MINISTRY OF ENCOURAGEMENT CENTERED IN CHRIST PERSONALLY
Had the Lord spoken the last words of chapter 13 with the object of discouraging Peter? By no means. For His next words are "Let not your heart be troubled." Their true protection was in Him personally, not in their own faithfulness. They had faith in God: let them have the same faith in the Lord Jesus. Though Peter himself failed, yet his faith did not fail (Luke 22:32). He certainly thought just as much of the Lord afterward as he did before his failure, if not much more; for his fall worked in the end to strengthen his faith.
Now the Lord was to return to His Father's house, and though they could not follow Him then, yet He assures them of the many dwellings there, -- far more than the limited number of rooms for priests that surrounded the temple. Nor would Peter's sin exclude him from that marvelous eternal blessing.
If in chapter 13 the ministry of restoration is seen, in chapter 14 it is the sweet ministry of comfort, or encouragement. Yet the Lord does not even speak of "heaven," rather "My Father's house." He was going to the Father, and the pure comfort of believers is found in the personal knowledge of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (cf.vs.7 and 17). The place that He would prepare for them would be where He was. We know that He has already prepared the place by virtue of His blessed sacrifice, His resurrection and his return to the Father's presence. Man's place on earth had been forfeited because of his sin: how much better a place are we given by grace!
Just as certainly as He has died and risen again, in order to prepare that place, so certainly will He come again, to receive believers to Himself (v.3). His promise is absolute, and we look for Him at any time, when all His living saints will be caught up together with those who have died (they being resurrected), to meet the Lord in the air.
When He tells them however that they knew both where He was going and the way, Thomas objected. At least he does not consider himself conscious of knowing where the Lord was going, and consequently how could he possibly know the way? But the Lord has spoken pure truth. Thomas actually knew, but did not realize how much he knew. The Lord answers first the question as to the way. He Himself was the way, the truth and the life (v.6). Thomas knew Him, therefore he knew the way. More than that, since they knew Him, they also knew the Father, to whom He was going. To know the Son personally is to know the Father personally, and this is the true character of Christianity, not merely to know facts or rules and regulations as under law; but to know the living God as revealed in His beloved Son.
Christ is the way to the Father: He is the truth as revealing all that the Father is: He is the life, the source of all blessing for all creation, the expression of the same life that is in the Father. Therefore, believers both know and have seen the Father.
HOW IS THE FATHER SHOWN?
While Thomas says no more, Philip struggles with the difficulty of this question, feeling it would only be sufficient if the Lord would show them the Father. How little can man understand the greatness of the person of Christ! -- for in Him, as He tells Philip, the Father is truly seen. What a fact of magnificent wonder! For this to be true, Christ must be Himself absolutely God manifest in flesh.
The Lord asks Philip, did he not believe that there is such essential unity between the Father and the Son that both facts are true, -- He is in the Father and the Father is in Him (v.10). Who else could ever dare to speak in such a way? Yet more than this, all the words He spoke were not independently self-conceived, but were directly from the Father Who else could say this of every word he spoke? Also, all the works He did were in actual fact the works of the Father, who dwelt in Him. His nature, His words and His works were all identical with the Father, absolute perfection.
He asks them that they believe Him because it is true that He is in the Father and the Father in Him. Yet if this seems difficult, at least believe Him for His works' sake (v.11): these themselves were conclusive witnesses to His glory.
GREATER WORKS CONNECTED WITH THE SPIRIT
Again He speaks with conclusively absolute words, this time saying that believers, after He returned to His Father, and because of this, would do the same works as He Himself had done. None before had ever done such works (ch.15:24); but after His resurrection and ascension His disciple's would do even greater works than these. Why? Because they were identified with so glorious a person, then to be at His Father's right hand, having accomplished the greatest work that eternity can ever know, in the sacrifice of Himself.
What greater works have His disciples done after His resurrection than He had done before His death? This cannot refer to physical miracles, for He did more of these (including raising the dead) than did his disciples. But the disciples were used, by the power of the Spirit of God, in the conversion of great numbers of people, three thousand on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-47), large numbers at Samaria, through Philip (Acts 8:1-40), the Gentiles at Caesarea (Acts 10:1-48) and later at Antioch (Acts 11:1-30); and also in the marvelous unity produced by the Spirit of God between Jewish and Gentile believers through the ministry of Paul (cf.1Cor.12 & 13).
Linked with these wonderful works is the Lord's promise of answering prayer in His name (v.13). In His name certainly involves consistency with the character of His name, therefore subjection to His authority; for we cannot expect Him to answer prayers of which He does not approve If it is honestly in His name He will approve it and will do what is requested, for in this the Father would be glorified in the Son. Thus, as the Son is fully united with the Father, so He encourages His saints in such unity of heart with Himself that their prayers will be consistent with this, and therefore answered.
In verse 15 it is because of love for Him that His own are asked to keep His commandments: it is the opposite of a legal spirit. His commandments are not the ten commandments given by Moses, but those laid upon us as the living fruit of faith and love (cf.1John 3:23). In view of His leaving, He promises that He will pray the Father, who would unfailingly answer by His giving another Comforter, the Spirit of God, who would never leave them, as Christ was doing, but abide forever (vs.16-17). The perfect interdependence of Father, Son and Holy Spirit is evident here. While the Spirit cannot be seen or known by the world, He is yet "the Spirit of truth," a living person, just as is true of the Father and the Son; and the Lord insists, "ye know Him," just as they knew the Father and the Son (v.7). As the Father dwelt with them in the person of the Son, so the Spirit dwelt with them in the same way. They knew the Spirit just as they knew the Father and the Son . Wonderful knowledge!
The Spirit of God dwelt with the disciples in the person of the Son of God (v.17). "And shall be in you." In this the Lord spoke of the Spirit coming at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-47) to dwell in believers, for they could receive Him only on the basis of an accomplished redemption, and after Christ had been glorified (John 7:39).
The Lord would not leave them orphans (v.18), that is, without care and direction: He would come to them by the Spirit of God, invisible, not in bodily form, but in vital reality nevertheless. For just as the Spirit of God is in Him, so He is in the Spirit; the Father is in Him, and He is in the Father.
The world would see Him no more, but believers would see Him. This of course is the vision of faith made real by the power of the Spirit of God. Compare Hebrews 2:9. They would live because He lives: in resurrection life they would be linked with Him by the power of the Spirit, who is the life-giver.
By this power too they would know the reality of the fact that Christ is in the Father, and connected with this, that believers are in Him and He in them (v.20). Notice that these were facts when the Lord spoke, but the disciples did not understand this until the Spirit of God came. This illustrates the fact that Old Testament saints had more than they knew they had.
Verse 21 shows that obedience to His commandments is the proof of loving Him. This is the true character of a believer. If one refuses to keep His commandments, he is not a true believer at all: he does not love Christ. One who loves Christ however is loved by the Father. This is the love of a Father toward His children, and to this is added the love of Christ and the precious fact that He would manifest Himself to the obedient one. Of course, in this He refers back to His word in verses 15 to 18; it is by the Spirit of God that today He manifests Himself to believers.
Judas (not Iscariot) is puzzled by this, as to how the Lord could be manifest to believers yet not before the world (v.22). The Lord does not explain this, for only when the Spirit of God came could they understand this precious reality; but He does further encourage their love and obedience. One who loves Him would keep His words (not only His commandments). For love does not stop with merely performing what is required: it desires to please Him in regard to His expressed desires. This is true, normal Christian character, which should be true of us at all times, yet it is no doubt true of all believers in some measure, feeble as our measure may be.
This love cannot but draw the love of the Father; and the promise is precious, that both the Father and the Son would come and make their permanent dwelling with one whose love was evidenced by obedience. This is certainly by the Spirit of God, who dwells in true believers today.
One who does not love Him does not keep His words (v.24): he is not a believer. Yet the word spoken by the Lord was not merely His own, but the Father's, this being another insistence on the fact that He was in no detail of His ministry independent of the Father: no one therefore has a valid excuse for not loving Him.
The Lord spoke these things while He was with them in order that, when the Spirit of God, the Comforter, was sent from the Father, the disciples would see clearly the vital connection between His ministry and that of the Spirit, who would enlighten them and bring to their remembrance what the Lord had spoken. Only this marvelous gift would enable them to enter into the truth of what He had spoken on earth and what would yet be given (v.26).
HIS LEGACY OF PEACE
Now the Lord leaves a legacy of peace to His disciples in a world of seething unrest (v.27). "Peace I leave with you" is the peace with God that results from His accomplished redemption, peace left for every redeemed soul. "My peace I give unto you" refers rather to the calm tranquility with which He faced all the contrary circumstances of distress, sorrow, hatred and persecution in the world. The contemplation of this will preserve our hearts from being troubled and afraid. While the first peace here is ours at all times, the second is "the peace of God," only known as we are in practical communion with the thoughts of the Lord Jesus (cf.Phil.4;6-7).
Though He was going away, this should not discourage them. In fact, they ought to have rejoiced for His sake, because He was going to the Father. Real love for Him would rejoice that His time of rejection and suffering in the world was at an end, to be exchanged for the unspeakable joy of the Father's own presence. "For," He says, "My Father is greater than I." Though in eternal deity Father and Son are one, yet the Father's position was greater, because He had not come down to a path of voluntary humiliation on earth. Certainly the Son's moral and spiritual greatness are equal with that of the Father, but He had taken a place of humiliation in coming down, not a place of greatness.
Verse 29 shows that He was preparing His disciples for His departure, for though they understood little, they would believe later. After that evening He would not talk much with them. The power of Satan was about to be exerted in utmost hatred against Him: He would be betrayed, arrested, subjected to criminal abuse and a mock trial, and crucified In all of this He said little indeed, even to Pilate, the judge. But as to Satan, He only says, "he has nothing in Me." Wonderful words! All that Satan, the prince of this world, could do was to confirm the fact of the perfection and purity of the Lord Jesus: he was defeated by a Stronger than he.
All this would prove to the world that the Lord Jesus loved the Father (v.31), and as in His life, so in His death and resurrection, He was obeying the commandment of the Father (cf.Jn.10:18). "Arise, let us go from here," He says. Though these words literally spoke of leaving the upper room, yet there is a deeper spiritual lesson here. He was leaving the world behind, and they too were to be identified with Him in this. As He is not of the world, neither are they. It appears that chapters 15 and 16 were spoken as they walked toward Gethsemane.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on John 14". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany