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The Lord Jesus Object of Faith.
The contrast between the subject or different subjects of this chapter and the last verses of the previous chapter is considerable. In those last verses the Lord Jesus foretold the denial by Peter. What Peter will do shows the impotence of the flesh to be faithful in any way, no matter how good the intentions.
Opposite to this failure of the flesh, the Lord gives seven consolations in this chapter for the weak faith of impotent disciples:
1. When He is no longer with the disciples, they can turn to Him in faith just as they believe in God (John 14:1).
2. He goes to prepare a place for them in the Father’s house (John 14:2).
3. He Himself will come back to pick them up to be where He is (John 14:3).
4. Until then, they will receive the full revelation of the Father in Him (John 14:4-2 Kings :).
5. Until then, they will be His representatives in the world, where they may pray with the authority of His Name and therefore be answered (John 14:13-2 Chronicles :).
6. In that time the Holy Spirit will come to be with them as Comforter and Teacher (John 14:15-Ezekiel :).
7. He gives them His peace (John 14:27-Obadiah :).
The Lord himself has been troubled several times by seeing sin in its consequences (John 11:33; John 12:27John 13:21). Now He tells His disciples that their hearts need not be troubled, that is, not moved intensely. He knows what He will do and what the consequences of His work will be and that they will be allowed to share in it. He has said to them that He will depart from them. That will sadden them, but He wants to direct their hearts permanently to Himself.
Although He will no longer be physically present with them, He will still be there in the same way as God is. They believe in Him, but they will have to start believing in Him in a completely new way. Just as God has always been an object of faith without ever having been seen, He will also become an object of faith when they will no longer see Him. He will go away from them, but still He will be present, just as God is present. They will no longer see Him, but will continue to believe in Him and love Him (1 Peter 1:8). With His going away, the era of faith will begin (Galatians 2:20; 2 Corinthians 5:7).
The Father’s House
The Lord Jesus tells His disciples that His going to the Father is for a purpose. That purpose is to prepare a place for them where the Father is, in order to be where He is. He tells them that He is going to “My Father’s house”. By this He does not mean the temple, which He also called “My Father’s house” (John 2:16). The temple, however, has been defiled by the people. They have turned it into a place of business. That is why God had to reject that house.
The Lord speaks here about the house of the Father in heaven. He says that it is a house with “many dwelling places”. And also the temple had multiple dwelling places. This is where the priests who served there lived (1 Kings 6:5; Ezekiel 41:6; Ezekiel 42:1-1 Chronicles :). This shows that the Temple was not only a place for God, but also for the priests. These were quarters for just a small part of the people.
The house of the Father has no restrictions. The Lord presents it in his glorious spaciousness. Not only the Father and the Son live there, but there is room for all of His own, without distinction. The fact that the Father’s house has “dwelling places” shows the enduring stay of the believers in it. They do not just come there every now and then, but they are welcome to dwell there.
To underline the certainty of His words to the disciples, the Lord says that He would not have said so if it had not been true. He would not create hope if He were unable to fulfill that hope for His own. In order to provide them with that place He is already going there. It is necessary, because without His preparation they will not be able to get there.
In this Gospel the Lord speaks about the future for His own in a very different way than in the other Gospels. There He speaks about the future just prior to His being handed over. There it always refers to the earth and His return to earth. He also speaks there about a reward for faithfulness during His absence. Of that we find nothing in this Gospel.
It is about the Father’s house and not about crowns, cities or a place in the kingdom. There is also no distinction between a larger or a nicer room here. There are many dwelling places, there is a dwelling place for every believer. This is the result of the love of the Father and the Son, a love that can never ever disappoint.
The disciples have given up everything to be with the Messiah on earth and to receive everything from Him. Now He will leave them. Will they all lose that when He will leave? No, on the contrary. They will get much more. He will go away and prepare an even more profound relationship and a much more superior dwelling place where death has no access. In order to make that wonderful place accessible to them, He must go to the cross. Through His work on the cross and His resurrection He will open the Father’s house for people who otherwise could never come there because of their sins.
Something else is also needed to prepare a place for people in the Father’s house. No one has ever been in the Father’s house. To open up the possibility for men to come there, it is necessary that He enters the Father’s house as Man. Since His ascension there is a Man in the Father’ s house. The magnificent consequence of His presence there as Man is that this guarantees that men can enter the Father’s house.
Once the Lord has prepared a place for His own, He can then make the promise that He will come back to receive them to Himself, so that they too may be where He is. The tremendous blessing of the Father’s house is not just a beautiful dwelling place, but it is the place of which He says: “Where I am”. It is also the great blessing of Paradise where the fallen asleep believers are (Philippians 1:23).
It is remarkable that the Lord does not speak of a certain time that would elapse between His going to prepare a place and His coming back to receive His own to Himself. He says it, as it were, in one breath, so without pause: “When I have gone and prepared your place, I will come back.”
In the same sense, Paul also spoke about the coming of the Lord when he says: “We who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:15). The fact that in the meantime almost two thousand years have passed without Him coming back has to do with His “patience toward you, not wishing for any to perish” (2 Peter 3:9).
The moment will come that the believers will enter there. This is not when a believer dies. In that case the angels will come and bring him into paradise (Luke 16:22). But here He promises that He will personally come to take up the believers and receive them to Himself (1 Thessalonians 4:14-Job :; 1 Corinthians 15:51-1 Thessalonians :; Philippians 3:20-Ecclesiastes :), while the living unbelievers remain on earth and the unbelievers who have died will not rise from the dead, but will remain in the tomb.
The Only Way to the Father
The Lord has told them about the Father in all His teaching. After all, that is the purpose of His entire service. They know that He is going to the Father. They also know that both He and His work on the cross are the way to the Father. Although the disciples have heard all this teaching, they have not really understood it. The reason is that they still only think of an earthly Messiah and of a government in which they will participate. They don’t think about the Lord Jesus’ going to the Father at all.
That is why Thomas expresses the incomprehension that dwells with all disciples by asking Him what He means by ‘knowing the way’. His question gives the Lord the opportunity to unfold the truth. He does so in words that are so simple that a child can understand them, while at the same time they have a depth that no one can fathom.
He points to Himself as “the way and the truth and the life” in order to come to the Father. That He is “the way” means that people can only come to the Father through Him and His work on the cross. That He is “the truth” means that everything people want to know about the Father can only be found in Him. He is the only possible way for people to rejoice in the Father and have fellowship with the Father. That He is “life” means that people must have Him as their life in order to be with the Father, because He has the life of the Father. He is the life because He is the Son. It is impossible to just have Him as the way and the truth, without also having Him as the life.
There is no other way to come to the Father and to know Him and enjoy fellowship with the Father than only through Him, the Son of the Father. Only He knows Him as His Father and only He can tell others about the Father and show them Who He is. That is exclusive. No prophet, no matter how great, has ever said or could say that. But it is open to everyone to get to know the Father through the Lord Jesus. Those who know the Son also know the Father. This means that the knowledge of the Father is inextricably linked to knowing the Son. The Son is the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:3). Only in the Son the Father is known.
He Who Sees the Son Sees the Father
Now it is Philip’s turn to express his ignorance of the Lord Jesus. After all that the Lord has said and shown what so abundantly points to the Father, Philip’s request almost testifies of unbelief. Just like the question of Thomas, the question of Philip is the question of all. He speaks about “us”. His question shows that in the Lord Jesus he sees only a Man and no more than a Man, although a special Man in Whom he sees much of God. His question also shows that he has not yet really discovered God in Him. He has not yet understood who He really is.
The ignorance of Philip is answered by the Lord with a stream of light for the confused disciples. He does not blame Philip that He has been with him for so long and still has not seen anything of the Father. He only says that Philip does not know Him yet.
In saying this, he says that it is that simple: Looking at Him and seeing Him is the same as seeing the Father. Whoever sees Him and still asks if He wants to show the Father, does not look properly or looks with different expectations. The Father cannot be seen in any other way than through the Son only. It is impossible to see anything of God outside of Him, for in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form (Colossians 2:9).
It comes down to faith. Only faith discovers and sees that the Lord Jesus is in the Father and that the Father is in Him and that therefore there is complete unity between the Father and the Son. When the Lord says: ‘I am in the Father’, it indicates His perfect equality with the Father in His Being and nature. When He says: ‘The Father is in Me’, it indicates that the Father is revealed and presented in Him. The fact that He is Man does not in any way prevent or diminish His unity of being with the Father. His unity with the Father makes that the words He speaks are entirely those of the Father and likewise the works that arise out of His words. Words and works are a perfect unity with the Lord Jesus and the Father.
The Lord encourages His disciples to believe that He is in the Father and the Father is in Him. If that is too difficult for them to believe, He offers them in His grace another opportunity to believe Him. They have seen His works, haven’t they? He also showed this to the unbelieving Jews (John 10:37-Zechariah :).
What the Jews reject should convince the disciples concerning His Person. After all, they are much more familiar with Him and His daily words and works than the Jews. Yet they understand little that they are words and works for eternity. Because of their high earthly expectations of Him as the Messiah, they still have so little understanding of His greater glory as the Son of God Who is one with the Father and Who declares God as Father.
Now that the Lord has drawn attention to His works, He returns to the beginning of this chapter where He tells His disciples that He will be an object of faith (John 14:1). He will leave them and no longer be visible with them. However, this will not affect His works. Those works will no longer be done by Him, but by them. There is even more. When He has gone to the Father, they will not only do the works He has done, but they will do “greater” works than He has done. This is all related to His going to the Father. They will do that “because” He goes to the Father. This particular result of His going to the Father is again preceded by the double and therefore powerful “truly” followed by the authoritative “I say to you”.
The greater works of which He speaks, are therefore in the first place connected with faith in Him whom they will no longer see and in the second place with His going to the Father. As a result of His going to the Father, He will send the Holy Spirit. By the Spirit Who will come when He has gone, greater works will happen than during His presence on earth. To see some of those greater works we have to read the book of Acts. There we read about the conversion of three thousand people in one day (Acts 2:41). We do not read that such a thing ever happened during the Lord’s life on earth.
The works may be greater, but no one is equal to Him, let alone greater, in His self-sacrificing love, dependence and obedience. He is and will remain the source of those greater works. He emphasizes this by speaking about praying in His Name. He gives the comforting promise that His going to the Father will in no way dry up the mighty stream of grace in which He has worked below.
Whoever believes in Him will be able to do what He did and even greater things, but it will never become a demonstration of a man’s power. Those greater works will always be the result of His will. It must therefore be sought in prayer. The disciples may count on a power that will not fail if it is sought in His Name.
This seeking of Him in prayer and counting on His power is the proof that the Lord Jesus is not just a special Man. If that were so, all the wonders He was accustomed to do would cease with His departure. The works that will happen on the basis of prayer to Him will be proof that He is God. His physical absence does not mean that He is less interested in their prayers nor that He has become powerless to work mightily through His disciples.
Above all, nothing will change His seeking the honor of His Father. In everything He will do on the basis of a prayer in His Name, He seeks the glorification of the Father, as He always did when He was on earth. He may not be on earth, but His activities in honor of the Father are unchanged and undiminished now that He is in heaven.
To pray in His Name is to pray with the authority of His Name. Just as the Father is glorified in the Son in His life and death, so the Father is now glorified in the believers who stand in His will and pray according to His will. In answering their prayers, the Lord Jesus continues to glorify the Father as the Son. That this is what it is all about when a prayer is answered, the Lord confirms by saying again that He will do what is prayed for in His Name. In this affirmation He makes it even more specific and at the same time more general by speaking of “anything”, in the sense of “whatever”.
The Promise of the Helper
Immediately attached to praying in His Name and the answer to prayer is the keeping of His commandments out of love for Him. All is related to each other. The one results from the other. Obedience is a fruit of love, just as praying in His Name is a fruit of knowing Him and His will and trusting in Him. The manner in which the disciples can show their love and devotion to the Master is obedience.
The commandments of which the Lord speaks here do not refer to the commandments of the law of Sinai. While the commandments of the law of Sinai are aimed at obtaining life, keeping the commandments of the Lord Jesus is proof of the possession of the new life. They are commandments that are kept out of love for Him. Obedience born of love brings great blessings.
The Lord Jesus promises that He will ask the Father for another Helper. This ‘ask’ is a confidential asking. It characterizes His relationship to the Father (the same in John 16:26; John 17:9John 17:15; John 17:20). It is not a begging prayer like the disciples do to the Father (John 15:16; John 16:23-Jeremiah :John 16:26). A helper – Greek: parakletos – is someone who is called in to help another, someone who takes up the cause of another and comes to his aid. Now that He is with them on earth, the Lord is that for His disciples.
In view of His ascension, He will see to it that His own will receive “another Helper”. It is Someone other than the Lord Jesus, but Who will do the same work. Since the Lord is in heaven, the Holy Spirit performs this task on earth (John 14:16; John 14:26John 15:26; John 16:7). This does not mean that Christ does not do this work anymore, on the contrary He continues to do it while He is in heaven (1 John 2:1).
An additional encouragement is that the Helper Christ gives to His own on earth will be with them for eternity. The dwelling of the Holy Spirit in the church as a whole and in the believer personally is a permanent, continuous and uninterrupted dwelling. It is therefore wrong to ask for a new pouring out of the Spirit.
With this promise of the coming of the Holy Spirit to earth, the Lord points forward to the two great characteristics of Christendom:
1. God dwells on earth since the day of Pentecost and
2. since the ascension of the Lord Jesus there is a Man in heaven.
This is a reversal of what God meant with earth and heaven: the earth He has given to men and heaven is His heave, as His dwelling place (Psalms 115:16).
The believer on earth is connected with heaven by the dwelling of the Spirit in him. Heaven is where he belongs (Philippians 3:20). The fact that the Lord Jesus is already there as Man is the guarantee that the believer will actually come there too. That is what the Lord also said in the beginning of this chapter (John 14:3).
The Holy Spirit that the Father will give is the Spirit of truth. He bears witness to the truth, that is to say, He bears witness to the Lord Jesus Who is the truth. The Spirit reveals everything we need to know about God and what was revealed to us by the Son. The world has no part in this because it has no part in the Divine nature and does not walk in obedience. The world has even called the Spirit Beelzebul (Matthew 12:24). It is impossible for the world to receive the Spirit of truth because it is blind to the Son and does not know Him. Believers do know Him through the Holy Spirit.
The Spirit will not, like the Lord Jesus, be with them for only a short time. He will not only be with them to guide them, as the Messiah has been with them, but He will also be in them. This will be a new, special, intimate presence of God in and with the believers. By sending the Holy Spirit, the Lord Jesus will show His care for His own. He will not leave them to their fate as helpless orphans. He will send the Holy Spirit and come to them Himself. This is a great comfort and encouragement. The Holy Spirit will always remind the disciples of Him and the presence of the Holy Spirit will let them sense the presence of the Lord Jesus.
By telling the disciples about His going away and that they will no longer have Him with them, He wants to free their minds from the expectation of a visible Messiah. No longer must they live in the expectation of a visible Messiah, seen by all eyes.
The Lord lifts their expectations to a higher level. He directs their eye of faith towards Himself in glory and reminds them that only there true life is found and that they participate in it with Him. Christ will be their life once He has risen from the dead. That life is therefore life in the power of the resurrection. The believers will not only see Him, but live the same life. Our lives are in everything the revelation of Him Who is our life (2 Corinthians 4:11).
The Unity of the Father and the Son
When the day or period has come that the Holy Spirit will be in them, they will understand through the Holy Spirit how much He and the Father are one and how much they are one with Him. The Holy Spirit not only gives them the knowledge but also the awareness of it. The words “you in Me” indicate the unity of the believer with the Lord Jesus of which the Holy Spirit is the power and the bond. We are in Him as Man Who Himself as the eternal Son is in the Father. Through our union with Him and through the power of the Holy Spirit, the life of Christ flows into us. The fact that He is in us enables us to manifest Him and not ourselves.
