The Lord's Sermon is continued through this Chapter, and here it is ended. Jesus comforts his Disciples with many sweet and precious Promises, and again dwells upon the gracious consolations which they should receive from the Holy Ghost.
These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended. (2) They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. (3) And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me. (4) But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them: and these things I said unto you at the beginning, because I was with you. (5) But now I go my way to him that sent me; and none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou? (6) But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart. (7) Nevertheless, I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you: but if I depart, I will send him unto you.
I pray the Reader to remark how Jesus dwells upon the expediency of his departure, on the Church's account. It is expedient for you that I go away. So that the Lord doth not at all mention the joy that was before him, in returning to his Father, neither of the felicity to which he was going, in being received by the faithful gone before, who would come forth to congratulate the King on his taking possession of his kingdom. We hear of none of those things in the Lord's farewell, but all that Jesus is discoursing upon is, concerning his dear children which he was about to leave behind. As if the whole heart of Jesus he would leave behind him. Precious Lord! Oh! for grace to have it always in remembrance.
And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgement; (9) Of sin, because they believe not on me; (10) Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more: (11) Of judgement, because the prince of this world is judged. (12) 1 have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. (13) Howbeit, when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak; and he will shew you things to come. (14) He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.
Reader! It must have been a matter of great importance, that the Lord Jesus in this farewell sermon, dwelt so much upon the Person and Offices of God the Holy Ghost. Never would Christ have described him so particularly, had it not been, that his Church might be taught everything concerning Him, in whose teachings and consolations they were so highly concerned. I pray the Reader to indulge me in my endeavors to follow the footsteps of the Lord Jesus, in marking some at least, of the several features of character, by which God the Spirit, according to the Lord's representation of him, was to be known.
The regeneration, which God the Holy Ghost, in his covenant office-character, engaged to perform on the whole Church of Christ, no doubt comprehended, (as the greater includes the less,) all his blessed work. And this sovereign act, as hath been already observed, (see note on John 14:16-27) is no doubt in point of importance, equal to the electing love of God the Father, or the betrothing and redeeming love of God the Son. But in the Almighty act of regeneration, is included every other office of God the Spirit. For as an Apostle under his authority hath said, in all the manifestations of the divine life, in which the Church is changed into the same image from glory to glory; it is, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 3:18.
It will not be improper, neither I hope unprofitable, to take a brief view of some of those office-characters of God the Holy Ghost, which have not been already noticed, and which the Lord Jesus hath specially marked in this sermon. They will serve in some degree to manifest the love of the Spirit to the Church.
I pass over, (because not spoken of in this place by Jesus,) the consideration of the work of God the Holy Ghost on the Person of Christ. This forms a separate subject, but yet highly worthy of the first attention when speaking of the office-characters of God the Spirit, in relation to the everlasting covenant. He it was who formed the human nature of the Son of God in the womb. Matthew 1:18; Mat_1:20; Luke 1:35. He it was who consecrated Christ to the Messiahship. Isaiah 11:1-2; Acts 10:38. He it was who anointed Christ to all his offices, and so Jesus himself declared. Isaiah 61:1 with Luke 4:18. He it was who wrought with Jesus in all his miracles. Matthew 12:28; Acts 10:38 who wrought with Christ and the Father in his resurrection. Romans 1:4; Rom_8:11. And He it is who now proclaims Christ in the hearts of his redeemed, when, like Christ in his resurrection from the dead, they are quickened from the death of sin by the Holy Ghost. Ephesians 2:1. For none can say, that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. 1 Corinthians 12:3. All these, and others of a like nature mentioned in scripture, are in proof of the work of God the Holy Ghost upon the Person of Jesus; and in a subject, where at any time the Sacred Writers are speaking of his office-characters in the covenant, these things ought not to be overlooked or forgotten. But the Lord Jesus in this sermon, mentions only his gracious acts towards, and over the Church; and therefore it is to such only I would call more particularly the Reader's attention.
The Lord Jesus begins the subject here in speaking of the office-work of the Holy Ghost, with observing how he will work conviction in the heart on account of sin; how he will proclaim righteousness, even the personal righteousness of Jesus, as all-effectual and complete in the great work of redemption; and of judgment in the fullest establishment of the Lord Jesus, as Judge of quick and dead, which the Jews had attempted to call in question and deny.
Reader! it is a blessed confirmation of the truths of God, when the outward ministry of God's word, is inwrought in the heart by the inward effect. Will you allow me to ask, whether God the Spirit hath so glorified Christ in your heart by such testimonies of his office-work as these, in receiving of Christ's and shewing unto you? The question finds an answer as luminous as though written with a sun beam, when God the Holy Ghost hath truly wrought these operations in the heart and conscience. He proves to a man's own feelings, the filth and guilt, and the loathsome nature of sin. He holds up Jesus in such views of his glory, greatness, fulness, suitableness, and all-sufficiency, as determine the soul to behold in him, everything suited to the want and misery of the sinner. He shews not only the ability, but the readiness of Jesus to receive, and bless the sinner in his low estate. And at length so overrules all the arguments, which sin, unbelief, the world, or the powers of darkness raise up in the way, that the heart is constrained to come to Him; and the soul, that in the first awakenings, under the conviction of sin, trembled with apprehensions to approach; at length finds the Holy Ghost witnessing to the gracious estate of an interest in Christ, from the gift of God the Father, before the foundation of the world. Galatians 4:6; Romans 8:14-17.
I pray the Reader to notice another of the blessed employments of the Holy Ghost in his office-work, namely, in glorifying Christ Jesus. And how is this done? Surely in the most blessed way and manner that the imagination can conceive. God the Spirit holds up the Lord Jesus as a most complete Savior. And while he shews us the sinfulness of our nature, he shews the holiness of Jesus; and with these different views, he so graciously works in the soul by his persuasive power and grace, that he inclines the heart of the true Israel of God to receive Christ, and to barter sin for righteousness, and joy for sorrow; that while Jesus is glorified, the sinner is made happy; and thus this office of the Holy Ghost is most compleatly answered.
I have known, however, some precious souls at a loss to apprehend what is meant by the Holy Ghost's receiving of Christ, and shewing to them. They have been fearful that the application hath not been made. But, if they were to attend to the scripture words and not their own, and as Jesus hath stated this office-work of God the Spirit, the difficulty would vanish. The Lord does not say, that the Holy Ghost shall glorify him by receiving of his, and applying to his people; but shewing them. And what is it to shew the people? Certainly it is simply this, and no more. The Holy Ghost shews the sinner his own wants, and Christ's suitableness to supply those wants, and readiness in supplying them. And thus having shewn that a rich Savior is suited for a poor sinner, and a poor sinner for a rich Savior; sweetly and powerfully the blessed Spirit inclines the heart of the needy sinner to receive, and belief to the salvation of his soul. Hence Christ is glorified, and the sinner is made happy. This is to believe the record God hath given of his Son!
All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shew it unto you. (16) A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father. (17) Then said some of his disciples among themselves, What is this that he saith unto us? A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me: and, Because I go to the Father? (18) They said therefore, What is this that he saith, A little while? we cannot tell what he saith. (19) Now Jesus knew that they were desirous to ask him, and said unto them, Do ye enquire among yourselves of that I said, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me? (20) Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice; and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. (21) A woman, when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world. (22) And y e now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you. (23) And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. (24) Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. (25) These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time cometh when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall shew you plainly of the Father. (26) At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say unto you, that I will pray the Father for you: (27) For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God. (28) I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father.
In what a full and comprehensive manner the Lord Jesus here speaks, at the opening of this paragraph, in relation to the common interest and property the Father and himself possessed in all things; and which included in it, all the persons of his Church and people. And, Reader! what a sweet thought is it for you, for me, for the whole Church, to keep in everlasting remembrance; that both the persons and the things which Christ takes such interest in, for his Church's present and eternal welfare, are as much the Father's, and in which He takes equal regard with that of his Son; Oh! for grace to know this, and to live in the constant enjoyment of it!
I beg the Reader particularly to notice, what the Lord Jesus hath here said concerning prayer. He first observes, that at that day, ye shall ask me nothing. Not that he meant to discourage their coming to him in prayer, but rather on the contrary, for he soon after adds: Ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. But according to my view, it forms a beautiful and an affectionate method of Jesus, to invite them to be very often making their requests known unto him. He had just before said, that he was going away from them; that they should weep and lament, while the world would rejoice. Well! how will the Lord keep up their spirits during these exercises? This shall be the way. At that day you shall ask me nothing, but what I have already outrun your expectations in giving; agreeably to that sweet promise, Isaiah 65:24. It is as if Jesus had said, I shall be so much with you in spirit by the Holy Ghost, whom I am going away to send to you, and he will endite all your petitions for you, in teaching you what your wants are, and my fulness to supply; that I shall be daily expecting to hear from you, and in comparison to what I expect to hear from you, hitherto you have asked nothing in my name; Ask, therefore, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full,
And I pray the Reader to observe yet further, in confirmation, that this was Christ's meaning; that they should be frequent and clamorous at the mercy seat; I say not unto you that I will pray for you, (said Christ,) for the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God. What a tender, blessed method, was here of Jesus, in shewing them how his whole heart was with them, and that he took part in all that concerned them. Jesus did not mean to say, that his office of Intercessor would cease when he got to heaven. So far from it, that it was one of the great purposes for which he was going there. Jesus would bear them unceasingly upon his breast, and upon his heart, as the Jewish high priest bore the names of the twelve tribes, when he went in before the mercy-seat. But saith Jesus, my Father takes such an interest, as well as myself, in all that concerns you, that all your causes and interests must be eternally safe and secure. Reader! put the whole of those words of Jesus together, and look at them in one united view. I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you. I need not say it. You know it. You know my whole heart is with you. Nay, if I leave you, it is on this very account, to carry up everything that concerns you before my Father, and to see the whole of my grand designs for which I came on earth, accomplished for you. And moreover, though I shall unceasingly be thus engaged for you in heaven, in my office of an unchanging priesthood; yet such is my Father's love to you, because ye have loved me, that whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my Name, he will give it you. So that your persons and your concerns are everlastingly secured, both in my Father's love and mine. And I will send the Holy Ghost, who shall not only act in my place and room, and shew you all your wants and my glory, with my infinite readiness to supply; but He shall endite all the letters and petitions you send me, and such a blessed intercourse shall be kept up between me and you, by reason of these things, that what He teacheth you to pray for upon earth, shall be in exact correspondence to my intercession for you in heaven. Reader! what saith your heart's joy to this view of the subject? Have you so learned Christ, and heard him, and been taught of Him, as the truth is in Jesus? Ephesians 4:20-21.
His disciples said unto him, Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no proverb (30) Now are we sure that thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask thee: by this we believe that thou camest forth from God. (31) Jesus answered them, Do ye now believe? (32) Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me. (33) These things I have spoke n unto you, that in me ye might have peace, in the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
It should seem by those acknowledgements of the Apostles, that now they understood plainly all that Jesus meant, and his sweet words were no longer proverbs; as Jesus just before had said they were, (John 16:25) but plain, and suited to their apprehension. And hence I venture to suppose, (but by no means to speak positively,) that the Lord was pleased as he drew near the close of his sermon to enlarge their minds, that they might have more clear and extended views of this great subject, on which he had been speaking to them. And, Reader! it will be our mercy in like manner, on this glorious view Jesus hath here given of the Person, Work, and Offices of God the Holy Ghost; if you and I can join issue with the Apostles, and say, Now speaketh our Lord plainly, and speaketh no parable. Now are we sure that Jesus knoweth all things, and needeth not that any man should ask him. By this we believe that He came forth from God!
It will form I hope no unprofitable conclusion in our Commentary upon this blessed sermon of Christ, if we briefly gather into one point of view, some of the precious things which Jesus hath left in it to his Church, concerning the Person and love-offices of God the Holy Ghost. Sure I am, the review of the whole will be profitable, if so be, (and which I humbly beg both for, myself and Reader,) that the Almighty Spirit of whom I write, shall graciously condescend to be our teacher.
We have beheld in these chapters, with what a world of tenderness the Lord Jesus hath introduced the subject of the coming of the Holy Ghost, and how Jesus before his departure brought them into an acquaintance with his person, and nature, and offices. We have seen how minutely the Lord Jesus hath dwelt upon the many distinguishing testimonies of character, by which the Holy Ghost should be known. And we have discovered at the close of our Lord's discourse on this most interesting subject, that so much grace from the Lord accompanied his divine instruction on the same, that the Apostles entered into a perfect apprehension both of the person and coming of the Holy Ghost. Here then I would beg the Reader to pause, and before we pass away from our review of the same sermon of Christ, which was made so blessed to them; I would very affectionately ask the Reader, as I desire to put the same question to my own heart, with what sentiments do we close the Lord's discourse, concerning the same momentous truths of God, in our apprehensions of God the Holy Ghost?
Behold him in the eternity of his, nature, and essence, and God-head. One of the Holy undivided Three, which bear record in heaven. 1 John 5:7. Contemplate Him in the numberless, undeniable testimonies, which have been brought before you of his Person, through both volumes of Scripture. Mark well his special offices, in his covenant character as relating to the Church. And here most eminently, and indeed as comprehending every other, in the great work of regeneration; which sovereign and Almighty act becomes so essential to every child of God to partake in, that not a single spiritual mercy can we lay claim to, until this is wrought, and when done, Christ with all his blessings and benefits are ours. For so it is written in the scripture. To them, (saith the Apostle,) that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Savior Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied; according as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue; being made partakers of the divine nature. 2 Peter 1:1-4.
And when this gracious act is wrought in the soul of him, who is the highly favoured object of Jehovah's love, in his Threefold character of Person; all the after manifestations of the Holy Ghost, as might be expected, are made to maintain and carry on that divine nature, of which, as the Holy Ghost by the Apostle hath said, the regenerated are made partakers. From this commencement of the renewed life, when quickened by the Spirit in the souls of those who were before dead in trespasses and sins, Ephesians 2:1.
Reader! what saith your experience to these things! Are the Apostles conclusions our conclusions? their views of the Holy Ghost our views of the Holy Ghost? Or, after all, the Lord Jesus hath said in this most blessed Chapter concerning Him, do we say of Jesus, as they did of the Prophet's Sermon, Ah, Lord God! doth he not speak parables ? Ezekiel 20:49.
Hail! Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God Almighty, which is, and which was, and which is to come! Blessed forever be God the Father, for his everlasting love, in having chosen the Church in Christ, before the foundation of the world. And blessed be God the Son, for having betrothed the Church from everlasting, and having redeemed her from all the ruins of the fall, in this time state of existence. And blessed be God the Holy Ghost for his everlasting love, and accomplishing the regeneration of the Church, when dead in trespasses and sins!
Oh! for grace, to be often contemplating the office acts and manifestations of love, as shewn towards the Church in the communications of all that is communicable in grace, from each glorious person of the Godhead. Do thou, blessed Spirit, daily make a sweet revelation of the whole to, and in the souls of the redeemed, that the glory of the Father's provision for the Church, in the person and blood of Christ, and the full mercy of the everlasting covenant, may, through thy sovereign power, be brought home, and confirmed in the heart. Oh! for grace to know God the Holy Ghost, in every sweet office-act in which Jesus hath here so blessedly represented him. Thou knowest, Almighty Comforter, that my poor soul can find no comfort but from thy gracious operations. I can have no access, can find no freedom at the throne, nay, can have no disposition to go there, unless thy sweet leadings influence and guide me thither. Oh! then do thou, Almighty Quickener of the Lord's people, direct my heart into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ. Do thou become to my poor soul, the Spirit of truth; and sure I am, amidst all the heresies of the day, I shall be guided into all truth. Do thou glorify to my view the Lord Jesus, and then no Infidel amidst a Christ-despising generation, will for a moment raise a mist to obscure my clear apprehension of His Godhead. Precious, precious Teacher, in the Church of Jesus! do thou but mercifully fulfil all thy sweet office-characters, in and to my poor soul, and more will be accomplished to the settlement of that peace of mind, and peace of God, which passeth all understanding in my heart, than can be wrought in ten thousand years of human endeavors without thee. Yes! thou Almighty Spirit of Sanctification and Holiness, if thou wilt condescend to communicate of thy divine unction, thou wilt bring my Lord Jesus, in all his fulness and suitability, so immediately home in union with my redeemed soul, that I shall know him as the Lord my righteousness, and live upon him, and live to him, as being made the righteousness of God in Him.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on John 16". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
Second Sunday after Easter