the nails.” (Morris)
v. According to Dr. William Edwards in the Journal of the American Medical Association, death from crucifixion could come from many sources: acute shock from blood loss, being too exhausted to breathe any longer, dehydration, stress-induced heart attack, or congestive heart failure leading to a cardiac rupture. If the victim did not die quickly enough, the legs were broken, and the victim was soon unable to breathe and died of suffocation.
c. And two others with Him, one on either side, and Jesus in the center: There were three scheduled for crucifixion on that day, the two others and Barabbas. Jesus took the place of Barabbas. This was another way that Jesus was identified with sinners in His death.
i. “The whole of humanity was represented there: the sinless Saviour, the saved penitent, the condemned impenitent.” (Plummer, cited in Dods)
d. And Jesus in the center: This was literally true; of the three crosses, Jesus was in the middle. Yet as a concept, there are many ways that it could be said that it was Jesus in the center.
· Jesus was centered among humanity. Jesus never distanced Himself from common men, and freely interacted with those thought to be great men. From His incarnation, through His whole life, He lived as one of us. Jesus died among men and women, Jews and Gentiles, rich and poor, high class and no class, the educated and the uneducated, the religious and the secular, the guilty and the innocent, the weepers and the mockers, those deeply moved and those indifferent, those who hated Him and those who loved Him.
· Jesus was centered among sinful men. His enemies thought this would make His sufferings worse. They thought it would bother Him more to see the low company He died with. In His death the righteously religious mocked Him and His disciples forsook Him; yet Jesus was centered among sinners to the end.
· Jesus was centered among confusion. Matthew 27:46-49 says tells us that when Jesus cried out in agony to His Father, the people around Him didn’t understand and some even thought it kind of amusing.
· Jesus was centered between believing and rejecting. Matthew 27:44 told us that both robbers mocked Him, but Luke 23:39-41 tells us of a change in one of the criminals. The last human voice testifying to Jesus was a criminal converted right before his death. The disciples were gone and all Jesus healed and taught were nowhere to be found. The religious leaders mocked Him and spit upon Him, and even the faithful women were silenced by their grief. Yet there was one lone human voice that told the truth about Jesus when all others were silent.
· Jesus was centered between saved and perishing. The thief on the cross was the last companion of Jesus on this earth before His death – and Jesus brought Him to salvation. Not with a sermon, but with every sermon He had already preached, every righteous deed He had done before. This was perhaps the only comfort to Jesus on the cross. Still, one thief was saved, but one was lost, and Jesus was in the center between them. To pass between one side and the other, you must go through Jesus.
· Jesus was centered between God and man. Jesus on the cross took all the punishment our sin deserved. At the cross Jesus was both the priest and the offering.
· Jesus was centered in all God’s history and work. We do not look at Jesus in the center with pity, as if we should all feel sorry for poor Jesus. He was the winner at the cross. This was the greatest victory of all time.
2. (19-22) Pilate’s public description of Jesus and His supposed crime.
Now Pilate wrote a title and put it on the cross. And the writing was: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. Then many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. Therefore the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but, ‘He said, “I am the King of the Jews.”’” Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”
a. Now Pilate wrote a title and put it on the cross: This was according to Roman custom. The one to be crucified had his crime written out and the title hung around his neck as he carried his cross to the place of death. Then the title was placed at the top of the cross, so all would know the reason for the crucifixion.
i. “It was customary for the condemned person to wear a placard giving his name and the nature of his crime.” (Tenney)
ii. “A board whitened with gypsum such as were commonly used for public notices.” (Dods)
b. The writing was: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS: Pilate wrote the name of Jesus, the same name by which He was identified and arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane (John 18:5). He also wrote what was said to be the crime of Jesus, (at least in the original charge brought to him) that He claimed to be King of the Jews (John 18:33-34).
i. Even in His death, Jesus was identified with humble and obscure Nazareth. Even in His death, Jesus was recognized as a King. Kings of this world take their throne through others dying. Jesus was proclaimed as King to the whole world through His own death.
ii. The title was also a proper justification of the sinless nature of Jesus. On either side were criminals with descriptions of their crimes; on the cross of Jesus it simply described who He was, which was no crime at all because it was true.
c. Many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city: The Romans wanted crucifixion to be a public event. They wanted many to see the wretched victim, read of their crime, and be warned. This also confirms that Jesus was crucified outside the walls of the city (Hebrews 13:12), but close to the city and likely close to an often-used road.
d. It was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin: Pilate wanted this statement regarding Jesus to be as public as possible. This is also an unknowing prophecy of how the message of Jesus Christ and Him crucified and reigning as King would be published to every nation and language, that it was from the beginning intended as a global message.
i. “Aramaic, for the local inhabitants; Latin, for the officials; Greek, the lingua franca of the eastern Mediterranean world.” (Tenney)
ii. “In Hebrew, for the Jews who gloried in the law; in Greek, for the Grecians who gloried in wisdom; in Latin, for the Romans who most gloried in dominion and power.” (Trapp)
iii. Ancients such as the Romans often used abbreviations, so it may be difficult to recreate the exact letters.
e. Do not write, “The King of the Jews,” but, “He said, ‘I am the King of the Jews’”: The religious leaders objected to Pilate’s title. They felt it was false, because they did not believe that Jesus was the King of the Jews. They also believed it was demeaning, because it showed Rome’s power to humiliate and torture even the “King of the Jews.”
f. What I have written, I have written: Pilate finally found the courage to stand up to the Jewish rulers, but on a relatively unimportant matter. One may say that despite himself, Pilate honored the King of Truth (John 18:37) with this true description of who He was, in both His humility and His glory.
i. “That is, I will not alter what I have written. The Roman laws forbad the sentence to be altered when once pronounced; and as this inscription was considered as the sentence pronounced against our Lord, therefore, it could not be changed.” (Clarke)
3. (23-24) Soldiers divide Jesus’ clothing in fulfillment of prophecy.
Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His garments and made four parts, to each soldier a part, and also the tunic. Now the tunic was without seam, woven from the top in one piece. They said therefore among themselves, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be,” that the Scripture might be fulfilled which says:
“They divided My garments among them,
And for My clothing they cast lots.”
Therefore the soldiers did these things.
a. Then the soldiers: A Roman crucifixion was supervised by soldiers, both to keep order and to make sure the condemned actually died.
b. Took His garments: On the cross, Jesus retained no material possessions. Even the clothes on his back were taken and His tunic was awarded by a bit of petty gambling.
i. “Men were ordinarily crucified naked (Artemidorus II. 61). Jewish sensitivities, however, dictated that men ought not to be publicly executed completely naked, and men condemned to stoning were permitted a loin-cloth (M. Sanhedrin VI. 3). Whether the Romans were considerate of Jewish feelings in this matter is unknown.” (Lane, commentary on Luke)
ii. “Apuleius has the comparison ‘naked as a new-born babe or as the crucified.’” (Dods)
iii. This shows that Jesus came all the way down the ladder to accomplish our salvation. He let go of everything – even His last bit of clothing – becoming completely poor for us that we could become completely rich in Him. 2 Corinthians 8:9 says it like this: For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.
c. The tunic was without seam, woven from the top in one piece: The main garment Jesus wore (the tunic) was made well enough that it was better to not tear it into four parts, as each of the four soldiers had already received one of His other garments.
i. Jesus’ seamless tunic reminds us of His role as our great High Priest, because Exodus 28:31-32 tells us that the High Priest wore a seamless garment.
d. Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be: The soldiers did this in an unknowing fulfillment of the prophecy of Psalm 22:18. As the Son of God died for the sins of the world men carelessly laughed and played games at His feet.
4. (25-27) Jesus entrusts His mother into John’s care.
Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.
a. There stood by the cross of Jesus His mother: It is difficult to comprehend the agony of Mary as she saw her Son crucified. She was witness to the pain, humiliation, shame, suffering, and death of her Son.
i. As Mary and Joseph brought their newborn son Jesus to the temple for dedication, a godly man named Simeon saw Jesus, took Him in his arms, and blessed the baby Jesus. Yet he also said this to Mary: Yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also (Luke 2:35). Mary experienced this throughout the ministry of her Son as He was rejected, opposed, slandered, and plotted against. Yet this was the ultimate fulfillment of that solemn promise. Of all those who looked upon Jesus at the cross, none suffered as Mary did.
b. His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene: These faithful women were there with Jesus through His agony on the cross, to honor Him and to support His mother Mary. Mary the wife of Clopas and Mary Magdalene were also among those who first discovered the empty tomb, evidence of the resurrection of Jesus.
i. “It is probable that ‘his mother’s sister’ here is to be equated with Salome (Mark 15:40), and that she was ‘the mother of the sons of Zebedee’ (Matthew 27:56), who was standing at a distance with the other women when Jesus died.” (Morris)
c. The disciple whom He loved standing by: This was the author John’s humble way to refer to himself in the story, as he does four times in his Gospel (John 13:23, 19:26, 21:7, 21:20). John told us that he was at Jesus’ crucifixion and saw these things with his own eyes (John 19:35).
d. He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son”: Jesus consciously cared for His mother to the end, showing that even on the cross His attention was directed to others and not upon Himself. If there was ever a moment when Jesus deserved to be self-focused, this was it; yet He remained others-centered to the end.
i. Clarke on Woman, behold your son: “It conveys no idea of disrespect, nor of unconcern, as has been commonly supposed. In the way of compellation, man! and woman! were titles of as much respect among the Hebrews as sir! and madam! are among us.” (Clarke)
ii. Clarke also suggested that Jesus did not call her mother from the cross because the sound of that name in those circumstances would only add to her agony.
iii. “There was no specific direction given to John to entertain Mary. It was quite enough for the Lord to call his attention to her by saying ‘Behold thy mother.’ How I wish we were always in such a state of heart that we did not need specific precepts, a hint would suffice.” (Spurgeon)
e. From that hour that disciple took her to his own home: John and Mary each obeyed this solemn command of Jesus from the cross, though it was a remarkable thing that Jesus commanded. Mary had other children born after Jesus, and there are references to both the half brothers and sisters of Jesus (Matthew 12:46-47, 13:55-56, John 2:12 and 7:3-10). Despite this, Jesus left the care of His mother Mary to John the disciple and apostle.
· Perhaps Jesus did this to emphasize that our relationships in Him and in the Kingdom are even more important than those by blood.
· Perhaps Jesus did this to honor the one disciple (we know of) who was courageous enough to stand with Jesus and be present at the crucifixion.
· Perhaps Jesus did this because His siblings did not follow Him as disciples during His earthly ministry and did not yet believe on Him, and Jesus wanted to leave His mother with a believer.
· Perhaps Jesus did this knowing that John was the only disciple who would die a natural death and would outlive even the siblings of Jesus.
· Perhaps Jesus did this out of simple wisdom and foresight.
i. Behold your mother! Significantly, Jesus did not need to tell John, “Take care of My mother.” All Jesus needed to do was describe the new relationship and He knew the rest would properly follow. In the same way, there are many commands for a holy life that Jesus need not specifically give to us; if the relationship is ordered right, the conduct will flow from it.
ii. “There was no specific direction given to John to entertain Mary. It was quite enough for the Lord to call his attention to her by saying ‘Behold thy mother.’ How I wish we were always in such a state of heart that we did not need specific precepts, a hint would suffice.” (Spurgeon)
5. (28-30) Jesus’ great proclamation and death.
After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I thirst!” Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth. So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.
a. Knowing that all things were now accomplished: Jesus knew that His great work, His life and death work on the cross was fulfilled. He then made preparation to yield His life and die, having finished the work.
· There was a time before all things were accomplished (Luke 12:50).
· There was a time when all things were accomplished, when Jesus actually became the target of God’s wrath and judgment of sin, when He who knew no sin became sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21).
· There was a time after all things were now accomplished and Jesus successfully offered Himself as a substitute sin offering for humanity.
b. I thirst: Jesus didn’t accept a pain-numbing drink at the beginning of His ordeal (Mark 15:23), but now He accepted a taste of greatly diluted wine, to wet parched lips and a dry throat so He could make one final announcement to the world with a clear, loud voice.
i. “Thirst is a common-place misery, such as may happen to peasants or beggars; it is a real pain, and not a thing of a fancy or a nightmare of dreamland. Thirst is no royal grief, but an evil of universal manhood; Jesus is brother to the poorest and most humble of our race.” (Spurgeon)
ii. “Appetite was the door of sin, and therefore in that point our Lord was put to pain. With ‘I thirst’ the evil is destroyed and receives its expiation.” (Spurgeon)
iii. A vessel full of sour wine was sitting there: “The mention of the vessel betrays the eye-witness.” (Dods)
iv. Sour wine: “It is, of course, not to be confused with the drugged wine, the ‘wine mingled with myrrh’ of Mark 15:23, which Jesus refused, but was the wine take to the cross by the soldiers for their own refreshment during what normally was a long time of waiting.” (Tasker)
v. Put it on hyssop: “The very mention of hyssop would take the thoughts of any Jew back to the saving blood of the Passover lamb.” (Barclay)
vi. We can connect all things were now accomplished with the words I thirst. When Jesus said I thirst, the worst was over – the price had been paid and He was ready to announce it. When the sinner says “I thirst” the worst is over, because if they bring their thirsty soul to Jesus He will satisfy.
c. It is finished! Jesus’ final word (tetelestai in the ancient Greek) was the cry of a winner. Jesus had finished the eternal purpose of the cross. It stands today as a finished work, the foundation of all Christian peace and faith, paying in full the debt we righteously owed to God and making peace between God and man.
i. A single word can change everything. “Not guilty” in a court of law changes everything. “Fair” on the playing field changes everything. When a woman says “Yes” to a marriage proposal it changes everything. “Goodbye” can change everything. Yet, there has never been a single-word said that has impacted history than what Jesus said in John 19:30.
ii. At some point before He died, before the veil was torn in two, before He cried out it is finished, an awesome spiritual transaction took place. God the Father laid upon God the Son all the guilt and wrath our sin deserved, and He bore it in Himself perfectly, totally satisfying the wrath of God for us.
iii. “It was a Conqueror’s cry; it was uttered with a loud voice. There is nothing of anguish about it, there is no wailing in it. It is the cry of One who has completed a tremendous labor.” (Spurgeon)
iv. “Jesus died with the cry of the Victor on His lips. This is not the moan of the defeated, nor the sigh of patient resignation. It is the triumphant recognition that He has now fully accomplished the work that He came to do.” (Morris)
v. “The verb telew (teleo, ‘to finish’) was used in first and second centuries in the sense of ‘fulfilling’ or ‘paying’ a debt and often appeared in receipts. Jesus’ statement ‘It is finished’ (tetelestai, tetelestai) could be interpreted as ‘Paid in full.’” (Tenney)
vi. It was all finished, paid in full, accomplished.
· The types, promises, and prophecies were finished.
· The sacrifices and ceremonies of the priesthood were finished.
· His perfect obedience was finished.
· The satisfaction of God’s justice was finished.
· The power of Satan, sin, and death was finished.
vii. “From the gates of Eden the blood of sacrifice had begun to flow, augmented by the confluent streams of the years. From that moment, however, not another drop need be shed. The types were finished now that the Antitype had been realized.” (Meyer)
viii. “Has he finished his work for me? Then I must get to work for him, and I must persevere until I finish my work, too; not to save myself, for that is all done, but because I am saved.” (Spurgeon)
d. Bowing His head: This speaks of a peaceful act, like lying down on a pillow to sleep. Jesus did not hang His head in defeat; He bowed it in peace.
i. “Elsewhere in the Gospels the same phrase as is here used of Jesus’ reclining his head in death us used of reclining one’s head in sleep (Matthew 8:20; Luke 9:28, ‘the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head’); the implication here may be that he voluntarily reclines his head, ready now to sleep the sleep of death.” (Bruce)
ii. Bowing His head: “We have the minuteness of an eye-witness, on whom every particular of this solemn moment made and indelible impression.” (Alford)
e. Gave up His spirit: No one took Jesus’ life from Him; He, in a manner unlike any man, gave up His spirit. Death had no righteous hold over the sinless Son of God. He stood in the place of sinners, but was never a sinner Himself. So He could not die unless He gave up His spirit.
i. As Jesus said, I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. (John 10:17-18)
ii. “He gave up his life because He willed it, when He willed it, and as He willed it.” (Augustine)
iii. “No one took His life from Him: His death was a voluntary surrender: a surrender which He had authority to make, because the authority to surrender His life was accompanied with an authority to resume it (John 10:18).” (Trench)
iv. Jesus work as a substitute on the cross, connected to His yielding to death on the cross, made for the the most important act of this most important life. This is reflected even in ancient secular histories. The existing mentions of Jesus in ancient extra-biblical literature each highlight His death on the cross.
· A letter written by Mara bar Serapion to his son (ca. AD 73).
· Josephus, the Jewish historian (ca. AD 90).
· Tacitus, the Roman historian (ca. AD 110-120).
· The Babylonian Talmud (ca. AD 200).
C. Immediately after the death of Jesus by crucifixion.
1. (31-32) The need to remove the bodies from their crosses.
Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who was crucified with Him.
a. Because it was the Preparation Day: This refers back to John’s statement at John 19:14 and raises the same difficult chronological questions previous mentioned at John 18:28.
b. That the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath: Normally those executed by crucifixion remained affixed to their cross for days as a grim warning of the consequences of disobeying the Roman government. Yet because of the approaching Sabbath (and because it was a high day, associated with Passover and its week), the religious leaders demanded that the Romans take away the disgusting sight of three crucified men.
i. “Their consciences were not wounded by the murder of Jesus, but they were greatly moved by the fear of ceremonial pollution. Religious scruples may live in a dead conscience.” (Spurgeon)
c. The Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken: The breaking of the legs of a crucified man hastened his death because he could not support himself from his legs or feet helping him to take a better breath.
i. “The only way a crucified man would obtain a full breath of air was to raise himself by means of his legs to ease the tension on his arms and chest muscles. If the legs were broken, he could not possibly do so; and death would follow shortly because of lack of oxygen.” (Tenney)
d. The soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other: Answering the request of the religious leaders, the soldiers hastened the death of the men on either side of Jesus.
i. This was brutal work for rough men. They likely used an iron bar or a heavy club. “To secure speedy death the crucifragium, breaking of the legs with a heavy mallet or bar, was sometimes resorted to: as without such means the crucified might in some cases linger for thirty-six hours.” (Dods) This breaking of the legs must have been terrifying for a man still alive on a cross.
ii. “Lactantius says. l. iv. c. 26, that it was a common custom to break the legs or other bones of criminals upon the cross; and this appears to have been a kind of coup de grace, the sooner to put them out of pain.” (Clarke)
iii. The archeological finding referenced at John 19:18 “Was apparently subjected to this treatment: one of his legs had sustained a clean fracture from a single blow with also cracked the other.” (Bruce)
iv. “The penitent thief entered into Paradise that very day, but it was not without suffering; say, rather, that the terrible stroke was the actual means of the prompt fulfillment of his Lord’s promise to him. By that blow he died that day; else might he have lingered long.” (Spurgeon)
2. (33-34) The confirmation of the death of Jesus of Nazareth.
But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out.
a. They came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead: These soldiers had (presumably) supervised many executions on the cross. They knew when a man had died and when he was still alive. It was their experienced judgment that said Jesus was already dead.
i. Mark 15:44-45 add that Pontius Pilate asked the supervising centurion for confirmation of the death of Jesus, and the centurion confirmed that He was dead.
b. One of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear: The customary way to make sure of the death of a crucified man was to club and break the legs. After doing so to the first two victims, it was entirely normal for this soldier to do the same to Jesus – he was even presumably ordered to do it. Yet he did not; instead he pierced His side with a spear and unwittingly fulfilled several prophecies, mentioned below.
i. “As the wound inflected by this spear thrust seems to have been a hand-breadth wide (John 20:25) it may be presumed the soldier meant to make sure that Jesus was dead by giving Him a thrust which itself would have been fatal.” (Dods)
c. Immediately blood and water came out: This was taken as absolute confirmation that Jesus was dead. The gash in His side from the point of the spear flowed forth with a substance that looked like blood, and a substance that looked like water.
i. There are some who regard this as something of an on-the-spot autopsy of Jesus, revealing that His actual cause of death was of a ruptured (burst) heart. The thinking is that in such cases, the sack surrounding the heart (normally filled with a watery substance) fills with blood. If that sack is opened and its contents allowed to flow outside the body, it would look like an issue of blood and water (because the two substances do not mix, something like oil and water). Normally this would be a trickle; perhaps there was something supernatural at work to demonstrate this sign.
ii. Augustus Toplady used this image in his great hymn, Rock of Ages:
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy riven side which flowed
Be of sin the double cure,
Cleanse me from its guilt and power
iii. Toplady’s idea is prominent under the Old Covenant, where both blood and water were often used in the priestly service of atoning for and cleansing of sin. “Take all the types of the Old Testament together, and you will gather this, that the purification of sin was typically set forth by blood and water. Blood was conspicuous always, you have no remission of sin without it: but water was exceedingly prominent also.” (Spurgeon)
iv. Spurgeon gave an additional thought of what this shows us: “One of these old divines says that Jesus Christ was typified by our first father, Adam. As Adam fell asleep, and out of his side Eve was taken, so Jesus slept upon the cross the sleep of death, and from his side, where the spear was thrust, his Church was taken.”
3. (35-37) John’s solemn assurance; the fulfillment of Scripture.
And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you may believe. For these things were done that the Scripture should be fulfilled, “Not one of His bones shall be broken.” And again another Scripture says, “They shall look on Him whom they pierced.”
a. He who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you may believe: John gave solemn assurance that he was present at the crucifixion of Jesus and saw these things with his own eyes. He also explained the reason for his testimony: so that the reader may believe.
i. In particular, the sight of the blood and water mentioned in the previous verses had an impact on John. Later in one of his letters (1 John 5:6) he described Jesus as He who came by water and blood. This description has puzzled many commentators, unsure if John meant the waters of baptism or the water mentioned in John 19:34.
ii. Nevertheless, the manner and certainty of the death of Jesus is an essential part of our Christian belief. This is truly so that you may believe. What John has told us about the death of Jesus to this point already leads us to belief.
· The innocence of Jesus leads us to believe.
· His great dignity under suffering leads us to believe.
· The manner of His death – crucifixion – leads us to believe.
· The title on His cross leads us to believe.
· The gambling for His clothes leads us to believe.
· The love for His mother leads us to believe.
· The cry, “It is finished!” leads us to believe.
· His peaceful giving up of His spirit leads us to believe.
· The certainty of His death leads us to believe He was really resurrected from the dead.
b. These things were done that the Scripture should be fulfilled: Remarkably, what seemed to be a random choice by an anonymous Roman soldier – to pierce the side of Jesus instead of breaking His legs – was done that the Scripture should be fulfilled.
c. Not one of His bones shall be broken: This prophecy of Psalm 34:20 (as well as Exodus 12:46 and Numbers 9:12) was unknowingly and accidently (on man’s part) fulfilled. Nevertheless, its exact fulfillment shows the providence and guidance of God, and leads us to believe.
i. The Roman soldier was commanded to break the legs of the crucified men, yet for some reason he did not break Jesus’ legs. This was a remarkable fulfillment of prophecy.
d. They shall look on Him whom they pierced: This prophecy of Zechariah 12:10 and 13:6 was unknowingly and accidently (on man’s part) fulfilled. Nevertheless, its exact fulfillment shows the providence and guidance of God, and leads us to believe.
i. “The piercing has been done, but the ‘looking upon’ with ‘mourning’ and ‘supplication,’ such as Zechariah foretells, lies in the yet future.” (Trench)
4. (38-42) Jesus is lovingly buried by two hesitant disciples.
After this, Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took the body of Jesus. And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds. Then they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in strips of linen with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury. Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. So there they laid Jesus, because of the Jews’ Preparation Day, for the tomb was nearby.
a. Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly: In this final step of the earthly work of Jesus before His resurrection, the Son of God remained passive. God raised up two previously secret disciples (Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus) to receive the body of Jesus and give it the best burial they could in the short time they had before sundown and the start of Sabbath (Luke 23:54).
b. Asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: Customarily, the bodies of crucified criminals were left on their crosses to rot or be eaten by wild animals. But the Jews wanted no such horror displayed during the Passover season, and Romans were known to grant the corpses of executed men to friends or relatives for proper burial.
i. “The Roman custom was to leave the body to birds and beasts of prey.” (Dods)
ii. “The Jews of that day regarded proper burial of the dead as most important. Many went out of their way to see that fellow-countrymen received proper burial, and this may have had something to do with Joseph’s action.” (Morris)
iii. God used these men to protect the body of Jesus. “As Achilles dragged Hector by the heels round the walls of Troy, so would Satan have liked that men should have mauled the dead body of Christ. He would have cast him to the dogs or to the kites if he could have had his way; but so it must not be.” (Spurgeon)
c. Then they took the body of Jesus: It is not precisely said, but the implication is that Joseph and Nicodemus did this themselves. They were wealthy and influential men (Matthew 27:57, Mark 15:43, John 3:1) who could find servants to do the work for them; yet they did this themselves.
i. “The narrative implies, though it does not mention (as St. Mark and St. Luke do), that Joseph himself took the Body from the cross.” (Alford)
ii. The removal of the bloody, dirty body of Jesus from the cross and the iron spikes that held it must have been difficult both practically and emotionally.
d. Bound it in strips of linen with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury: Joseph and Nicodemus did what they could to wrap the body of Jesus with the myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds Nicodemus brought. Before the body was wrapped it had to be prepared. One of the customs of the Jews in preparing a body for burial is the requirement to remove all foreign matter from the body and to carefully wash it.
i. They examined His entire body and found broken pieces of thorn all over the head. They saw His bloody, matted hair; the terrible bruising of the face, the areas of beard pulled out, the dry and cracked lips. They turned the body over to see His shoulders and arms are riddled with splinters; each one was removed with care. The back, from the shoulders down, was a bloody open wound from the terrible scourging suffered before the crucifixion. His hands and feet were smashed and bloodied. On the front – just beneath the rib cage – there was a gaping wound made from the spear thrust that confirmed His death. Worst of it all were the eyes that did not open; the voice that did not speak.
ii. We can only imagine what deep, life-long impressions this left upon both men and how for the rest of their life the smell of those particular spices would bring back every mental detail.
iii. As these two men did this – men who were experts in the law – they must have known that they were fulfilling prophecy; the prophecy in Isaiah 53:9 that said the Messiah would be with the rich at His death. Here the body of Jesus was, at the hands of two rich men – who customarily would have had a servant do such humble, bloody work. Yet they knew they had to do it themselves.
iv. This was a strange work for these two men to do; yet it was also strange that Jesus, in the plan of Godhead, passively submitted to it. Conceivably, after Jesus accomplished all things and yielded His life, Jesus could have sprung from the cross in a super-hero like flash of power and glory five minutes – or five seconds – after His death. Yet in the plan of God the Father, He hung lifeless on the cross for some period of time – long enough for Joseph to gain an audience with Pilate and receive permission to take the body. He hung on that cross until His body was laboriously removed, and hurriedly buried according to Jewish custom.
v. In God’s plan this burial of Jesus was so important that it is said to be one of the essential components of the gospel itself (1 Corinthians 15:3-4. We can consider many reasons for this.
· This burial fulfilled the Scripture. Isaiah 53:9 says, And they made His grave with the wicked; so that meant the Messiah would be buried in a grave – and He was.
· This burial fulfilled the promise, the prediction of Jesus. Jesus said that He, like Jonah, would be buried away for three days (Matthew 12:40), and so it had to be fulfilled.
· This burial demonstrated that Jesus was truly dead; it was proof of the glory of the coming resurrection. No one could tell Joseph of Arimathea or Nicodemus that Jesus did not really die.
· This burial was important because burial spices and preparations protected His holy body from decay; as it was said in Psalm 16:10: You will not allow Your Holy One to see decay.
· This burial gave both Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus a way to proclaim their relationship with Jesus; it called them out of their state of secret discipleship.
· This burial and the days of Jesus in the tomb tested the faith and devotion of the disciples; it made them die a certain kind of death for those days they knew Jesus lay in the tomb.
· This burial and the days of Jesus in the tomb were ways to prove that at the cross Jesus defeated not only sin, but also death. The burial and the empty tomb show that Jesus conquered sin and death.
· The days in the tomb were important because there was important work for Jesus to do during that time in the tomb. 1 Peter 3:18-20 tells us that Jesus went and preached to the spirits in prison; though there isn’t as much explanation on all this as we would like to have, it seems that as the body of Jesus lay lifeless in the tomb, His Spirit went to Hades, the abode of the dead. There He led the faithful dead to heaven, in light of His then-completed work on the cross. He also preached a message of judgment and coming condemnation to the evil spirits that were imprisoned in the depths.
· This burial was another great and final connection of the Son of God with the humility of man. There was a transaction aspect to the great work of Jesus on the cross; but there was so much more. There is also a radical identification aspect; where Jesus connects with you in every way possible, and He invites you to connect with Him. He was buried with us, in the humiliation of utter humanness. We are buried with Him – spiritually by faith, ceremonially by baptism. He identified with us; we by faith identify with Him.
vi. Myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds: “The enormous quantity has been accounted for as a rich man’s expression of devotion, or as required if the entire body and all the wrappings were to be smeared with it.” (Dods)
vii. “The quantity of one hundred Roman pounds (75 lbs. avdp.) revealed both Nicodemus’s wealth and appreciation of Jesus.” (Tenney)
e. The garden tomb in which no one had yet been laid: Matthew 27:60 tells us that this tomb belonged to Joseph of Arimathea himself. A rich man like Joseph would probably have a tomb that was carved into solid rock; this tomb was in a garden near the place of crucifixion.
i. A typical tomb of this type had a small entrance and perhaps one or more compartments where bodies were laid out after being somewhat mummified with spices, ointments, and linen strips. Customarily, the Jews left these bodies alone for a few years until they decayed down to the bones, then the bones were placed in a small stone box known as an ossuary. The ossuary remained in the tomb with the remains of other family members.
ii. The door to the tomb was typically made of a heavy, circular shaped stone, running in a groove and settled down into a channel, so it could not be moved except by several strong men. This was done to ensure that no one would disturb the remains.
iii. In the place where He was crucified there was a garden: “To a deep-seeing eye like that of John, this proximity was more than a coincidence. John felt that there was an inward harmony between the garden and the cross.” (Morrison)
iv. “The fall of the first Adam took place in a garden; and it was in a garden that the second Adam redeemed mankind from the consequences of Adam’s transgression.” (Tasker)
v. In which no one had yet been laid: “If they buried him in an old tomb, the Jews would say that he had touched the bones of some prophet or other holy man, and so came to life.” (Spurgeon)
©2018 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission
John 18 – Jesus’ Arrest and Trial
Videos for John 18:
A. Betrayal and arrest in the garden.
1. (1-3) Jesus enters the garden, followed by Judas and his troops.
When Jesus had spoken these words, He went out with His disciples over the Brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which He and His disciples entered. And Judas, who betrayed Him, also knew the place; for Jesus often met there with His disciples. Then Judas, having received a detachment of troops, and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, came there with lanterns, torches, and weapons.
a. Over the Brook Kidron: When Jesus went from the city of Jerusalem, and crossed the Brook Kidron. This small stream was the drainage from the temple, and would be reddish from the blood of thousands of Passover lambs. This would have been a vivid reminder to Jesus of His soon sacrifice.
i. “From the altar there was a channel down to the brook Kedron, and through that channel the blood of the Passover lambs drained away. When Jesus crossed the brook Kedron it would still be red with the blood of the lambs which had been sacrificed.” (Barclay)
ii. “The very brook would remind him of his approaching sacrifice, for through it flowed the blood and refuse from the temple.” (Spurgeon)
b. There was a garden: John did not name this as the Garden of Gethsemane, but the other Gospel writers did (Matthew 26:36 and Mark 14:32). Jesus often met there with His disciples, perhaps to sleep for the night under the shelter of the olive trees or in a nearby cave.
i. Luke 21:37 says that during this Passover week, Jesus spent the nights with His disciples on the Mount of Olives. Yet, probably not only during that week but they often met there. This “would be a curious way of referring to Jesus’ custom on the present visit only. It probably indicates that He had been in the habit of using the garden through the years.” (Morris)
ii. It was a familiar place. “It is plain that, having consecrated himself for the impending sacrifice, he now made no attempt to hide from his enemies, but went to the place where Judas would normally expect to find him.” (Bruce)
iii. “St. John mentions nothing of the agony in the garden; probably because he found it so amply related by all the other evangelists.” (Clarke)
c. Then Judas, having received a detachment of troops: Judas came to the garden with team of soldiers to seize and arrest Jesus. He led both a detachment of troops (a large number of Roman soldiers), and officers from the temple security force. Why they came with such force is not directly answered; the religious leaders or the Romans must have expected or feared some kind of battle or conflict.
i. Lanterns, torches: “With these they had intended to search the corners and caverns, provided Christ had hidden himself; for they could not have needed them for any other purpose, it being now the fourteenth day of the moon’s age, in the month Nisan, and consequently she appeared full and bright.” (Clarke)
ii. This detachment of troops was well armed with swords and clubs, and Jesus noted how unnecessary it was: Have you come out, as against a robber, with swords and clubs to take Me? I sat daily with you, teaching in the temple, and you did not seize Me (Matthew 26:55).
iii. Detachment: “That word, if it is correctly used, can have three meanings. It is the Greek word for a Roman cohort and a cohort had six hundred men. If it was a cohort of auxiliary soldiers, a speira had one thousand men, two hundred and forty cavalry and seven hundred and sixty infantry. Sometimes, much more rarely, the word is used for the detachment of men called a maniple which was made up of two hundred men.” (Barclay)
iv. “The article in τὴν σπεῖραν [detachment] points to the battalion which garrisoned the Antonia fortress in Jerusalem. The ‘officers’ (ὑπηρέτας) are members of the Temple police, a body of men drawn from the tribe of Levi.” (Trench)
v. This shows that Judas misunderstood the nature of Jesus and at the same time underestimated His power. Had Jesus been of the nature to physically battle against Judas and the devil driving the betrayer, the detachment of troops was not enough.
vi. A sinless Man in an appointed garden was about to do battle with Satan’s representative (Luke 22:3). The first time this happened, the sinless man failed. The Second Adam would not fail.
2. (4-6) Jesus speaks to Judas and the detachment of troops.
Jesus therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him, went forward and said to them, “Whom are you seeking?” They answered Him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am He.” And Judas, who betrayed Him, also stood with them. Now when He said to them, “I am He,” they drew back and fell to the ground.
a. Jesus, therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him: Judas hoped to catch Jesus by surprise, but this was impossible. Jesus’ entire life was prepared for this hour, and He was ready for it.
b. Whom are you seeking: Taking the lead, Jesus said this for at least two reasons. He wanted any potential violence to be directed to Him and not to His disciples, so He wanted to identify Himself. Jesus also wanted Judas and the detachment of troops to announce their evil intention.
c. Jesus of Nazareth: This was the common name that Jesus was known by. Jesus wasn’t normally identified by His role as a rabbi or a carpenter, and not by His apparent parentage (Jesus ben Joseph). Jesus chose and received the title that identified Him with Nazareth.
i. “They called him Jesus of Nazareth by way of reproach. He takes it upon him, and wears it for a crown. And should not we do likewise?” (Trapp)
d. I am: Jesus answered them with this curious phrase, two words in both English and in the original language (ego eimi). It is curious because Jesus didn’t say I am He, but simply I am – the He was added by the translators and is not in the original text. With this Jesus consciously proclaimed that He was God, connecting His words to the many previous I am statements recorded in the Gospel of John, especially in John 8:58 (but also John 6:48, 8:12, 9:5, 10:9, 10:11-14, 10:36, 11:25, 14:6).
i. “The soldiers had come out secretly to arrest a fleeing peasant. In the gloom they find themselves confronted by a commanding figure, who so far from running away comes out to meet them and speaks to them in the very language of deity.” (Morris)
ii. “The Greek ego eimi rendered I am he might well suggest divinity to those familiar with the Greek Bible, for it is the rendering in the LXX for the sacred name of God (see Exodus 3:14).” (Tasker)
e. Now when He said to them, “I am He,” they drew back and fell to the ground: When Jesus declared His divine identity (in the words I am), Judas and soldiers all fell back. There was such a display of divine presence, majesty, and power in those two words that the enemies of Jesus were powerless to stand against Him.
i. “Here our Saviour let out a little beam of the majesty of his Deity, and 500 men fell before him.” (Trapp)
ii. This shows that Jesus was completely in control of the situation. As a practical matter, Jesus did not have to go with this arresting army led by Judas. With God’s power expressed through His words alone, Jesus could have overpowered them and easily escaped.
iii. “Our Lord chose to give them this proof of his infinite power, that they might know that their power could not prevail against him if he chose to exert his might, seeing that the very breath of his mouth confounded, drove back, and struck them down to the earth.” (Clarke)
iv. “The question on the miraculous nature of this incident is not whether it was a miracle at all (for it is evident that it must be regarded as one), but whether it were an act specially intended by our Lord, or as a result of the superhuman dignity of His person, and the majestic calmness of His reply.” (Alford)
v. “Wherever in our Lord’s life any incident indicates more emphatically than usual the lowliness of His humiliation, there, by the side of it, you get something that indicates the majesty of His glory.” (Maclaren)
· Jesus was born as a humble baby, yet announced by angels.
· Jesus was laid in a manger, yet signaled by a star.
· Jesus submitted to baptism as if He were a sinner, then heard the Divine voice of approval.
· Jesus slept when He was exhausted, but awoke to calm the storm.
· Jesus wept at a grave, then called the dead to life.
· Jesus surrendered to arrest, then declared “I am” and knocked all the troops over.
· Jesus died on a cross, but in it He defeated sin, death, and Satan.
3. (7-9) Jesus willingly goes with the arresting army.
Then He asked them again, “Whom are you seeking?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus answered, “I have told you that I am He. Therefore, if you seek Me, let these go their way,” that the saying might be fulfilled which He spoke, “Of those whom You gave Me I have lost none.”
a. He asked them again: Jesus didn’t want the soldiers to panic and injure the disciples. Jesus called their attention back to Him, and asked them again a question they were probably hesitant to answer.
b. I have told you that I am: Jesus said the same words as before (I am, ego eimi) yet Judas and the troops did not fall to the ground as before. This shows that these were not magic words, but previously they all fell at the conscious display of God’s power.
c. If you seek Me, let these go their way: After the display of power described in John 18:6, Jesus did not continue to oppose His arrest. Jesus willingly gave Himself up to protect His disciples. This was the same sacrificial love that would find its ultimate peak at the cross. It also shows why Jesus knocked the soldiers to the ground; the show of power was to protect the disciples, not Jesus Himself.
i. Let these go their way: “These words are rather words of authority, than words of entreaty. I voluntarily give myself up to you, but you must not molest one of these my disciples. At your peril injure them. Let them go about their business. I have already given you a sufficient proof of my power: I will not exert it in my own behalf, for I will lay down my life for the sheep; but I will not permit you to injure the least of these.” (Clarke)
ii. “In a sense, he sacrificed himself for their safety. He had promised the Father that he would protect them (John 17:12) and he fulfilled the guarantee of the voluntary surrender of his life.” (Tenney)
iii. The disciples took the words let these go their way as their signal to leave. They probably left as fast and as quietly as they could.
d. Of those whom You gave Me I have lost none: In doing this, Jesus fulfilled what He had already said at John 6:39 and John 17:12.
4. (10-12) Peter attacks one among the party arresting Jesus.
Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus. So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?” Then the detachment of troops and the captain and the officers of the Jews arrested Jesus and bound Him.
a. Simon Peter, having a sword: The disciples apparently sometimes carried swords, and Luke 22:38 indicates that they had at least two on this occasion. Having a sword made sense when there were robbers and violent men to consider.
b. Drew it and struck the high priest’s servant: Each of the other Gospel accounts mention that one of the disciples did this, but John is the only Gospel writer to say that it was Simon Peter who made this attack. Peter wanted to fulfill his previous promise to defend Jesus at all cost: Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You! (Matthew 26:35).
i. “It is exceedingly thoughtless in Peter to try to prove his faith by the sword, while he could not do so by his tongue.” (Calvin, cited in Morris)
ii. “But it was a sad omen (saith a noble and renowned writer, Lord Brook) that Peter’s sword should cut off the ear of Malchus, which signifies a king or kingly authority. How the pope hath lifted up himself…above all that is called Augustus, or emperor, is better known than that it need be here related.” (Trapp)
c. And cut off his right ear: It has been noted (but not proved) that this meant Peter, holding the sword in his right hand, must have attacked the high priest’s servant from behind, because it would be near impossible to cut off his right ear if he was facing the servant Malchus. It is entirely possible that Peter deliberately chose a non-solider, and attacked him from behind. This was not a shining display of courage.
i. It may be significant that John alone mentioned the high priest’s servant by name, Malchus. This is another piece of evidence that John had connections to those in the household of the high priest (John 18:16). It may also indicate that Malchus later became a Christian, because often people in the Gospels and Acts are named because they were known among the early Christian community.
d. Put your sword into the sheath: Jesus did not praise Peter for what he did; He told him to stop. This was to protect Peter as much as to protect those who came to arrest Jesus. Most of all, it was that Jesus could drink the cup the Father gave to Jesus, the measure of suffering and judgment He would endure.
i. “Peter’s impulsive action was more likely to get himself and his companions into serious trouble than to do his Master any good, but even if it had a better chance of success, Jesus would allow nothing to stand in the way of his bringing to completion the work which his Father had given him to do.” (Bruce)
ii. John the Gospel writer named Peter as the offender, but did not tell that Jesus miraculously healed the cut-off ear of the high priest’s servant (Luke 22:51).
e. The captain and officers of the Jews arrested Jesus and bound Him: This describes two different groups. The captain was the Roman commander and the officers of the Jews were the temple security force.
i. The captain: “The ‘commander’ (chiliarchos) was the officer in charge, possible the executive of the Roman garrison in Jerusalem (cf. the use of the same term in Acts 22:24, 26, 27, 28; 23:17, 19, 22). The technical expression strengthens the impression that the Romans supported the action of the Jewish hierarchy.” (Tenney)
f. And bound Him: They regarded Jesus dangerous enough to send many soldiers after Him, so in custody they bound Jesus, treating Him as if He were a threat. Yet Jesus remained bound only because He surrendered to His Father’s will; hands that healed the sick and raised the dead could certainly break bonds.
i. We could say that in spiritual application, there were two ways that Jesus was bound.
· Jesus was bound with the cords of love.
· Jesus was bound with our bonds.
ii. “This was done as Irenaeus hath it, while the Deity rested; for he could as easily have delivered himself as he did his disciples, but this sacrifice was to be bound with cords to the altar; he was pinioned and manacled, as a malefactor.” (Trapp)
iii. “I do not find any indication that His bonds were unloosed by Annas, or that he had even a moment’s relief or relaxation granted to him; but, with the cruel ropes still binding him fast, he was sent across the great hall into the other wing of the palace in which Caiaphas resided.” (Spurgeon)
B. Jesus’ trial before Annas; Peter’s denial.
1. (13-14) Jesus is lead away to Annas.
And they led Him away to Annas first, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas who was high priest that year. Now it was Caiaphas who advised the Jews that it was expedient that one man should die for the people.
a. They led Him away to Annas first: Annas was not the official High Priest but as father-in-law to Caiaphas, he was the one who put Caiaphas in office.
i. “Annas was the power behind the throne in Jerusalem. He himself had been High Priest from A.D. 6 to 15. Four of his sons had also held the high priesthood and Caiaphas was his son-in-law.” (Barclay)
ii. “There is a passage in the Talmud which says: ‘Woe to the house of Annas! Woe to their serpent’s hiss! They are High Priests; their sons are keepers of the treasury; their sons-in-law are guardians of the Temple; and their servants beat the people with staves.’ Annas and his household were notorious.” (Barclay)
iii. “At any rate, the Lord is led to Annas first, and we feel sure that there was a motive for that act. Annas, in some sense, had a priority in the peerage of enmity to Jesus; he was malignant, cruel, and unscrupulous enough to be premier in the ministry of persecutors.” (Spurgeon)
b. It was Caiaphas who advised the Jews that it was expedient that one man should die for the people: This unknowing prophecy of Caiaphas is recorded in John 11:49-53. Without knowing, Caiaphas spoke the truth that it was good for Jesus to die for the people.
i. In that unknowing prophecy Caiaphas spoke logically (the good of the many outweigh the good of the one) but not morally (it was wrong to put an innocent Man, God’s Messiah, to death).
ii. One reason John reminds us of what Caiaphas said in John 11:49-52 is to show that the judgment against Jesus was already decided. It would not be a fair trial. “Jesus might expect little from such a judge. Here was no idealist ready to see that justice was one, but a cynical politician who had already spoken in favor of Jesus’ death.” (Morris)
2. (15-16) Peter and John follow Jesus to the house of the high priest.
And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Now that disciple was known to the high priest, and went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest. But Peter stood at the door outside. Then the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to her who kept the door, and brought Peter in.
a. Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple: Peter embarrassed himself at the Garden of Gethsemane with his sword and the ear of the high priest’s servant. Hoping for a second chance to show his loyalty, he followed Jesus to where He was held. Most believe that the other disciple was John himself, who had previous connections with the high priest and his household (was known to the high priest).
i. “It may be that the family had connections with the priesthood, either by business relationships or possibly by marital ties.” (Tenney)
ii. “Perhaps for that he and his father Zebedee were wont to serve the fat priests with the best and daintiest fish (for this other disciple was John, who had first fled with the rest, and now came sculking in to see what would become of his master).” (Trapp)
b. Spoke to her who kept the door, and brought Peter in: John’s connection to the high priest and his servants explains how Peter and John had any access to the property of the high priest on such a night.
3. (17-18) Peter denies his relationship to Jesus the first time.
Then the servant girl who kept the door said to Peter, “You are not also one of this Man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” Now the servants and officers who had made a fire of coals stood there, for it was cold, and they warmed themselves. And Peter stood with them and warmed himself.
a. You are not also one of this Man’s disciples, are you: A simple servant girl who minded the door to the courtyard of the high priest’s house questioned Peter. This first test of Peter’s loyalty seemed easy; he could have answered nothing, mumbled something, or said, “I know Him.”
i. You are not also one of this Man’s disciples: The also means that John was already known to her as a disciple of Jesus. “The servant-girl presumably knew the ‘other disciple’ to be a follower of Jesus, and when she saw him bringing in Peter, she said, in effect: ‘Oh no, not another!’” (Bruce)
ii. This Man’s disciples: “This man’s in the Greek is contemptuous, more akin to ‘this fellow’s’ or ‘this person’s’.” (Tasker)
iii. “A silly wench is too hard for this stout stickler.” (Trapp)
b. I am not: Peter responded to her negative statement with a negative of his own. Instead of being loyal to Jesus, he denied being His disciple. This seems to have happened at the door and may have been a quick exchange that Peter did not give much thought to, yet even that was a clear denial of association with Jesus.
i. “The first denial was to all appearance rashly and almost inadvertently made, from a mere feeling of shame.” (Alford)
c. Peter stood with them and warmed himself: The sense is that Peter was there not only because it was cold and he wanted warmth. Peter also wanted to blend into the small crowd so that he would not stand out and want to be noticed. It was dangerous to be noticed, because he was a disciple of the man arrested and in serious trouble.
i. Peter stood: “Luke is quite definite that they and Peter were sitting: so too Matthew as to Peter. John seems to speak of them and Peter as standing: but these words used by John are so frequently idiomatic to mean merely ‘to be stationary,’ ‘to continue,’ ‘to be there,’ ‘to be,’ exactly like the Italian stare, that the standing cannot be pressed — no more here than e.g. in the other nineteen places where they occur in John’s gospel.” (Trench)
4. (19-21) Annas interrogates Jesus.
The high priest then asked Jesus about His disciples and His doctrine. Jesus answered him, “I spoke openly to the world. I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where the Jews always meet, and in secret I have said nothing. Why do you ask Me? Ask those who have heard Me what I said to them. Indeed they know what I said.”
a. The high priest then asked Jesus about His disciples and His doctrine: Annas wanted to know about Jesus’ disciples, perhaps because of fear or jealousy. Then he wanted to know about His doctrine, what Jesus taught that might be of concern to the religious establishment.
i. Annas basically brought the prisoner before him and asked, “Tell us all what You’re guilty of and everyone who is with You.” In His reply, Jesus did not mention His disciples at all. He protected them in every way possible.
ii. “Annas bore a very promising name, for it signifies clement or merciful, yet he was the man to begin the work of ensnaring the Lord Jesus in his speech, if he could be ensnared.” (Spurgeon)
b. I spoke openly to the world: Jesus told Annas that He did not have secret doctrine or teaching that could be revealed under interrogation. His teaching was open, in synagogues and in the temple. Jesus could even say, in secret I have said nothing.
i. “Truth is bold and barefaced; when heresy hides itself, and loathes the light.” (Trapp)
c. Why do you ask Me? Ask those who have heard Me what I said to them: In saying this, Jesus wasn’t being uncooperative, only asserting His legal right. There was to be no formal charge against the accused until witnesses had been heard and been found to be truthful.
i. It was the high priest’s duty to call forth the witnesses first, beginning with those for the defense. These basic legal protections for the accused under Jewish law were not observed in the trial of Jesus. “Jesus therefore claimed that, if his teaching was in question, evidence should be heard in the normal way.” (Bruce)
ii. “For the Talmud states, Sanhedrin. C. iv. S. 1, that-’Criminal processes can neither commence not terminate, but during the course of the day. If the person be acquitted, the sentence may be pronounced during that day; but, if he be condemned, the sentence cannot be pronounced till the next day. But no kind of judgment is to be executed, either on the eve of the Sabbath, or the eve of any festival.’” (Clarke)
5. (22-24) The end of Jesus’ appearance before Annas.
And when He had said these things, one of the officers who stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, “Do You answer the high priest like that?” Jesus answered him, “If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil; but if well, why do you strike Me?” Then Annas sent Him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.
a. One of the officers who stood by: This anonymous official began the physical abuse of Jesus that would end in His crucifixion. In His deity, Jesus knew his name; but as one of those who did not know what they did against God’s Messiah (Luke 23:34), his name was graciously not recorded.
b. Struck Jesus with the palm of his hand: His name was not recorded, but his crime was. Without warning he strongly slapped Jesus with the palm of his hand and accused Him of disrespect to the high priest.
i. “This blow was a signal for the indignities which followed.” (Alford)
c. If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil, but if well, why do you strike Me: Jesus asked both the unnamed official and Annas to justify this physical abuse. Jesus exposed the shameful truth, that they did not follow their own standards and practice of justice with Jesus of Nazareth.
d. Annas sent Him bound to Caiaphas the high priest: Annas had nothing to answer to Jesus. He sent Jesus on to a more official trial to the man who held the actual office of high priest, and sent Jesus bound as if He were a dangerous criminal.
6. (25-27) Peter denies Jesus twice more.
Now Simon Peter stood and warmed himself. Therefore they said to him, “You are not also one of His disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not!” One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of him whose ear Peter cut off, said, “Did I not see you in the garden with Him?” Peter then denied again; and immediately a rooster crowed.
a. Peter stood and warmed himself: Watching Jesus from a distance at the house of Annas, Peter hoped to mix into the small crowd and remain unnoticed. Yet because Peter was with them, therefore they noticed him.
i. Luke 22:61 indicates that Peter could see Jesus, probably at a distance. Peter likely saw the hard slap unexpectedly put upon Jesus, and understood that this whole incident was going to be more violent and messy than he had thought. The shock of this sight increased the level of stress and panic for Peter as he stood and warmed himself.
b. You are not also one of His disciples, are you: This unnamed one at the fire asked the same question as the servant girl at the door (John 18:17), even placing it in the negative as she did. For a second time, Peter said I am not and denied any association with Jesus.
i. You are not also one of His disciples: For a second time we see that there was another disciple present – John, no doubt. Peter knew John was present and known as a disciple of Jesus, but he didn’t want to be known.
c. One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of him whose ear Peter cut off: This is the kind of thing that John would know, having connection with the high priest and his household (John 18:15-16).
d. Did I not see you in the garden with Him: The relative of Malchus would pay special notice of the man who attacked his kin. Even in the light of the night fire in the courtyard he though he recognized Peter as the man who attacked Malchus with a sword from behind.
i. Did I not see you: “The ‘I’ is emphatic in the original: as we say, Did I not see thee with my own eyes?” (Alford)
e. Peter then denied again: Matthew 26:74 tells us that Peter denied this third time with cursing and swearing, hoping that this would make them think even more that he was not associated with Jesus. We could say that at this point it was not the faith of Peter that failed, but his courage.
f. Immediately a rooster crowed: This fulfilled what Jesus said in John 13:38, and must have immediately reminded Peter of the prediction Jesus made in the upper room.
C. Jesus is brought before Pilate.
1. (28) Jesus is brought to the Roman leader.
Then they led Jesus from Caiaphas to the Praetorium, and it was early morning. But they themselves did not go into the Praetorium, lest they should be defiled, but that they might eat the Passover.
a. They led Jesus from Caiaphas: After interrogation, Annas sent Jesus to Caiaphas (John 18:24) for a trial in two parts. The first was a hastily gathered assembly of the council recorded in Matthew 26:57-68. The second was the official, daylight meeting of the Sanhedrin (Luke 22:66).
i. The Gospel of John mentions only that Jesus was sent to Caiaphas, and then Caiaphas sent Jesus on to Pilate. John focused on the appearance of Jesus before the Roman leader, Pontius Pilate.
b. To the Praetorium: This word described the headquarters of Pilate in Jerusalem, likely at the Roman Fortress Antonia, where Pilate held court and conducted public business.
i. “The term ‘praetorium’ denotes the headquarters of a Roman military governor (as the governor of Judea was). In a Roman camp, the praetorium was the commander’s headquarters in the centre of the camp.” (Bruce)
ii. “Philo tells us that on one occasion Pilate hung up shields in Herod’s palace (Leg. Ad Gai., 299). Some years later Florus when governor lodged in the same palace (Josephus, Bell. Ii, 301, 328). The evidence is not enough to prove that Pilate must have lodged there and the whole matter must be regarded as uncertain.” (Morris)
c. They themselves did not go into the Praetorium, lest they should be defiled: John used an ironic touch to expose the hypocrisy of the Jewish rulers. They refused to break relatively small commands regarding ceremonial defilement, but broke much greater commands in rejecting God’s Messiah and condemning an innocent Man to death.
i. “The examination began therefore in the open air in front of the building.” (Dods)
ii. “Putrid hypocrisy! they stand upon legal defilements, and care not to defile their consciences with innocent blood. What is this, but to strain at a gnat and swallow a camel?” (Trapp)
iii. “Westcott conjectures that John may well have entered the Praetorium and this have been in a position to observe what was going on.” (Morris)
d. That they might eat the Passover: This statement introduces a controversy, namely this – was the Last Supper a Passover meal, and was Jesus crucified on the Passover or the day following? This statement in John 18:28 seems to indicate that Passover was the coming day, the day Jesus would be crucified and that the Last Supper was the day before Passover. Yet several passages seem to indicate that the Last Supper was a Passover meal (Matthew 26:18, Mark 14:12, 14:16, Luke 22:15). The best solution to this difficult chronological problem seems to be that Jesus was crucified on the Passover, and the meal they had the night before was as Passover meal, held after sunset (the start of the day in Jewish reckoning). We can speculate that Passover lambs were sacrificed on both days, a necessity due to the massive number of lambs sacrificed in Jerusalem at the temple on Passover (later described by Josephus as being more than 200,000).
i. “Bishop Pearce supposes that it was lawful for the Jews to eat the paschal lamb any time between the evening of Thursday and that of Friday. He conjectures too that this permission was necessary on account of the immense number of lambs which were to be killed for that purpose.” (Clarke)
ii. Tasker suggested another possibility: “It may be, however, that by the passover in this verse the whole Passover festival, which lasted seven days, is meant; and that the expression eat the passover refers not to the main Passover meal which may have already taken place, but to the remaining meals that would be taken in the Passover season.”
2. (29-32) The religious leaders explain the matter to Pilate.
Pilate then went out to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this Man?” They answered and said to him, “If He were not an evildoer, we would not have delivered Him up to you.” Then Pilate said to them, “You take Him and judge Him according to your law.” Therefore the Jews said to him, “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death,” that the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled which He spoke, signifying by what death He would die.
a. Pilate then went out to them: The religious leaders had reason to expect a favorable result as they brought Jesus to the Roman governor Pontius Pilate. Secular history presents Pilate as a cruel, ruthless man, completely insensitive to the moral feelings of others.
i. Pilate had married a granddaughter of Caesar Augustus. “If it were not for his influential connections through marriage, he would never have come even to the relatively insignificant post he held as procurator of Judea.” (Boice)
ii. Philo, the ancient Jewish scholar from Alexandria, described Pilate: “His corruption, his acts of insolence, his rapine, his habit of insulting people, his cruelty, his continual murders of people untried and uncondemned, and his never-ending gratuitous and most grievous inhumanity.” (Barclay)
iii. “He was a weak man who tried to cover up his weakness by a show of obstinacy and violence…his period of office was marked by several savage outbreaks of bloodshed (cf. Luke 13:1).” (Bruce)
b. What accusation do you bring against this Man: Consistent with Roman character, Pilate spoke directly to the matter at hand. He demanded to know the accusation. John recorded their evasion of the question: If He were not an evildoer, we would not have delivered Him up to you.
i. “They had had his cooperation in making the arrest. Now they apparently expected that he would take their word for it that the man the Romans had helped to arrest was dangerous and should be executed.” (Morris)
ii. “So they did not wish to make Pilate the judge, but the executor of the sentence which they had already illegally passed.” (Clarke)
iii. “‘We have condemned Him; that is enough. We look to you to carry out the sentence at our bidding.’ So the ‘ecclesiastical authority’ has often said to the ‘secular arm’ since then, and unfortunately the civil authority has not always been as wise as Pilate was.” (Maclaren)
c. You take Him and judge Him according to your law: Pilate responded to their evasion by telling them to resolve the matter themselves. If they would not bring Pilate an accusation that mattered to him, then they would have to judge Him according to their own law and not bother the Romans.
i. John does not record it, but eventually the religious leaders did give a more specific answer to Pilate’s demand for an accusation: We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, saying that He Himself is Christ, a King (Luke 23:2).
d. It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death: Without yet answering Pilates demand for a specific accusation, the religious leaders explained why they did not want to judge Him according to their own law. They wanted Jesus dead, and the Romans did not allow them to execute the guilty under their own law.
i. “Josephus tells us, that it was lawful to hold a court of judgment in capital cases, without the consent of the Procurator.” (Alford)
ii. There were times when the religious leaders risked the disapproval of the Roman authorities and executed those they considered guilty without permission. Acts 7:54-60 records one such execution by stoning. When the Jewish leaders did put someone to death in this unauthorized way, it was generally by stoning.
iii. The religious leaders may have, in part, pressed for crucifixion to bring the curse of Deuteronomy 21:22-23 upon Jesus. He did bear that curse, to redeem us from the curse of the law (Galatians 3:13).
iv. “The power of life and death was in all probability taken from the Jews when Archelaus, king of Judea, was banished to Vienna, and Judea was made a Roman province; and this happened more than fifty years before the destruction of Jerusalem.” (Clarke)
e. That the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled: Their demand that Jesus die a Roman death of crucifixion would fulfill Jesus’ own words (if I be lifted up, John 3:14). If the Jews had put Jesus to death, He would have been stoned to death and this prophecy about the manner of His death would not have been fulfilled.
i. John pointed to the answer of a question: If the enemies of Jesus were among the Jewish religious leaders, then why did He die a Roman death of crucifixion? John described much opposition to Jesus, but none of it from the Romans. The series of events leading to His death by crucifixion was somewhat strange and interesting.
3. (33-35) Pilate questions, Jesus clarifies.
Then Pilate entered the Praetorium again, called Jesus, and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered him, “Are you speaking for yourself about this, or did others tell you this concerning Me?” Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered You to me. What have You done?”
a. Then Pilate entered the Praetorium again: John combined two appearances of Jesus before Pilate, separated by an appearance of Jesus before Herod Antipas (Luke 23:8-12). Pilate hoped to give this problem to Herod because he ruled over Galilee, where Jesus was from. Herod sent Jesus back to Pilate, and this is the likely start of the second appearance.
b. Are You the King of the Jews: Pilate was already involved in this case, having sent a detachment of many Roman troops to arrest Jesus (John 18:3). This was his first look at the Man the religious leaders claimed was dangerous. Yet, Pilate’s question revealed doubt.
i. Pilate had seen wild revolutionaries who claimed to be kings. “Speaking of the anarchy in Judea which followed Herod’s death in 4 BC, Josephus says: ‘Any one might make himself king by putting himself at the head of a band of rebels whom he fell in with.’” (Bruce)
ii. He asked this question because Jesus didn’t look like a revolutionary or a criminal. These were the only types who would be foolish enough to claim to be the King of the Jews in the face of Roman domination. Pilate had seen these kinds of men before, and knew Jesus was not like them.
iii. “Pilate had expected to meet a sullen or belligerent rebel and met instead the calm majesty of confident superiority. He could not reconcile the character of the prisoner with the charge brought against him.” (Tenney)
c. Are you speaking for yourself: Jesus wanted to know if Pilate really wanted to know or if he asked the question on behalf of those who already condemned Jesus. The answer could be different depending on where his question came from.
i. “If Pilate asked it of himself, the question would have meant, ‘Art thou a political King, conspiring against Caesar’! If he had asked it of Caiaphas’ prompting, it would have meant, ‘Art Thou the Messianic King of Israel?’ The answer to the first question would have been ‘No’. The answer to the second question, ‘Yes.’” (Pilcher, cited in Morris)
d. What have You done: Pilate said that he, as a Roman, had no interest in Jewish spiritual or social ideas. Pilate simply understood that if the religious leaders wanted Jesus dead, He must have done something wrong and he wanted to find out what that was.
i. Jesus could have given a wonderful answer to the question, what have You done?
· He was without sin, never doing wrong against God or man.
· He healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, calmed the storm, walked on the water, fed the multitude, defeated demons, and raised the dead.
· He taught the truth so clearly and powerfully that it astonished His listeners.
· He fearlessly confronted corruption.
· He poured His life into a few men who were destined, in God’s plan, to turn the world upside down (or right side up).
· He did not come to be served, but to serve – and to give His life a ransom for many.
ii. “Strange to ask the Prisoner what He had done! It had been well for Pilate if he had held fast by that question, and based his judgment resolutely on its answer!” (Maclaren)
4. (36) Jesus explains His kingdom to Pilate.
Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.”
a. My kingdom is not of this world: Jesus plainly told Pilate that He was a king and could say, My kingdom. He also plainly told Pilate that His kingdom was not a rival political kingdom; it was and is not of this world.
· In contrast to the kingdoms of this world, the kingdom of Jesus originates in heaven (My kingdom is not of this world).
· In contrast to the kingdoms of this world, the kingdom of Jesus has peace for its foundation (If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight).
i. “There is no denial that His Kingdom is over this world; but that it is to be established by this world’s power.” (Alford)
b. My kingdom is not from here: We may imagine that Pilate was relieved and satisfied to hear that the kingdom of Jesus was not from here. Pilate may have concluded that Rome therefore had nothing to fear from Jesus and His kingdom.
i. Romans thought they knew about kingdoms and their might; that armies, navies, swords, and battles measured the strength of kingdoms. What Jesus knew was that His kingdom – though not of this world – was mightier than Rome and would continue to expand and influence when Rome passed away.
ii. My kingdom is not from here: Augustine observed from this verse that earthly kingdoms are based upon force, pride, the love of human praise, the desire for domination, and self interest – all displayed by Pilate and the Roman Empire.
iii. The heavenly kingdom, exemplified by Jesus and the cross, is based on love, sacrifice, humility, and righteousness – and is to the Jews a stumbling block, and to the Gentiles foolishness (1 Corinthians 1:23).
iv. “The obvious inference from his words would be that he came in to the world from another realm, that whoever did not listen to him would not be characterized by truth, and that if Pilate really wanted to know what truth was, he would give Jesus his earnest attention.” (Tenney)
5. (37-38) Jesus and Pilate discuss truth.
Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews, and said to them, “I find no fault in Him at all.”
a. Are You a king then: This was the statement that interested Pilate. He didn’t mind religious leaders among the Jews, even crazy ones, as long as they kept the peace and did not challenge the rule of Rome. A rival king might challenge, and Pilate wanted to investigate this.
i. “The word thou, in Pilate’s question, is emphatic and sarcastic. ‘Art THOU, thus captured, bound, standing here as a criminal in peril of thy life, A KING?’” (Alford)
ii. “The question could scarcely have been more sarcastic. Pilate, in his heart, despised the Jews as such, but here was poor Jew, persecuted by his own people, helpless and friendless; it sounded like mockery to talk of a kingdom in connection with him.” (Spurgeon)
b. You say rightly that I am a king: Jesus did not deny that He was a king. He insisted that He was born a king, and to be a different kind of King. He came to be a King of Truth, that He should bear witness to the truth.
i. “He made an appeal to Pilate, not for acquittal or mercy, but for recognition of truth.” (Tenney)
ii. “It is by truth alone that I influence the minds and govern the manners of my subjects.” (Clarke)
c. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world: Decades after this, Paul urged young Timothy with these words: Christ Jesus who witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate (1 Timothy 6:13). The good confession of Jesus was that He was a king, His kingdom came from heaven, and that it was a kingdom of eternal truth in contrast to earthly power.
i. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world: “‘I,’ is both times emphatic, and majestically set against the preceding scornful thou of Pilate.” (Alford)
ii. “Our Lord implies that He was born a King, and that He was born with a definite purpose. The words are a pregnant proof of an Incarnation of the Son of God.” (Alford)
iii. “Both statements can be paralleled elsewhere, but the combination us unusual, and in such a situation, unexpected.” (Morris)
d. What is truth: Pilate’s cynical question showed he thought Jesus claim to be a King of Truth was foolish. Probably, Pilate did not mean that there was no truth, but that there was no truth in the kind of spiritual kingdom Jesus represented. For Pilate, soldiers and armies were truth, Rome was truth, Caesar was truth, and political power was truth.
i. “Pilate knew his business, and to discuss the nature of truth formed no part of it. So he broke off the interrogation with the curt dismissal.” (Bruce)
ii. “It was a way of dismissing the subject. Pilate has learned what he wants to know. Jesus is no revolutionary. He represents no danger to the state. He may be safely released, and indeed He ought in common justice to be released.” (Morris)
iii. What is truth: Many in our day ask Pilate’s question, but from a different perspective. Noting that many things are true only on the basis of personal preference or perspective, they think all truth is personal, individual. They think there is no true truth about God; there is only my truth and your truth and one is as good as the other. Though this thinking is strong in our day, it denies the One who said: For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth.
e. I find no fault in Him at all: Pilate spoke to the religious leaders who wanted Jesus dead and clearly told them that Jesus was not guilty. Pilate went far beyond saying that Jesus was not guilty of a crime worthy of death; he found no fault in Him at all. Pilate knew Jesus was innocent.
6. (39-40) Pilate tries to release Jesus, but the crowd cries for Barabbas.
“But you have a custom that I should release someone to you at the Passover. Do you therefore want me to release to you the King of the Jews?” Then they all cried again, saying, “Not this Man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a robber.
a. You have a custom that I should release someone to you at the Passover: Judging there was something different – and innocent – about Jesus, Pilate hoped this custom of releasing a prisoner might help deliver this Man whom Pilate knew was innocent.
i. “Of which we have no information elsewhere; although Josephus (Antiquities 20.9,3) relates that at a passover Albinus released some robbers.” (Dods)
ii. “Nothing relative to the origin or reason of this custom is known. Commentators have swam in an ocean of conjecture on this point. They have lost their labour, and made nothing out.” (Clarke)
b. Do you therefore want me to release to you the King of the Jews: Pilate phrased the question this way to appeal to the Jewish crowd. He thought they would want a Man named as their own King to be spared death by crucifixion.
i. “Like all weak men, he was not easy in his conscience, and made a futile attempt to get the right thing done, yet not suffer for doing it.” (Maclaren)
c. Not this Man, but Barabbas: The crowd rejected Jesus and chose Barabbas instead. Pilate hoped they would spare Jesus, but the crowd instead condemned Him.
i. Matthew 27:20 says that this was not a spontaneous response from the crowd, but one deliberately promoted by the religious leaders: But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitudes that they should ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus (also Mark 15:11).
ii. When the crowd chose Barabbas instead of Jesus, it reflected the fallen nature of all humanity. The name Barabbas sounds very much like son of the father. They chose a false, violent son of the father instead of the true Son of the Father. This prefigures the future embrace of the ultimate Barabbas – the one popularly called the Antichrist.
iii. People today still reject Jesus and choose another. Their Barabbas might be lust, it might be intoxication, it might be self and the comforts of life. “This mad choice is every day made, while men prefer the lusts of their flesh before the lives of their souls.” (Trapp)
d. Barabbas was a robber: Mark 15:7 tells us he was one of several insurrectionists, who had committed murder in the insurrection. The Romans would have thought of Barabbas as a terrorist and many Jews would think of him as a freedom fighter.
i. “It would seem that Barabbas was a member of the local resistance movement. Because of his opposition to the Romans he would be a hero to many of the Jews.” (Morris)
ii. “He uses the term almost certainly to denote (as Josephus habitually does) a Zealot insurgent. In Mark 15:27 (cf. Matthew 27:38) the same word is used of the two men who were crucified along with Jesus.” (Bruce)
iii. “Quite likely Barabbas was a guerrilla ‘resistance fighter’ who had been captured by the Romans and was being held for execution.” (Tenney)
iv. Barabbas was accused of at least three crimes: Theft (John 18:40), insurrection (Mark 15:7), and murder (Mark 15:7). “You and I may fairly take our stand by the side of Barabbas. We have robbed God of his glory; we have been seditious traitors against the government of heaven: if he who hateth his brother be a murderer, we also have been guilty of that sin.” (Spurgeon)
v. If anyone knew what it meant that Jesus died in his place, it was Barabbas. He was a terrorist and a murderer, yet he was set free while Jesus was crucified. The cross Jesus hung upon was probably originally intended for Barabbas.
©2018 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission
John 17 – Jesus’ Great Prayer
Videos for John 17:
“John Knox, on his death-bed in 1572, asked his wife to read to him John 17, ‘where’, he said, ‘I cast my first anchor.’” (Bruce)
A. Jesus prays concerning Himself.
1. (1a) Introduction.
Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said:
a. Jesus spoke these words: The Bible is filled with great prayers. We are impressed with Solomon’s prayer (1 Kings 8), Abraham’s prayer (Genesis 18), and Moses’ prayer (Exodus 32), but this prayer is by far the greatest recorded in the Bible.
i. Most of us know what it is to hear a true man or woman of God deep in prayer; there is something holy and awesome about it. Far beyond all that was this prayer Jesus prayed unto His God and Father, which is the only long, continuous prayer of Jesus recorded in the Gospels. The sentences are simple, but the ideas are deep, moving, and meaningful.
ii. “There is no voice which has ever been heard, either in heaven or in earth, more exalted, more holy, more fruitful, more sublime, than the prayer offered up by the Son to God Himself.” (Melanchthon, cited in Boice)
iii. Genuine prayer often reveals a person’s innermost being. John 17 is an unique opportunity to see the nature and heart of Jesus. In this prayer, Jesus will touch on many of themes developed in this Gospel: glory, glorify, sent, believe, world, love.
iv. Many of the same concerns of what is commonly called the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) are here in this prayer.
· Prayer is repeatedly directed to God the Father.
· There is recognition of and concern for God’s name.
· There is concern for the work of the kingdom of God.
· There is concern for keeping from evil.
v. Yet there is something different in this prayer; Jesus did not pray just as He told His disciples to pray. “The request of our Lord thus given in John’s seventeenth chapter is clearly no prayer of an inferior to a superior: constantly there is seen in it the co-equality of the Speaker with The Father. The Two have but one mind… Where the Son speaks He is not seeking to bend The Father to Him: rather is He voicing the purpose of the Godhead.” (Trench)
vi. The New Testament tells us that Jesus has an ongoing, present work of intercession for His people (Romans 8:34, Hebrews 7:25). “The object being not so much to let us know what He said on a special occasion, as to show the constant attitude of His mind, the informing idea of His unceasing ‘intercession’ for us during the time of His absence.” (Trench)
b. Lifted up His eyes to heaven: This indicates the physical posture of Jesus as He prayed. This is a posture that we don’t usually associate with deep prayer. In the prayer customs of the western world, we often bow our head and close our eyes. Jesus prayed with the customs of prayer common in His own day (John 11:41, Mark 7:34, Psalm 123:1).
i. “In the sacred record, however, much more space is taken up by our Lord’s intercessions as he nears the end of his labors. After the closing supper, his public preaching work being ended, and nothing remaining to be done but to die, he gave himself wholly unto prayer. He was not again to instruct the multitude, nor to heal the sick, and in the interval which remained, before he should lay down his life, he girded himself for special intercession. He poured out his soul in life before he poured it out unto death.” (Spurgeon)
ii. The words lifted up His eyes to heaven also indicate that Jesus looked up in a hopeful sense and was not gloomy or downcast in this prayer. This is actually a prayer of faith and confidence, even victory – all the while acknowledging the reality of the conflict. “We so often understand this prayer as though it were rather gloomy. It is not. It is uttered by One who has just affirmed that He has overcome the world (John 16:33), and it starts from this conviction.” (Morris)
iii. This remarkable prayer is made with a heart and mind looking up towards heaven. Jesus made no mention of His problems or the decisions He must make. His heart and mind were fixed on the highest things, pledging Himself to the absolute fulfillment of God the Father’s will no matter what the cost, so that eternal life could come to others.
2. (1b) Jesus asks to be glorified.
“Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You,”
a. Father, the hour has come: Before, Jesus’ hour of glorification (beginning with His death) had not yet come (John 2:4; 7:8; 7:30; 8:20). Now, the hour has come (as Jesus said before at John 12:23).
i. Note the words: Father… Your Son… Your Son… You. This is a prayer deep and rich with relationship. Jesus prayed with a full and deep sense of the familial relationship and the natural hierarchy or order that exists between God the Father and God the Son.
ii. Father: “And herein he sets us an example: in all times of tribulation let us fall back upon our sonship, our adoption, and the fatherhood of our great God. To our Father let us go, for to whom else should a child so naturally fly?” (Spurgeon)
iii. The hour: “His faith thinks it but an hour: the midnight of Gethsemane, the morning of the scourging, the day of the crucifixion, all are but an hour, a short space. Now is he in trouble, for his time of travail is come; but he counts it as an hour, for joy of that which shall be born into the world by his grievous pangs. Thus his love and patience make him despise the time of shame and reckon it but a brief interval.” (Spurgeon)
b. Glorify Your Son: Jesus prayed first for Himself, but His petition was not selfish. His concern for Himself was actually a concern for the glory of the Father. The Son can only glorify the Father if the Father first answers the prayer of the Son, “Glorify Your Son.”
i. “It will bring no glory to the Father if Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross is not acceptable, or if the Son is not restored to his rightful place in the presence of the Father’s unshielded glory. That would mean the divine mission had failed, the purposes of grace forever defeated.” (Carson)
ii. “Father, the hour has come: glorify Thy Son: i.e. make plain to these there that the Man Jesus is also the God-Man; make it plain by His resurrection and ascension.” (Trench)
iii. “This glorification embraced His death, resurrection, and session at God’s right hand, as accredited Mediator.” (Dods)
iv. Jesus gave several reasons or grounds for this prayer, “Glorify Your Son.” If the God the Son made use or reasons or grounds in praying to God the Father, we should much more give attention to giving reasons and grounds for our requests before the throne of God.
· Because the hour has come (John 17:1).
· Because the Father will be glorified (John 17:1).
· Because authority had already been given to grant eternal life (John 17:2).
· Because Jesus is the only way to life (John 17:3).
· Because it finishes the work the Father sent the Son to perform (John 17:3).
c. The hour has come… Glorify Your Son: It is the cross (see John 12:27-33, 13:30-33, 21:18-19) that will glorify the Son. The cross was utter humiliation to the world, but it was an instrument of glorification in God’s eyes. This is an aspect of the foolishness and weakness of the cross (1 Corinthians 1:18, 1:23-25).
i. “To men the cross appeared an instrument of shame. To Christ it was the means of true glory.” (Morris)
ii. This prayer was wonderfully answered. “Yes, the Father glorified his Son, even when it pleased him to bruise him and to put him to grief. With one hand he smote, and with the other hand he glorified. There was a power to crush, but there was also a power to sustain working at the self-same time. The Father glorified his Son.” (Spurgeon)
iii. How different are most our prayers. “In one form or another we are constantly asking the Father to glorify us. Glorify me, O Father, we cry, by giving me the largest congregation in the town; by commencing a great revival in my mission, by increasing my spiritual power, so that I shall be greatly sought after. Of course, we do not state our reason quite so concisely; but this is really what we mean. And then we wonder why the answer tarries.” (Meyer)
d. That Your Son also may glorify You: In its counter-intuitive work, the cross glorified Jesus the Son and displayed the wisdom and the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:23-25). Yet it also glorified God the Father, by displaying His wise plan and great sacrifice in giving the Son to do such a work.
i. “The Son glorified the Father by revealing in this act [the cross] the sovereignty of God over evil, the compassion of God for men, and the finality of redemption for believers.” (Tenney)
ii. “Christ’s motive should be ours. When you ask a blessing from God, ask it that you may glorify God by it. Do you pine to have your health back again? Be sure that you want to spend it for him. Do you desire temporal advancement? Desire it that you may promote his glory. Do you even long for growth in grace? Ask it only that you may glorify him.” (Spurgeon)
3. (2-3) Jesus speaks of the source and nature of eternal life.
“As You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”
a. You have given Him authority over all flesh: Jesus claimed to have authority over all flesh with the ability to give eternal life to mankind. This is a clear and startling claim to deity; no One but God could truthfully and knowingly make this claim.
i. Jesus here claimed “authority to determine the ultimate destiny of men.” (Takser)
ii. This gives us new hope for evangelism and missionary work, knowing that Jesus has authority over all flesh. Even for those who reject Jesus or are ignorant of Him, even if they do not know it or acknowledge it, Jesus has authority over them. We can pray in faith and ask Jesus to exercise that authority over those who have yet to repent and believe.
iii. You have given Him authority over all flesh: Philippians 2:5-11 is a demonstration of this, that all will recognize the authority of Jesus; every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
iv. The believer understands and glories in the authority of Jesus, especially considering the alternative. “Men and women cannot operate without authority. So if you put out one authority, another will come in. If you reject the authority of God, human authority will emerge.” (Boice)
b. That He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him: Jesus understood that He was and is the One who grants eternal life to those given to Him by the Father.
i. “Christians often think of Jesus as God’s gift to us; we rarely think of ourselves as God’s gift to Jesus.” (Carson)
ii. This indicates something that we can dimly understand as a division of labor in the work of salvation between the Persons of the Godhead. Here we see that the Father gives some unto the Son, and the Son gives them eternal life through His work on the cross. Of course, the Holy Spirit also has His work in salvation, unmentioned in this particular passage.
iii. “Here the doctrines of a general and a particular redemption sweetly blend ‘As thou hast given him power over all flesh,’ they are all under Christ’s mediatorial government by virtue of his matchless sacrifice; but the object in view is specially the gift of everlasting life to the chosen people: ‘that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.’” (Spurgeon)
c. And this is eternal life, that they may know You: Eternal life is found in an experiential knowledge (ginosko) of both God the Father and Jesus Christ, God the Son.
i. “In this world we are familiar with the truth that it is a blessing and an inspiration to know certain people. Much more is it the case when we know God.” (Morris)
ii. “Life is active involvement with environment; death is the cessation of involvement with the environment, whether it be physical or personal.” (Tenney) Eternal life means that we are alive and active to God’s environment. If God and His spiritual environment does not affect (and even dominate) our life, then it can be said that we do not have or experience eternal life. If this is true, then we live life in the same dimension that animals live, and we exist as if we are dead to God and His environment.
iii. That they may know You: “In the Greek the verb is in the present subjunctive indicating the ‘knowledge’ is a growing experience.” (Tasker)
4. (4-5) The request is again stated, full of faith: Glorify Me.
“I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.”
a. I have glorified You on the earth: Jesus did not wait until His work on the cross to glorify God the Father. His entire life glorified God on the earth.
i. Jesus glorified the Father through His whole life, from His circumcision and dedication at the temple (Luke 2:21-23) through His quiet years of obedience in Nazareth (Matthew 2:23, 13:55).
ii. Jesus glorified the Father through His faith, obedience, and work through the years of His earthly ministry. Every sermon preached, every blind or sick person healed, every bit of instruction and training for the disciples, every confrontation with the corrupt religious leaders, every question answered, every loving touch – they all glorified God the Father.
b. I have finished the work: Jesus, with divine confidence and assurance, saw the work on the cross as already finished. There was (of course) a sense in which the work was not finished; but since Jesus is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8), there is a greater sense in which the work was already finished, completed in the heart and mind of God. Now it just had to be done.
i. There is a similar sense in which God sees our own work of transformation and perfection as already complete, before the fact. Now it has to be done.
ii. “There is a quiet recognition that Jesus has completed His task adequately, and brought glory to the Father in the process.” (Morris)
c. Glorify Me together with Yourself: Jesus asked the Father to glorify Him, but with the same glory that the Father Himself has. Jesus’ prayer was in no way an expression of independence, but of utter and continued dependence upon God the Father.
i. There are many men who cry out “glorify me,” and sometimes they even direct the cry to God under a more spiritual terminology. Yet their cry “glorify me” is almost always completely different than Jesus prayer, “Glorify Me together with Yourself” and the difference is normally between dependence and independence.
d. With the glory which I had with You before the world was: Jesus was aware of His pre-existence, and of the nature of that pre-existence. Jesus understood there was a time in eternity past when God the Son and God the Father enjoyed a shared glory.
i. Jesus could not truthfully or sanely pray this if He were not Yahweh Himself, equal with God the Father. In Isaiah 42:8 and 48:11, Yahweh proclaimed that He shares His glory with no one. If God the Father and God the Son share their glory, they must both be Yahweh.
ii. “He had one main petition: that the Father would receive him back to the glory he had relinquished to accomplish his task. This petition for a return to his pristine glory implies unmistakably his preexistence and equality with the Father. It confirms his claim that he and the Father are one (John 10:30).” (Tenney)
iii. The Gospel of John has emphasized the glory of Jesus throughout its record. John was careful to record the many ways Jesus referred to His own glory in this prayer.
· The life of Jesus was a manifestation of God’s glory, and the disciples beheld this glory (John 1:14).
· The miracles of Jesus manifested His glory (John 2:11).
· Jesus only ever sought the glory of His Father (John 7:18, 8:50).
· The revelation of glory is the reward of faith (John 11:40).
· Many times Jesus spoke of His coming passion and crucifixion as His coming glorification (John 7:39, 12:16, 12:23, 13:31).
· God the Son seeks to glorify God the Father (John 12:28).
· God the Father glorifies God the Son (John 13:31-32).
B. Jesus prays concerning the disciples.
Having taught and encouraged the disciples as much as He could on the eve of their despair, Jesus now did the great thing: He committed them to the Father in prayer.
1. (6-8) Jesus speaks of His mission among the disciples and their reception of it.
“I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You. For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me.”
a. I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me: Jesus thought about the three or so years of ministry and teaching with His chosen disciples, and summarized it with this phrase. It indicates that Jesus did not simply teach about the name (character) of God, He manifested (displayed) that character.
i. Jesus lived out the love and goodness and righteousness and grace and holiness of God the Father; He manifested God’s name to them. “‘I manifested Thy Name,’ i.e. I revealed Thy nature. For any adequate name of a person or thing is the complete connotation of that person or thing.” (Trench)
ii. Believers today have a similar call and duty. Paul wrote that believers are like living letters, read by the world (2 Corinthians 3:2-3), with the responsibility to manifest the name and nature of God to a watching world.
b. The men You have given Me out of the world: Jesus chose His disciples after a night of prayer, expressing His total dependence upon God the Father in the choosing of the men (Luke 6:12-16). Truly, it could be said that God the Father gave these men to Jesus, and gave them out of the world.
i. Judas had departed from this group of disciples sometime earlier that evening (John 13:26-30). With Judas gone, Jesus could truly say, “The men You have given Me out of the world.”
c. They were Yours, You gave them to Me: Here is another hint at the workings of the Persons of the Trinity in what could be called a division of labor. There was some sense in which the disciples first belonged to God the Father, then were given to God the Son.
d. They have kept Your word: One might say that Jesus generously judged His disciples; but He saw a genuine work of God in them. For all their failures and faults, they had kept God’s word.
i. “He looked at them with the insight of faith, hope, and love, and realized their present devotion and their potential for the future.” (Bruce)
e. Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You: Jesus plainly told His disciples this shortly before (John 14:10-11) and in the more distant past (John 8:28-29). Jesus did or said nothing on His own initiative, but did and said all in complete dependence upon His God and Father.
f. They have known surely that I came forth from You: The disciples obviously did not understand everything about Jesus and His work, but at this point they were convinced of Divine origin of Jesus and His teaching.
i. “It is a rare and holy privilege to observe the divine Son of God not only formulating his prayers but formulating the grounds for his petitions. These grounds reflect the essential unity of Father and Son, and reveal that Jesus’ prayers for his followers trace their argument back to the inscrutable purposes of Deity.” (Carson)
g. They have believed that You sent Me: One might say that in these few verses, Jesus looked at salvation from two points of view. Each perspective is true from its point of view.
· John 17:6 explains their salvation in the election of God (the men You have given Me out of the world), seeing it from God’s point of view.
· John 17:8 explains their salvation in their faith (they have believed that You sent Me), seeing it from humanity’s point of view.
2. (9-10) Jesus directs His prayer.
“I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them.”
a. I pray for them. I do not pray for the world: Jesus specifically had His disciples in mind in this prayer. He did not pray in a general sense for the world; instead, Jesus prayed for the disciples who would carry His message of love and redemption to the world.
i. I pray for them: Trench says that the “I” is emphatic in this sentence.
ii. When Jesus said, I do not pray for the world it was not because He did not care for a lost and fallen world; it was to focus on His own disciples. “He was praying for the instrument He was creating, through which He would reach the world.” (Morgan)
iii. “If he does not pray for the world, it is not because he had no concern for the world; he is, indeed, the Saviour of the world (John 4:42; cf. 3:17; 12:47). But the salvation of the world depends on the witness of those whom the Father has given him ‘out of the world’ (see verses 21, 23), and it is they who need his intercession at this junction.” (Bruce)
iv. “I am now wholly employed for my disciples, that they may be properly qualified to preach my salvation to the ends of the earth. Jesus here imitates the high priest, the second part of whose prayer, on the day of expiation, was for the priests, the sons of Aaron.” (Clarke)
b. But for those whom You have given Me: One might say that this has in mind more than simply the eleven disciples, but also those who would believe on their testimony (as is specifically mentioned in John 17:20). Jesus had special focus upon them in prayer because He knew those disciples belonged to the Father (for they are Yours).
i. “There is an old proverb, and I cannot help quoting it just now; it is, ‘Love me, love my dog.’ It is as if the Lord Jesus so loved the Father that even such poor dogs as we are get loved by him for his Father’s sake. To the eyes of Jesus we are radiant with beauty because God hath loved us.” (Spurgeon)
c. All Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine: Jesus already spoke of the shared glory between God the Father and God the Son (John 17:5). Here He spoke of their shared role in the life of the redeemed, that believers belong to both God the Father and God the Son.
i. Everything we have belongs to God, but not everything He has belongs to us. Anyone can say to God the Father “all mine are Yours”; but only Jesus could say “and Yours are Mine.”
ii. “Each has full title to the possessions of the other; they share the same interests and responsibilities.” (Tenney)
d. I am glorified in them: In a sense, this is what it means to be a believer, to be born again, to be a true follower of Jesus Christ – to have Him glorified in us. Jesus does not merely want to dwell in or live in the believer, but to be glorified in them.
i. “Just as the world’s values were all wrong concerning the cross, so were the world’s values all wrong concerning the apostolic band. In them the Son of God, none less, was actually glorified.” (Morris)
ii. The Apostle Paul later understood this, using phrases such as Christ in you, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27) and noting that God’s work in us moves from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord (2 Corinthians 3:18).
iii. No one other than Jesus should be glorified in the believer. Leaders have a tendency to glorify themselves in their followers, but it should only be Jesus.
3. (11-12) Jesus’ first request for the disciples: Father, keep them.
“Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.”
a. Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world: Jesus prayed this entire prayer with His soon departure in mind. He realized that He would no longer remain in the world, but His disciples would. They therefore needed special prayer.
· They needed prayer because the unique three years of discipleship during His earthly ministry would be over.
· They needed prayer because of the circumstances surrounding the departure of Jesus; His betrayal, arrest, trial, beatings, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension.
· They needed prayer because Jesus would not be there in His bodily presence to help them.
· They needed prayer because of the necessary role of the Holy Spirit; both for the sending of the Spirit and their constant reliance upon Him.
i. “Jesus is no longer in the world, already He has bid farewell to it, but the disciples remain in it, exposed without His accustomed counsel and defence.” (Dods)
b. And I come to You: This was not a phrase used to focus Jesus’ thoughts as He prayed, so that He might be conscious of praying in the presence of His Father. This was His recognition that His work on earth was almost done, and He was on His way to heaven.
c. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me: The disciples needed the prayer of Jesus and the power of God the Father to keep them.
i. They must be kept, continuing as disciples of Jesus. This was not obvious; in the Jewish world of that day no one continued as a disciple to a dead rabbi. Yet these disciples were to continue, to be kept as disciples to Jesus.
ii. “You have been redeemed; but you must still be kept. You have been regenerated; but you must be kept. You are pure in heart and hands; but you must be kept.” (Spurgeon)
iii. We need Jesus our intercessor (Romans 8:34, Hebrews 7:25) to pray for us, asking God the Father to keep us. Our continuing on in Jesus is not left to our own efforts alone. The world, the flesh, and the devil are so mighty, so pervasive, and so seductive that we could never keep ourselves in our own efforts. If we stay with Jesus, it is because Jesus has prayed for us “Father, keep them.”
· We need keeping from division: Keep them that they may be one.
· We need keeping from error.
· We need keeping from sin.
· We need keeping from hypocrisy.
iv. Keep through Your name: Jesus didn’t pray, “keep through an angel” or “keep through a church leader” or “keep through their own effort.” The work of keeping a believer is so significant that it takes the name of God – the whole character and authority of God.
v. There is some debate (mainly from Westcott and Hort) if the idea in John 17:11 is keep through Your name those whom You have given Me or keep through Your name which You have given Me. Westcott and Hort believed strongly that in this verse it was the name that was given, not the disciples – with the idea, “keep them in Me who am Thy name, They connotation, revelation, manifestation: keep them in unity with Me.” (Trench)
d. That they may be one as We are: The keeping work of God the Father in the disciples would not only keep them in Him, but it would also keep them together. Jesus prayed that they would be one, and one after the pattern of the unity of God the Father and God the Son (that they may be one as We are).
i. “The unity mentioned here is not simply a unity achieved by legislation. It is a unity of nature because it is comparable to that of the Son and the Father.” (Tenney)
ii. Their continued unity could not be assumed; it would make more sense for the disciples to scatter after the death of Jesus than it would for them to stay together.
iii. The unity Jesus prayed for among His people has a pattern. Even as the Father and the Son are one yet are not the same, we do not expect that genuine Christian unity will mean uniformity or unity of structure. It will mean unity of spirit, unity of heart, unity of purpose, and unity of destiny.
e. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name: Jesus thought back over His three years of service with and unto the apostolic band. During that time He protected and guided them; He kept them. That keeping work Jesus did in the name of His Father, with His authority and power and according to His will.
i. “The Lord here, as Cyril remarks, compares His keeping of His own, to that by the Father – in a way only accountable by both Persons being of equal Power and Dignity.” (Alford)
ii. “By the Father’s power, imparted to Jesus, Jesus himself has guarded them as a treasure entrusted to him by the Father, and now he gives an account of his stewardship.” (Bruce)
iii. Jesus did not keep His own disciples in and through His own name, but in total reliance upon God the Father. It is far more foolish for us to think we can keep ourselves or others in our own name, but our own effort or authority or will.
iv. The basis of Jesus’ request was rooted in the name (character) of God and in His ownership of the disciple (those whom You gave Me).
f. None of them is lost except the son of perdition: There was one exception to Jesus’ work in keeping the disciples, Judas. This was because in fulfillment of the Scriptures; Judas was the son of perdition, the one destined to evil and destruction.
i. “Remark, it is not “I lost none, but the son of perdition.’ – Christ did not lose him (compare chapter 18:9, where there is no exception), but he lost himself.” (Alford)
ii. “It may be well to notice, for the English reader, that in the original, the noun perdition is the derivative of the verb perished. None perished but the one who should perish; whose very state and attribute it was to perish.” (Alford)
iii. “‘The son of perdition’ points to character rather than destiny. The expression means that he was characterized by ‘lostness’, not that he was predestined to be ‘lost’.” (Morris)
g. That the Scripture might be fulfilled: The Scriptures fulfilled by the betrayal of Judas were especially Psalm 41:9 and Psalm 109:8, especially noted in Acts 1:20. The treachery and treason of Ahithophel against King David was a prophesy of the treachery and treason of Judas against the Son of David.
4. (13-16) Jesus elaborates on the first request: keep them in My joy and away from the evil one.
“But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.”
a. But now I come to You: Jesus again used this phrase, first noted in John 17:11. He prayed this prayer in full recognition of the soon accomplishment of His earthly work.
b. That they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves: Jesus prayed not only for the keeping of and the unity of His disciples, as if He only longed to leave behind good employees. He deeply cared for and prayed for joy fulfilled in their life. Specifically, Jesus prayed for His own joy to be fulfilled in His life.
i. “Their joy will be greater for remembering that Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, prayed for his followers.” (Carson)
ii. Jesus had a life filled with joy; He could speak of My joy. If He did not, this part of the prayer would make no sense. Truly Jesus was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53:3). Nevertheless there was a joy and a satisfaction in the life experience of Jesus that surpassed the joy of any other who ever lived.
· His joy was rooted in unbroken fellowship with God His Father.
· His joy was the fruit of true faith and confidence in His Father.
· His joy came from seeing the great things God had done.
· His joy was never diminished by His own sin.
· His joy was never diminished by deception.
· His joy was never diminished by allowing even the smallest foothold to the devil.
iii. If Jesus was so concerned for joy among His disciples that He prayed for it, we can know that He is also concerned that we have joy. God’s purpose is to multiply joy in our lives, not to subtract it. The world, the flesh, and the devil would tell us something different, but God wants joy fulfilled in our lives.
c. I have given them Your word: Jesus faithfully delivered the word from God the Father unto His own disciples. Even Jesus saw Himself as a messenger.
i. I have given them Your word: “Not merely the oral teaching, but the whole revelation of The Father as manifested in the words and acts and personality of Jesus Christ.” (Trench)
ii. “See how the Lord Jesus himself takes all his teaching from the Father. You never hear from him any boast about being the originator of profound thoughts. No, he just repeated to his disciples the words he had received from the Father: ‘I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me.’ If Jesus acted thus, how much more must the messengers of God receive the word from the Lord’s mouth, and speak it as they receive it!” (Spurgeon)
d. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world: This prayer of Jesus cautions us against seeking refuge in Christian isolation; in modern day monasteries. Our goal is to be in the world but not of it or of the evil one; even as a ship is to be in the ocean, but not allowing the ocean to be in the ship.
· If we were taken from the world, the world would be in utter darkness and would perish; Jesus said, “You are the light of the world.” So, shine.
· If we were taken from the world, the world would not have us as a witness, to be a means of salvation unto them. So, win others to Jesus.
· If we were taken from the world, we would be denied the opportunity to serve Jesus in the same place we have sinned against Him. So, serve Jesus.
· If we were taken from the world, we would not see that there are aspects of God’s wisdom, truth, power and grace that are better appreciated on earth rather than in heaven. So, see the glory of the Lord.
· If we were taken from the world, we would be denied the place to prepare for heaven. There is no purgatory; our preparation is now. So, get ready for heaven.
· If we were taken from the world, we could not show the power of God’s grace to preserve us in the midst of difficulty. So, continue on.
i. Job and Moses and Elijah and Jonah all prayed that they would be taken out of the world, but God did not answer. He also wants us to stay in the world, to complete the work He gives us to do.
e. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one: Jesus definitely wanted us to be in the world, but He did not want us to be evil, or marked by the evil one. Jesus didn’t pray that we would be taken out of the battle, but that we would be strengthened and protected in it.
i. “The genitive ponerou might indeed be construed as neuter (‘keep them from evil’) rather than masculine (‘from the evil one’); but the reference is more probably to the being who has been thrice mentioned already as ‘the ruler of this world’ (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11).” (Bruce)
ii. Jesus prayed for His own to be kept from the evil one, the world he rules, and of all of his evil schemes and strategies.
· Kept from the evil of apostasy.
· Kept from the evil of worldliness.
· Kept from the evil of unholiness.
· It is not to be kept from the evil of trouble or hardship.
iii. “The evil one, apparently, often operates through the hatred of the world (cf. 15:18-16:4); and the disciples are going to need protection against such malice.” (Carson)
iv. All need to be kept. If we think of the young man, we appreciate how he must be kept from sin. The young have their own evil to battle against. Passions are strong, lusts seem to burn hot, and the pressure to conform to the world seems so much greater. Yet there is great danger for the older man. There is no description in the Scriptures of a young man falling into sin; think of Joseph and Daniel, and how they resisted sin. The examples of sin are from the lives of middle-aged men, like David and Solomon and Lot and many others.
v. In a sermon speaking on this text, Spurgeon spoke to those who are in sin, yet do not feel it to be evil: “There are some of you who do not feel sin to be an evil; and shall I tell you why? Did you ever try to pull a bucket up a well? You know that, when it is full of water, you can pull it easily so long as the bucket remains in the water; but when it gets above the water, you know how heavy it is. It is just so with you. While you are in sin, you do not feel it to be a burden, it does not seem to be evil; but if the Lord once draws you out of sin, you will find it to be an intolerable, a heinous evil. May the Lord, this night, wind some of you up! Though you are very deep down, may he draw you up out of sin, and give you acceptance in the Beloved!” (Spurgeon)
f. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world: Because Jesus could see His disciples as in Him, He could see them as not of the world, even as Jesus was not of the world. His call to His disciples was for them to be what they really were in Him.
i. Jesus didn’t simply say that His people were not of the world; He said they were not of the world even as He was not of the world – in other words, after the same pattern of Jesus’ not being of the world.
ii. It’s possible for someone to not be of the world, but in a very different way that Jesus was not of the world. They can be crazy, they can be violent, they can be weird, or it can be many things. But there was a particular way that Jesus was not of the world.
· Jesus was not of the world in His nature.
· Jesus was not of the world in His office.
· Jesus was not of the world in His character.
5. (17-19) Jesus’ second request for the disciples: sanctify them.
“Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.”
a. Sanctify them by Your truth: Sanctify means to be set apart for God’s special pleasure and use. It implies holiness, being set apart from the corruption of the world and for God’s use.
i. “The word hagios (rendered ‘sanctify,’ ‘hallow,’ ‘consecrate’) means to set-apart-and-devote-to-God: whether it be things, or sacrificial animals, or men for His service.” (Trench)
ii. Jesus didn’t just leave the disciples to sanctify themselves. He prayed for their sanctification. This process, as the keeping process, is not left to us alone; it is a work of God in us and through us.
b. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth: The dynamic behind sanctification is truth. The word of God read, heard, understood and applied.
i. “Sanctification is not effected apart from divine revelation.” (Morris)
ii. “The more truth you believe, the more sanctified you will be. The operation of truth upon the mind is to separate a man from the world unto the service of God.” (Spurgeon)
c. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world: The thought of service is sandwiched by sanctification. The sanctification Jesus had in mind here was not primarily personal holiness (though that is included), but more so being set apart for God’s service and mission.
i. “He does not merely leave them into the world, but sends them into it, to witness to this same truth of God.” (Alford) “The word ‘mission’ comes from the Latin verb mitto, mittere, misi, missum, which means ‘to send’ or ‘dispatch.’ A mission is a sending forth.” (Boice) “They not merely remain in it because they can do nothing else; they are positively sent into it as their Master’s agents and messengers.” (Bruce)
ii. “Christ was the great Missionary, the Messiah, the Sent One; we are the minor missionaries, Sent out into the world to accomplish the Father’s will and purpose.” (Spurgeon)
iii. “Christ’s commission is on a higher scale than ours; for he was sent to be a propitiation and covenant-head, and so came into positions which it would be presumption for us to dream of occupying. Still, there is a likeness though it be only that of a drop to the sea.” (Spurgeon)
iv. Think of how Jesus came, and connect it to the way that He sends us into the world:
· Jesus did not come as a philosopher like Plato or Aristotle, though He knew higher philosophy than them all.
· Jesus did not come as an inventor or a discoverer, though He could have invented new things and discovered new lands.
· Jesus did not come as a conqueror, though He was mightier than Alexander or Caesar.
· Jesus came to teach.
· Jesus came to live among us.
· Jesus came to suffer for truth and righteousness.
· Jesus came to rescue men.
v. “If Jesus does not explicitly pray for the world at this time (verse 9), yet his prayer for the disciples involves hope for the world.” (Bruce)
d. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself: One should not think that Jesus was unsanctified up to this point. Yet now He was about to enter a new aspect of being set aside for God the Father and His purpose: to complete the work of the cross. It was through that finished work that the word of God and work of God would become fully effective in the lives of the disciples (that they also may be sanctified by the truth).
i. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself: “As both priest, altar, and sacrifice; and this Christ did from the womb to the tomb; at his death especially.” (Trapp)
ii. “Chrysostom paraphrases ‘I sanctify myself’ as ‘I offer myself in sacrifice’. Here is a Johannine counterpart to the Gethsemane prayer.” (Bruce)
C. Jesus prays concerning all believers.
1. (20) Jesus broadens the scope of His prayer.
“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word;”
a. I do not pray for these alone: Jesus prayed for His eleven disciples, but He also had the heart and the vision to pray beyond them. He prayed for those who would come to faith by the testimony of these disciples. He prayed for us.
i. “He prayed for them. He prays for us. He knew His intercession for them would prevail. He knows His intercession for us will prevail. Then let us rest in Him, with the rest of loving obedience and of surest confidence.” (Morgan)
b. Those who will believe in Me through their word: This shows that Jesus expected that the disciples’ soon failure would be only temporary. Others would hear from them, and many would come to belief in Jesus through the testimony of the disciples.
i. i. Jesus went to the cross knowing His work would endure. He didn’t have a vague hope in what God would do through the disciples. Jesus left His earthly work full of confidence in the work of God through the disciples.
ii. “The last section of Jesus’ prayer shows that he expected the failure of the disciples to be only temporary. The entire tone of the farewell discourse is built on the assumption that after the resurrection they would renew their faith and carry on a new ministry is the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Tenney)
iii. “By worldly standards of success Jesus had little to show for his mission.” (Bruce) Yet Jesus left His earthly work full of confidence in the work of God through the disciples.
2. (21) Jesus prays for unity among all believers, even as among the original disciples.
“That they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.”
a. That they all may be one: Jesus envisioned the great multitude before the throne of God of every nation, race, language, class, and social level (Revelation 7:9-10). Jesus prayed that they might rise above their different backgrounds and understand their unity; that they may all be as one.
i. It’s as if Jesus prayed with this in mind: “Father, I have prayed for the unity of the disciples You gave Me. Yet they are all Galileans, from this time and place. There will be countless others who also become disciples, and they will come from every nation, every language, every culture, every class, every status, from every age through the rest of history. Father, make them one.”
ii. “We are to be faithful to truth; but we are not to be of a contentious spirit, separating ourselves from those who are living members of the one and indivisible body of Christ. To promote the unity of the church, by creating new divisions, is not wise. Cultivate at once the love of the truth and the love of the brethren.” (Spurgeon)
iii. “Why are we not one? Sin is the great dividing element. The perfectly holy would be perfectly united. The more saintly men are, the more they love their Lord and one another; and thus they come into closer union with each other.” (Spurgeon)
iv. “Christ will have all his members to be one in spirit, one in rights and privileges, and one in the blessedness of the future world.” (Clarke)
b. That they all may be one, as You, Father are in Me, and I in You: Earlier in this prayer Jesus prayed specifically that the eleven disciples present at His prayer remain unified (that they may be one as We are, John 17:11). Here Jesus broadened the sense of that prayer to all believers, that they all may be one.
i. As in the previous prayer for the eleven, Jesus prayed that their unity would follow the pattern of the unity of the Godhead, specifically in the relationship between God the Father and God the Son. “If the Father is in him and he is in them, then the Father is in them: they are drawn into the very life of God, and the life of God is perfect love.” (Bruce)
ii. The repetition and extension of this prayer to all future believers is important. It shows that unity among the broader body of Jesus Christ was and is very important to Jesus.
iii. As You, Father, are in Me, and I in You also speaks to the truth that the foundation of our unity is the same as the foundation of unity between the Father and the Son: equality of person. We are all on the same ground at the cross.
iv. “Beloved, those in whom Christ lives are not uniform, but one. Uniformity may be found in death, but this unity is life. Those who are quite uniform may yet have no love to each other, while those who differ widely may still be truly and intensely one. Our children are not uniform, but they make one family.” (Spurgeon)
c. That they also may be one in Us: The oneness Jesus had in mind was the unity that comes from the shared life in both God the Father and God the Son.
i. As before, Jesus did not pray for uniformity or institutional unity among believers, but for unity rooted in love and a shared nature, bringing together the many different parts of Jesus’ one body. This isn’t a legislated uniformity seeking to unite wheat and tares, nor is it the unity of institutions. Jesus had in mind the true unity of the Spirit (Ephesians 4:3).
ii. We must believe that this prayer was answered, and that the church is one. Our failure is in failing to recognize and walk in that divine fact.
d. That the world may believe that You sent Me: This was a remarkable statement. Jesus essentially gave the world permission to judge the validity of His ministry based on the unity of His people. Unity among God’s people helps the world to believe that the Father sent the Son.
i. “Even when he prays for their unity, he looks beyond their unity to the still unconverted world which stands in need of the witness generated by that unity.” (Carson)
3. (22) Jesus prays that the church would be marked by glory.
“And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one:”
a. The glory which You gave Me I have given them: As God the Father shared His glory with God the Son (John 17:5), so Jesus gave glory unto His people.
i. There are many ways that Jesus gives His glory to His people.
· The glory of His presence.
· The glory of His Word.
· The glory of His Spirit.
· The glory of His power.
· The glory of His leadership.
· The glory of His preservation.
ii. In all these aspects, there is the essential aspect of the presence of Jesus, God the Son. Scripturally speaking, when God gives or displays His glory to His people, it is some type of manifestation of God’s presence. God’s glory is, in some way, the radiance or shining of His presence, His essential nature.
iii. The Apostle Paul also understood that Jesus gives His glory to His people: For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6)
b. The glory which You gave Me: It is important to remember that the glory that God the Father gave to God the Son was glory that often appeared humble, weak, and suffering. It was glory that was ultimately displayed in radical sacrifice. The glory of Jesus is almost the opposite of the self-glory and vainglory of man.
i. The glory of Jesus was ultimately displayed in His work on the cross. Jesus often referred to it as His glorification (John 7:39, 12:16, 12:23).
ii. “Just as His true glory was to follow the path of lowly service culminating in the cross, so for them the true glory lay in the path of lowly service wherever it might lead them.” (Morris)
c. That they may be one: The presence of glory – among the Persons of the Godhead and the member of Jesus’ Church – this glory contributes to the oneness and unity of God’s people.
i. Where there is a sense of God’s glory, unity is so much easier. Lesser things that often divide us are set far in the background when there is a sense of God’s glory at work.
4. (23) Jesus prays for a unity founded in love.
“I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.”
a. I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one: Jesus again referred to the living, organic unity He prayed would exist among His people. This isn’t the totalitarian unity of coercion or fear, and it isn’t the unity of compromise. Jesus prayed for a unity of love and common identity in Him.
i. “Like sanctification, this oneness is simultaneously something already achieved and something that needs perfecting.” (Carson)
b. That the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me: Jesus here took the idea introduced in John 17:21 (that the world may believe that You sent Me) and expanded it. The repetition is notable, and so is the expansion.
i. The idea that the unity of God’s people would display to the world that Jesus was truly sent from God the Father was so important to Jesus that He repeated it in the same short prayer.
ii. Then Jesus expanded the idea, now praying that the unity among generations of believers to come would also demonstrate to the world that Jesus loves His people, and loves them after the pattern of God the Father’s love for God the Son (and have loved them as You have loved Me).
iii. This reminds us of the importance of unity and love among Christians. It is as if Jesus gave the world permission to doubt both His mission and His love if the world does not see unity and love among believers.
· This is difficult, because sometimes the most unloving and critical among the followers of Jesus directly justify their divisiveness and sharp criticism as love, as in “I only demand that you be exactly as I am because I love you.”
· This is difficult, because sometimes it is true that there must be criticism, correction, and rebuke in the name of love.
· This is difficult, because even as we understand the words of Jesus here, we also understand that there are many, many other reasons why people do not believe (2 Corinthians 3:13-16, Ephesians 4:17-19, Romans 1:20-21). Christians have a great responsibility to display Jesus to the world through their love and unity, but often Christians are too quick to blame one another for an unbelieving world.
iv. “But what a sad thing was it, that a heathen should soon after have cause to say, No beasts are so mischievous to men, as Christians are to one another.” (Trapp)
5. (24) Jesus prays to be with His people, and for them to see His glory.
“Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.”
a. I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am: Jesus asked that the unity between Himself and His people be completed, even as He promised His disciples that it would be (John 14:2-3).
i. The words “I desire” mean something. They mean that Jesus longs for the consummation of all things, greatly desiring for His people to be gathered to Him in heaven. Jesus longed for heaven’s completion of all things.
ii. Where I am: Jesus was not yet in heaven, yet He spoke as if He already were there. In a sense, we are called to do the same, understanding that we are seated with Jesus in heavenly places even as we remain on earth (Ephesians 1:3 and 2:6).
iii. “Was he not carried away by the fervor of his devotion? Where was he when he uttered the words of our text? If I follow the language I might conclude that our Lord was already in heaven. He says, ‘rather, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory.’ Does he not mean that they should be in heaven with him? Of course he does; yet he was not in heaven; he was still in the midst of his apostles, in the body upon earth; and he had yet Gethsemane and Golgotha before him ere he could enter his glory. He had prayed himself into such an exaltation of feeling that his prayer was in heaven, and he himself was there in spirit.” (Spurgeon)
iv. Jesus promised something to His disciples (John 14:2-3) and then prayed that God the Father would perform it. Jesus did everything in dependence upon God the Father.
b. That they may behold My glory which You have given Me: This is what Jesus said would occupy the attention of His people in heaven – to behold the glory of Jesus. There must be something so deep, so enthralling, so vast to the glory of Jesus that it can occupy the attention of God’s people in eternity.
c. For You loved Me before the foundation of the world: Jesus said this in connection with the glory that God the Father gave to God the Son. This glory was given in the context of a love relationship, and a love relationship extending into eternity past.
i. This tells us that before anything was created, there was a love relationship between the Persons of the Godhead, the Trinity. Even if Jesus had not specifically told us this, we might have understood it by other Biblical truths, understanding that God is eternal (Micah 5:2) and that God is love (1 John 4:8 and 4:16). There was never a time when God did not love and was not love.
ii. Genuine love must have an object outside of itself to love; therefore love existed between the Persons of the Godhead before anything was created. The Triune nature of God is a not only Scripturally correct, it is a logical necessity given what we know of God through His revealed Word.
6. (25-26) The triumphant conclusion to Jesus’ prayer.
“O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”
a. O righteous Father! Jesus was about to go to the cross and undergo the entire ordeal of His passion – all of it planned and sent by God the Father. Yet Jesus, full of love and honor towards God the Father cried out in concluding this prayer, “O righteous Father!”
i. Jesus understood that His present and soon-to-be-endured pain did not diminish the righteousness of God the Father in even the smallest way.
b. The world has not known You, but I have known You: Jesus understood both that the world did not know and understand God the Father, and that He did know and understand Him.
c. And these have known that You sent Me: Jesus repeated the idea first mentioned in this prayer at John 17:8. Whatever their weaknesses and failings, the disciples understood that God the Father sent God the Son.
d. I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it: Jesus ended this great prayer on a note of faith and even triumph. He knew that He had done His work, and would finish His course.
i. In one sense, the entire work of Jesus could be summed up in saying that He declared to the disciples and to the world the name of God the Father. That is, He revealed and lived out the character and nature of God the Father as the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person (Hebrews 1:3).
ii. The world called Jesus a blasphemer (John 10:33), a drunk, a glutton, and an associate of sinners (Matthew 11:19), a demon-possessed pagan (John 7:20 and 8:48), and an illegitimate child (John 8:41). Jesus believed none of it, because none of it was true. At the end He could confidently say, “I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it.”
e. That the love with which You loved Me may be in them: Jesus received love from God the Father, and this love relationship was the strength and sustenance of His life. Here, concluding His great prayer, Jesus prayed that the same love that was His strength and sustenance would fill His disciples (both near and far).
i. This speaks to the essential place of love in the Christian life and community. Jesus thought it so important that He specifically prayed for love when He might have prayed for many other things.
· Take love from joy and you have only hedonism.
· Take love from holiness and you have self-righteousness.
· Take love from truth and you have bitter orthodoxy.
· Take love from mission and you have conquest.
· Take love from unity and you have tyranny.
f. And I in them: Jesus prayed that His disciples would not only be filled with the love of God the Father, but that they would also know the indwelling presence of Jesus Himself. This continues the emphasis on abiding and the indwelling Jesus from the words of Jesus earlier that evening (John 15:1-8).
©2018 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission
John 16 – The Departing Jesus’ Final Teaching
Videos for John 16:
A. More on the work of the Holy Spirit.
1. (1-4) The reason for Jesus’ warning: certain persecution.
“These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble. They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me. But these things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them. And these things I did not say to you at the beginning, because I was with you.”
a. They will put you out of the synagogues: Jesus warned His disciples of coming opposition because He did not want them to be surprised and stumbled by it. He also did not expect that His disciples would immediately leave the synagogues, or leave them by their own choice. They would be forced out of the synagogues for Jesus’ sake.
i. Stumble: “A skandalethron was not a stumbling-block which might trip you up… It is used of the spring of a trap which might ‘go off’ when you were least expecting it.” (Tasker)
ii. “At the time when the Gospel was written these words had acquired a special relevance from the inclusion in the synagogue prayers of a curse on the Nazarenes, which was intended to ensure that the followers of Jesus could take no part in the service.” (Bruce)
b. The time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service: That time quickly came, as the life of Saul of Tarsus before his conversion showed (Acts 8:1-3, 22:3-5, 26:9-11). Since then there have been many who persecute and kill the true followers of Jesus because they think God is pleased.
i. Offers God service: “The word Jesus uses for service is lateria, which is the normal word for the service that a priest rendered at the altar in the Temple of God and is the standard word for religious service.” (Barclay)
ii. In the 20th Century most Christian martyrs were victims of the atheistic, communist state. Historically, this was unusual. Through most of history, most Christian martyrs were targets of those from other religions or even sects within Christendom.
c. When the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them: Jesus did well to forewarn, because it comes as a great shock that a gospel so glorious is hated so passionately. He did not tell His disciples these things at the beginning, but He certainly told them.
i. “During the earlier part of His ministry Jesus had spoken comparatively little to His disciples about the persecution which awaited them, because He had been in their company, and as long as He was with them the world’s hatred must inevitably be drawn to Himself.” (Tasker)
ii. “While He was with them they leant upon Him and could not apprehend a time of weakness and persecution.” (Dods)
2. (5-7) Jesus explains the benefits of His departure.
“But now I go away to Him who sent Me, and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.”
a. None of you asks Me, “Where are You going”: Peter had asked this question earlier (John 13:36) and Thomas asked a similar question (John 14:5). Therefore Jesus must mean not only the words of the question, but the heart of it. Their previous asking was in the sense, what will happen to us when You leave, not in the sense Jesus meant here – what will happen to You when You leave.
i. “A difficulty is posed by His statement that nobody asks, ‘Whither goest thou?’ in the light of Simon Peter’s earlier question, ‘Lord, wither goest thou?’ (John 13:36). But that question had not really indicated a serious inquiry as to Jesus’ destination. Peter was diverted immediately and he made no real attempt to find out where Jesus was going. He had been concerned with the thought of parting with Jesus, not with that of the Master’s destination. He had in mind only the consequences for himself and his fellows.” (Morris)
b. But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart: Jesus excused their lack of interest in His fate, knowing their great sorrow. They had sorrow at the moment, but their future was brighter. The disciples could only see the sorrow of Jesus leaving; but Jesus’ departure was an essential step in their growth as disciples.
c. It is to your advantage that I go away: This had to be difficult for the disciples to believe. When a loved one is near death we often think it is the best to let death take its course. We say, “It will be better for them to go, and to stop the suffering. It is to their advantage to go away.” But when someone we love is near death, we usually don’t think that it is to our advantage that they go. Yet Jesus here said that it wasn’t for His advantage, but to your advantage that I go away.
i. If the disciples really understood what was about to happen, it would be even more difficult for them to believe.
· To your advantage that Jesus is arrested?
· To your advantage that Jesus’ ministry of teaching and miracles is stopped?
· To your advantage that Jesus is beaten?
· To your advantage that Jesus is mocked?
· To your advantage that Jesus is sentenced for execution?
· To your advantage that Jesus is nailed to a cross?
· To your advantage that Jesus dies in the company of notorious criminals?
· To your advantage that His lifeless body is laid in a cold grave?
d. Nevertheless: This word meant a challenge to their sorrow and even their unbelief. Nevertheless is one of the great words of the Bible, meaning despite all of that. Jesus knew they were filled with sorrow because of what He told them. But, despite all of that He wanted them to know that it was to their advantage.
i. “It is expedient for you, implies that the dispensation of the Spirit is a more blessed manifestation of God than was even the bodily presence of the risen Saviour.” (Alford)
e. I tell you the truth: Jesus didn’t say this because He lied most of the time. He said this because He wanted them to make a concerted effort to trust Him at this point. Jesus knew this was difficult to believe.
f. For if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you: Jesus had a plan, but they couldn’t understand it. With 2,000 years of hindsight we see that when Jesus went away He then sent the Spirit of God, which had and has a broader and more effective ministry in the entire world.
i. “The withdrawal of the bodily presence of Christ was the essential condition of His universal spiritual presence.” (Dods)
g. I will send Him to you: Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to His disciples when He departed. This is what would make it to their advantage that He departed from them. Jesus meant that the presence and work of the Holy Spirit would actually be better for believers than the physical, bodily presence of Jesus.
i. It was better because Jesus could be with every believer all the time. Jesus promised, For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them (Matthew 18:20). That was not a promise He could keep after flesh, but only after the Spirit. He had to go away for that promise to be made true. If Jesus were present bodily on this earth, there would be some Christians who would be overjoyed – those in His immediate presence. But for most Christians, they would have the overwhelming sense that Jesus was not with them. Truly, it was all to your advantage.
ii. It was better because now we can understand Jesus better. If Jesus were present bodily on this earth, there would be no end to His words for us. We wouldn’t have a Bible; we would have the library of congress. Secretaries would follow Him constantly to record His every word. It would all be written down and preserved. We would have all of it, and the mass of it would be just plain unmanageable. Truly, it was all to your advantage.
iii. It was better because now we can have a more trusting relationship with God. If Jesus were present bodily on this earth, there would be a great challenge to our walk of faith. Paul said, Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. (2 Corinthians 5:16) God wants us to walk by faith, and not by sight, and if Jesus were here bodily, there would be great temptation to walk by sight, and not by faith. Truly, it was all to your advantage.
iv. It was better because Jesus’ work is better understood as He is enthroned in the heavens. If Jesus were present bodily on this earth, it would be confusing to us. Jesus does not continue to suffer; He finished His work on the cross. Yet it might be difficult for us to see a Savior who never suffered when we are in distress; it might make us think that Jesus was unsympathetic. God didn’t want us to struggle with this dilemma, so Jesus is no longer bodily on this earth. He is enthroned in the heavens. Truly, it was all to your advantage.
v. Before Jesus left the disciples were confused, thick headed, afraid, selfish and self-centered. After Jesus left and after the Helper had come they were wise, surrendered, bold, and giving. Truly, it was to your advantage that Jesus left.
3. (8-11) The work of the Holy Spirit in the world.
“And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.”
a. He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Sin is the truth about man, righteousness is the truth about God, judgment is the inevitable combination of these two truths.
i. “Each man’s conscience has some glimmering of light on each of these; some consciousness of guilt, some sense of right, some power of judgment of what is transitory and worthless; but all these are unreal and unpractical, till the convicting work of the Spirit has wrought in him.” (Alford)
b. He will convict: The ancient Greek work translated convict has a broader range of meaning than simply our word convict, especially as it is understood in a legal sense. It also carries the ideas to expose, to refute, and to convince (Bruce). This is the work of the Holy Spirit in the world and in individual hearts; to convince and convict of these truths.
i. He will convict: “Or undeceive the world, by refuting those odd conceits and erroneous opinions, that men had before drunk in, and were possessed of.” (Trapp)
ii. It is a serious thing to resist and reject this work of the Holy Spirit, which is especially prominent and powerful in seasons of great spiritual advance (sometimes called revival or spiritual awakening).
iii. Before the convicting work of the Holy Spirit one may say, I make a lot of mistakes. Nobody’s perfect. After the convicting work of the Holy Spirit one may say, I’m a lost rebel, fighting against God and His law – I must rely on Jesus to get right with God.
iv. “The Spirit does not merely accuse men of sin, he brings to them an inescapable sense of guilt so that they realize their shame and helplessness before God.” (Tenney)
v. “The Spirit is the ‘advocate’ or helper of those who believe in Jesus, their counsel for the defence. But in relation to unbelievers, to the godless world, he acts as counsel for the prosecution.” (Bruce) It’s important to have the Spirit of God to defend rather than to convict.
vi. In the great awakening of 1860-61 in Great Britain, a high-ranking army officer described the conviction of sin in his Scottish town: “Those of you who are ease have little conception of how terrifying a sight it is when the Holy Spirit is pleased to open a man’s eyes to see the real state of heart. Men who were thought to be, and who thought themselves to be good, religious people… have been led to search into the foundation upon which they were resting, and have found all rotten, that they were self-satisfied, resting on their own goodness, and not upon Christ. Many turned from open sin to lives of holiness, some weeping for joy for sins forgiven.” (J. Edwin Orr, The Second Evangelical Awakening in Britain)
c. Of sin, because they do not believe in Me: It is unbelief, the rejection of Jesus, which ultimately proves one to be guilty. The Holy Spirit will tell the world of the importance of trusting in, relying on, and clinging to Jesus to avoid this sin.
i. “The essence of sin is unbelief, which is not simply a casual incredulity nor a difference of opinion; rather, it is a total rejection of God’s messenger and message.” (Tenney)
ii. “The basic sin is the sin which puts self at the centre of things and consequently refused to believe in Him.” (Morris)
iii. “A sinner is a sacred thing: the Holy Ghost hath made him so. Your sham sinner is a horrid creature; but a man truly convinced of sin by the Spirit of God is a being to be sought after as a jewel that will adorn the crown of the Redeemer.” (Spurgeon)
d. Of righteousness, because I go to My Father: The ascension of Jesus to heaven demonstrated that He had perfectly fulfilled the Father’s will and had proven Himself righteous – and exposed the lack of righteousness in the world that rejected Him. The Holy Spirit shows the world the righteousness of Jesus and its own unrighteousness.
i. Many people today – even secular people – take the righteousness of Jesus as a given. Yet during His life Jesus was reviled as an imposter, as demon-possessed, as a wicked destroyer of the law, as a glutton, a drunk, and as illegitimate. The Holy Spirit persuades the work of the righteousness of Jesus.
ii. “Whereas righteousness had previously been defined by precepts, it now has been revealed in the incarnate Son, who exemplified it perfectly in all his relationships.” (Tenney)
e. Of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged: The judgment of Satan himself means that there will be a final reckoning between God and His rebellious creature. The Holy Spirit warns the world of this coming judgment.
i. Normally conviction is followed by judgment. When the Holy Spirit works, there is an in-between step: the revelation of the righteousness of Jesus Christ, which can satisfy the judgment for the convicted person.
ii. “The world, the prince of it, is ‘judged’. To adhere to it rather than to Christ is to cling to a doomed cause, a sinking ship.” (Dods)
4. (12-15) The work of the Holy Spirit among the disciples.
“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.”
a. I still have many things to say to you: Jesus frankly admitted that His own teaching was incomplete, and anticipated the further instruction of the church by the Holy Spirit. This statement of Jesus leads us to anticipate the formation of the New Testament.
i. Here Jesus answered those who say, “I’ll take what Jesus taught, but not what Paul or the others taught.” Paul and the other New Testament writers taught us the many things that Jesus spoke of.
· For example, they didn’t know that some of the customs and commands among the Jews would be fulfilled by the person and work of Jesus, and no longer be binding under the New Covenant.
· For example, they didn’t know that God would bring Gentiles into the New Covenant community as equal partners, without having to first become Jews.
b. He will guide you into all truth: In one sense, this was fulfilled when the New Testament writings, divinely inspired by God, were completed. In another sense the Holy Spirit continues today to personally lead us into truth, but never in opposition to the Scripture, because God’s supremely authoritative revelation is closed with the New Testament.
i. Into all truth: “The Greek means ‘all the truth’, i.e. the specific truth about the Person of Jesus and the significance of what He said and did. The New Testament is permanent evidence that the apostles were guided into truth about this.” (Tasker)
ii. He will tell you things to come: “The promise must therefore refer to the main features of the new Christian dispensation. The Spirit would guide them in that new economy in which they would no longer have the visible example and help and counsel of their Master.” (Dods)
c. He will not speak on His own authority… He will glorify Me… He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you: The Holy Spirit’s ministry is revealing Jesus to us, to bear testimony of Jesus (John 15:26). He uses many different ways and many different gifts to accomplish this, but the purpose is always the same: to reveal Jesus.
i. One may speak of dream, visions, experiences, revelations and say they came from the Holy Spirit, but many of those supposed revelations of the Spirit say nothing or almost nothing about Jesus Himself.
ii. “This verse is decisive against all additions and pretended revelations subsequent to and besides Christ; it is being the work of the Spirit to testify and to declare the THINGS OF CHRIST; not any thing new and beyond Him.” (Alford)
iii. All things that the Father has are Mine: “If Christ had not been equal to God, could he have said this without blasphemy?” (Clarke)
B. Jesus prepares the disciples for His coming challenge on the cross.
1. (16-18) Jesus tells them of His immediate, brief departure.
“A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me, because I go to the Father.” Then some of His disciples said among themselves, “What is this that He says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me’; and, ‘because I go to the Father’?” They said therefore, “What is this that He says, ‘A little while’? We do not know what He is saying.”
a. A little while, and you will not see Me: The disciples didn’t understand that the arrest of Jesus was only an hour or two away, and then His crucifixion would follow. Yet because He must go to the Father, they would see Him again as He rose from the dead.
i. You will not see Me: “During the interval between His death and resurrection the disciples lost their faith and spiritual vision, and no more beheld Him than did the world.” (Trench)
ii. You will see Me: “‘And again a little while shall elapse, and then ye-shall-seeMe (ὄψεσθέμε), i.e. with bodily eyes.’ When the short interval between His death and resurrection had elapsed, then they should see Him with their bodily eyes.” (Trench)
b. We do not know what He is saying: The disciples were both troubled and confused. They probably thought Jesus spoke with unnecessary mystery about where He was going and what He would do. They didn’t understand what He meant about not seeing Him and then seeing Him.
i. We do not know what He is saying: “A different word is used here in the Greek for saith from that used in the first part of the verse. Hence, RSV, rightly, ‘we do not know what he means’.” (Tasker)
ii. “The use of the imperfect tense in ‘kept asking’ [they said] (elegon) shows that they must have held a consultation among themselves about it and that the discourse did not proceed as an uninterrupted lecture.” (Tenney)
iii. “Where for us, all is clear, for them all was mysterious. If Jesus wishes to found the Messianic kingdom, why go away? If He does not wish it, why return?” (Godet, cited in Morris)
2. (19-22) Jesus explains of coming sorrow being turned into joy.
Now Jesus knew that they desired to ask Him, and He said to them, “Are you inquiring among yourselves about what I said, ‘A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me’? Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy. A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.”
a. Jesus knew that they desired to ask Him: Jesus understood that the disciples wanted more clarity; but He also knew that they needed more than information. They needed their hearts and minds prepared to endure the coming crisis.
i. “Jesus, perceiving their embarrassment, and that they wished to interrogate Him, said to them: ‘Are you inquiring among yourselves?’” (Dods)
b. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy: Jesus knew they would be plunged into deep and dark sorrow in the next few hours. He also knew that God would, by His power and grace, turn their sorrow into joy.
i. The words, you will be sorrowful were certainly true.
· Sorrowful at the loss of relationship.
· Sorrowful at the humiliation of their Master and Messiah.
· Sorrowful at the seeming victory of His enemies.
· Sorrowful because all they hoped for was taken away.
ii. The crucifixion and all that went with it was not a bump in the road on the way to fulfilling God’s plan, as if it were an obstacle to overcome. It was the way the plan would be fulfilled. That sorrow would turn into joy.
iii. God’s work was not to replace their sorrow with joy, but to turn sorrow into joy, as He often does in our lives. The sorrow would be directly connected to their coming joy, even as the sorrow of a woman in childbirth is directly connected to her joy that her child has been born into the world.
iv. “It is most remarkable and instructive that the apostles do not appear in their sermons or epistles to have spoken of the death of our Lord with any kind of regret. The gospels mention their distress during the actual occurrence of the crucifixion, but after the resurrection, and especially after Pentecost, we hear of no such grief.” (Spurgeon)
c. I will see you again and your heart will rejoice: They didn’t fully understand the separation, so they could not fully understand the joy of the coming reunion. Yet when it happened, no one could deny their joy-filled testimony of the resurrection. It was testimony so sure that they endured death because of it. It was joy no one will take from you.
i. Your joy no one will take from you: “Our Lord’s meaning appears to have been this: that his resurrection should be so completely demonstrated to them, that they should never have a doubt concerning it; and consequently that their joy should be great and permanent.” (Clarke)
ii. “That he should suffer was cause for grief, but that he has now suffered all is equal cause for joy. When a champion returns from the wars bearing the scars of conflict by which he gained his honors, does anyone lament over his campaigns?” (Spurgeon)
3. (23-27) Jesus promises greater joy regarding their coming access to God after Jesus’ departure.
“And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. These things I have spoken to you in figurative language; but the time is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figurative language, but I will tell you plainly about the Father. In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you; for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God.”
a. In that day you will ask Me nothing: Jesus probably meant that they would be so overcome with joy and relief at the resurrection that they would be speechless when it came to making requests of Jesus. Yet the pathway to audience with God and answered prayer was more open, not more closed.
i. Until now you have asked nothing in My name: “Ye have not as yet considered me the great Mediator between God and man; but this is one of the truths which shall be more fully revealed to you by the Holy Spirit.” (Clarke)
b. Whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you: Because of Jesus’ great work, disciples have unlimited, undeniable access to God through Him. The disciples had yet to really pray in the name of Jesus, but He would teach them.
i. “The meaning is that the atoning death of Jesus will revolutionize the whole situation. On the basis of the Son’s atoning work men will approach God and know the answers to their prayers.” (Morris)
c. But I will tell you plainly about the Father: The disciples should trust that in this time of restored joy and open access to Jesus, they would know the Father Himself, and know about Him more than ever.
i. Figurative language: “Used here to cover the cryptic expression ‘a little while’ and the metaphor of childbirth used in verse 21.” (Tasker)
d. For the Father Himself loves you: Jesus makes it clear that the Son did not need to persuade an angry Father to be gracious; but His work would provide a righteous basis for God’s graciousness.
i. “Here Jesus is saying: ‘You can go to God, because he loves you,’ and he is saying that before the Cross. He did not die to change God into love; he died to tell us that God is love. He came, not because God so hated the world, but because he so loved the world. Jesus brought to men the love of God.” (Barclay)
ii. “The reason that Christ will not intercede for them is now given. There will be no need. The Father Himself loves them. He does not need to be persuaded to be gracious. In this case the ground of acceptance is the relationship in which they stand to Jesus.” (Morris)
e. Because you have loved Me: The Father did not love the disciples on the basis of their love for Jesus, but their love for Jesus was evidence of the Father’s love for them.
i. A pulse doesn’t make the heart pump, but it is evidence of it. Our love for God doesn’t make Him love us, but it is evidence that He loves us.
4. (28-32) The disciples proclaim their faith; Jesus places it in perspective.
“I came forth from the Father and have come into the world. Again, I leave the world and go to the Father.” His disciples said to Him, “See, now You are speaking plainly, and using no figure of speech! Now we are sure that You know all things, and have no need that anyone should question You. By this we believe that You came forth from God.” Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me.”
a. I came forth from the Father: Jesus repeated themes from previously in this great talk with His disciples, telling them again about His departure from this world and unto His Father. John 16:28 is a remarkable summary of the work of Jesus.
· I have come forth from the Father: Jesus is God, having existed in heaven’s glory and goodness before He ever came to the earth.
· And have come into the world: Jesus was born as a man, having added humanity to deity.
· Again I leave the world: Jesus would die.
· And go to My Father: Jesus would rise from the dead and ascend to heaven.
i. “In those sentences we have a declaration of the whole redemptive progress of the Son of God. From the Father into the world; from the world unto the Father.” (Morgan)
ii. “Here is the sum of the Christian Faith in four fundamental propositions, which, with their several why and how and result, form the whole body of Christian verity.” (Trench)
b. Now we are sure that You know all things: The summary statement in the previous sentence made the disciples feel that now they understood. They seem to have been sincere, but more confident in their faith than they should have been.
i. “They declared that their belief in the Divinity of His mission was confirmed. They were perfectly sincere. They felt that they had at last passed beyond the region where it would be possible to doubt. How much better He knew them than they knew themselves!” (Morgan)
c. Do you now believe… You will be scattered: Jesus did not doubt the belief of the disciples, but warned them that their faith would be shaken before it was finally settled upon Him. They would find it much easier to believe on Him in the upper room than in the Garden of Gethsemane, where they would all flee each to his own, and would leave Jesus alone.
i. This wasn’t to make an I told you so moment. “The very fact that He had known and had foretold the course of events, would be something to hold on to, and the memory of it would help them back again to faith.” (Morgan)
ii. “The words Do you now believe? can also be taken as a statement. This is preferable, as it brings out better the emphasis laid upon now in the original. ‘You do now believe, but your belief will soon be shaken.’” (Tasker)
iii. “Jesus read their hearts better than they knew. Not only could he answer their unspoken questions: he could assess the strength of their belief in him. It was sincere and genuine, bound up with their love for him, but it was about to be exposed to a test such as they had not imagined.” (Bruce)
d. You will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone: The crisis would come soon, and when it did the disciples would think, every man for himself and abandon Jesus alone.
i. “When he did not need their friendship, they were his very good friends. When they could do nothing for him if they tried, they were his faithful followers. But the pinch has come; now might they watch with him one hour, now might they go with him amid the rabble throng, and interpose at least the vote of the minority against the masses; but they are gone.” (Spurgeon)
ii. “There he stands. They have left him alone; but there he is, still standing to his purpose. He has come to save, and he will save. He has come to redeem, and he will redeem. He has come to overcome the world, and he will overcome it.” (Spurgeon)
e. Yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me: Jesus relied upon His close relationship with God all the way to the cross, and even upon it. In the loneliest moments imaginable, He understood that the Father was with Him.
i. “I remember that passage about Abraham going with Isaac to mount Moriah, where Isaac was to be offered up. It is written, ‘So they went both of them together.’ So did the Eternal Father and his Well- beloved Son when God was about to give up his own Son to death. There was no divided purpose; they went both of them together.” (Spurgeon)
5. (33) The triumphant conclusion to Jesus’ farewell discourse to His disciples and to all of Jesus’ teaching before the cross.
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
a. These things I have spoken to you: In a moment Jesus would pray for His disciples. Before He did, He summarized the purpose of the long talk He had with those disciples: to bring them peace and the settled assurance of overcomers.
b. That in Me you may have peace: Jesus offered His disciples peace. He made the offer in the most unlikely circumstances. At that very minute, Judas met with Jesus’ enemies to plot His arrest. Jesus knew that He would be arrested, forsaken, rejected, mocked, humiliated, tortured and executed before the next day was over. We think that the disciples should have comforted Him – yet Jesus had peace, and enough to give to others.
i. Jesus did not promise peace; He offered it. He said, “you may have peace.” People may follow Jesus yet deny themselves this peace. We gain the peace Jesus offered by finding it in Him. Jesus said, “that in Me you may have peace.” We won’t find real peace anywhere else other than in Jesus.
ii. Jesus made the way to peace with God: Having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1)
iii. Jesus made the way to peace with others: For Jesus is our peace, who has made the both one and broken down the middle wall of division between us. (Ephesians 2:14)
iv. This word of peace is especially meaningful set in the context of conflict – tribulation and overcome both speak of battles to fight. “He promises a peace which co-exists with tribulation and disturbances, a peace which is realized in and through conflict and struggle.” (Maclaren)
v. This promise was especially powerful for those eleven disciples. “He predicted their desertion in the very saying in which He assured them of the peace He would give them. He loved them for who they were and despite their shortcomings.” (Morris)
c. In the world you will have tribulation: Jesus also made the promise of tribulation. Peace is offered to us, but tribulation is promised. When we become Christians we may bring fewer problems upon ourselves, but we definitely still have them.
i. Understanding this removes a false hope. Struggling Christians often hope for the day when they will laugh at temptation and there will be one effortless victory after another. We are promised struggle as long as we are in this world; yet there is peace in Jesus.
ii. “There is no avoiding it; it is not a paradise, but a purgatory to the saints. It may be compared to the Straits of Magellan, which is said to be a place of that nature, that which way soever a man set his course, he shall be sure to have the wind against him.” (Trapp)
d. Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world: Jesus proclaimed the truth of His victory. This was an amazing statement from a man about to be arrested, forsaken, rejected, mocked, tortured and executed. Judas, the religious authorities, Pilate, the crowd, the soldiers or even death and the grave could not overcome Him. Instead, Jesus could truly say, “I have overcome the world.” If it was true then, it’s even truer now.
i. When Jesus wanted to comfort and strengthen His disciples, He spoke of His victory, not directly their victory. This wasn’t “cheer up” or “try harder.” Jesus knew that His victory would be theirs.
ii. “He overcame the world in three areas: in His life, in His death, and in His resurrection.” (Boice)
iii. “This statement, spoken as it is in the shadow of the cross, is audacious… He goes to the cross not in fear or in gloom, but as a conqueror.” (Morris)
iv. “He overcame the world when nobody else had overcome it.” (Spurgeon)
v. The thought that Jesus has overcome became precious to John. “Nikeo occurs only here in the Gospel, but twenty-two times in the Johannine Epistles and Apocalypse.” (Dods)
vi. “The world conquers me when it comes between me and God, when it fills my desires, when it absorbs my energies, when it blinds my eyes to the things unseen and eternal.” (Maclaren)
vii. Knowing that Jesus has overcome the world brings us good cheer. It is the foundation for our peace in Him. We see that Jesus is in control, we see that although He leaves He does not abandon, we see that He loves, and we see that the victory is His. We can be of good cheer indeed.
©2018 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission
John 15 – The Departing Jesus Teaches His Disciples about Life in Him
Videos for John 15:
“It must occur to all who read these discourses preserved by John how simple the text looks, and yet how transcendent is the thought when it is even dimly understood. John is sailing sky-high: are we? It is the strongest food in the Bible.” (Trench)
A. Relating to Jesus when Jesus departs.
1. (1-3) Jesus as the true vine.
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.”
a. I am the true vine: This was a familiar symbol. God repeatedly used a vine as a symbol of His people in the Hebrew Scriptures (one example is Psalm 80:8-9). Yet it was often used in a negative sense (as in Isaiah 5:1-2, 7 and Jeremiah 2:21). Just in the previous week Jesus publicly taught about Israel being like a vineyard in the Parable of the Vineyard (Matthew 21:33-44).
i. Jesus spoke this to His disciples, probably as they stood in the upper room and prepared to leave. He used the picture of the vine because there were grapevines everywhere in ancient Israel. Also, there was a large golden vine set as a prominent decoration on the front of the temple communicating the idea that Israel was God’s vine. As well, “The vine was a recognized symbol also of the Messiah.” (Dods)
ii. In contrast, Jesus is the true vine. We must be rooted in Him (not in Israel) if we will bear fruit for God. In the New Covenant community, our first identification is in Jesus Christ Himself, not in Israel or even in the church as such.
iii. Of the many pictures of the relationship between God and His people, the vine and branch picture emphasizes complete dependence and the need for constant connection. The branch depends on the vine even more than the sheep depends on the shepherd or the child depends on the father. As Jesus was about to depart from His disciples, this was important encouragement. He would remain united to them and they to Him as truly as branches are connected to the main vine.
b. And My Father is the vinedresser: In the Old Testament use of the vine as a picture of Israel, God the Father was also presented as the One who cultivated and managed the vine. God fulfills this role also for the believer under the New Covenant.
i. The New Covenant participant has relationship with both the Father and the Son; with both the vine itself and the vinedresser.
c. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away: The branches that are taken away were never properly abiding in the vine, demonstrated by the fact that they did not bear fruit.
i. There is an alternative understanding of this passage that bears some consideration. James Montgomery Boice (among others) believes that the ancient Greek verb airo, translated, takes away is more accurately translated lifts up. The idea is that the Father lifts up unproductive vines off of the ground (as was common in the ancient practices of vineyard care). Those caring for ancient grape vines made sure to lift them up off the ground that they might get more sun and bear fruit better.
ii. “The verb translated ‘cut off’ (aireo) means literally ‘to lift up’ or ‘to take away’; the second, ‘trims clean’ (kathaireo), a compound of the first, means ‘to cleanse’ or ‘to purify.’” (Tenney)
d. Every branch that bears fruit He prunes: This word for prunes is the same word translated cleanse in other places. The same word could apply to either “pruning” or “cleansing” in ancient Greek. The vinedresser cleans up the fruit-bearing vine so it will bear more fruit.
i. “Left to itself a vine will produce a good deal of unproductive growth. For maximum fruitfulness extensive pruning is essential.” (Morris)
ii. “Dead wood is worse than fruitlessness, for dead wood can harbor disease and decay…God removes the dead wood from his church and disciplines the life of the believer so that it is directed into fruitful activity.” (Tenney)
iii. “And if it be painful to bleed, it is worse to wither. Better be pruned to grow than cut up to burn.” (Trapp)
e. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you: The work of pruning, of cleansing, had already begun in the eleven disciples Jesus spoke to. They had heard and received much of His teaching and were in some sense already clean because of the word.
i. In saying you are already clean, Jesus repeated an idea from earlier in the evening: that there is an initial cleansing, and then a continuing cleansing (John 13:10).
ii. The word of God is a cleansing agent. It condemns sin, it inspires holiness, it promotes growth, and it reveals power for victory. Jesus continues to wash His people through the word (Ephesians 5:26).
iii. “The means by which pruning or cleaning is done is by the Word of God. It condemns sin; it inspires holiness; it promotes growth. As Jesus applied the words God gave him to the lives of the disciples, they underwent a pruning process that removed evil from them and conditioned them for further service.” (Tenney)
2. (4-5) The vital relationship between the branch and the vine.
“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”
a. Abide in Me, and I in You: Jesus emphasized a mutual relationship. It isn’t only that the disciple abides in the Master; the Master also abides in the disciple. Something of this close relationship is described in Song of Solomon 6:3: I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine.
i. Jesus used this picture to assure His disciples of continued connection and relationship even though He was about to depart from them. Yet He spoke this in a way that also indicated an aspect of choice on their part. Abiding was something they must choose.
ii. “When our Lord says: Abide in me he is talking about the will, about the choices, the decisions we make. We must decide to do things which expose ourselves to him and keep ourselves in contact with him. This is what it means to abide in him.” (Boice)
b. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine: It is impossible for the branch to bear grapes if it isn’t connected to the vine. The disciple can’t do true good for God and His kingdom if they do not consciously connect with and abide in Jesus.
i. “All our sap and safety is from Christ. The bud of a good desire, the blossom of a good resolution, and the fruit of a good action, all come from him.” (Trapp)
c. I am the vine, you are the branches: Jesus perhaps spoke so perhaps because they were so accustomed to thinking of Israel as the vine and thought mainly in terms of their connection to Israel. They now had to think of Jesus as the vine, and emphasize their connection to Him.
d. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit: Fruit bearing is inevitable with abiding. The quality and quantity of the fruit may differ, but the presence of fruit will be inevitable.
i. The purpose of the branch is to bear fruit. Though there are uses for grape leaves, people don’t raise grape vines to look at the pretty leaves. They take the trouble to cultivate, plant, water and tend the vines so that fruit can be enjoyed. In this sense, we can say that fruit represents Christian character (such as the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5). God’s work in us and our connection to Him should be evident by fruit, and perhaps by much fruit.
ii. Fruit also implies inherent reproduction. Virtually every piece of fruit has seeds within it, seeds that are meant to reproduce more fruit.
iii. The concept of abiding is not restricted to our abiding in Jesus; it also includes His abiding in us (and I in him). It is a mutual dynamic that expects our life to be spiritually and practically in vital connection with Jesus, and that expects Him to indwell us in an active, real way. In no way is the responsibility for abiding only upon the believer.
e. Without Me you can do nothing: It isn’t that they disciples could do no activity without Jesus. They could be active without Him, as were the enemies of Jesus and many others. Yet they and we could do nothing of real, eternal value without Jesus.
i. “The ‘I am’ comes out in the personal word ‘me,’ and the claim of all power unveils the Omnipotent. These words mean Godhead or nothing.” (Spurgeon)
ii. “It is only by union with Him that any branch can bear fruit: once that union is broken, the sap no longer flows; and fruit in that branch is no longer possible, though the remains of the sap that lay in it may be enough to bear leaves and so for a time give semblance of life.” (Trench)
iii. “Paul does not use the Johannine idiom but he expresses the same truth when he says, ‘It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me’ (Galatians 2:20), and ‘I can do all things in him who strengthens me’ (Philippians 4:13).” (Bruce)
iv. “‘Without me ye can do nothing;’ if this be true of apostles, much more of opposers! If his friends can do nothing without him, I am sure his foes can do nothing against him.” (Spurgeon)
3. (6-8) The price of not abiding and the promise to those who do abide.
“If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.”
a. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered: Jesus warned His disciples that failing to abide means that life fails. A branch only has life as it is connected to the stock of the vine; a disciple only spiritually lives as they are connected to the Master.
i. These verbs describe a progression for the one who doesn’t abide: cast out, withered, gathered, thrown, and burned. Like other parables, the picture Jesus used here was not meant to describe a whole theological system. Yet the progression described is a sober and significant warning of the danger of not abiding.
ii. The phrasing Jesus used here was important. He didn’t say, If anyone does not bear fruit he is cast out. He said, if anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out. He knows who abides and who does not, and this can’t be perfectly discerned by our outward estimation of fruit.
b. They gather them and throw them into the fire: The lifeless branch bears no fruit and even its wood is good for nothing but burning. This reference to burning and fire raises the association of punishment in the life to come and warns of the great consequences of failing to abide.
i. We think of how these words would impact the eleven disciples who first heard them. Jesus told them He would depart; yet they would not be disconnected from Him. The work of the Holy Spirit, sent by the Father, would be to keep them connected to Jesus. If they were disconnected from Him, they would be ruined – perhaps as Judas was.
ii. This passage is interpreted at least three ways regarding the security of the professed disciple’s position in Jesus.
· The first view believes cast out branches are ones who, though once true believers, end up in hell for lack of abiding and fruit. They were once disciples, but are now cast out.
· The second view is that the cast out branches are ones who only appeared to be disciples, and who never really abided in Jesus, and therefore go to hell (like Judas).
· The third view sees the cast out branches as fruitless disciples who live wasted lives that are in effect burnt up, and this passage doesn’t refer to their eternal destiny (like Lot, Abraham’s nephew).
iii. The emphasis seems plain: there are no true disciples who do not abide. The branch must remain connected to the vine or it has no life and is of no lasting good.
iv. Are burned: “Not, ‘is burned,’ in any sense of being consumed; ‘and must burn,’ as Luther renders it.” (Alford)
c. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire and it shall be done for you: Jesus connected the principle of abiding to two ideas previously mentioned in this upper room talk.
· My words abide in you: Jesus connected abiding to the idea of faithfulness to His words, as previously mentioned in John 14:23-24.
· You will ask what you desire: Jesus connected abiding to the idea of answered prayer, as previously mentioned in John 14:13-14. “Prayer comes spontaneously from those who abide in Jesus… Prayer is the natural outgushing of a soul in communion with Jesus.” (Spurgeon)
i. Abiding in Jesus means abiding in His words, and having His words live in the disciple. “We should not overlook the importance of the reference to ‘my words’. The teaching of Christ is important and is not lightly to be passed over in the interests of promoting religious feeling.” (Morris)
ii. “The connection is maintained by obedience and prayer. To remain in Christ and to allow his words to remain in oneself means a conscious acceptance of the authority of his word and a constant contact with him by prayer.” (Tenney)
iii. This faithful, abiding disciple should expect answered prayer as part of their relationship with Jesus. A failure to see prayer answered means something is not right in the disciple’s relationship. Perhaps something is not right in the abiding, and prayers are amiss and unanswered. Perhaps something is not right in the asking and there is no perception of what Jesus wants to do in and through His disciple.
iv. It shall be done for you: “It becomes safe for God to say to the sanctified soul, ‘Ask what thou wilt, and it shall be done unto thee.’ The heavenly instincts of that man lead him right; the grace that is within his soul thrusts down all covetous lustings and foul desires, and his will is the actual shadow of God’s will. The spiritual life is master in him, and so his aspirations are holy, heavenly, Godlike.” (Spurgeon)
d. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit: The purpose of fruit bearing is to bring glory to God, not to the disciple. A branch that bears much fruit brings honor to one who cares for the vine, and a disciple who bears much fruit in a spiritual sense brings honor to God.
i. “Branches and clusters have no self-seeking, no aim outside the Vine and the Husbandman’s glory: all other aims are cast out as unworthy.” (Trench)
ii. By this My Father is glorified: “Or, honoured. It is the honour of the husbandman to have good, strong, vigorous vines, plentifully laden with fruit: so it is the honour of God to have strong, vigorous, holy children, entirely freed from sin, and perfectly filled with his love.” (Clarke)
iii. Real fruitfulness is only determined over an extended period of time. “Genuine conversion is not measured by the hasty decision but by long-range fruitfulness.” (Erdman) This principle is displayed in the Parable of the Soils (Matthew 13).
4. (9-11) The link between love and obedience.
“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.”
a. As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you: Jesus deliberately loved His disciples according to the way God the Father loved Him. We know that Jesus loved His disciples by teaching them, protecting them, guiding them, sacrificially serving them, and using His power and authority to do these things. In some way, the Father also did all those things for Jesus and Jesus did them for the disciples after that pattern.
i. The love of Jesus for His people is so remarkable, that this is the analogy or illustration that He must make. He didn’t say, “I love you as a mother loves her baby” or “I love you the way a husband loves his wife” or “I love you the way the soldier loves his buddy” or even “I love you the way an addict loves his dope.” The only way He could paint the picture was to use the love of the Father for the Son.
ii. As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you: “This surely is Christ’s superlative word concerning His love for His own. It leaves nothing more to be said. What the love of the Father is for the Son, who can tell? The very suggestion fills the soul with the sense of profound depths which cannot be fathomed.” (Morgan)
iii. “Beloved, you do not, dare not, could not, doubt the love of the Father to his Son. It is one of those unquestionable truths about which you never dreamed of holding an argument. Our Lord would have us place his love to us in the same category with the Father’s love to himself. We are to be as confident of the one as of the other.” (Spurgeon)
iv. The Father loved the Son with a love:
· That has no beginning.
· That has no end.
· That is close and personal.
· That is without measure.
· That is unchanging.
b. Abide in My love: There is no single way to describe the nature and character of Jesus. He is filled with power, wisdom, truth, holiness, devotion, submission, sacrifice, and dozens of other qualities. Of all these to emphasize, Jesus said abide in My love. When the disciple stays connected to the love of Jesus the relationship stays strong.
i. You will abide in My love: “Notice that this is done as an explanation of the means of abiding in His love. This is not some mystical experience. It is simple obedience. It is when a man keeps Christ’s commandments that he abides in Christ’s love.” (Morris)
c. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love: Again, Jesus connected true discipleship with obedience to His command and honoring His word. Jesus fulfilled this in regard to His Father; the disciple must fulfill it in regard to Jesus.
i. As noted previously (John 14:15) what Jesus did and taught that evening in the upper room emphasized the commandments of Jesus mainly in love for fellow disciples, sacrificial service for fellow disciples, and trusting love for God the Father and Jesus the Son.
d. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full: When the disciple fails to abide in the love of Jesus and thereby fails to keep His commandments, that disciple will not experience the fullness of joy Jesus promised to those who do abide in His love and obedience.
i. “No one is more miserable than the Christian who for a time hedges in his obedience. He does not love sin enough to enjoy its pleasures, and does not love Christ enough to relish holiness. He perceives that his rebellion is iniquitous, but obedience seems distasteful. He does not feel at home any longer in the world, but his memory of his past associations and the tantalizing lyrics of his old music prevent him from singing with the saints. He is a man most to be pitied; and he cannot forever remain ambivalent.” (Carson)
e. That My joy may remain in you: The joy of Jesus isn’t the same as what is commonly understood as happiness or excitement. The joy of Jesus is not the pleasure of a life of ease; it is the exhilaration of being right with God, and consciously walking in His love and care. We can have that joy – we can have His joy – and have it as an abiding presence.
i. My joy: “Not ‘joy concerning Me,’ nor ‘joy derived from Me,’ nor ‘My joy over you,’ but My joy, properly speaking…His own holy exultation, the joy of the Son in the consciousness of the love of God.” (Alford)
ii. When Jesus spoke of His joy, “Nobody ever asked Him what He meant. They did not look at each other in perplexity. To them it seemed entirely natural that the Master should make reference to His gladness. From this we gather that the joy of Christ was something they were perfectly familiar with.” (Morrison)
f. That your joy may be full: This is the result of abiding in Jesus’ love, and obedience flowing from that abiding relationship.
i. That your joy may be full: “Or, complete-plhrwyh, filled up: a metaphor taken from a vessel, into which water or any other thing is poured, till it is full to the brim. The religion of Christ expels all misery from the hearts of those who receive it in its fulness. It was to drive wretchedness out of the world that Jesus came into it.” (Clarke)
ii. “God made human beings, as he made his other creatures, to be happy. They are capable of happiness, they are in their right element when they are happy; and now that Jesus Christ has come to restore the ruins of the Fall, he has to bring back to us the old joy, — only it shall be even sweeter and deeper than it could have been if we had never lost it.” (Spurgeon)
B. Relating to each other when Jesus departs.
1. (12-15) Jesus speaks of the extent of His love that they are to imitate.
“This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.”
a. That you love one another as I have loved you: As Jesus spoke these words to the disciples as they stood in the upper room, having risen from the table, we sense the emphasis created by repetition. Jesus really cared that His disciples love one another, and that they do so according to the measure and quality of His love for them.
i. “Perhaps they expected minute, detailed instructions such as they had received when first sent out (Matthew 10). Instead of this, love was to be their sufficient guide.” (Dods)
ii. “We are sent out into the world to love one another. Sometimes we live as if we were sent into the world to compete with one another, or to dispute with one another, or even to quarrel with one another.” (Barclay)
iii. As I have loved you: “His love was at once the source and the measure of theirs.” (Dods)
iv. “Unity instead of rivalry, trust instead of suspicion, obedience instead of self-assertion must rule the disciples’ common labors.” (Tenney)
v. This is My commandment, that you love one another: “So deeply was thus commandment engraved on the heart of this evangelist that St. Jerome says, lib. iii. c. 6, Com. ad Galat., that in his extreme old age, when he used to be carried to the public assemblies of the believers, his constant saying was, Little children, love one another. His disciples, wearied at last with the constant repetition of the same words, asked him, Why he constantly said the same thing? ‘Because (said he) it is the commandment of the Lord, and the observation of it alone is sufficient.’” (Clarke)
b. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends: Jesus described the measure and quality of His love for them, to use as a pattern for the way they should love each other. His love is complete and of surpassing greatness, laying down its life.
i. “No man can carry his love for his friend farther than this: for, when he gives up his life, he gives up all that he has. This proof of my love for you I shall give in a few hours; and the doctrine which I recommend to you I am just going to exemplify myself.” (Clarke)
c. I have called you friends: Jesus descried the measure and quality of His love for them as a love that treats servants as friends. In the relationship between a disciple and his rabbi of that time, it wasn’t expected to be a friendship. Yet Jesus the rabbi called His disciples, His servants friends.
i. In the thinking of the ancient world a slave could be a useful and trusted tool but could never be thought of as a partner. It was possible that a slave and a friend might be of similar help, but a friend could be a partner in the work in a way a slave never could.
ii. “John Wesley, looking back on his conversion in later years, described it as a time when he exchanged the faith of a servant for the faith of a son.” (Bruce)
d. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you: They were friends because they were obedient (though not perfectly so). Friendship with Jesus can’t be disconnected from obedience to His commands.
i. “It must be active obedience, notice that. ‘Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.’ Some think it is quite sufficient if they avoid what he forbids. Abstinence from evil is a great part of righteousness, but it is not enough for friendship.” (Spurgeon)
e. I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you: They were friends because Jesus didn’t keep secrets from them, but openly revealed what He had received from God the Father.
i. “The friend is a confidant who shares the knowledge of his superior’s purpose and voluntarily adopts it as his own.” (Tenney)
2. (16-17) Chosen to bear fruit and to love one another.
“You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. These things I command you, that you love one another.”
a. You did not choose Me, but I chose you: Jesus just spoke of great privilege for the disciples – friendship with the Master, answered prayer, bearing much fruit, knowing things from the Father. The disciples should rightly treasure these without becoming proud as if they had earned them. They were all rooted in the fact that Jesus chose them, not that they chose Him.
i. “We are in Christ, not because we hold Him, but because He holds us.” (Meyer)
ii. “It was not they who chose Him, as was normally the case when disciples attached themselves to a particular Rabbi. Students the world over delight to seek out the teacher of their choice and attach themselves to him. But Jesus’ disciples did not hold the initiative. On the contrary it was He who chose them.” (Morris)
iii. That you should go and bear fruit: “The word go probably merely expresses the activity of living and developing principle; not the missionary journeys of the Apostles, as some have explained it.” (Alford)
b. Appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain: Jesus chooses disciples not simply so they would have the thrill of knowing they are chosen, but so that they would bear fruit that remains, to the glory of God the Father.
i. “Much of their fruit will be necessarily the winning of others to Christ: but that is not the prominent idea here.” (Alford)
c. That whatever you ask: Again, Jesus connected fruit bearing with answered prayer. When He departed from them their experience of asking and receiving would not end but would change, and Jesus prepared His disciples for this.
d. That you love one another: Again, Jesus commanded love among the disciples. When He departed from them they must not disband or turn against each other, and Jesus prepared them to stay together and love one another.
C. Relating to the world when Jesus departs.
1. (18-20) The world may reject the disciples because of who they are.
“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.”
a. If the world hates you: Jesus told the disciples that the world would often hate them. As wonderful as Jesus was and His message was, they should expect to be rejected when Jesus departed, just was much as they were often opposed while Jesus was with them.
i. The disciples Jesus spoke to that night would know the hatred of the world. They were persecuted and all of them died as martyrs in Jesus’ name, except for John — whom they tried to kill, but he miraculously would not die at their hands.
ii. The earliest Christians would know the hatred of the world. “Tacitus spoke of the people ‘hated for their crimes, whom the mob call Christians.’ Suetonius had spoken of ‘a race of men who belong to a new and evil superstition.’” (Barclay)
iii. “It is an odd fact that the world soon justified its hostility to them by imputing to them the initiative in hatred. The earliest extant reference to Christians in pagan literature charges them with ‘hatred of the human race’.” (Tacitus, Annals, 15.44.5) (Bruce)
iv. Christians through the centuries have known the hatred of the world, and millions have died for Jesus. It is said that more died as martyrs for Jesus in the 20th century than in all previous centuries combined.
v. “It is not without significance that the disciples are to be known by their love, the world by its hatred.” (Morris)
b. You know that it hated Me before it hated you: Jesus hoped to comfort the disciples with the knowledge that the world’s hatred was first directed toward Him. Jesus attracted attention from great multitudes and devotion from individuals of all kinds; yet as a whole, the world hated Jesus.
i. You know: “Ye know can also be read as an imperative know ye. The sense is therefore either ‘Ye are aware’, or ‘Be very sure’, so that (on either interpretation) the hatred of the world for them will not take them by surprise.” (Tasker)
ii. It hated Me: “The perfect tense of the verb ‘hate’ (memiseken) implies that the world’s hatred is a fixed attitude toward him — an attitude that carries over to his disciples as well.” (Tenney)
iii. When Jesus spoke to Saul of Tarsus on the Road to Damascus, He asked Saul: Why do you persecute Me? (Acts 9:4) “The Lord who was personally persecuted on earth continued to be persecuted, even in his exultation, in the person of his persecuted followers.” (Bruce)
iv. It hated Me: “He and the world are antagonistic. The world is glad to forget God: He came to bring men back to God.” (Trench)
c. Because you are not of the world: Jesus said this both as a fact and an explanation. This further explained why the world would hate the disciples of Jesus. It was also to be a factual description of the disciples – that in many ways they were different than the world.
i. But I chose you out of the world: “The hatred of the world, instead of being depressing, should be exhilarating, as being an evidence and guarantee that they have been chosen by Christ.” (Dods)
d. If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you: Jesus was mostly persecuted by the religious establishment, which mainly reflected the values and goals of the world in opposition to God. One may be religious and very much part of the world.
i. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also: “The force of the last clause in this verse is well brought out by Knox ‘they will pay the same attention to your words as to mine; that is, none’.” (Tasker)
2. (21-25) The world may reject disciples because of who Jesus is.
“But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates Me hates My Father also. If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father. But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, ‘They hated Me without a cause.’”
a. Because they do not know Him who sent Me: If people do not know God as He really is, they often attack and persecute those who represent God in some way. This should cause sympathy in the persecuted for their persecutors.
i. “Men may prefer to evolve an idea of their universal Father, but that idea of theirs will take their own colour and the colour of their Age. The only true idea of Him is to be got from The Son.” (Trench)
b. Now they have no excuse for their sin: Because Jesus did come to and speak to the world, they knew something of God that they did not know before. This made them without excuse for hating and rejecting Jesus and His Father in heaven. Jesus did among them the works which no one else did, and they still hated and rejected Him.
i. Spoken to them… done among them the works: “By both his life and his words he rebukes human sin and condemns it. He uncovers the inner corruption and hypocrisy of men, and they react violently to the disclosure.” (Tenney)
ii. Spoken to them… done among them the works: “So then He puts before us two forms of His manifestation of the divine nature, by His words and His works. Of these two He puts His words foremost, as being a deeper and more precious and brilliant revelation of what God is than are His miracles.” (Maclaren)
c. They hated Me without a cause: Jesus quoted this line from Psalm 69:4 (and possibly Psalm 35:19) to show the Scriptural precedent and prophetic fulfillment that there was no just cause for the world to hate Jesus and His Father as they did.
i. “Their unreasonable hatred both of Himself and His Father is inexplicable except as a corroboration of the truth of the Psalmist’s words They hated me without a cause (Psalm 35:19; 69:4).” (Tasker)
ii. “The irony of his quotation is clear: the men who posted as the champions of the Law were fulfilling the prophecy concerning the enemies of God’s servant.” (Tenney)
iii. As the disciples of Jesus expect some measure of hatred and rejection from the world, they should live in such a way that it is also without a cause. Peter communicated some of this heart in his letter: If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter. (1 Peter 4:14-16)
3. (26-27) The witness of the Holy Spirit and the disciples.
“But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning.”
a. When the Helper comes: Jesus previously spoke of the sending of the Helper (John 14:16, 14:26). The departing Jesus knew the disciples would need the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit to face the opposition the world would bring.
i. Who proceeds from the Father: This line is one source of a historic controversy between the eastern and western branches of Christianity, debating if the Spirit proceeds from the Father alone or from the Father and the Son.
ii. “Although the coming of the Advocate is clearly stated to be dependent upon the initiative of the Son, He is only said to ‘proceed’ from the Father. Hence the long controversy between East and West over the filoque clause in the Nicene Creed.” (Tasker)
iii. “The western expansion of the clause, ‘who proceeds from the Father and the Son’ (filioque), could be justified by the fact that the Son as well as the Father is said to send the Spirit; the basic objection to it was that it was unwarranted for one part of the church to make such an alteration in the wording of the ecumenical creed without reference to the rest of the church.” (Bruce)
b. He will testify of Me: Jesus had told them that the Helper, the Holy Spirit, would continue the teaching work of Jesus (John 14:26). Here He explained that the Helper would speak of and about Jesus.
i. Everything the Holy Spirit does is consistent with the testimony of the nature of Jesus. His job is to tell us, and to show us, who Jesus is. If spiritual things happen that are not consistent with the nature of Jesus, it isn’t the Holy Spirit doing it. He is the One who will testify of Jesus in all that He does.
c. And you also will bear witness: The disciples were not left in the world merely to endure the world’s hatred. Empowered by the Helper and His testimony about Jesus, they will bear witness of who Jesus is and what He did to rescue the world.
i. “The witness of the Advocate and the witness of the apostles are in effect a single witness.” (Tasker)
ii. “Their witness is linked with that of the Holy Spirit. It is the same Christ to whom they bear witness, and it is the same salvation of which they bear witness. At the same time it is their witness. They cannot simply relax and leave it all to the Spirit.” (Morris)
iii. This bearing of witness may have had special application to the apostles. “This verse alludes to the historical witness which the Holy Ghost in the ministers and eye-witnesses of the word, Luke 1:2, should enable them to give, — which forms the human side of this great testimony of the Spirit of truth, and OF WHICH OUR INSPIRED GOSPELS ARE THE SUMMARY: the Divine side being, His own indwelling testimony in the life and heart of every believer in all time.” (Alford)
d. Because you have been with Me: The disciples were qualified to bear witnessof Jesus because they trusted Him, had the Holy Spirit, and had simply been with Jesus – they were part of His life and He was part of their life.
©2018 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission
John 14 – The Departing Jesus
Videos for John 14:
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 in to 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 to 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 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 difficulty 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 is 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 is 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 in an even greater way 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 with you, 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)
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John 13 – Jesus, the Loving Servant
Videos for John 13:
Alexander Maclaren wrote of this remarkable section, John 13-17: “Nowhere else is His speech at once so simple and so deep. Nowhere else have we the heart of God so unveiled to us… The immortal words which Christ spoke in that upper chamber are His highest self-revelation in speech, even as the Cross to which they led up is His most perfect self-revelation in act.”
A. Jesus washes the disciples’ feet.
1. (1) Jesus and His disciples at a last meeting before His arrest.
Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.
a. Now before the feast of the Passover: This gives us a time reference. Jesus was about to share a meal with His disciples, and scholars disagree whether this meal was actually on the Passover, or if it was the Passover meal, but celebrated the day before.
i. The chronology is an issue because in some passages, it seems that Jesus was crucified on the day of Passover. In other passages, it seems that Jesus was crucified the day after Passover. There are scores of potential solutions to the problem, but it’s hard to say which one is the final answer.
ii. “The verbs for ‘reclining’ [John 13:23] … suggest that, although this meal fell ‘before the (official) festival of the Passover’ (verse 1) it was nevertheless treated by the participants as a Passover meal.” (Bruce)
iii. This debate has contributed to one practical difference among Christians. “From time immemorial western Christendom uses for the Eucharist unleavened bread, eastern Christendom has from time immemorial insisted on the bread being leavened. The East asserts, and rightly, that the Last Supper was eaten on the night before the nation ate the Passover, and infers that it was, therefore, eaten with ordinary leavened bread. The West asserts, and rightly, that the Passover eaten by our Lord and the Twelve was a genuine Passover, as He Himself calls it (Luke 22:15) and as all the Synoptists agree in calling it, and infers that it was, therefore, eaten with full Mosaic ritual and therefore with unleavened bread.” (Trench)
b. Jesus knew that His hour had come: Jesus lived His life in anticipation of this hour. He knew when it had not yet come (John 2:4). Up to this point, Jesus enjoyed a unique protection because His hour had not yet come (John 7:30, 8:20). Now, Jesus knew that His hour had come. He spoke of this awareness in John 12:23-27 and even said that for this purpose I came to this hour.
i. Indeed, His hour had come. Jesus’ public ministry was over. In close to 24 hours, Jesus would hang on the cross. This was the beginning of the end, and Jesus used these last precious hours to serve and prepare His disciples.
c. That He should depart this world to the Father: The cross is not specifically mentioned in John 13:1, but casts a shadow over almost every word. We see the shadow of the cross over His hour had come. We see the shadow of the cross over loved them to the end. But we also see the shadow of the cross over depart this world. It is phrased softly, but there is an iron-hard reality underneath the soft cover. Jesus would only depart this world through the cross.
i. “When one is leaving for a distant country, and has transacted all necessary business with the outside world, he is fain to spend the few remaining hours in the sweet intimacy of the family circle.” (Morrison)
d. Having loved: Surely, Jesus had loved His disciples. He led them, taught them, cared for them, and protected them. What Jesus gave them was already more than any other teacher or leader would or could give his followers.
e. Having loved His own: There is a love Jesus has for all people, and then there is a love for His own. It isn’t so much that Jesus’ love is different, but the dynamic of the love relationship is different. The love of Jesus for His own is greater because it has a response, and love answers to love.
i. Jesus has done some things for all men. He has also done all things for some men – His own who were in the world.
ii. “God’s wider love for ‘the world’ (John 3:16) is not displaced by this concentrated love of Jesus for his friends, but it is they who experience it in its fullness.” (Bruce)
iii. These disciples and all disciples were and are really His own, belonging to Jesus.
· They were His own because He chose them.
· They were His own because He gave Himself to them.
· They were His own because His Father gave them to Him.
· They were His own because He would soon purchase them.
· They were His own because He conquered them.
· They were His own because they yielded themselves to Him.
f. He loved them to the end: Jesus had loved His own. But He hadn’t finished loving them. He would love them to the end. The idea behind the phrase to the end is “to the fullest extent, to the uttermost.”
i. “‘To the fullest extent’ is a better rendering of the original eis telos than KJV ‘unto the end.’ It does not mean that Jesus continued to love his disciples only up to the end of his career but that his loved has no limits.” (Tenney)
ii. To the end means to the end of Jesus’ earthly life. Though the disciples gave up on Him, He never gave up on them. Though they stopped thinking about Jesus, and were only thinking of themselves, He never stopped thinking of them. Whose problems were worse – Jesus’ or the disciples’? Who was concerned more for the other? He loved them to the end.
iii. To the end means a love that will never end. Jesus will never stop loving His own. It isn’t a love that comes and goes, that is here today and gone tomorrow.
iv. To the end means a love that reaches to the fullest extent. Some translations have “He loved them to the uttermost.” Jesus poured out the cup of His love to the bottom for us.
2. (2-3) The heart of Judas and the heart of Jesus.
And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God,
a. Supper being ended: Some ancient manuscripts have supper was now in progress instead of supper being ended. This probably makes more sense, and the difference is one letter in the ancient Greek manuscripts.
i. “‘Supper was now in progress’ is a preferable reading to the variant ‘Supper having ended,’ chiefly because the sequel (verses 13:30) makes it plain that supper had not ended. The point is that supper had already begun when Jesus rose from the table and began to wash the disciples’ feet.” (Bruce)
ii. “Some MSS read being ended (genomenou) and others ‘while still in progress’ (ginomenou). Both readings are well-attested.” (Tasker)
b. The devil having already put it into the heart of Judas: It may be that a better translation is the devil had already made up his mind that Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, should betray him. Satan looked for a man to betray Jesus, and had probably cultivated Judas for a long time. Now the choice was made. Judas was his man.
i. Bruce favors the reading that it was the devil’s heart that held the evil impulse against Jesus, and that the devil impressed it from his heart to Judas.
c. Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands: This wasn’t something that Jesus came to know just at this hour. Several years before in His ministry, Jesus said The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand. (John 3:35) But this means that at this particular time, and in this particular circumstance, it was important that Jesus knew the Father had given all things into His hands.
i. It was important because of the hour. Jesus was about to face the agony of crucifixion and the terror of standing in the place of guilty sinners before the righteous wrath of God the Father. At the same time, Jesus went into this situation as a victor, not as a victim. He could have backed out any time He wanted to, because the Father had given all things into His hands.
ii. It was important because of the circumstance. Jesus was about to lower Himself, literally stooping in humble service to His disciples. As He served in this humble way, He did not do it from weakness. He did it from a position of all authority, because the Father had given all things into His hands.
iii. The Gospel accounts often don’t tell us the motive or the thinking behind what Jesus did. This is different. John told us exactly why Jesus washed their feet and spoke to them with so much love in the following chapters. Perhaps he asked Jesus, and Jesus told him.
iv. “John says much more about the inner consciousness of Jesus than the Synoptics do, either because he was more observant or because Jesus confided in him.” (Tenney)
d. And that He had come from God and was going to God: Jesus didn’t only know His authority, He also knew His relationship with God. He knew His identity, as one who had come from God, and as one who was going to God. Knowing His past with God the Father, and His future with God the Father, He determined to glorify Him in the present.
i. Sometimes in demanding better treatment people think or say, “Do you know who I am?” Jesus knew His greatness more than anyone, and it made Him give better treatment to others instead of expecting it Himself.
ii. “It was not in spite of but because of His consciousness of His divine origin and destination, that He rose from supper, and assumed the dress and posture of a slave; for a servant in truth He was, being none other than the ideal Servant delineated in Isaiah’s prophecy.” (Tasker)
3. (4-5) Jesus washes the feet of His disciples.
Rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.
a. Rose from supper and laid aside His garments: With short, vivid statements John described the remarkable thing Jesus did on that unforgettable night. We have the sense that when John wrote this many years after the fact he could still remember every detail.
i. “John’s account reads like that of an eye-witness who had watched with wonder and suspense — short staccato sentences.” (Trench)
ii. “Each step in the whole astounding scene is imprinted on the mind of John. ‘Next He pours water into the basin,’ the basin which the landlord had furnished as part of the necessary arrangements.” (Dods)
b. Began to wash the disciples’ feet: At this moment of deep meaning, Jesus did something that must have almost seemed crazy. He began to do the job of the lowest servant in the household. He began to wash the disciples’ feet.
i. At this critical moment, at this evening before the torture of the cross, Jesus did not think of Himself. He thought about His disciples. Truly, this was loving them to the end. After all, Jesus’ disciples treated Him badly and were about to treat Him even worse, forsaking Him completely; yet He loved them.
ii. Jesus completely gave Himself to washing their feet. He was thorough in the work. First, He rose from supper. Then Jesus laid aside His garments, which had to remind Him of what waited in just a few hours, when He would be stripped of His garments and be crucified. Jesus then took a towel and girded Himself. Finally Jesus poured water into a basin. If Jesus wanted to just display the image of a servant, He would have had a servant or one of the disciples do all this preparation work. He then would have quickly wiped a damp cloth on a few dirty feet and consider the job done. That would give the image of servanthood and loving leadership, but Jesus gave Himself completely to this work.
iii. This was an extreme act of servanthood. According to the Jewish laws and traditions regarding the relationship between a teacher and his disciples, a teacher had no right to demand or expect that his disciples would wash his feet. It was absolutely unthinkable that the Master would wash His disciple’s feet.
c. And to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded: As Jesus went around the table, washing and drying the feet of His disciples, it was a dramatic scene. Luke 22:23 says that the disciples entered the room debating who was greatest. By what He did, Jesus illustrated true greatness.
i. It was customary that the lowest servant of the house would wash the feet of the guests as they came into the house, especially for a formal meal like this. For some reason, this didn’t happen when Jesus and the disciples came into the room. They ate their meal with dirty feet.
ii. This was more awkward than we might think. First, because of the sandals they wore and the roads they walked on, the feet were dirty. Second, the disciples ate a formal meal like this at a table known as a triclinium. This was a low (coffee-table height), U-shaped table. The guests sat and their status at the meal was reflected by how close they were to the host or leader of the meal. Because the table was low, they didn’t sit on chairs. They leaned on pillows, with their feet behind them. The unwashed feet were easily seen and perhaps smelled.
iii. None of the disciples were interested in washing each other’s feet. Any of them would have gladly washed Jesus’ feet. But they could not wash His without having to be available to wash the others’ feet, and that would have been an intolerable admission of inferiority among their fellow competitors for the top positions in the disciples’ hierarchy. So no one’s feet got washed.
d. Began to wash the disciples’ feet: In all of this, Jesus acted out a parable for the disciples. Jesus knew actions speak louder than words. So when He wanted to teach the proud, arguing disciples about true humility, He didn’t just say it – He showed it. He showed it in a way that illustrated His whole work on behalf of His own.
· Jesus rose from supper, a place of rest and comfort.
· Jesus rose from His throne in heaven, a place of rest and comfort.
· Jesus laid aside His garments, taking off His covering.
· Jesus laid aside His glory, taking off His heavenly covering.
· Jesus took a towel and girded Himself, being ready to work.
· Jesus took the form of a servant, and came ready to work.
· Jesus poured water into a basin, ready to clean.
· Jesus poured out His blood to cleanse us from the guilt and penalty of sin.
· Jesus sat down again (John 13:12) after washing their feet.
· Jesus sat down at the right hand of God the Father after cleansing us,
i. “It is a parable in action, setting out that great principle of lowly service which finds its supreme embodiment in the cross.” (Morris)
ii. “‘Knowing that He came from God, and went to God,’ and that even when He was kneeling there before these men, ‘the Father had given all things into His hands,’ what did He do? Triumph? Show His majesty? Flash His power? Demand service? ‘Girded Himself with a towel and washed His disciples’ feet’!” (Maclaren)
iii. “The form of God was not exchanged for the form of a servant; it was revealed in the form of a servant. In the washing of their feet the disciples, though they did not understand it at the time, saw a rare unfolding of the authority and glory of the incarnate Word, and a rare declaration of the character of the Father himself.” (Bruce)
iv. Decades later, when Peter wrote to Christians about humility, he put it like this: Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility (1 Peter 5:5). More literally, Peter wrote: “wrap the apron of humility around yourself.” What Jesus did here remained in his mind and heart.
4. (6-8) Jesus overcomes Peter’s objections and washes his feet.
Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, “Lord, are You washing my feet?” Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.” Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.”
a. You shall never wash my feet: Perhaps Peter thought, “All these other disciples missed the point by letting Jesus wash their feet. He wants us to protest, and proclaim that He is too great, and we are too unworthy, to have Him wash our feet.” So, Peter made this dramatic statement.
i. “This was an immoderate modesty, a proud humility.” (Trapp)
ii. At the same time, Peter clearly felt uncomfortable with having Jesus perform such a humble act of service for him. This example of the servant’s heart of Jesus made Peter and the others look proud by comparison.
iii. “The word my is not emphatic. The having his feet washed is a matter of course; it is the Person who is about to do it that offends him.” (Alford)
b. If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me: Peter had to accept this from Jesus. He became a pattern for us. If we do not accept the humble service of Jesus to cleanse us, we have no part with Him.
· Peter preached the good news of the kingdom and cast out devils in Jesus’ name – and still needed his feet washed.
· Peter saw Jesus transfigured in His glory together with Moses and Elijah, an amazing spiritual experience – and still needed his feet washed.
· Peter’s own feet walked on the water in an amazing act of faith – and still needed his feet washed.
i. This foot washing was a powerful lesson in humility but it was more than that. It also shows that Jesus has no fellowship, no deep connection with those who have not been cleansed by Him.
ii. “The same well-meaning but false humility would prevent him (and does prevent many) from stooping to receive at the hands of the Lord that spiritual washing which is absolutely necessary in order to have any part in Him.” (Alford)
iii. We are grateful Jesus did not say, If you do not have great holiness, you have no part with Me. We are happy He did not say, If you are not a Bible expert, you have no part with Me. Having a part with Jesus begins simply with receiving something from Him, not achieving something our self.
iv. This statement of Jesus also shows us that the literal foot washing was not so important. Judas had his feet literally washed, but he had no part with Jesus because Judas did not let Jesus wash him in the sense Jesus meant here.
v. “It is not the area of skin that is washed that matters but the acceptance of Jesus’ lowly service.” (Morris)
5. (9-11) Peter tells Jesus to wash him completely.
Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.” For He knew who would betray Him; therefore He said, “You are not all clean.”
a. Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head! Peter, in his request to be fully washed, was still reluctant to let Jesus do as He wanted. Peter wanted to tell Jesus what to do. Jesus – though the servant of all – still was and is God’s appointed leader. He would not allow Peter to dominate this situation and set things on a wrong course.
i. “Peter’s humility is true enough to allow him to see the incongruity of Jesus washing his feet: not deep enough to make him conscious of the incongruity of his thus opposing and dictating to his Master.” (Dods)
ii. “A moment ago he told his Master He was doing too much: now he tells Him He is doing too little.” (Dods)
iii. Sometimes we show a servant’s heart by accepting the service of others for us. If we only serve, and refuse to be served, it can be a sign of deeply rooted and well-hidden pride. “Man’s humility does not begin with the giving of service; it begins with the readiness to receive it. For there can be much pride and condescension in our giving of service.” (Temple)
b. He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet: Speaking in the long Biblical tradition of using physical washing as an illustration of spiritual cleansing, Jesus taught there is an initial bathing that is distinct from an ongoing washing. We need to be bathed by our trust in Jesus and what He did for us on the cross; there is a sense in which that is done once for all. Yet afterward we must continually have our feet washed in ongoing relationship with and trust upon Jesus.
i. “The priest of God, when consecrated first, was washed from head to foot, and so baptised into the service of the sanctuary; but each time he went to offer sacrifice be washed his feet and his hands in the brazen laver.” (Spurgeon)
6. (12-14) Jesus explains what He did, and calls His disciples to follow His example.
So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.”
a. Do you know what I have done to you: Jesus entire life was a lesson and example to the disciples. Here He felt it was important to specifically draw attention to the lesson of what He had just done. The washing of their feet meant something and Jesus would not leave the understanding of that up to chance.
b. You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am: Jesus recognized and encouraged the commitment of the disciples to Him. He was their Teacher and He was their Lord and in this sense they had no other Teacher or Lord.
c. You also ought to wash one another’s feet: As their Teacher and Lord Jesus commanded them to show the same humble, sacrificial love to one another. The example of Jesus should mark their attitude and their action. This was and is true for every follower of Jesus Christ (all who call Him Teacher and Lord), but should be even more so for those who are or desire to be leaders among God’s people.
i. “If there be any deed of kindness or love that we can do for the very meanest and most obscure of God’s people, we ought to be willing to do it — to be servants to God’s servants.” (Spurgeon)
ii. You also ought to wash one another’s feet: Some try to fulfill this with foot washing ceremonies. Surely, if this is done with the right heart it can be a blessing, but Jesus didn’t refer to a ceremony here. “Every year they hold a theatrical feet-washing, and when they have discharged this empty and bare ceremony they think they have done their duty finely and are then free to despise their brethren. But more, when they have washed twelve men’s feet they cruelly torture all Christ’s members and thus spit in the face of Christ Himself. This ceremonial comedy is nothing but a shameful mockery of Christ. At any rate, Christ does not enjoin an annual ceremony here, but tells us to be ready all through our life to wash the feet of our brethren.” (Calvin, cited in Morris)
iii. “The studied formality of the pedilavium on Maundy Thursday, when bishops, abbots and sovereigns have traditionally washed the feet of paupers, may commemorate our Lord’s action but in the nature of the case it can scarcely fulfill its spirit.” (Bruce)
d. Wash one another’s feet: We, like the disciples, would gladly wash the feet of Jesus. But He tells us to wash one another’s feet. Anything we do for each another that washes away the grime of the world and the dust of defeat and discouragement is foot washing.
i. It is easy for us to criticize those with dirty feet instead of washing them. “In the world they criticize: this is the business of the public press, and it is very much the business of private circles. Hear how gossips say, ‘Do you see that spot? What a terrible walk that man must have had this morning: look at his feet! He has been very much in the mire you can see, for there are the traces upon him.’ That is the world’s way. Christ’s way is very different. He says nothing, but takes the basin and begins to wash away the stain. Do not judge and condemn, but seek the restoration and the improvement of the erring.” (Spurgeon)
ii. If we are going to wash one another’s feet, we should be careful of the temperature of the water. Sometimes we try to wash someone with our water too hot – we are too fervent and zealous. Sometimes our water is too cold – we are cold and distant in heart to them. The temperature needs to be in the middle. We should also remember that we cannot dry-clean someone else’s feet. Jesus washed us with the washing of water by the word (Ephesians 5:26), we should use the same “water” in ministering to others.
7. (15-17) The importance of following Jesus’ example of humble service.
“For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.”
a. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you: Jesus was far more than an example to the disciples and they needed more than an example. Yet Jesus certainly was an example to those disciples and all who would follow Him. They must take Him as an example for both attitude and action.
i. “There are too many of us who profess to be quite willing to trust to Jesus Christ as the Cleanser of our souls who are not nearly so willing to accept His Example as the pattern for our lives.” (Maclaren)
b. A servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him: If Jesus – who is our master and who sends us – if this Jesus humbly served in this way, it is even more appropriate for His servants and sent ones to do so.
i. He who is sent: “This occurrence of the noun translated ‘one who is sent’ (Greek apostolos) is the only one in this Gospel, and it is used in no official sense.” (Bruce)
ii. “He gives the assurance that those whom He sends as His apostles will be identified with Himself and with God.” (Dods)
c. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them: The theory of being humble and being a servant isn’t worth very much. But the practice of being a servant pleases God, fulfills our calling, bringing blessing and happiness.
i. “If there is a position in the church where the worker will have to toil hard and get no thanks for it, take it, and be pleased with it. If you can perform a service, which few will ever seek to do themselves, or appreciate when performed by others, yet occupy it with holy delight. Covet humble work, and when you get it be content to continue in it. There is no great rush after the lowest places, you will rob no one by seeking them.” (Spurgeon)
B. Jesus sends Judas away after favoring him.
1. (18-20) Jesus reveals that one at the table will betray Him.
“I do not speak concerning all of you. I know whom I have chosen; but that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘He who eats bread with Me has lifted up his heel against Me.’ Now I tell you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe that I am He. Most assuredly, I say to you, he who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.”
a. I know whom I have chosen: When Jesus chooses a person He knows them. He does not choose apart from His knowledge of who they are and what they will do. It was important for Jesus to tell the disciples that He was not surprised by the betrayal that would soon happen.
b. Lifted his heel against me: Jesus had Psalm 41:9 in mind as He said this. It had the sense of a treacherous, unexpected attack or taking cruel advantage of someone. In Biblical culture the code of hospitality and a shared table meant that if one who eats bread with Me did afterward lift up his heel against Me, it was great betrayal and treachery.
c. I tell you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe that I am: Jesus didn’t tell His disciples that one of them would betray Him because He just learned about it. He knew it all along. Jesus told them this so the faithful disciples would remain confident in Him.
d. He who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me: Jesus reminded all His disciples – the faithful ones and Judas – that His work was not finished. Judas would not win; the work of Jesus would continue and they would be sent as His representatives. He also wanted Judas to know that rejecting Him meant rejecting the God who sent Jesus.
2. (21-26) Jesus identifies Judas as His betrayer, and shows Judas love one last time.
When Jesus had said these things, He was troubled in spirit, and testified and said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me.” Then the disciples looked at one another, perplexed about whom He spoke. Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved. Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask who it was of whom He spoke. Then, leaning back on Jesus’ breast, he said to Him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I shall give a piece of bread when I have dipped it.” And having dipped the bread, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon.
a. He was troubled in spirit: Judas’ betrayal of Jesus troubled Him. Jesus was not unfeeling or emotionally detached from the events surrounding His passion. He loved Judas, and was troubled for Judas’ sake, much more than His own.
i. “Though John pictures Jesus as in control of the situation he does not want us to think of Him as unmoved by the events through which He is passing.” (Morris)
b. Most assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me: By revealing that one of them was a traitor, Jesus showed that He was in control of these events; He was not taken by surprise.
c. Perplexed about whom He spoke: It was not obvious to the other disciples that Judas was the one. There was nothing suspicious about him in this sense. They wondered if Jesus meant some kind of accidental, unintended betrayal, one that any of them might commit (Matthew 26:22).
d. Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask who it was of whom He spoke: Peter’s question to John (here mentioned as the disciple whom Jesus loved) may have been prompted by a desire to take preventative action. Peter couldn’t discreetly ask Jesus, so he asked John.
i. “The fact that Peter beckoned to the disciple whom Jesus loved in an attempt to obtain information about the identity of the traitor suggests that he was not next to Jesus; otherwise he could have spoken to Him directly.” (Tasker)
ii. Whom Jesus loved: John referred to himself with this phrase four times in his Gospel, each connected with the cross in some way.
· Here in the upper room (John 13:23).
· At the cross of Jesus (John 19:26).
· At the empty tomb (John 20:2).
· With the risen Jesus at the Sea of Galilee (John 21:20).
iii. “We know that it must have been John, for many reasons; but still he does not say so. He hides John behind the love of Jesus, which proves that John gloried in the love of Christ, but did not boast of it egotistically.” (Spurgeon)
e. Leaning back on Jesus’ breast, he said to Him: At a special or ceremonial meal like this they would lay on their stomachs around a U-shaped table, leaning on their left elbow and eating with their right hand. It seems that from John’s position next to Jesus, he could lean back and be close enough to speak quietly to Jesus and still be heard.
i. A disciple sat at each side of Jesus. “One of them was John the divine, and the other was Judas the devil. One of them was the seer of the Apocalypse, the other was the son of perdition.” (Spurgeon)
ii. “The place of honor was to the left of, and thus slightly behind the principal person. The second place was to his right, and the guest there would have his head on the breast of the host. Plainly this was the position occupied by the beloved disciple.” (Morris)
iii. “The normal posture at a table was sitting, as rabbinical sources indicate, clearly enough; reclining was the posture reserved for special meals, such as parties, wedding feasts, and the like.” (Bruce)
iv. “The verbs for ‘reclining’ suggest that, although this meal fell ‘before the (official) festival of the passover’ (John 13:1), it was nevertheless treated by the participants as a passover meal.” (Bruce)
f. It is he to whom I shall give a piece of bread when I have dipped it: The giving of the dipped bread designated special honor, something like a toast at a banquet. It was a mark of courtesy and esteem.
i. “It seems not unlikely that Judas was in the chief place. From Matthew’s account it seems clear that Jesus could speak to him without being overhead by the others (Matthew 26:25).” (Morris)
ii. “When Jesus offers Judas a special morsel from the common dish, such as it was customary for a host to offer to an honoured guest, it is a mark of divine love which ever seeks to overcome evil with good.” (Tasker)
iii. Sometimes we imagine people are against us when they are not and it makes us suspicious, unpleasant, and afraid. Jesus knew Judas was against Him yet His love and goodness seemed to become greater instead of lesser. Jesus even gave Judas the chance to repent without revealing him as the traitor to all the other disciples.
iv. Earlier at this dinner, the washing of feet displayed a degree of sacrificial love and service not seen before the cross. Now, the giving of the dipped bread to Judas showed the height of love for enemies, previous to the cross.
v. Jesus identified the betrayer to John, and seemingly to none of the other disciples. John did not stop or oppose Judas and he did not explain why. Perhaps he did not immediately grasp what Jesus said or found it so shocking that it momentarily confused him.
3. (27-30) The departure of Judas.
Now after the piece of bread, Satan entered him. Then Jesus said to him, “What you do, do quickly.” But no one at the table knew for what reason He said this to him. For some thought, because Judas had the money box, that Jesus had said to him, “Buy those things we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor. Having received the piece of bread, he then went out immediately. And it was night.
a. After the piece of bread, Satan entered him: It was already in the heart of Judas to betray Jesus (John 13:2). Yet when Judas rejected the love and favor of Jesus it broke some barrier within him and Satan entered him.
i. “In accepting the sop Judas shows himself completely impervious to the appeal of love; and from that moment he is wholly the tool of Satan.” (Tasker)
ii. “Satan could not have entered into him had he not granted him admission. Had he been willing to say ‘No’ to the adversary, all of his Master’s intercessory power was available to him there and then to strengthen him.” (Bruce)
b. What you do, do quickly: Jesus knew Judas was now past any appeal to conscience or heart. Set on his course, it was best to get it done with. Judas believed that he was the master now; that Jesus would have to deal with what Judas did. The sooner this delusion reached its end, the better.
i. Matthew 26:25 tells us something else Jesus said to Judas. When Jesus said one of them would betray Him (John 13:21), they all asked, Is it I? (Matthew 26:22). When Judas – sitting right next to Jesus – asked this, Jesus said to him privately, You have said it (Matthew 26:25). The point is, Judas knew that Jesus knew that this disciple would betray his Master.
ii. “Two things, then, appealed to him at the moment: one, the conviction that he was discovered; the other, the wonderful assurance that he was still loved, for the gift of the morsel was a token of friendliness. He shut his heart against them both; and as he shut his heart against Christ he opened it to the devil.” (Maclaren)
c. No one at the table knew: If they (especially Peter) had known they would have stopped Judas. They believed Judas had business to do on behalf of the group, either to pay the expenses for the dinner or to give something to the poor.
i. That he should give something to the poor: “It is well known that our Lord and his disciples lived on public charity; and yet they gave alms out of what they had thus received. From this we learn that even those who live on charity themselves are expected to divide a little with those who are in deeper distress and want.” (Clarke)
d. He went out immediately: With the taste of the piece of bread that showed the love and favor of Jesus still in his mouth, Judas left his fellow disciples, left his Master and went out into the night. Perhaps the events earlier at the dinner made Judas decide that he didn’t want anything to do with a foot-washing Messiah, with a Messiah who would perform such a humble act.
i. “His act, however, was more than an incidental act of treachery; he sold himself to the power of evil.” (Tenney)
ii. Judas shows us that fallen man needs more than an example and even more than good teaching. Judas had the best example and the greatest Teacher, and was still lost.
C. A new commandment.
1. (31-32) Jesus declares the cross as supreme glorification, not supreme humiliation.
So, when he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified, and God is glorified in Him. If God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and glorify Him immediately.”
a. Now the Son of Man is glorified: When Judas left Jesus knew that everything was set in motion for His arrest, trials, humiliation, condemnation, beatings, crucifixion, and burial. He spoke of coming death as glorification (John 12:23). Now it was to happen.
i. “It was not that the presence of Judas, as some have thought, hindered the great consummation imported by this glorification, but that the work on which he was gone out, was the ACTUAL COMMENCEMENT of that consummation.” (Alford)
b. Glorified… glorified… glorified… glorify… glorify: Jesus made five references to glory in the space of two verses. With good reason, the world looked at the cross and could only say, humiliated, disgraced, cursed. Jesus looked at the cross and knowing what would be accomplished at it could truthfully say, glorified.
i. The cross most perfectly made known the heart of Jesus; and for Jesus, to be known was to be glorified. The love of Jesus was about to be revealed in a new way. “If His death is His glorifying, it must be because in that death something is done which was not completely by the life, however fair; by the words, however wise and tender; by the works of power, however restorative and healing.” (Maclaren)
ii. “Jesus is looking to the cross as He speaks of glory. Origen employs the striking phrase ‘humble glory’ to express this idea of glory.” (Morris)
iii. “He calls his death his glory, esteems his crown of thorns more precious than Solomon’s diadem; looks upon his welts as spangles, his blows on the face as ingots, his wounds as gems, his spittings on as sweet ointment, his cross as his throne.” (Trapp)
2. (33) Jesus plainly reveals His soon departure.
“Little children, I shall be with you a little while longer. You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come,’ so now I say to you.”
a. Little children: This is the only place in the Gospels where Jesus addressed His disciples as little children. He didn’t mean it as an insult. He meant it with a sense of tenderness, care, and recognition of their present dependence and immaturity.
b. I shall be with you a little while longer… Where I am going, you cannot come: This would have been like an earthquake to the disciples. They had literally left everything to follow Jesus, and expected to be high-ranking officials in His government when He took political control of Israel as Messiah. After three years they now heard Him say He would leave.
3. (34-35) Jesus tells of a new commandment.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
a. A new commandment: The specific ancient Greek work used here for new here implies freshness, or the opposite of outworn, rather than recent or different. It isn’t that this commandment was just invented, but it will be presented in a new, fresh way.
i. “‘New’ (kainen) implies freshness, or the opposite of ‘outworn’ rather than simply ‘recent’ or ‘different.’” (Tenney)
ii. “The ‘new commandment’ (mandatum novum in the Vulgate) has given its name to the anniversary of the Last Supper: Maundy Thursday.” (Bruce)
b. That you love one another: We might have thought the new commandment was for us to love Jesus in an outstanding way. Instead, Jesus directed them and us to love one another, emphasizing that there should be a special presence of love among followers of Jesus Christ.
c. As I have loved you: The command to love wasn’t new; but the extent of love just displayed by Jesus was new, as would be the display of the cross. Love was newly defined from His example.
i. “We are to love our neighbor as ourselves, but we are to love our fellow-Christians as, Christ loved us, and that is far more than we love ourselves.” (Spurgeon)
d. By this all will know that you are My disciples: Jesus said that love would be the identifying mark of His disciples. It wasn’t that love for the outside world was not important or relevant, but it wasn’t first. There are other measures of discipleship, but they come after this mark.
· Jesus would mark us as His disciples by our love for one another.
· We can mark ourselves as His disciples by our love for one another.
· The world can mark us as His disciples by our love for one another.
i. “So Tertullian reports the pagans of his day (a century after this Gospel was published) as saying of Christians, ‘See how they love one another!’” (Bruce)
4. (36-38) Peter’s denial of Jesus is predicted.
Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, where are You going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow Me now, but you shall follow Me afterward.” Peter said to Him, “Lord, why can I not follow You now? I will lay down my life for Your sake.” Jesus answered him, “Will you lay down your life for My sake? Most assuredly, I say to you, the rooster shall not crow till you have denied Me three times.”
a. Lord, where are You going: Peter (and the other disciples) did not yet understand Jesus. Peter perhaps thought that Jesus was going on a long journey without them. Peter wanted more of an explanation.
b. Where I am going you cannot follow Me now, but you shall follow Me afterward: Peter didn’t understand, but Jesus did. Jesus understood that Peter could notfollow Him unto death now, but afterward he would.
c. Lord, why can I not follow You now: Peter knew he was the disciple of Jesus, and the disciple’s duty was to follow the rabbi. Peter felt so committed to his discipleship to Jesus that not only would he follow Him, but also lay down my life for Your sake.
i. We believe Peter. He would have died for Jesus right then but he later failed because his devotion was based on emotion, and in the soon-to-come crisis emotion would fail him.
ii. We might say that Judas’ denial of Jesus was deliberate and planned; Peter’s denial of Jesus was accidental and spontaneous. Peter’s denial was terrible, but it wasn’t the same as what Judas did.
iii. We see a different Peter when his walk is no longer built on emotion, but on the work of Jesus on the cross and the power of the Holy Spirit. “Christ must first die for Peter, before Peter can die for him.” (Clarke)
d. Till you have denied Me three times: Peter confidently said that he would follow Jesus and even die for him. Yet when the test came he could not stand being laughed at for Jesus’ sake. To him, a servant-girl’s tongue was sharper than an executioner’s sword. Before the next morning dawned he would deny he even knew Jesus three times.
i. “When Peter protested, our Lord showed him that He knew all the weakness lurking within him better than he himself could know it.” (Morgan)
ii. “Cockcrow was the third of the four Roman night-watches, halfway between midnight and dawn.” (Bruce)
iii. The denial was burnt in his memory. When Peter preached in Acts 3, he charged them with denying Jesus (Acts 3:14). Towards the end of his life he described some dangerous men as those who denied the Lord (2 Peter 2:1).
©2018 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission
John 12 – The Hour Has Come
Videos for John 12:
A. A dinner at Bethany.
1. (1-2) Lazarus eats and Martha serves.
Then, six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was who had been dead, whom He had raised from the dead. There they made Him a supper; and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Him.
a. Six days before the Passover: John gave a time marker, telling us that this was the last week before the death and burial of Jesus. Almost one-half of John’s Gospel is given to this last week. Matthew used more than 33% of his Gospel to cover that week, Mark nearly 40% and Luke over 25% – to seven days of Jesus’ entire life.
b. There they made Him a supper: Less than a week before His crucifixion, Jesus attended a dinner in Bethany, probably to celebrate the raising of Lazarus from the dead. With all Jesus had on His mind, knowing His fate as He came to Jerusalem for Passover, it is remarkable that He attended this dinner at all. Most would not feel like socializing.
i. “He would not pain His hosts by self-absorbed aloofness at the table. The reason for the feast is obviously the raising of Lazarus, as is suggested by his being twice mentioned in verses 1 and 2.” (Maclaren)
ii. There they made Him: “The ‘therefore’ (which the A.V. omits) points to the gratitude for Lazarus’ restoration, which that household now showed by entertaining Him at supper.” (Trench)
c. Martha served: It seems that this dinner was at the home of Simon the Leper (Matthew 26:6 and Mark 14:3). His friends Martha, Lazarus, and Mary were also in attendance. Because Martha seems to be the hostess, some think Simon the Leper was related to Mary, Martha, and Lazarus or even that he was Martha’s husband. If common customs were followed, this dinner was for the men of the village and Martha and the other women served.
i. It’s easy to see Martha in our imagination bringing the best dishes first to Jesus, pressing Him to eat more and more. She was so grateful and so happy to serve Jesus. Her service was appreciated and valued.
ii. “John does not state, as do Mark and Matthew, that the host at Bethany was Simon the leper. In the story of Luke 7 the host, Simon the Pharisee, is almost certainly a different Simon from the one mentioned in Mark. Simon was a very common Jewish name.” (Tasker)
iii. “The only discrepancy of any consequence being that the Synoptists seem to place the feast only two days before the Passover. But they introduce the feast parenthetically to present the immediate motive of Judas’ action, and accordingly disregard strict chronology.” (Dods)
2. (3) Mary anoints the feet of Jesus.
Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.
a. Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus: In the midst of the supper, Mary gave a remarkable gift to Jesus. It wasn’t unusual to wash the feet of a guest, but it was unusual to do it during the meal itself, to use very costly oil of spikenard to do it, and to wipe the feet with her hair, using the hair as a kind of towel.
· Mary’s gift was remarkably humble. When a guest entered the home, usually the guest’s feet were washed with water and the guest’s head was anointed with a dab of oil or perfume. Here, Mary used this precious ointment and anointed the feet of Jesus. She considered her precious ointment only good enough for His feet. “To attend to the feet was the task of the most lowly slave. Thus Mary’s action denoted great humility as well as great devotion.” (Morris)
· Mary’s gift was remarkably extreme. She used a lot (a pound) of a very costly oil of spikenard. Spices and ointments were often used as an investment because they were small, portable, and could be easily sold. Judas believed this oil was worth 300 denarii (John 12:5), which was worth a year’s wages for a workingman.
· Mary’s gift was remarkably unselfconscious. Not only did she give the gift of the expensive oil, she also wiped His feet with her hair. This means that she let down her hair in public, something a Jewish woman would rarely do.
i. Oil of spikenard: “Both John and Mark describe it by the adjective pistikos (Mark 14:3). Oddly enough, no one really knows what that word means. There are four possibilities. It may come from the adjective pistos which means faithful or reliable, and so may mean genuine. It may come from the verb pinein which means to drink, and so may mean liquid. It may be a kind of trade name, and may have to be translated simply pistic nard. It may come from a word meaning the pistachio nut, and be a special kind of essence extracted from it. In any event it was a specially valuable kind of perfume.” (Barclay)
ii. “It was very costly, but it had not cost a penny too much now that it could be used upon him. There was a pound of it, but there was none too much for him. It was very sweet, but none too sweet for him.” (Spurgeon)
iii. “The act is all the more striking in that a Jewish lady never unbound her hair in public. That apparently was a mark of loose morals. But Mary did not stop to calculate public reaction. Her heart went out to her Lord and she gave expression to something of her feelings in this beautiful and touching act.” (Morris)
iv. In all of this, Mary is a study of devotion to Jesus. “The life of Mary is painted for us, in three memorable pictures, in each of which she is at the feet of Jesus.” (Eerdman)
· Luke 10:39: Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and learned.
· John 11:32: Mary fell at Jesus’ feet and surrendered.
· John 12:3: Mary anointed Jesus’ feet and honored Jesus.
v. “You must sit at his feet, or you will never anoint them; he must pour his divine teaching into you, or you will never pour out a precious ointment upon him.” (Spurgeon)
b. The house was filled with the fragrance of the oil: The sense of smell makes for long-lasting memories and John remembered how Mary’s essential oils made the whole house smell good.
3. (4-6) Judas objects to Mary’s rich gift.
Then one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, who would betray Him, said, “Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it.
a. Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, who would betray Him: In a short time Judas would betray Jesus. His betrayal was so much darker when contrasted with the brightness of Mary’s devotion to Jesus. Judas probably objected to Mary’s gift because he was shamed by her simple and powerful display of love.
i. This is the only place in the New Testament where Judas is mentioned as doing something evil other than his betrayal of Jesus, and even this was done in secret. Judas successfully hid the darkness of his heart from everyone except Jesus. Outward appearances often deceive. Many people have a religious facade that hides secret sin.
ii. “He would sell his very Saviour. And a fair match he made: for, as Austin saith, Judas sold his salvation, and the Pharisees bought their damnation.” (Trapp)
b. Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred, denarii: This was an awkward scene. Then Judas broke the embarrassed silence with his sharp sense of financial values – but no appreciation of what God valued. He thought this was too much love and devotion to show to Jesus.
i. “Judas, blinded in self-interest, criticized her action, and so revealed himself as utterly opposed to the very spirit of the Lord Himself.” (Morgan)
ii. The isn’t this all a little much attitude of Judas was contagious. Matthew 26:8 shows Judas was not alone in this objection. Others seem to have felt that Judas made some sense. “The shock of what they had seen must have caused a brief embarrassed silence, which was broken by one voice giving expression to the sentiments of many.” (Bruce)
iii. Sometimes this thinking is twisted into a justification for all kinds of opulence and luxury, claiming that nothing is too good for Jesus – and in the twisting, for those who claim to serve Him. We notice that this was done directly for Jesus, not for any of the disciples. We also notice that it was poured out in a single act, and not something like a work of art that could be sold for the benefit of the poor or the extension of the kingdom of Jesus.
c. This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it: We rightly suppose that John did not know at that time that Judas was a thief; this was hidden to the disciples. Yet we also rightly suppose that Jesus did know that Judas was a thief yet He still appointed Him to be treasurer.
i. Luke 8:2-3 tells us that generous women provided some of the financial needs of Jesus and His disciples. That money would be kept and managed by Judas.
ii. “When a man has gone so far in selfish greed that he has left common honesty behind him, no wonder if the sight of utterly self-surrendering love looks to him folly.” (Maclaren)
iii. “The Greek word translated bare [take] (bastazo) means both ‘carry’ and ‘carry off’. Judas did both!” (Tasker) “That ἐβάσταζεν can bear the sense of ‘take away’ or ‘make away with’ is beyond dispute.” (Dods)
iv. “The verb ‘bare’ [take] is in the imperfect tense, showing that he habitually carried it”, and habitually carried from it. (Trench)
v. It was probably through greed and discontent the devil gained a foothold in Judas’ life. “Take heed of discontent. It was the devil’s sin that threw him out of heaven. Ever since which this restless spirit loves to fish in troubled waters.” (Trapp)
vi. By some chronologies Judas went out the next day and made his bargain with the religious leaders to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver (Matthew 26:14-16, Mark 14:10-11). “The impression left is that Judas, seeing one source of personal enrichment lost, hastened to create another.” (Morris)
4. (7-8) Jesus defends Mary and explains what she did.
But Jesus said, “Let her alone; she has kept this for the day of My burial. For the poor you have with you always, but Me you do not have always.”
a. Let her alone: If we are extreme in our love for Jesus, He will not criticize us; that was what Judas did. It is much better to be like Mary (extreme in our love for Jesus) than to be like Judas (criticizing others who show such great love for Jesus).
b. She has done this for the day of My burial: In the same way that it would be rude to loudly object to funeral expenses at the service for the deceased, so it was inappropriate for Judas or anyone else to put a price on Mary’s love and devotion to Jesus while He was still alive.
i. “Unusual expense at a funeral was not regarded as unseemly; why should anyone object if the ointment which would otherwise have been used to anoint his dead body in due course was poured over him while he was still alive and able to appreciate the love which prompted the action?” (Bruce)
ii. Mark 14:9 says, Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her. “The Evangelist who records that promise does not mention Mary’s name; John, who does mention the name, does not record the promise. It matters little whether our names are remembered, so long as Jesus bears them graven on His heart.” (Maclaren)
iii. What John wrote about the fragrance of the oil filling the house may have been his way of saying what Mark 14:9 said. “There is a rabbinic saying ‘(The scent of) good oil is diffused from the bed-chamber to the dining-hall while a good name is diffused from one end of the world to the other.’” (Morris)
5. (9-11) The plot to kill both Jesus and Lazarus.
Now a great many of the Jews knew that He was there; and they came, not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead. But the chief priests plotted to put Lazarus to death also, because on account of him many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus.
a. The chief priests plotted to put Lazarus to death also: The chief priests were mostly Sadducees, and the Sadducees didn’t believe in the resurrection. Lazarus was a living example of life after death, and having him around was an embarrassment to their theological system. For them, there was only one solution to this embarrassing problem – to put Lazarus to death also.
i. “What a giant like madness was this, to take up arms against heaven itself! to seek to kill a man, only because God had made him alive!” (Trapp) “In this devilish proposal the obduracy of unbelief is exhibited in its extreme form.” (Dods)
ii. “When men hate Christ, they also hate those whom he has blessed, and will go to any lengths in seeking to silence their testimony.” (Spurgeon)
iii. “How blind were these men not to perceive that he who had raised him, after he had been dead four days, could raise him again though they had slain him a thousand times?” (Clarke)
b. On account of him many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus: This made the problem of the chief priests worse. The miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead drew many people to Jesus. Therefore, in the opinion of these religious leaders, Lazarus also had to be stopped.
i. Went away and believed: “The expression ‘were going and believing in Jesus’ may be Semitism, meaning ‘were increasingly believing in Jesus’.” (Bruce)
B. The triumphal entry.
1. (12-16) The crowd greets Jesus as a coming King.
The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out:
‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’
The King of Israel!”
Then Jesus, when He had found a young donkey, sat on it; as it is written:
“Fear not, daughter of Zion;
Behold, your King is coming,
Sitting on a donkey’s colt.”
His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written about Him and that they had done these things to Him.
a. The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast: This was the large crowd that came for the greatest holidays of Judaism – Passover. Many of them came from Galilee. When they came, they came with lambs. Jewish law required that the Passover lamb live with the family for at least three days before sacrifice (Exodus 12:3-6). When Jesus came and went into Jerusalem, lambs for sacrifice would surround him and everyone else.
i. “Josephus, the Jewish historian, tells us that one year a census was taken of the number of lambs slain for Passover and that figure was 256,500. In other words, with numbers this large, lambs must literally be driven up to Jerusalem throughout the entire day. Consequently, whenever Jesus entered the city He must have done so surrounded by lambs, Himself being the greatest of lambs.” (Boice)
b. Took branches of palm trees: The many people (a great multitude) gathered for something that was like a patriotic parade. Palm branches were a symbol of Jewish nationalism since the time of the Maccabees. The crowd looked to Jesus as a political and national savior, but not so much as a spiritual savior.
i. “They greeted Jesus as a king, though ignorant of the nature of His kingship. It would seem that they looked upon Him as a potential nationalist leader, with whose help they might be able to become wholly independent of foreign powers.” (Tasker)
ii. “From the time of the Maccabees palms or palm-branches had been used as a national symbol. Palm-branches figured in the procession which celebrated the rededication of the temple in 164 BC (2 Maccabees 10:7) and again when the winning of full political independence was celebrated under Simon in 141 BC (1 Maccabees 13:51). Later, palms appeared as national symbols on the coins struck by the Judean insurgents during the first and second revolts against Rome (AD 66-70 and 132-135).” (Bruce)
c. Hosanna! “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!” This large, enthusiastic crowd greeted Jesus with words from the Messianic Psalm 118:25-26. The cry Hosanna meant “save now,” and on this day the crowd received Jesus as a triumphant Messiah.
d. Jesus, when He had found a young donkey, sat on it: Jesus did this both as a deliberate fulfillment of prophecy (Zechariah 9:9) and as a demonstration of the character of His kingdom. It was a spiritual kingdom, not a military kingdom. He came in peace, not war.
i. “The ass was not normally used by a warlike person. It was the animal of a man of peace, a priest, a merchant or the like. It might also be used by a person of importance but in connection with peaceable purposes. A conqueror would ride into the city on a war horse, or perhaps march in on foot at the head of his troops. The ass speaks of peace.” (Morris)
ii. “He did not come as a conqueror but as a messenger of peace. He rode on a donkey, not the steed of royalty, but that of a commoner on a business trip.” (Tenney)
e. The King of Israel: This shows that the crowd, in shouting “save now!” had in mind political salvation from the oppression of the Romans. Yet the Romans probably felt they had little to fear from a so-called king who came without armies or the accepted symbols of power.
i. “‘Daughter of Zion’ is a personification of the city of Jerusalem; it occurs frequently in the Old Testament, especially in the later prophets.” (Tenney)
2. (17-19) The crowds come after Jesus, to the dismay of the leaders.
Therefore the people, who were with Him when He called Lazarus out of his tomb and raised him from the dead, bore witness. For this reason the people also met Him, because they heard that He had done this sign. The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, “You see that you are accomplishing nothing. Look, the world has gone after Him!”
a. For this reason the people also met Him, because they heard that He had done this sign: The crowds adored Jesus because they believed that the raising of Lazarus from the dead proved that Jesus could be the conquering Messiah they longed for.
i. “One who could summon a dead man back to life would certainly be able to deliver the holy city from the yoke of Caesar.” (Bruce)
b. Look, the world has gone after Him! The popularity of Jesus was offensive to His enemies. It made them feel that they were accomplishing nothing. It makes us happy to see the enemies of Jesus frustrated.
i. “The Pharisees were of course exaggerating, but the words the world is gone after him (John 12:19), like the words of Caiaphas in John 11:50, were unconsciously prophetic.” (Tasker)
ii. “They are concerned that a few Judeans were being influenced. But their words express John’s conviction that He was conquering the world.” (Morris)
C. The hour has come.
1. (20-23) Greeks come to meet Jesus.
Now there were certain Greeks among those who came up to worship at the feast. Then they came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and asked him, saying, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip came and told Andrew, and in turn Andrew and Philip told Jesus. But Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified.”
a. Now there were certain Greeks among those who came up to worship at the feast: We are not told the background of these certain Greeks. They may have been Greek converts to Judaism. They may have been Greek God-fearers, those who had great respect for Judaism but didn’t convert and become circumcised. They may have simply been Greek travelers, known for their curiosity.
i. “We have heard much concerning him, and we wish to see the person of whom we have heard such strange things. The final salvation of the soul often originates, under God, in a principle of simple curiosity. Many have only wished to see or hear a man who speaks much of Jesus, his miracles, and his mercies; and in hearing have felt the powers of the world to come, and have become genuine converts to the truths of the Gospel.” (Clarke)
ii. “On this occasion the Greek’s curiosity about Jesus may have been stirred simply because everyone was talking about him. But there could have been a more special reason. Between verses 19 and 20 a day or two had elapsed: Jesus was no longer on the road to Jerusalem, but teaching daily in the temple precincts. And in the meantime, according to Mark 11:15-17, he had expelled the traders and moneychangers from the precincts — that is, more precisely, from the outer court — in order that the place might fulfill its divinely ordained purpose of being ‘a house of prayer for all the nations’ (Isaiah 56:7). Did these Greeks recognize this action as having been undertaken in the interests of Gentiles like themselves who, when they came up to worship the true God, had to confine themselves to the outer court?” (Bruce)
b. Sir, we wish to see Jesus: These Greeks had heard of Jesus, perhaps of His reputation as a teacher and worker of miracles. What they did know of Jesus made them want to know more about Him, so they came to Philip (the one disciple with a Greek name) asking to see Jesus.
i. “These men from the West at the end of the Life of Jesus, set forth the same as the Magi from the East at its beginning: — but they come to the Cross of the King, as those to His cradle.” (Stier, cited in Alford)
c. The hour has come: At least twice before Jesus said that the time was not ready (John 2:4 and 7:6). He took this seeking interest of Gentiles as the signal that now the hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified.
i. “In this Gospel we see Jesus as the world’s Saviour, and evidently John means us to understand that this contact with the Greeks ushered in the climax… Jesus sees it as evidence that His mission has reached its climax and that he is now to die for the world, Greeks included.” (Morris)
ii. The fact that His hour had not yet come had delivered Him from violence before (John 7:30, 8:20). Now that the hour has come, it was time for Jesus to make the final sacrifice.
iii. Jesus never really responded to these Gentile seekers, but He would on the other side of the cross. If humanity was to receive new life in God the Son, then Jesus must die (be glorified) first.
d. The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified: Jesus didn’t mean that He would be glorified in the eyes of men. That just happened at the triumphal entry. The glorification Jesus pointed to here was being glorified on the cross. Something the world could only see as disgraceful humiliation, Jesus saw as being glorified.
i. The hour has come: “The verb ‘is come’ is in the perfect tense, ‘the hour has come and stays with us’. There is no going back on it.” (Morris)
2. (24-26) Jesus explains why He is willing to face death.
“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.”
a. Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies: Just as a seed will never become a plant unless it dies and is buried so the death and burial of Jesus was necessary to His glorification. Before there can be resurrection power and fruitfulness, there must be death.
i. “The principle stated in verse 24 is of wide application; in particular, if it is true of Jesus, it must be true of his followers.” (Bruce)
b. He who loves his live will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it: We are called to hate our life not in the sense that we disregard it, but in the sense that we freely give it up for God. Our life is precious to us, especially because it is something we can give to Jesus.
i. Jesus focused our hatred of life when He said hates his life in this world. We are to disregard our life in this world, seeing instead that we are mere pilgrims and sojourners, with our home in heaven instead of earth (Hebrews 11:13-16).
ii. “The man whose priorities are right has such an attitude of love for the things of God that it makes all interest in the affairs of this life appear by comparison as hatred.” (Morris)
c. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me: To be a Christian is to serve Jesus, to follow Him. It doesn’t mean that you stop working your job or caring for your family or studying at school. It means you do all that as a servant of Jesus, a follower of Jesus.
i. “All of you who would have Christ as your Savior, that you must be willing to serve him. We are not saved by service, but we are saved to service.” (Spurgeon)
ii. Serves Me: “Diakonos is especially a servant in attendance, at table or elsewhere; a doulos may serve at a distance: hence the appropriateness of diakonos in this verse. The office of diakonos may seem a humble and painful one, but to be valued or honoured by the Father crowns life.” (Dods)
iii. It would be easy for the disciples to think, “Jesus is going to the cross. Thank heaven I don’t have to do that.” Then Jesus says, “Follow Me.”
iv. “Think of one Man standing up before all mankind, and coolly and deliberately saying to them, ‘I am the realized Ideal of human conduct; I am Incarnate Perfection; and all of you, in all the infinite variety of condition, culture, and character, are to take Me for your pattern and your guide.’” (Maclaren)
d. Where I am, there My servant will be also: Jesus described the servant as one who wanted to be where Jesus is. This isn’t forced slavery where the servant wants to be free from the master. This is a chosen, willing service that simply wants to be close to the Master.
i. Where I am: “The word refers, not to the place of our Lord at that moment, but to His essential, true place, i.e. (John 17:24) in the glory of the Father.” (Alford)
e. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor: This is a remarkable promise. The reward for serving Jesus is to receive honor from God the Father. This honor is both reward and recognition.
3. (27-28a) At the crucial hour, Jesus expresses His resolve.
“Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name.”
a. My soul is troubled: Jesus received this crucial hour, yet it troubled Him because He knew what the agonies of the cross would involve. John doesn’t tell us about the prayer of Jesus in Gethsemane, but the idea behind that prayer of Jesus is expressed in John 12:27-28.
ii. “As a man he was troubled at the prospect of a violent death. Nature abhors death: God has implanted that abhorrence in nature, that it might become a principle of self preservation; and it is to this that we owe all that prudence and caution by which we avoid danger.” (Clarke)
b. And what shall I say? “Father, save Me from this hour?” Knowing this was the crucial hour Jesus could not ask to escape the hour, because He knew that for this purpose I came to this hour. The cross, which had cast a shadow over the entire life and ministry of Jesus, would now become a reality in the experience of Jesus.
i. “It seems clear that the words represent a rhetorical question, a hypothetical prayer at which Jesus looks, but which He refuses to pray.” (Morris)
ii. “The very object of His Incarnation, the reason of this His Coming into the world and of His continuance to this hour was to meet this Suffering.” (Trench)
c. Father, glorify Your name: As Jesus thought of the cross just a few days away, His main concern was to glorify the name and character of God the Father.
4. (28b-30) The Father testifies to Jesus in a voice from heaven.
Then a voice came from heaven, saying, “I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.” Therefore the people who stood by and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to Him.” Jesus answered and said, “This voice did not come because of Me, but for your sake.
a. Then a voice came from heaven: This was the third audible Divine testimony to Jesus’ status as the Son of God, after the Divine voice heard at His baptism and His transfiguration.
b. I have both glorified it and will glorify it again: This was assurance from God the Father. Approaching the cross, the great concern of Jesus was to glorify the Father, and He was assured that He already had and would continue to do so.
i. And will glorify it: “Christ was glorified: 1st. By the prodigies which happened at his death. 2. In his resurrection. 3. In his ascension, and sitting at the right hand of God. 4. In the descent of the Holy Ghost on the apostles. and 5. In the astonishing success with which the Gospel was accompanied, and by which the kingdom of Christ has been established in the world.” (Clarke)
ii. And will glorify it again: “The word again here implies no mere repetition, but an intensification, of the glorification a yet once more: and this time fully and finally.” (Alford)
c. This voice did not come because of Me, but for your sake: To some, the voice of God sounded like thunder. Others thought it sounded like some kind of angelic speech. For those who could discern it, it gave them confidence in Jesus before these critical days.
i. “So in Acts 9:7, 22:9, Saul’s companions heard the physical reverberations, but not so as to understand the Voice, for it was not meant for them.” (Trench)
5. (31-33) Jesus plainly proclaims His death.
“Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” This He said, signifying by what death He would die.
a. Now is the judgment of this world: The spirit of this world was judged by the way it treated Jesus at the cross. The cross not only judged the world it also defeated Satan (now the ruler of this world will be cast out). The defeat of the world (culture in opposition to Jesus) and Satan was God’s victory and the victory of the people of God.
i. We could define this world in the sense Jesus spoke of as culture in opposition to Jesus. This culture has a leader, a ruler of this world – Satan, the great adversary to God (John 14:30, 16:11; 2 Corinthians 4:4, Ephesians 2:2, 6:12).
b. Now the ruler of this world will be cast out: Satan, the great adversary, was in some sense cast out by what Jesus accomplished at the cross. Satan was cast out of any rightful authority over God’s people.
i. “But the world’s judgment on Jesus, directed by the sinister spirit-ruler (archon) of the present order, would be overruled in a higher court; that spirit-ruler himself would be dislodged.” (Bruce)
ii. “It was because of disobedience that man was driven by God out of the Garden of Eden for having submitted to the prince of this world (John 12:31); now by the perfect obedience of Jesus on the cross the prince of this world will be deposed from his present ascendancy.” (Tasker)
iii. Colossians 2:14-15 vividly described the defeat of Satan at the cross: having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.
c. If I am lifted up from the earth: The verb used for lifted has a deliberate double meaning. It means both a literal elevation (as in being raised up on a cross) and exaltation (being raised in rank or honor). Jesus promised that when He was lifted (elevated, exalted) on the cross He would draw all peoples to Himself.
i. “In ὑψωθῶ [lifted] therefore, although the direct reference is to His elevation on the cross, there is a sub-suggestion of being elevated to a throne… It was the cross which was to become His throne and by which He was to draw men to Him as His subjects.” (Dods)
ii. If I am lifted up: “If, as often, has the force of ‘when’. There is no doubt in Jesus’ mind that He will be crucified.” (Tasker)
iii. Jesus knew that the benefit of His work on the cross would go far beyond blessing and salvation to the Jewish people. He would draw all peoples to Himself.
iv. Draw all peoples: “The Cross is the magnet of Christianity. Jesus Christ draws men, but it is by His Cross mainly…You demagnetize Christianity, as all history shows, if you strike out the death on the Cross for a world’s sin. What is left is not a magnet, but a bit of scrap iron.” (Maclaren)
v. All peoples: “There is no exclusion of any class or creature from the mercy of God in Christ Jesus. ‘I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me’; and the history of the church proves how true this is: the muster-roll of the converted includes princes and paupers, peers and potmen.” (Spurgeon)
d. This He said, signifying by what death He would die: Jesus did not only know that He would die, but also that He would die on a cross, lifted up from the earth. Jesus knew the painful and humiliating manner of His death, but still obeyed God’s will.
6. (34-36) Will the Messiah live forever?
The people answered Him, “We have heard from the law that the Christ remains forever; and how can You say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this Son of Man?” Then Jesus said to them, “A little while longer the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” These things Jesus spoke, and departed, and was hidden from them.
a. We have heard from the law that the Christ remains forever: The people had been taught only the passages from the law (the Old Testament) which spoke of the triumph of the Messiah. They were mostly unaware of the passages that spoke of His suffering (such as Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53). It made them wonder if Jesus was really the Messiah, the Son of Man.
i. “There were several passages that spoke of the perpetuity of his reign, as Isa 9:7; Eze 37:25; Da 7:14, they probably confounded the one with the other, and thus drew the conclusion, The Messiah cannot die; for the Scripture hath said, his throne, kingdom, and reign shall be eternal.” (Clarke)
ii. This crowd that enthusiastically greeted a political conqueror didn’t want to consider His sacrificial death. It didn’t fit in with their idea of what a Messiah should be.
iii. Son of Man: “This among other passages shows that the ‘Son of Man’ was a title suggestive of Messiahship, but not quite definite in its meaning and not quite identical with ‘Messiah’.” (Dods)
b. A little while longer the light is with you…While you have the light, believe in the light: Jesus assured them that He would be with them only a short time longer. The light of His earthly ministry was about to go out.
i. We must believe on Jesus while the light is there, because it won’t last forever. God’s Spirit will not always strive with man (Genesis 6:3), and we must answer His call while it rings to us.
ii. Sons of light: “The Semitic idiom ‘sons of’ describes men who possess the characteristics of what is said to be their ‘father’. In our idiom, we should probably say ‘men of light’, cf. our expression ‘a man of integrity’.” (Tasker)
7. (37-41) John explains their unbelief in light of Old Testament prophecy.
But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him, that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke:
“Lord, who has believed our report?
And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?”
Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again:
“He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts,
Lest they should see with their eyes,
Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
So that I should heal them.”
These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him.
a. Although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him: Throughout his Gospel, John told us of many signs that Jesus performed that should cause us to believe in Him (John 2:11, 4:54, 6:14). Yet many did not believe in Him. Using two quotations from Isaiah (Isaiah 53:1 and 6:9-10), John explained that this was prophesied.
i. “After centuries of Christian history, during which the church has been almost exclusively Gentile, we have come to accept that it is quite normal that there should be very few Jews in it. But this was not the way it seemed to the men of the New Testament.” (Morris)
b. To whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed: In quoting from Isaiah 53:1 John emphasized that if someone believes, it is because God has revealed Himself and His truth to them. Jesus had revealed Himself to them through the many signs and through His teaching.
c. He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart: In quoting from Isaiah 6:9-10, John emphasized that unbelief was because God acted in judgment upon those who refused to see His truth and turn to Him. God would strengthen them in their decision, either for Jesus or against Him. In light of this principle, they could not believe, as Isaiah described.
i. “Not one of them was fated to be incapable of belief; it is made plain below (John 12:42) that some did in fact believe. But the OT prediction had to be fulfilled, and fulfilled it was in those who, as matter of fact, did not believe.” (Bruce)
ii. “He does not mean that the blinding takes place without the will or against the will of these people. So with the hardening of their heart. These men chose evil. It was their own deliberate choice, their own fault.” (Morris)
d. These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him: As the prophecy is recorded in Isaiah 6, the Prophet Isaiah saw the Lord, Yahweh (Isaiah 6:1-13). John properly understood that Isaiah saw the glory of Jesus before His incarnation and that Jesus is Yahweh.
i. “The vision of Isaiah recorded in Isaiah 6 is interpreted by John as a vision of the Godhead as a whole. The prophet saw Christ’s glory as well as the Father’s glory.” (Tasker)
8. (42-43) Some of the rulers have a weak belief in Jesus.
Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.
a. Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him: At this point in Jesus’ ministry there were many who believed on Him secretly. They saw the signs and heard His teaching, yet because they were afraid of what others would think and do against them they would not openly declare (confess) their allegiance to and trust in Jesus.
i. “Secret discipleship is a contradiction in terms for, ‘either the secrecy kills the discipleship, or the discipleship kills the secrecy.’” (Barclay)
ii. Bishop Trench was more sympathetic: “The commentators are hard on these timid ones. Are all Christians heroic? Is there no smoking flax?” (Trench)
b. They loved the praise of men more than the praise of God: Jesus just explained that if anyone served Him, they would receive honor from God (John 12:26). Yet there were many who loved the honor that comes from other men more than the praise that comes from God.
i. Loved the praise of men: “Which what is it else but a little stinking breath? These have their reward.” (Trapp)
9. (44-50) A final appeal to belief: Jesus makes a last, passionate appeal to the multitude.
Then Jesus cried out and said, “He who believes in Me, believes not in Me but in Him who sent Me. And he who sees Me sees Him who sent Me. I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness. And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak.”
a. Then Jesus cried out and said: These are the last words in John’s gospel from Jesus to the public. In this last speech to the multitude, Jesus emphasized the themes of all His previous preaching in John. It included a reminder of His teaching, a challenge to decide, a warning to those who decided against Him and a promise to those who decided for Him.
i. Cried out: “The imperfect tense in the original signifies that the shouting was persistent.” (Tasker)
ii. “As a rule our Saviour did not cry [shout]. He did not cry nor lift up His voice in the streets. But now and then, in some exalted hour, the Gospels tell us that He cried (John 7:37).” (Morrison)
b. He who sees Me sees Him who sent Me: Jesus emphasized His unity with God the Father. To believe in Jesus was to put faith in Him who sent Jesus, even more than it was to put faith in Jesus Himself.
i. “Though it was for asserting this (his oneness with God) that they were going to crucify him, yet he retracts nothing of what he had spoken, but strongly reasserts it, in the very jaws of death!” (Clarke)
c. I have come as light into the world: Jesus stressed His own truthfulness, and the need man has to follow Jesus – or else live in darkness.
d. I did not come to judge the world but to save the world: The incarnation wasn’t necessary if Jesus came only to judge. He didn’t need to add humanity to His deity to do that, but He did need to do it to rescue humanity. Yet, the word that I have spoken will judge Him – there are inescapable consequences for rejecting Jesus.
i. “His last word is not one of condemnation. It is one of tender appeal.” (Morris)
ii. “Always in the Fourth Gospel there is this essential paradox; Jesus came in love, yet his coming is a judgment.” (Barclay)
e. I have not spoken on My own authority: Jesus stressed His own submission to God the Father. His authority was connected to His submission to God the Father.
i. What I should say and what I should speak: “The former designates the doctrine according to its contents, the latter the varying manner of delivery.” (Dods)
©2018 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission
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