By grace we may already know to be in the closest connection with Him Who is one with the Father. He is there in glory and yet also one with us here, just as we are with Him there. We know this through the Spirit Who is given to us. Everything is about what, Who and where Christ is. The glorious blessings that the Lord Jesus gives us here cannot but increase our love for Him.
In connection to that He points again to His commandments. As said, it is not about the law of Sinai. The law of Sinai contains God’s commandments which He imposes on a human being in order to obtain life. Over the centuries this has proven to be an impossibility for man. Man has violated all the commandments and is therefore under curse and condemnation. One can only escape from this by acknowledging God’s righteous judgment and believing in the Son. Not only that there is no judgment anymore, but whoever believes in the Son is given eternal life by Him.
The commandments about which the Lord Jesus speaks here also are related to that eternal life. Whoever knows Him as his life and therefore has His commandments, should also keep them, that is to say, live according to them. A believer demonstrates his love for Christ by living according to the commandments of the new life. This means that Christ becomes visible in his life.
The consequence is – and it cannot be else – that such a person is also loved by the Father. After all, the Father is reminded of His Son’s life. And how would He not love Him of whom He has testified several times: “This is My beloved Son”? Such a believer is also the subject of the Son’s love, to whom He will show more of Himself. To have the commandments of the Son and to keep them leads to spiritual growth.
Judas, not the Iscariot, not the Judas who will betray the Lord, is not yet free from his Jewish way of thinking. He sees no more than a public appearance of the Messiah, as proclaimed in the Old Testament. He cannot imagine a situation where the Messiah is seen by His disciples, but not by the world. And indeed, this is an inexplicable difficulty for anyone who only envisages the earthly glory of the Messiah. Judas asks the Lord for it.
The Lord does not give a direct answer to his question. Instead, His answer goes far beyond the thoughts of Judas and what relates to His earthly glory. For He speaks about making an abode with the believer. To get sight of that and to experience the blessing of it, it is a necessity to love Him, which becomes evident from keeping His word (John 14:23).
This is another thing and goes beyond keeping His commandments (John 14:21). His word (not: His words) is the entire truth brought by Him in words and deeds through which He has revealed Himself. His word represents Himself, He is the Word. Someone who loves Him will keep that word as fruit of that love. Just as in John 14:21, the consequence here too is that the Father loves such a person. He who is so full of the Lord Jesus that he keeps His word, through which he identifies himself, as it were, with Him in all that He is, is also the object of the Father’s love.
Then there is another glorious consequence which is that the Father and the Son, by virtue of the indwelling Spirit, make Their abode with such a person. Doesn’t this far exceed sharing in the earthly glory of a visible Messiah on earth? And does it not also go beyond the Lord Jesus’ disclosure to the believer who has and keeps His commandments (John 14:21)? That the Father and the Son make their abode with the believer is the most intimate form of fellowship. It indicates that the Father and the Son have found complete rest with that believer because to that believer Christ is everything.
Without love for the Son, no one will keep his words. Someone may say that he loves the Lord Jesus, but if it turns out that he does not live in accordance with His word, what he says is not true. Not listening to the truth brought by Him, means, not listening to what the Father says. If His word is not kept, not only the Son is dishonored, but also the Father.
The Spirit Teaches and Reminds
The Lord says that He has spoken these things to His disciples while He is with them. He does this to make a distinction from the time when He will no longer be here. So far they have not been able to grasp many things because the Holy Spirit is not here yet. Despite that absence, the blessing of His presence and His personal teaching is still very great. The blessing of His absence will be even greater with the coming of the Holy Spirit.
The Lord uses both the name “Helper” and the name “Holy Spirit”. He speaks of “the Helper” to point the disciples to the support of the Spirit and the help they will need to follow the way He wants them to go. He speaks of “the Holy Spirit” to point out to His disciples the Divine teaching He will give. As an additional encouragement, He promises His disciples that the Father will send Him in His Name. There is an abundance of encouragement in the promise that He will send the Spirit.
When the Spirit has come, He will teach the disciples more abundantly than the Lord Jesus could do at that time. He will teach them “all things” and not just “these things” from John 14:25. He will remind the disciples of all things the Lord Jesus said and also give them the ability to understand what He meant by that.
With all the wonderful previous promises, the Son’s promises have not yet come to an end. He also grants them peace and gives them His own peace. The first peace, the peace He “leaves” with them, is the peace He worked on the cross, the peace with God (Romans 5:1). That peace is, as it were, His legacy to them as their inalienable property. The second peace, “My peace”, is the peace He has had in His heart throughout His life on earth, the peace that comes from complete trust in the Father, whatever the circumstances. We can also experience that peace when we go our way with trust in the Father (cf. Philippians 4:7).
Christ’s giving differs from the world’s giving. The world may give part of what it possesses, but it will never give everything. However, what it gives, it has lost, it no longer possesses it. What Christ gives, He does not lose, but multiplies. He gives us His peace, His Father is our Father, His God is our God, He gives us His joy, He gives us the words the Father has given Him, He asks for us the glory the Father has given Him. The Father loves us with the love with which He loved Him.
All this he tells His disciples to encourage and reassure them because He is going to die. That is always on His mind. He knows that His death will make them sad and that the circumstances that will lead to His death can frighten them. Once again, He tells them that there is no need for their hearts to be troubled. In John 14:1 He says that with the assurance of a glorious future as consolation. Here He connects it with the comfort of peace with which He will fill them during His absence. This peace will shut out fear.
The Lord Goes Away to the Father
The Lord does not speak about His death but about His going away. He reminds them that He said that. He wants and has to remind us time and time again of certain statements that help us to regain sight of both the present situation and the future. He also reminds them that He will come to them again. His going away from them is therefore temporary. They may bear that in mind as well. He also appeals to their love for Him. If only they would consider what it means for Him to go to the Father. Then they would undoubtedly rejoice for Him.
There is another aspect to that joy. His going to the Father will result in the Holy Spirit coming. The Lord Jesus has announced His coming as an event that has great consequences for them and for His work on earth. And did He not say that He Himself will come to them when He will send the Spirit? He goes but returns to them in the Spirit. Isn’t that a cause of joy? He does not only want to give peace, but also joy. This will be their part by the coming of the Holy Spirit. Something of it they already understood when the Lord went to heaven (Luke 24:52).
All this is connected with His glorifying the Father. That is always what He wants to do. When He says “the Father is greater than I”, He says it from His humble position on earth. As God He is eternally one with the Father and equal to Him. But whatever His essential and personal glory is, He is aware that He is also Man on earth. As such He goes and comes back to caught them up.
What the Lord stated in this chapter is not yet fulfilled at that moment. First the work of redemption has yet to be accomplished. And to all that faith is connected, for it is not visible and tangible. If they will see the fulfillment, it will be a great encouragement for their faith.
The Ruler of the World Is Coming
The Lord has said most of what He had in His heart to His disciples. There is not much more to say, because the time is coming when “the ruler of the world” will have the opportunity to come to Him. Satan is the ruler of the world that rejected Him. By this rejection, the world proves to stand opposite to the Father and to be subject to Satan. Satan will try to find an opening in the Lord Jesus through which he could lead Him to leave the path of obedience and tribute to His Father. All attempts will be unsuccessful. On the contrary, all Satan’s attempts will only result in the glory and perfection of Christ shining all the more.
In Him Satan has “nothing” because He has everything in the Father and His full love and obedience are directed toward the Father. Satan will find as much in Him as he did when he tempted Him in the wilderness to take Him off the path of obedience. Now he will come to Him with the horrors of the suffering that will be inflicted on Him by men. Satan cannot imagine anything else. The Lord rejects Satan. He will look upon the Father and say: “The cup which the Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?” (John 18:11).
In this perfect surrender to the will of the Father lies for the world the perfect testimony of his love for the Father. He could have gone free after having served the Father perfectly. He had deserved life, which no man could say. But He does not want to go free precisely because He loves the Father (Exodus 21:5). Because of this reason, eternal life has become our part.
When the Lord has discussed all this with His disciples, He tells them to get up and leave the upper room. Therefore, it seems that the conversations recorded in the following chapters no longer take place in the upper room, but on their way to Gethsemane.
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op John 14". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany