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Bible Commentaries

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary
John 14

 

 

Other Authors
Introduction

PART V. (B.)

1. The perplexity of the disciples in view of our Lord going away, and the consoling promise of Jesus (Joh ).

2. The question of Thomas as to the way, and the affirmation of Jesus that He is the way to the Father, etc. (Joh ).

3. The demand of Philip for a divine vision, and the affirmation of Jesus as to His essential oneness with the Father manifested by His works. His promise that He will be with the disciples, answering prayer in His name, and enabling them to do greater works that the Father may be glorified in Him (Joh ).

4. The gift of the Paraclete (Joh ), through whom the Father and Son will dwell with believers (Joh 14:18-21).

5. The question of Judas (not Iscariot) as to the manner in which Christ will manifest Himself to the disciples and not to the world. The reply of our Lord that love to Him is necessary ere there can be such manifestation. And to those who love Him will be accorded the gift of the Holy Ghost, and Christ's own peace to cheer them in time of trouble (Joh ).


Verses 1-7

EXPLANATORY AND CRITICAL NOTES

Joh . The discourse begun at Joh 13:31 is here continued. Here our Lord not merely answers fully Peter's question, "Whither goest Thou?" (Joh 13:36), but speaks much needed words of comfort. ΄ὴ ταρασσέθω., "Let not your heart be troubled," etc., should be compared with ἰησοῦς ἐταράχθη τῷ πνεύματι of Joh 13:21. He was troubled that they might have peace. "From this point onwards, the form of instruction properly so called prevails; Jesus transports Himself in thought to the period when the promised reunion will be realised, and glances from this point of view at the future career of His apostles in the midst of a hostile world to be saved" (Joh 15:1 to Joh 16:15) (Godet). πιστεύετε.—Believe, imperative, like the second πιστεύετε. It was want of faith that caused their despondency. Therefore Jesus says, Look up in confidence to God; remember all that He is. "Believe also in Me." You know Me: can you not therefore trust Me?

Joh . In My Father's house, etc.—This is a reason for their confidence in God. He is a Father, and the Father's house is no limited dwelling, but a house of "many mansions," μοναὶ πολλαί The antitype of the οἶκος τοῦ πατρός μου (Joh 2:16). Comp, also Ezekiel 43; Revelation 21; Mat 25:34. μοναὶ = abiding dwelling-places, or resting-places. Many.— πολλαί, does not denote variety, i.e. conditions of differing degrees of glory, but refers to the number of those dwellings. There will be room for all (Joh 10:16), and therefore for those troubled ones. Does not our Lord refer, perhaps, to the multiplicity of worlds in His universe, throughout space? We might well suppose that He pointed them to the starry sky. No doubt, when supper was ended, they passed from the upper chamber on to the flat roof, and there rested in the falling twilight, ready to go forth to Gethsemane. If it were not so, etc.—If they could not have followed Him He would not have buoyed them up with false hopes. One reason indeed why He told them this was because ( ὅτι in best MSS.) I am going to prepare a place, etc.—"Here it is that faith in Jesus comes in as the complement of faith in the Father. He is their πρόδρομος, their forerunner in heaven" (Heb 6:20) (Godet). The interrogative "Would I have told you?" is not admissible, for there is no previous reference to which the clause would point.

Joh . And if I shall go, etc.—This does not express uncertainty. "The fact that He goes away to realise for them the kingdom of God, i.e. that His going away is for them such a realisation, forms the presupposition ( ἐάν, if) of His return to receive His own ‘into His kingdom'" (Luthardt). Whether καί, and, be omitted or not, the sense is the same. I am coming again.—Even if this clause does not refer primarily to our Lord's second coming, it includes a reference to that event. It must evidently be connected with Rev 22:7; Rev 22:12; Rev 22:20; Rev 1:8. He is ever coming until the end—in His resurrection glory, by His Spirit at Pentecost, in judgment on the nations. All these lead up to His final appearing. And shall receive you unto Myself, etc.—Whether in death, as He received His martyred servant (Act 7:56); or those who are alive and remain when He comes to judgment (1Th 4:17).

Joh . And whither (or where) I go ye know the way.—The meaning is virtually the same as that of the T. R. The "whither" includes the end of the way and the Father's house.

Joh . These verses include the question of Thomas and the answer of our Lord. "The first conversation occasioned by the question of Peter (Joh 13:36-37) had turned upon the final reunion, the end. The second, called forth by the question of Thomas, turned rather on the ability of Jesus to bring them to the end upon the way" (Godet).

Joh . In His answer, by substituting the Father for the Father's house, Jesus sought to make the end of the way more clear. Heaven is the divine presence. I am the way, the truth, and the life.—The end of their hopes and aspirations being the Father, it would be at once evident that Jesus must be the way. As the incarnate Word He is the uniting bond between men and God. Through Him and in His mediatorial office we have access to the Father. And this men attain by accepting His truth and Him as the truth—by coming to Him for spiritual life, and participating in that life by union and communion with Him. No man cometh, etc.—"He brings to the goal, and He alone, because He and He alone is and bears in Himself the essential revelation of God, and the blessing of the essential divine fellowship" (Luthardt).

Joh . If ye had known Me, etc.—By most expositors the emphasis is placed on known; but there seems to be some justification for the reading ἐγνώκατε ἐμέ, with א, D, i.e. "If ye have known Me, ye shall know My Father also." Comp. with Joh 14:9, where the emphasis is certainly on I and Me. ἀπʼ ἄρτι, from henceforth.—Now and henceforth they would more fully know and understand Him. Their true knowledge of Him would now begin, and never again be entirely obliterated. From that night's communications and proceedings they would begin to understand the true relation in which He stood to the Father.

MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Joh

The reality and assurance of the heavenly state.—These words of Jesus before He went forth to Gethsemane and the cross contained those promises which divine Wisdom saw to be suited to the case of the disciples. They were soon to go out into the world to proclaim their message. Tribulation awaited them—trial, persecution, unjust treatment from Jew and Gentile. A believer's foes would sometimes be those of his own household. And even though this were not so, they had to wander from land to land among alien peoples and unfamiliar scenes. All this militated against the majority of them possessing settled homes on earth, or any permanent dwelling-place. Therefore this sweet and tender promise was given to them. They had here no abiding city; but having this promise, they confidently looked for one to come. This promise holds good for all God's people. When they cast off the shackles of mortality and pass into new and higher spheres of being, it is not to wander aimlessly through the vastnesses of eternity; it is to pass to the welcome of a Father's house, where abiding dwelling-places are provided for them.

I. Notice the ground on which Jesus rests the reality and assurance of the heavenly state.—It is on the fact of His own personality as the truth. "If it were not so," etc. He could present no stronger argument to the mind of His disciples. It is as if He had said: You know Me; the course of My life is before you, etc. Surely you must be persuaded I would never have spoken thus, would not fill your minds with delusive hopes, if these things were not so? This argument would be of the strongest to the disciples. For nigh three years they had followed Jesus, had seen His wonderful life as He went about doing good, and His wonderful works. They had heard His words of wisdom, had seen the stainless beauty of His character, had felt the strength of His love. Therefore His "If it were not so," etc., would come to them with the force of a demonstration. Should such considerations have less weight with us? We have friends whose characters are so genuine that we say, Their word is as good as their bond. They would not, even to please us, utter what they know to be untrue, etc. And who that has studied the character of Jesus could think otherwise of Him? And especially will this be the case with those who know the power of Christ's gospel in their hearts and lives, and have the joy of His fellowship in their souls. Such rest on this blessed promise in implicit confidence, etc.

II. Think what this promise implies.—We may draw from a consideration of the ideas the conception calls up to our minds those lessons of comfort, hope, etc., the Redeemer intended to convey. Of course human language and imagery can only at best dimly shadow forth heavenly things; in fact, they can only be understood in the measure in which we are prepared to understand them. So all the conceptions of the heavenly state in Scripture only faintly adumbrate the reality. Scripture itself declares this to be so (1Co ). Thus the heavenly world is set before us in a variety of aspects. It is a country, state, city, garden, paradise, etc. Here it is the Father's house. But the reality will be far beyond our highest conceptions. But just as an astronomer may reason analogously from what he knows of the starry orbs as to the infinite glory of the universe, so we, from the analogy of the ideas given in Scripture, may reason as to the glory of the heavenly world. Jesus, as we have said, seems to have chosen this conception as suited to the circumstances of the disciples. But, in speaking of heaven as the Father's house, He did not leave them under the impression that it is a limited, etc., dwelling. It is a house of many mansions. The idea is that the family will be numerous and always resident ( μονά, monç =abiding or tarrying; hence μοναί, monai = residences). The idea of a father's house is one of the most pleasant that can occur to the mind. In after-life the heart turns fondly toward it. With few exceptions it is the happiest spot on earth. It is generally in the home-circle that we find humanity at its best. None are to be pitied so much as those who are alone on earth, who have no centre round which the affections may turn, no spot where, under the influences of love, trust, helpfulness, their whole being may grow healthily and joyfully. How many a life has been soured through isolation and loneliness! But the happy denizens of the Father's house above are blessed in the sweetest communion, the noblest employ, etc.

III. Think, then, of a few of the characteristic features of the homes of earth, and see how they typify the house of many mansions.—

1. A true father's house on earth is a place of safety. The children feel and are safe, so far as can be here, under the roof-tree of home. They are there shielded from danger as lambs in the fold. It is when the child goes forth into the far country that health, strength, energy, so carefully nurtured before, are in danger of being lost, squandered, etc., leaving the life bare. So in the Father's house above, the family are eternally safe (Joh ). The father's house here is a place where everything needful, so far as possible, is provided for the children. It is in the far country that they meet with bitter want, etc. And in the heavenly dwelling-place "they hunger no more," etc. (Rev 7:16-17).

2. The true home on earth is a place of rest and peace. Thither the weary labourer directs his steps at close of day: a welcome awaits him—he gains fresh strength for future toil. So, too, the toiler wearied with labour in the fields of time finds a place of welcome rest. It is no wayside inn, no temporary abode; but a house of many abiding dwellings. There the voyager rests from struggle with adverse gales; the Christian soldier rests from conflict with sin and every spiritual foe.

3. Again, every true father's house on earth is a place of love and joy. It is not the place merely that is dear. It is because there dwell those whom we love. Love binds the members of the family in one. Selfishness is excluded. The members of the family are glad in each other's joy. A spirit of mutual charity and sympathy binds them together in common aims. No other spot on earth where love gains greater triumphs, where it shows more prominently its power. There it beareth all things, etc. (1 Corinthians 13). And where love reigns there is purest joy. Need it be said that this is true, only in infinitely higher degree, of the heavenly house of many mansions? It is the abode of love, etc. There "love never faileth"; and thus there is endless joy. And one chief element of this joy will be the union of the saints with the heavenly Father in our great elder brother Jesus Christ. "I will come again, and receive you unto Myself," etc. (Joh ). These are some of the characteristic features of the house of many mansions. But, after all has been said and can be said, how feeble and dim are our conceptions of its eternal glory! And how should such hopes and promises quicken us to live as children of the light and of the day!

Joh . Reunion of saints in heaven. In the Father's house the Father's children in Christ shall know as they are known.—It is a question of deep interest that confronts us when it is asked, "How are the dead raised, and with what body do they come?" And the apostle has answered that question for us with great fulness (1 Corinthians 15). But there is another question also of great interest connected with this subject, the answer to which we are left to infer. It is, Shall we know our friends and brethren in Christ on that happy shore on which they and all His shall dwell in eternal peace, when the resurrection dawn shall bring the consummation of their redemption, and body and soul shall be reunited in perfect purity? The spirit longs to know this, and seeks to rise to hope, and trust,

"With faith that comes of self-control,

The truths that never can be proved

Until we close with all we loved,

And all we flow from, soul in soul."

Tennyson.

There are two considerations which might be mentioned as warranting Christians to entertain an assured hope that it shall be so.

I. Christ is there, and we shall know Him.—

1. This is, indeed, the chief element of the believer's gladness in prospect of the life beyond. Our Lord Himself held out this prospect to the disciples as calculated to inspire their hearts with peace and joy: "In My Father's house are many mansions," etc. (Joh ). It is therefore no unknown land, no land of strangers, into which believers shall enter to possess their inheritance, but a Father's house of many abiding dwelling-places, fitted for His people.

2. And the Elder Brother, in whom all are united in one family, shall be there to receive all His own. Even now He knows His sheep and is known of them. Shall it be less so then? Nay, the close union in love of Christ and His people will then become complete and perfect. This is, indeed, one of the chief elements of eternal blessedness.

II. Our life beyond shall not be less but more perfect.—

1. "Now we see in a glass, obscurely; but then face to face," etc. (1Co ). And we know that when the manifestation of the Invisible takes place "we shall be like Him," etc. (1Jn 3:2). Christ's people shall be made perfect in Him and in the Father.

2. Now perfection cannot mean loss of personality. If our individuality were destroyed, it would not be we who were perfected; for it is the I, the personality, which distinguishes every man as a separate, sentient, intelligent existence. Nay, we should look for the perfection of our personality rather than its extinction.

3. Thus clearer knowledge will mark the perfected man. "We shall know as we are known." The dim obscurity of our present state will merge in perfect day. No longer will reason be thwarted by passion, or judgment warped by prejudice. Things shall be seen and known as they are, and not simply as what they appear to be. Then all shams shall be revealed, all hypocrisies unmasked.

4. And if with all the powers and faculties of mind the redeemed are to become Christlike, then memory, on which personality so much depends, will also be perfected. Christ remembers His own—His people remember His atoning work; and one chief theme of their praises will be the fact that He hath "redeemed them with His blood." And so too we may believe they will remember their fellow-pilgrims in time and "know them when they meet."

5. And if memory be perfected, it will thus be purified. When we stand close to some great structure of antiquity, we are conscious more of the marks that time and stress have left upon it than of its beauty as a whole—its fair proportions, its exquisite symmetry. But when we remove to a distance these appear, and the flaws and marks of time and the destroyer's hand are lost and forgotten. So as we look back on and summon up in memory the images of our Christian friends departed, the flaws and disfigurements incident to our imperfect stale are for the most part forgotten, and only the fair proportions of their general Christian character remain. All the rest was adventitious; this is permanent. And in some such fashion the memory of the redeemed will be purged in their intercourse in the heavenly state from what is impermanent and perishable.

6. And as they are all united in Christ in love and knowledge, so will they be united one with another; and whilst the sphere of communion will be infinitely extended, still those who loved and laboured here as fellow-citizens of the saints will not, we may believe, love and labour unknown to each other in that higher sphere and more perfect service.

7. And the chief end, therefore, is to seek for that abiding unity in Christ with all our friends and loved ones that shall endure all the shocks of time and death and judgment, that shall exist and persist through all the ages of eternity. It has been truly said that if it were to be thought possible that we should not know and consequently never love our friends in Christ after this life, we should simply "number them with temporal things, and love them as such" (Baxter). A better hope remains. The redeemed whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life, whose names He will "confess before His Father and before His angels," shall, knowing Him, know each other, and in unity rejoice eternally.

Not many lives, but only one, have we—Frail, fleeting man!

How scared should that one life ever be—That narrow span!

Day after day filled up with blessed toil,

Hour after hour still bringing in new spoil!

Dr. H. Bonar.

Think of "living"! Thy life, wert thou the "pitifullest of all the sons of earth," is no idle dream, but a solemn reality. It is thy own; is all thou hast to front eternity with.—Carlyle.

MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH. Joh

Jesus, the way, the truth, the life.—Think of the meaning of this claim advanced by our Lord. It is a unique, a divine claim. No merely human leader or teacher ever made a similar claim—not even a Buddha or a Mohammed. They said, We shall instruct you, teach what we think truth, etc. Jesus goes beyond them and says, "I am the way," etc. Such an utterance seems quite natural when viewed against the background of the life of Christ, so full of heavenly teaching and mighty works. Then think of the joy and peace, etc., He has brought to millions. We all indeed may have personal experience of the truth of this word. The reply to Thomas was not in the order of His question, "Lord, we know not," etc. The answer means: Surely if ye know Me that is enough. He who comes through Me will attain the true end of the way. The end of spiritual life, the true end of its way, is its begining—God Himself. The stream returns to the ocean whence it was drawn. The spirit attains to union with God, from whom its life is derived. "He that hath seen Me," etc. He is the mediator, the junction between the two points, the commencement and the end, the Alpha and Omega. Therefore He is absolutely the way.

I. Christ is the way through His incarnation.—There is a general tendency in the theology of the present time to lay great stress on the humanity, the human nature, of our Lord. Now that He was truly human is a precious truth never to be lost sight of. It is this fact that enables Him to say to us men, "I am the way," for the way must necessarily begin with us, with human nature. But there is along with this tendency also a tendency to neglect, or minimise at least, the truth of the Saviour's divinity. But the Saviour's divinity is the corollary of His perfect humanity. And it is in His divine nature that He becomes the end of the way, as by the human He is its beginning. He leads from sin to God, from earth to heaven, because He is Emmanuel—God with us.

II. Not through nature and moral law alone can men come to God.—But say many, It is not so. Christ may be one of many ways to God, but He is not the only one. By the way of nature, of moral law, of moral being, we can come to the Father. But can we, e.g., come to the Father by the works of nature—"rise through nature up to nature's God"? Truly in the works of nature there is the evidence of a wisdom and power which point to an Almighty Framer. We look out on the universe with its mighty forces, its unerring laws, all working together to produce harmony and order. The wonders of life in all its aspects, beauty of form, radiancy of colour, etc., speak of an intelligent mind informing all, and attuned to order and harmony. Then the workings of what we call providence for the preservation and continuance of the races of living things speak of goodness and benevolence in the presiding power. But they tell little of anything more to men unenlightened by revelation. For all they know from nature and nature's laws man may be no more to the Deity than the ephemeræ that flutter their little day in the sunshine and then pass. When we realise our own littleness and insignificance in view of the grandeur surrounding us on earth, etc., and in the vast and apparently limitless void of space strewn with its stars and star-systems, then say we, "What is man," etc. (Psalms 8). Besides, there is in nature something that appears, on a superficial view, even to contradict those conceptions of benevolence, etc., which providence seems to establish. There is disorder in nature—the mystery of pain and evil—facts which, if viewed apart, lead to Buddha's idea of life as a curse and not a blessing. No, not through nature alone is there any true way to God, not in this way can we rise to the knowledge of the divine, loving Father. Nature's stern laws tell of Almighty power. Even the workings of providence, and the benevolence inspiring them, are hidden sometimes behind what seems to contradict them. Hence those who seek to come in this way to God approach in fear, seeking to propitiate—not in faith, to a loving Father. Nature-religions, as history shows, have led men away from God. For they have come to "worship and serve the creature," etc. (Rom ).

III. Men cannot come to God even through their higher nature.—Others will say all this is true. But there is within man himself a witness of the Deity. Not by nature alone can we come to God. But the moral nature—conscience—is the record of the divine presence in man. When it speaks God speaks. Walking according to its dictates, we can come to God. The divine law is written on our moral nature; in listening to the voice of conscience, following the way of duty, the way to God lies before us. True in a measure. There is a great and precious truth here; but it is not all the truth. Were there no sin in the world, it would perhaps be the whole truth regarding man's relation to God. But do men always obey the divine law, always listen to the voice of conscience, even the best of men? Are not traces of the divine law often obliterated, so that evil may become a man's good, lying supplant truth, wrong usurp the place of right? Does not conscience oft become dulled, benumbed? Is not its voice often stifled or its pronouncement disregarded? Nay, does not the law only reveal our distance from God and our inability to commend ourselves to Him and come to Him by this way? "By the law is the knowledge of sin." It reveals to us the holy and righteous God; but across its face is written, "The soul that sinneth, it shall die." It tells of the righteous Judge, of the divine Lawgiver, who is jealous for His broken law, who will vindicate it and "make it honourable." Men are not led by this way to the refuge of a heavenly Father's love and care.

IV. Jesus alone is the way to God.—A way is a road connecting two distant points. Jesus claims to be the bond of union between man and God, the highway uniting earth and heaven. Men were alienated from God, spiritually dead. Christ came to bring love, light, life, to men. Those who receive in Him these blessings have attained the end of their being. They become Christlike, one with Him in the Father. Through the Way they have attained to the end. The way is therefore the means by which men "attain to the truth which is light, and the life which is love." Thus Jesus can say absolutely, "I am the way." And He is so because He is the truth and the life. As Augustine says, He is via vera vitœ. When we have laid hold of the truth, when we have Christ's life in us, then truly we have come to the Father. Jesus is the truth. The test of a true, a right way is this, that it leads to the desired end. Now what men need is that they shall attain to harmony in their own being, and with that divine Being on whom they depend. In Christ Jesus, and in no other way, can and do they attain to this. In Him they realise and are saved from their sinfulness; they become possessed of a new spirit, through which they attain the mastery over their lower nature, so that the higher being becomes dominant. So, too, by His gospel they learn that the broken divine law has been vindicated, so that in Him God is seen to be just and the justifier, etc. (Rom ). Finally, through union and communion with Jesus they become one with the Father in Him

(17). Thus Christ is the true way to the Father, the way of reconciliation, pardon, peace (Eph ).

V. But how is Jesus as the truth to be received and appropriated?—Our Lord does not leave us in doubt. "I am the life," He says. It is through His power, His spiritual life implanted and working within us, that we must attain to the end of the way. We must become actually and spiritually united to Him

(15), and drawing from that source of all life we shall be aided to endure, to overcome the evil within and without, and thus to advance onward and upward. "In Him was life," etc. (Joh ). In Him alone is light, i.e. truth; and in Him also is life, i.e. power. Christ then alone is the way, because He is the truth and the life. And in Him those means of grace, which could not in themselves aid us to advance one step in the heavenly life, become channels through which that heavenly life is ever renewed and strengthened within us. In Him also the law, the quickened conscience, and even the tokens of God's power in nature, etc., act as aids and incentives to progress on the way of life. For there must be progress—a way implies this idea. It is one of the conditions of ultimate attainment. True, at once when men believe they come through Christ to the Father. But our present attainment is only an earnest of fuller joy. As spiritual children we know but little of His glory, power, wisdom, etc. But as we advance in the knowledge of Christ the spiritual vision becomes more clear (2Co 4:6), until at last "we shall know as we are known." The way begins in the darkness of our state by nature. Christ rises on our souls (Mal 4:2); our spiritual morning dawns; and even here in seasons of spiritual communion we catch glimpses of the glory that shall be revealed in us, when, in God's eternal presence, the way shall have been traversed and the pilgrimage ended.

ILLUSTRATIONS

Joh . The heavenly home.—"Where does God live?" asks the little child; "Oh that I knew where I might find Him!" cries the earnest man. We are all seeking Thy dwelling-place, Thou King of kings. We have not yet found a palace large enough to contain Thee. Some have sought Thee in the water, some in the air, some in the fire, because the water and the air and the fire are to us boundless things. Yet it is not in the boundless that Thou desirest to be found; it is in the limited, the broken, the contrite. The heaven of heavens cannot contain Thee, but the broken and contrite heart can; it is there Thou delightest most to dwell. Thy brightest glory is not in the stars, but in the struggles of a conquering soul. Thy temple is the heart of Him whom men have called the Man of Sorrows. Thy fulness dwells in His emptiness, Thy wealth in His poverty, Thy strength in His weakness, Thy joy in His sorrow, Thy crown in His cross. Within that temple meet harmoniously the things which to the world are discords—perfection and suffering, peace and warfare, love and storm; the lion and the lamb lie down together. There would I seek Thee, O my God. Within these sacred precincts, where all things are gathered into one, where middle walls of partition are broken down, where jarring chords are blended in one symphony of praise, there would I seek and find Thee. Under the shadow of that cross, where death meets life and earth is touched by heaven, my finite soul would lose its finitude and be one with Thee; my night would vanish in Thy day, my sorrow would melt in Thy joy, my meanness would merge in Thy majesty, my sin would be lost in Thy holiness. The veil which hides me from Thee is the shadow of my own will; when the veil of the temple shall be rent in twain I shall see the place where Thy glory dwelleth—Dr. Geo. Matheson.

Joh . The Father's house.—Home—an endearing name for the heavenly state.

This fond attachment to the well-known place

Whence first we started into life's long race,

Maintains its hold with such unfailing sway,

We feel it e'en in age, and at our latest day.

Cowper.

There is a land of every land the pride,

Beloved by heaven o'er all the world beside;

There is a spot of earth supremely blest,

A dearer, sweeter spot than all the rest,

Where man, creation's tyrant, casts aside

His sword and sceptre, pageantry and pride,

While in his softened looks benignly blend

The sire, the son, the husband, brother, friend:

Here woman reigns; the mother, daughter, wife,

Strews with fresh flowers the narrow way of life;

In the clear heaven of her delightful eye

An angel-guard of loves and graces lie;

Around her knees domestic duties meet,

And fireside pleasures gambol at her feet.

"Where shall that land, that spot of earth be found?"

Art thou a man? a patriot?—look around;

Oh, thou shalt find, howe'er thy footsteps roam,

That land thy country, and that spot thy home.—Montgomery, "West Indies."

Joh . For pilgrims there is promise of a home beyond.—It has often been so ordered that earth's greatest have "dwelt apart." A life of toil and danger or isolation has been mapped out for them. But was it not, perhaps, that through their enduring faith and high example others than themselves might be lured to live for the better home? Take, for example, one of our greatest modern heroes—Crusader and Bayard in one—as he stood alone, surrounded by strangers and traitors, in that far-off city on the Nile whence he went home. Think of exiled Dante in mediæval times, a lonely wanderer, learning in his exile, desolation, and bitter experience to sing more sweetly of the soul's true home. Or think of Paul the apostle. With his warm affections and deep sympathetic nature he must have often deeply felt his loneliness. Does not a glimpse of this feeling meet us in the words, "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable"? But to those, and to all who have been spiritually "strangers and pilgrims" here, this higher hope has been given. They were not in reality either desolate or forsaken. They claimed affinity and kinship with a great family, and to them, in view of the unseen and eternal realities, the passing vanities and troubles of time shrank into nothing. They knew also that whatever is most precious here, and most worthy of our regard, would not be lost hereafter. Pure love and friendship, wisdom and knowledge, holiness and truth, all that bear the marks of heaven, are like it—eternal.

Joh . Premonitions of the heavenly home.—Man, even here in the midst of his life obscure and dim, sees the mountain tops of the future world touched with the golden rays of a sun that never rises here. So the dweller in the polar circle, in the long night of the Arctic winter, when no sun rises, yet sees, at what should be midday, a golden aurora glimmering on the highest summits, and dreams of the long summer days when the sun shines and does not set.—Jean Paul Richter.

And oft I wish amidst the scene to find

Some spot to real happiness consigned,

Where my worn soul, each wandering hope at rest,

May gather bliss to see my fellows blest.

Goldsmith, "The Traveller."

Joh . Heaven is blessedness, for Christ is there.

How know I that it looms lovely that land I have never seen,

With morning-glories and heartsease and unexampled green,

With neither heat nor cold in the balm-redolent air?

Some of this, not all, I know; but this is so:

Christ is there.

How know I blessedness befalls who dwell in Paradise,

The outwearied hearts refreshing, rekindling the worn-out eyes;

All souls singing, seeing, rejoicing everywhere?

Nay, much more than this I know; for this is so:

Christ is there.

O Lord Christ whom having not seen I love and desire to love,

O Lord Christ who lookest on me uncomely yet still Thy dove,

Take me to Thee in Paradise, Thine own made fair;

For whatever else I know, this thing is so:

Thou art there.

British Weekly, Aug. 31, 1893.

Joh . Shall we know our friends in heaven?—One after another they fall by our side, till at last a shadow is cast over every good-night and good-bye, and life comes to be a journey into the wilderness, there to die alone. Yet we do not cease to love them and desire them. Long lost, they are longer dear; and the question we put is, "Is the love of the Lamb so jealous and so strong as to absorb and consume all meaner passions, leaving no room for any but the one affection?" The answer is to be discovered by putting another question: "Do we find that our love for Christ weakens our love for those who share with His supreme affection?" Is it true that all who love one another before they were in Christ, love one another less when they pass from darkness into light? Is it not emphatically the contrary? Are not all other loves hallowed, ennobled, and eternised by this other affection? The love of Christ includes our love for all those who are in Christ. It intensifies and perpetuates the earthly affection, and any heavenly love that does otherwise is diseased and perverted.

"He who being bold

For life to come is false to the past sweet

Of mortal life, hath killed the world above.

For why to live again, if not to meet?

And why to meet, if not to meet in love?

And why in love if not in that dear love of old?"

W. Robertson Nicoll.


Verses 8-14

EXPLANATORY AND CRITICAL NOTES

Joh . The request of Philip and the response of Jesus.—Philip, catching at the word ἑωράκατε (seen), misapprehended its meaning, and thought of some theophany, some manifestation of the glory of God. This would suffice them, would remove their anxiety.

Joh . The Lord's answer is that He is the revelation of the Father, in Him alone is the Father revealed. There is sadness in the words in which He recalls the fact that Philip had been a disciple almost from the beginning, and yet the disciple did not understand Him! Compassionate, pitying love speaks in these words. Seen the Father.—I.e. as the Father can be seen in His wisdom, holiness, goodness, truth, etc. "Not that I am both Father and Son (the error of the Patripassians and Noetians and Sabellians), but because the Son is coequal with the Father" (Augustine in Wordsworth's Greek Testament).

Joh . οὐ πιστεύεις.—Believest thou not from all thou hast heard and seen (Joh 10:38) that there must be an intimate indwelling of Me in the Father and of the Father in Me? This is, as Luthardt says, "a relation of unconditioned communion." "The first sign of community of life and action between Jesus and God, to prepared hearts, is His teaching; to those who are not so well disposed, it is His works" (Godet). ποιεῖ τὰ ἔργα αὐτοῦ ( א, B, D).—Doeth His own works. This is proof not only of the mutual indwelling of Father and Son, but of the loving willingness of the Son in our redemption to carry out the Father's will. "There is room for hesitation between the readings λαλῶ and λέγω in the first clause of the sentence. In the second the term λαλῶ is in any case perfectly suitable.… God says; Jesus declares" (Godet).

Joh . Or else, etc.—So Joh 10:37-38. His miracles are an objective proof not only confirming, but, in the case of those whom prejudice, etc., had blinded, going beyond His words. But they are a powerful testimony to all, especially when we include miracles of spiritual healing, etc.

Joh . Whilst still answering Philip's request Jesus now addresses again all the disciples, in His answer leading them back to the interrupted discourse. Verily, etc.—The expression used when He calls attention to some deeper aspect of truth. He that believeth, etc.—These works the disciples were enabled to do (Act 3:1-10, etc.) "in the name of Jesus." The greater works refer to the marvellous effects of their activity after the outpouring of the Spirit. Few had been attracted by our Lord's ministry; but under the ministry of the Pentecostally gifted apostles spiritual and moral miracles abounded. "Every revival of a truly religious spirit has been an instance of (the fulfilment of this prophecy); every mission field has been a witness to it" (Watkins). The works were greater because they were of a higher, a spiritual order. In them are fulfilled such glorious promises as those of Isaiah 60. Because I go unto the Father.—His exaltation will be the signal of an accession of power to the disciples, enabling them to do these greater works. They are still from Him. On earth He began to do and teach (Act 1:1); in heaven He continues to do so.

Joh . In My name, etc.—"I think we must hold by the explanation of Hengstenberg, Keil, Westcott (with shades of difference): asking a thing from God as Father on the foundation of the revelation which Jesus has given of Himself and of His work; or, as Keil says, ‘while immersed through faith in the knowledge which we have received from Him as the Son of God humbled and glorified.' This meaning corresponds with that of the term name in Scripture, for the name sums up the knowledge we have of a being; it is the reflection of Him in our thought" (Godet). I will do it.—A proof of the unity of mind and action between Father and Son.

MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Joh

The revelation of the Father.—The disciples of our Lord, even at the close of His ministry, were still far from understanding fully either Himself or the import of His mission. Their faith rose and fell as now one side, now another, of His purpose and work became known to them. They secretly cherished in their hearts, nay, often showed openly that they entertained the idea, that Jesus would yet manifest Himself in temporal Messianic glory. So that when He spoke of death and departure, the barometer of faith fell, the sky of hope was overclouded. Especially now that He spoke of immediate departure, and that the disciples could not then follow Him, "sorrow filled their hearts"—token of their personal affection for Jesus, but also of the imperfection of their faith. Thus Jesus sought to comfort them, told them of the Father's house, etc., and, in reply to the pessimistic question of Thomas, pointed to Himself as the way to the Father, and thus to the Father's house, closing His answer with the memorable words (Joh ), "If ye had known Me," etc. Catching at the word "seen," Philip puts forward his request: "Lord, show us," etc.

I. Philip's request echoes the longing of humanity.

1. To know God, to see Him, some manifestation of His glory, visible, palpable, unmistakable, that is what even the noblest of the race have longed for (Exo ). And if not some visual manifestation, then at least some audible voice speaking from heaven. Is not this desire and craving at the base of the world-idolatry? of the ecstatic dreams of mystic contemplation? And it has been well said, "The desire would be well founded if the essence of God consisted of power; the true theophany might then be found in some splendid appearance."

2. But would this at once, even were it granted, disperse the mist and darkness of error and unbelief? It may be doubted. There are glorious manifestations of God in nature: "The heavens declare His glory," etc. His glory was manifested in an especial fashion to Israel (Psalms 68; Psalms 107, etc.). But even these manifestations did not suffice to banish unbelief, etc. Men in such a way alone could not come to the true vision of God. But this longing is a true and heavenly longing; it is the Godlike in man's heart seeking to find its source and end. Therefore such a desire is not to be repressed as wrong, but rightly directed.

II. In Jesus is the full revelation of the Father.

1. Our Lord did not chide Philip for his request, but for his slowness of heart in not realising that it had already been granted. It showed the depth of Philip's love; for it was in view of Jesus' departure that he desired this vision, so that their faith in Jesus and the divinity of His mission might be fully established. Such a manifestation as he asked would at once set their doubts at rest. But it was a melancholy proof also of the weakness and uninstructedness of Philip's faith.

2. And it was in view of this that Jesus said in sadness, "Have I been so long time?" etc. So long! Since the beginning of My ministry, when in the ardour of new-born faith you brought Nathanael to Me as the Messiah! Thou, who hast accompanied Me throughout these years, who hast seen My life unfolded in the world, and hast heard My repeated declarations of My heavenly origin (Joh ; Joh 8:19; Joh 6:27-40, etc.),—hast thou not known Me sufficiently to know that "He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father? How sayest thou then?" etc. God can only be seen aright when we recognise in Him the loving Father of the incarnate Son. "Believest thou not?" etc. Is it not evident from all you have seen and heard that "I am in the Father," etc., that each dwells in each, that the Son is the expression and object of the Father's eternal love (Joh 17:24), and that the same eternal life is in the Son that is in the Father? Surely none but the eternal Son would use such language as this!

III. That Jesus is the revelation of the Father is confirmed by His teaching and works, and the works which those who believe in Him shall do.

1. He reminds Philip and his fellows of His teaching in confirmation of His claim—not merely His teaching on this special subject, but the whole scope and tenor of it, as showing His divine origin (Joh ; Joh 12:49) and His oneness with the Father.

2. Yes, more than that, "The Father which dwelleth in Me doeth His own works" (Joh , etc.). These works confirm My teaching; these words and works are surely the Father's, such as God alone can utter and perform. They are all actions of divine love, pity, mercy, benevolence, attributes of the divine character, and thus testify to their origin.

3. More than this also, I solemnly say to you that a further proof will be forthcoming of My oneness with the Father. I go to the Father, but it will be as "the Son of God with power," etc. (Rom ), a power that will be manifested in My communicating to you power to do these works that I do—yes, greater works than these. In answer to believing prayer in My name shall this power be given you from Me, "that the Father may be glorified," etc. "Those works which after My ascension I shall enable others to do, thus showing My divine power and co-equality with the Father" (Augustine). "Greater works"—those moral miracles of redeeming grace, wrought through the instrumentality of believing men, in answer to the prayer of faith, in which the sinful are led to peace, etc. True, they were also wrought by Jesus: "Thy faith hath made thee whole," etc. (Mat 9:22, etc.). But not to the extent in which they would be manifested when Jesus was exalted, and under the dispensation of the Spirit. For then the old prophecies, so glorious and far-reaching, would be fulfilled (Isa 66:8, etc.).

IV. "Believest thou not?" etc.—This is a question for the present day. The thoughts of the whole world to-day, as well as of the followers of Jesus, are directed to Him. "What think ye of Christ?" is daily becoming ever more a universal inquiry. And as Jesus asked Philip in sadness, "Have I been so long?" etc., so might He say to many in the Christian Church, in whom the spirit of rationalism has dimmed their vision of the true unity and equality of Christ and the Father. Would statements such as these, teaching such as Christ's, come from one who was not one with the Father? Is not the Father manifestly revealed in Him? And are not those greater works still manifest in answer to believing prayer in the name of Jesus? The whole course of the Church's history, the power of the gospel to convert the individual and elevate the race, the triumphs of modern missions—all these testify to the living power of the living, loving Christ, and His oneness with the Father.

Joh . Greater works.—The works Christ did on earth were a proof and evidence of the truth of His claims. They were works worthy of the Son of God, not only because they were works of mercy and love, but also of superhuman power. They did contribute to manifest forth His glory. They were, at the founding of His Church, a necessary link in the chain of testimony which pointed to Him as the promised Messiah and the Son of God. The remembrance of those mighty works, therefore, would make His words to the disciples, "If it were not so I would have told you," more convincing and comforting. But here our Lord says that not only shall His disciples do His works, but greater works. What does this mean?

I. Christ's disciples were to do the same works that He did.—

1. At the founding of the Christian faith the ambassadors for Christ needed to be unmistakably authenticated. It must be clearly evident that they came with the authority of the King of kings.

2. Hence they did the same works as Christ did; they healed the sick, etc., and raised the dead, in His name. And without doubt those works of power in Christ's name drew the attention of those who saw them wrought to the gospel, and were a testimony that the apostles were armed with divine authority.

3. And yet another wonderful work done by Christ was carried out by the apostles. The gospel was preached to the poor (Luk ).

II. But the disciples were also to do greater works than the Master.—

1. Was this possible? Could any works possibly be greater than those typical miracles related by John, culminating in the raising up of Lazarus? Yet these were not the Saviour's greatest works. Christ might have cured humanity at large and for ever from physical disease, etc., and yet the world might have been brought no nearer God and eternal life.

2. Christ recognised the spiritual works He did to be the most important. It was higher to lead men to spiritual healing, and for this end He came to earth (Luk ).

3. But His sphere on earth, so far as those works went, was limited. He was sent to "the lost sheep of the house of Israel." Whereas the disciples, after being enlightened and strengthened by the Spirit at Pentecost, had no limit set to their working: "Jerusalem, Juda, Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the earth." Indeed, the continued history of the "acts" of these apostles and other ministers and teachers of the Church shows how grandly this promise was fulfilled. With power they preached to Jew and Gentile, and multitudes through their instrumentality became "new creatures."

III. This promise was not confined to the early Church.—

1. The Christian civilisation in which we live is the outcome of that promise. How has the face of the moral world changed since those words were spoken! The "sweeter manners, purer laws" of Christian countries are the results of the working of Christ's true disciples from that hour to this. These are the greater works given them to do.

2. And as great or greater works remain to be done by the Church, the disciples of to-day. Higher reaches of faith and attainment lie still before us. Vast tracts of heathendom still await the gospel. To our own or some future age will be given a crowning and glorious work, when "a nation shall be born in a day."

3. But to this end we need the same spiritual power. Therefore should faithful prayer ascend for Pentecostal blessing.

Joh . Praying in order to working.—Ora et Labora. This is the divine order. Prayer and work must go together, or our work in the end will be in vain. And those "greater works" especially, which Christ's disciples are to do, must be begun and continued in believing prayer. And it has been the experience of the Church in all ages that where faithful prayer has abounded there the works of God have been manifest. In regard to the prayer here enjoined there is a condition attached.

I. It is prayer in the name of Jesus.—

1. These prayers are the prayers of workers in the vineyard, of those therefore who are fellow-labourers in promoting Christ's kingdom. They are in close and intimate fellowship with Christ, are indeed members of His body; they are of the household of God.

2. They must therefore come in the name of their living Head. For not only has He opened up a new and living way of access to the throne of grace, but they would not desire to approach that throne unless they could take Him with them and feel that He would present their feeble petitions to the Father.

3. And this implies asking in accordance with the will of Jesus. No Christian would care to ask the Father for anything out of harmony with the mind and will of the Saviour. And thus our Christian prayers are in this view conditioned. But within this limit—

II. It is in reality unconditioned prayer.—

1. "Whatsoever ye shall ask," etc. "If ye shall ask anything," etc. He who speaks these words is the King of kings and Lord of lords, by and for whom all things in heaven and earth were created. The boundless riches and resources of the universe are His. And out of this fulness whatever is for our good, and that by which we can be strengthened and aided for His work, will be given. For "prayer is a key which, turned by the hand of faith, unlocks all the treasuries of God."

2. But at the basis of this asking there must ever be faith. "All things whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive" (Mat ).

3. How faithful did the apostolic band and the early Church find this promise to be when, after the Ascension, they "continued with one accord in prayer and supplication" (Act ). As they waited "with one accord" on the day of Pentecost, how gloriously were they answered! Christian history and biography can bring forward manifold proof that this promise has been "yea and amen."

III. This promise is sure for every time and for the humblest of Christ's saints.—

1. Christ Himself fulfils this promise, and He is the same yesterday, etc., and His infinite fulness may be drawn upon by the poorest and feeblest of His disciples.

2. And He encourages us to ask, and to ask frequently, for it will all tend to one great purpose, the highest in the universe, "that the Father may be glorified," for He will thus be glorified in the Son. How marvellously the consciousness of His divine dignity is seen with Gethsemane and the cross in view!

3. Is not the secret of much of the Church's weakness want of waiting on God in unity of supplication in the name of Jesus? Why are her spiritual gifts often so low and so few? Why might not her power be a thousandfold increased, since there is the "infinite fulness" of Jesus to draw from through believing prayer? Perhaps we labour and scheme and plan too much, guided only by our own ideas, illumined by our own wisdom. Might there not be more of believing, earnest, united prayer, and thus more blessing?

Joh . A gracious promise.—What a marvellous spectacle it is when we look abroad on the world to see, amid all diversities of race and occupation, men, whether in highly civilised nations or amid savage tribes, all acknowledging in prayer their dependence on the Unseen! Whether it be in Christian temples and at Christian family altars, or in mosque or home at the call of the Muezzin, or at the prayer-mills and flags of the Buddhist, or in the idolater's temple, or by the fetich stone of the dark and ignorant savage, there is this sense of dependence and the going forth of the thoughts and desires of men to powers invisible, which seem at once to point to man's high origin and to tell of his fall from his original high position. Very superstitious and very childish, very routine and perfunctory, are the prayers of men oftentimes. But even the most superstitious and perfunctory prayer is a witness to the universal human sense of need, and the equally universal conviction that there is a Power unseen which controls our destinies, and which alone can satisfy our deepest needs. Scepticism and infidelity may for a time turn some away from faith in the Christian creed; they have never been able to obliterate the need which drives men to prayer. In hours of deep distress and trial even the sceptic and infidel have been known to bow the knee and utter a cry, though wild and despairing, for help. The necessity of prayer is one of the grandest proofs of the original dignity of our nature; and our Lord, recognising the fact, lays down for His disciples in all ages rule and direction to guide them in prayer. Those who cannot command anything or claim it as a right must ask for it. Those who will not comply with this requirement must not complain if they do not attain.

I. It is they that ask that shall receive.—

1. In warning His disciples against formal prayers with vain repetitions our Lord said to them, "Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of before ye ask Him" (Mat ). What need then of asking? it may be said, as it often has been said.

2. It is true that God does not need that we should come to Him with our petitions "as if He must first learn through us what we lack" But we need to pray. "It is only through prayer that we can come into the right position toward God, in which we can alone receive the fulness of His goodness to our true blessedness" (Dr. J. Stockmeyer).

3. When a man does not ask for any special gift that others are anxiously seeking, it means that he does not see his need of that gift, that there is no place in his nature for the reception of it. And thus it is in prayer. God knows men's needs; but for the heavenly gifts He is so willing to bestow there may be no room in the lives of many. Their hearts and lives may be so filled with the things of earth that they are conscious of no desire for better things. The heart may be so filled with Mammon, or some other earthly idol, that there may be no room in it for God.

4. Therefore the first requisite in prayer is the sense of need—knowledge of the lack of those gifts which God can bestow, driving us to Him with the feeling of dependence on Him, and thus leading us to ask so "that it may be given unto us." Then this asking that we may receive shows further that we have attained to a just conception of—

II. The true spirit of prayer.—

1. The true suppliant comes to the throne of grace in deep humility. And why? Because those who come to ask confess that they have not what they ask, that they cannot obtain it for themselves, and that He whom they ask can alone bestow the blessing.

2. And not only so: the true suppliants approach also conscious of unworthiness in themselves, and that they must rely alone on the grace and mercy of Him to whose throne they come with their entreaties. It is not to demand reward for labour done, or gifts to be conferred because of merit, that servants of God approach His throne. Not even as beggars do they come; for the indigent man who seeks alms at my door may never have done me harm. They come rather as rebels to the throne of their offended Sovereign, realising that every gift they ask and receive is of the grace and free favour of their offended, but now reconciled, King.

3. This spirit of humility will also be shown in the condition observed in all true supplication. At first sight it would appear as if our asking were unconditioned. "Whatsoever ye shall ask." "Ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you" (Joh ; Joh 15:7); or simply, "Ask, and it shall be given you" (Mat 7:7-8). But there is, and must be, this condition in true prayer by God's children, "If we ask anything according to His will He heareth us"; or, as Christ said, "Whatsoever ye shall ask in My name" (Mat 18:20). True suppliants will have the humble consciousness of their own limitations, of their unwisdom, their want of true foresight, the limitations of their knowledge. Therefore they will come to God convinced of His unerring wisdom, His absolute knowledge, as well as of His power to bestow the gifts they seek. And they will realise that He is not only to be asked for material gifts, as being the Governor of the material universe, holding in His almighty hand all the powers and forces that control and move it; but as the bestower also of spiritual gifts, that men cannot acquire these for themselves, any more than they can command the sunshine or rain, health or sickness. But asking, etc., implies also—

III. Loving and trustful confidence in prayer.—

1. "Asking that we may receive" is the child's attitude in prayer. It is the son who looks up with loving confidence to the Father that alone can come in this attitude to God.

2. Here then another reason meets us why God requires His children to come to Him in prayer. As the divine Father, it is well pleasing to Him that His children should draw near to ask Him for such things as they need, even though there is not a word still unuttered that He does not know it altogether (Psa ). It is true He bestows many things which we do not ask for specially, just as a father on earth provides many things for his children for which they simply rely on his love. But even an earthly father does not like that those gifts should be received merely as a matter of course and without thankful gratitude. And more especially when a son embarks in some enterprise, or meditates some course of action, will a father delight to be asked for counsel and guidance. And do not the attributes of a father's heart hide behind, or rather manifest themselves in, this endearing name assumed by God?

3. In order that we may so ask as to receive we must come to God in the spirit of loving confidence, with unwavering trust.

HOMILETIC NOTES

Joh . The miracles acts of the humility of Christ.—The miracles of Jesus appear, indeed, as very great events, extraordinary, unheard of, and almost incredible if we compare them with the course of the old dispensation of the world (Alten Weltäon); and this is the common view. But if we measure them according to their number, appearance, and importance, by the infinite fulness of the power of Christ's life, a saving power which restores the whole sinful world even to the resurrection, we must regard them as indeed small beginnings of the revelation of this living power, in which it comes forth as secretly, modestly, and noiselessly as His doctrine in His parables; and we learn the meaning of Christ's saying, by which He led His disciples to estimate this misunderstood phase of His miracles, "Ye shall do greater works than these" (Joh 14:12). But Christ's miracles served in manifold ways to reveal His life-power to the world in subdued forms of operation. Often has it been attempted to find in the miracles of Jesus an ostentatious display of Christianity. But a time must come when men will learn to regard them as acts of the humility of Christ. Still, much of the wonderful that is from beneath must be set aside, before the wonderful from above is entirely acknowledged as the first interposition of Christ's eternal life-power for the world. For this power is holy even as the spiritual light of Christ, as His title of Messiah, and as His blessedness in the vision of God; therefore, it veils itself to the captious, while it unveils itself to the susceptible, and even that measure of it which has become manifest in miracle appears to them as too much. But we must not misapprehend either the one side or the other of the miracles in which this power finds its medium of communication to men.—J. P. Lange.

ILLUSTRATIONS

Joh . The naturalness of prayer.—There is something in the very act of prayer that for a time stills the violence of passion, and elevates and purifies the affections. When affliction presses bard, and the weakness of human nature looks around in vain for support, how natural is the impulse that throws us on our knees before Him who has laid His chastening hand upon us! and how encouraging the hope that accompanies our supplications for His pity! We believe that He who made us cannot be unmoved by the sufferings of His children; and in sincerely asking His compassion, we almost feel that we receive it.—Jeremy Taylor.

Joh . Continual readiness for prayer.

If we with earnest effort could succeed

To make our life one long connected prayer,

As lives of some perhaps have been and are;

If never leaving Thee, we had no need

Our wandering spirits back again to lead

Into Thy presence, but continued there,

Like angels standing on the highest stair

Of the sapphire throne,—this were to pray indeed.

But if distractions manifold prevail.

And if in this we must confess we fail,

Grant us to keep at least a prompt desire,

Continual readiness for prayer and praise,

An altar heaped and waiting to take fire

With the least spark, and leap into a blaze.

R. Ch. Trench


Verses 15-31

EXPLANATORY AND CRITICAL NOTES

Joh . Keep My commandment.—"Ask in My name. Keep My," etc. These go together. We can only truly pray in His name when we keep, etc.

Joh . ἐγὼ ἐρωτήσω.—The pronoun is emphatic. The verb ἐρωτᾶν is that especially used by our Lord in reference to His prayers to the Father (Joh 16:26; Joh 17:9; Joh 15:20). It expresses perhaps a greater degree of nearness and familiarity of approach than αἰτέω, I ask. ἄλλον παράκλητον, κ. τ. λ. another Comforter.—The classical meaning of the word is certainly advocate. It is used of our Lord Himself in this sense in 1Jn 2:1. "Its passive form by all analogous words will not justify here an active or transitive sense, but means ‘one called to the side of another,' with the secondary sense of helping, consoling, counselling, or aiding him" (Dr. Reynolds). In this sense it was taken over in its legal, technical sense into Talmudic Hebrew (Watkins). But surely a term like this must be interpreted here in a large sense, and not confined to its strictly technical meaning. When He who is called to be the advocate of God's people is Christ Himself or the Holy Spirit, His advocacy will have far-reaching consequences, subjective as well as objective. Therefore Bishop Wordsworth (Greek Testament) is justified in his contention that "The word is one of large acceptation. And it was probably chosen for that reason, as best signifying the manifold gifts and offices of the Holy Ghost (1Co 12:3-10), as the Sanctifier, Teacher, Comforter, Exhorter, Remembrancer, Inspirer, Enlightener, Counsellor, Guide, Helper, and Advocate of the Church."

Joh . Shall be in you.—Not it in you ( ἐν ὑμῖν ἐστί). The meaning is, He abides now, and shall continue to abide. The Spirit of Truth.—In that He prepares the heart to receive the truth (Joh 3:6-8), and then makes known first of all that most important truth, Christ, and the things of Christ. The world cannot receive Him because of the want of this special preparation. "Worldly hearts desire what is visible, and the world does not rise to the love of what is invisible; therefore the world cannot receive Him" (Augustine in Wordsworth's Greek Testament). Not seen Him, etc.—Neither recognise the external nor the internal manifestations of His power.

Joh . ὀρφανοὺς.— יתָוֹם fatherless, orphans. He had spoken of them (Joh 13:33) as little children ( τεκνία). I return to you … ye see Me.—This refers not only to His appearance in resurrection glory, but to His coming spiritually in sending the Paraclete, and the whole chain of His comings until the parousia, when "every eye shall see Him."

Joh . For I live, and ye shall live ( ὅτι ἐγὼ ζῶ, καὶ ὑμεῖς ζήσεσθε).—The future here simply points out the effect of Christ conquering death (Joh 11:25-26; also 1Jn 5:11-13).

Joh . Judas (Lebbæus, Thaddæus: Mat 10:3; Mar 3:18).—Luk 6:16; Act 1:13. Thus carefully distinguished from Judas Iscariot. The question of Judas is founded on the words in Joh 14:21, ἐμφανίσω κ. τ. λ., "I shall manifest Myself unto him." Judas is surprised. Was not Messiah to manifest His glory to the world?

Joh . Jesus shows that this manifestation is spiritual; and the condition on which it rests is the prepared heart filled with love to Him. We will come unto Him, etc.—Rev 3:20.

Joh . Peace, etc.—This reminds us of the common Eastern greeting, שָׁלוֹם לָךְשָׁלוֹם לָכִם, Peace be with thee—you.

Joh . My Father is greater, etc.—In what sense are we to take these words? Surely, after the claim of the prologue (Joh 1:1-4), only in the sense of the voluntary humiliation of the Son—His emptying Himself, taking upon Him the form of a servant, etc. (Php 2:5-8). He subordinated Himself, became obedient unto death for the purposes of redemption. The words would be meaningless unless Jesus claimed to be God. "This has for its presupposition the essential divinity of the Son; for there would be no sense in speaking thus of a mere man" (Luthardt). Ye would rejoice that My humiliation is now well-nigh past, and that I am again to take My full glory, and to carry with Me the body of My humiliation into that glory, the pledge of your final glorification.

Joh . I will not continue to talk much with you.—The time for teaching was well-nigh past. A more awful duty and passion lay before Him. The prince of this world "was the regular rabbinic title for Satan, whom they regarded as the ruler of the Gentiles" (Watkins). See Eph 2:1-9 for the gospel view. But he is now to be conquered, for he can find nothing in Christ—no sin, no flaw, no weakness, etc.

Joh . Why then did our Lord submit so far as to die? "Death in Him was not the penalty of sin, but a gift of mercy to us, that He might free us from eternal death" (Augustine in Wordsworth). His action in submitting to the attack of the power of darkness for a time was entirely voluntary, and borne for the sake of men. But this voluntary obedience shows the world His love to the Father, who out of love to a perishing world sent Him to suffer and die. It is all the expression of eternal love. Arise, etc.—They prepared to take their way to the Mount of Olives.

Joh . The request of Philip and the response of Jesus.—Philip, catching at the word ἑωράκατε (seen), misapprehended its meaning, and thought of some theophany, some manifestation of the glory of God. This would suffice them, would remove their anxiety.

MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Joh

Joh . Love and obedience.—What is the ruling power in the lives of too many professed disciples? What always determines the will and quickens the hand in the way of life? Is it love to Christ? or is it not too often some form of self-love? If it is love to Christ, then it will prove itself to be so by the test Christ here gives—those who love Him will keep His commandments.

I. How reasonable it is for Christians to love Christ.—

1. We love our friends because of some excellency or beauty of character or disposition which they display, or for some reason of gratitude because of what they have done for us. Many have friends whom to know better is to love more, as the character opens out and displays new excellencies and traits—deep springs of affection, beautiful blossoms of simplicity and goodness—the ripe fruit of wisdom and experience, the silent ministries of love.

2. So too the disinterested patriot, the pure, brave, unselfish deliverer of his people, the self-sacrificing pioneer of life, light, liberty, etc., to oppressed and degraded tribes, win the esteem and affection of all good men, who gladly aid them in their noble endeavours.

3. Now how infinitely more should we love the Redeemer when we remember what He is and what He has done! Who can be compared to Him, the "chiefest among ten thousand and altogether lovely"? Where else shall be found such loftiness, beauty, and sweetness of character as in the life on earth of Christ Jesus?

4. Then think of what He has done for His people. Not only has He loaded them with many good and precious gifts, even when they had strayed from Him, but He Himself came to seek and save them, to suffer and die for them. Then remember all He is still doing for them from His heavenly throne, of the gifts He so freely bestows, etc., and then say, Ought not He to be loved with an undying affection?

II. The test of the reality of love to Christ is keeping His commandments.—

1. It may be said that loving Christ and keeping His commandments are co-extensive in their meaning. They should be, and will be perfectly so in the glorified Church. As Augustine has said: "Whoever loves God has in him that spirit which will lead him to keep God's commandments; and when he obeys these commands he is simply carrying out into action the principle that animates his mind."

2. Thus also when we consider Christ's regal position—"He hath made Him to be head over all things to the Church"; His power—"all power is given Him in heaven and earth"; His wisdom—"In Him are hid all the fulness of wisdom and knowledge,"—it is seen to be reasonable and wise that we should keep these commands of His. But apart from this, love to Him will and must lead to a spontaneous observance of them. For it will at once be recognised that these commands, though sometimes apparently hard for flesh and blood to bear, are yet for the soul's health.

3. Love will give a full and joyful obedience: not like the obedience of a slave to his harsh owner; nor like that of one who serves with "eye service," and will escape when it is possible; nor like that of one who will be glad to obey in great things, but neglects and despises lesser commands, minor duties. The love of Christ will dominate all; and His rule—Himself—will be the guide of all our life and all its activity. "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?" Thus speaks the true disciple.

III. How shall the disciples be fitted for this loving obedience?—

1. Human nature at its best is weak; and however good may be the resolutions which even Christian men and women make, yet how liable are they to fall from them in some onset of temptation! So it was, e.g., with Peter.

2. They need therefore a diviner strength than their own, which can inspire them and on which they can fall back in moments of weakness. So it was with the disciples. Hitherto Jesus had been with His disciples, cheering, strengthening, etc. But now He was to depart to go to the Father. True, they were to realise that He would still be near them to comfort and sustain, but they needed also the actual presence of One who would guide and direct them directly in the place of the ascended Redeemer.

3. Hence this promise of another Comforter. All that Jesus had been would this Paraclete be. And He would lead them in the way of obedience, for He is the Spirit of truth. And the way of Christ's commandments is simply the way of truth, for Christ is the truth.

4. Nor were they even then without a dim knowledge of the presence of this Comforter, for He was with and in Christ. The world cannot know Him; its spiritual sense is too much dulled and blunted, so that higher and finer influences cannot touch it. But He dwells in blessed influence with believers in the Church, and in each faithful, loving, obedient disciple.

Lessons.—

1. The necessity of ever warmer love to Christ in view of all He is and has done.

2. The evidence of love to Christ should be unmistakable.

3. The need true disciples have of the Comforter to show them more of Christ, so that they may love Him more fervently and obey Him ever more spontaneously.

Joh . The promise of the Paraclete.—Why did not our Lord remain on earth after the conflict was past and the victory won? Why not after His resurrection take His great power and reign, and as a conqueror over sin and death rule with benign influence over our fallen race until all the earth acknowledged His sway? At first glance it might seem as if this had been best. The full reason why it was not so is hid in the mystery of the divine counsels. But one reason which seems probable from man's point of view may be ventured reverently. God compels no man to believe by external force. Now the kingly glory of Jesus on earth would have been such a force. No room would apparently have been left for faith, or even for free choice, on the part of men. But salvation is not a state that can be produced by external force—human nature is not like some plastic substance that may be moulded by external pressure. Salvation is brought about not against but with the sinner's will. The guilt of sin is removed by Christ's death; but the power of sin is subdued by spiritual and moral influences appealing to mind and heart. It is in this way that the Spirit works within man, touches the inner being by His gracious influences, penetrating it with subtle though unseen power, quickening the new spiritual life, strengthening, comforting, guiding, aiding, etc. Jesus had hitherto been the Paraclete of the disciples; but now that He must depart He gives this blessed promise of another Paraclete who would dwell with them for ever.

I. The promised Paraclete is a divine person.—

1. The scriptural testimony to this truth is abundant and clear. From the period when we read of Him as brooding over the waters of the chaotic universe, till the time when in apocalyptic vision He issues with the Bride the invitation to men to take of the water of life (Rev ), He is represented as an intelligent agent.

2. He works in and through the moral and intellectual nature of man, irradiating the darkness of the carnal mind, working conviction in sinners, inspiring with strength to lead a heavenly life. All through the New Testament actions and functions are ascribed to Him that can only be applied to a person, e.g. in this very passage. He is spoken of as "willing,"—"distributing to every man severally as He wills" (1Co ); making intercession (Rom 8:26); selecting agents for work (Act 13:2), etc., etc.

3. Divine actions and attributes which can be ascribed to God only are applied to Him. The Spirit descended in visible form on Christ at baptism, and the Lord offered Himself … through the eternal Spirit (Heb ). These and other references point to the personality of the Holy Spirit. He is not a divine influence merely—a vague, indefinite, impersonal something whose true nature escapes observation.

4. This is the only conception of the nature of the Paraclete that will agree with this promise of Jesus. A spiritual influence could hardly be called a teacher, e.g. who could take of the things of Christ and show them to the disciples. All Scripture and Christ's words show that the Spirit is a divine person, performing acts God alone can perform, and thus able to speak with divine authority and guide with unerring wisdom. Otherwise our Lord would surely not have said, "The Father shall give you another Paraclete." etc.

II. The Holy Spirit is the Paraclete of God's people.—

1. This term (vide Notes, Joh ) is pregnant with meaning. It not only implies the meaning of the term Comforter; it also includes the ideas of helper and advocate. It was, indeed, just an advocate and helper that the apostles needed in going forth to their arduous work—an advocate to be to them "a mouth and wisdom" in presence of their adversaries, and a helper in times of danger and trial. Thus in every way He would be a comforter.

2. To whom was this promise given? To a body of humble men, not infallible in any sense of that word. They were drawn together by a common bond of love to Christ, yet they were so weak that in their Master's hour of trial they forsook Him, etc. Even after the Resurrection we find them gathering together timorously in secret "for fear of the Jews" (Joh ). How differently they comported themselves after the descent of the Spirit at Pentecost! They preached Christ boldly in face of threatenings, stripes, imprisonment, death (Acts 3; Acts 4; Acts 12, etc.), declaring, when commanded to desist, they must obey God, etc. (Act 5:29). See them as they stand before kings and rulers, speaking "not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth," etc. (1Co 2:4). Scattered by the sword of persecution, and impelled by the gentle impulses of the Spirit (Act 8:4; Act 10:19, etc.), they went everywhere preaching the gospel. Is it necessary to point to the long roll of martyrs and heroic champions of the truth who have endured and suffered loss since that time in the Lord's service—the man of substance losing all, and with the slave fleeing into exile, or suffering death for the truth; women, timorous and gentle in ordinary life, snapping asunder ties of affection, enduring untold hardships, standing firm in the hour of final trial to witness for the faith? It was no mere spirit of enthusiasm that inspired them; their hearts were touched with a heavenly affection, their enlightened spiritual vision looked beyond the gloom of the present, their minds and hearts were sustained by the Spirit's comforting power.

III. Only Christ's people can receive the Paraclete.—

1. The world cannot receive Him, i.e. men of the world cannot receive Him to dwell intimately with them. Their hearts have no shrine for Him, that they should become temples of the Holy Ghost (1Co ); they are filled with idols, their affections are set on things on the earth. The heart must be prepared for the reception of the Spirit; the unclean spirit must go forth (Mat 12:43) ere the Spirit of Christ can take up His abode there. This is what Christ means when He prefaces this blessed promise with the words, "If ye love Me, keep My commandments," and follows it with the same truth amplified (Joh 14:21). The Spirit cannot dwell in the heart where there is no love to Christ.

2. But into such prepared hearts the Spirit comes and finds an entrance for the truth. "The Spirit's teaching … makes divine truth enter the soul, gives it entire reality within us, and makes it the truth to us. This is undoubtedly the meaning of the expression ‘the Spirit of truth'" (Godet). He thus casts out all error, showing us plainly the truth in Christ, witnessing with our spirits that we are the children of God (Rom ).

3. Thus believers see Him and know Him; they see the manifestations of His working, and realise His presence in their own souls. The world, because of its spiritual blindness, cannot see and know these spiritual facts. The manifestations of His working are to them mere enthusiasm, madness, as men said when Chalmers began to preach with spiritual power; "Come and hear mad Tom Chalmers."

4. "He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you." He had been striving with them, as He does with all men; but now He was to assume a closer, nearer relationship. He was to be in them. At Pentecost a deeper, fuller, richer manifestation of Him was to be given, which would be permanent. He abides with the disciples for ever—a perpetual Paraclete.

IV. The blessedness of this indwelling.—

1. In hours of trial He upholds the fainting heart. As with our Lord, He is with the believer, teaching Him to oppose an "It is written" to the subtlest temptation of the adversary. In the hour of death He sustains the passing soul, recalls the divine promises, gives peace.

2. It is by making men "partakers of the divine nature" (2Pe ) that He becomes our Paraclete, not by temporary accessions of power, but by making men new creatures, giving power to the faint, etc. So that as believers go forth on their way the spiritual eye sees ever more clearly, the spiritual armour sits more closely the more it is "proved," the sword of the Spirit is wielded with greater power. Trials and cares that would once have weighed the Christian down he is now able to bear; doubts and difficulties clear away; and in the brunt of temptations, before which he would have fallen once, he passes on "invulnerable." God grant to all of us "to be strengthened," etc. (Eph 3:16-17; Eph 3:19).

Joh . "I will not leave you orphans."—The experience of the disciples as Jesus spoke of His speedy departure was like that which children feel as they stand at the bedside of a dying parent. What had Christ not been to them during their three years' intercourse? How they had learned to look to Him, to lean on Him, to follow Him! How joyful had been their intercourse! Each new day some further revelation of Christ's power, wisdom, or love had dawned upon them, until He had become all in all to them. The months and years had fled on swift wings by His side. And now the end drew near, as He told them. Yet a brief space and they would be left alone, orphaned spiritual children in an unsympathetic and hostile world. But to their troubled minds came these words of comfort and promise, "I will not leave you orphans," etc.

I. The disciples were not orphans, for they could rejoice in the heavenly Father's care.—

1. All that the Lord had spoken should have filled the disciples with the assurance of the Father's love and care. In the Father's house a place was to be prepared for them, and prayer in Jesus' name would bring down gifts from His full storehouse, in especial one highest gift, the Comforter, to guide and counsel, etc.

2. In view then of this they were not to be left orphans. But more than this, they had in Christ the assurance of the heavenly Father's love. The sorrow in the lot of the fatherless is the deprivation of a father's love and care. But the disciples were to lack neither.

II. They were not orphans, because Christ Himself would come to them.—

1. The disciples thought that Jesus was henceforth to be entirely separated from them, that they would not again see Him until death or the time of judgment.

2. But said our Lord, "Ye see Me." The world could not see Him, for darkness had overtaken the world. The disciples would see Him in His resurrection glory, so that they could greet one another with the words, "The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared," etc. (Luk ).

3. But the presence and care of a loving father and friend may be vividly realised though they are not visibly present. The boy at school and the youth going out into life, children of Christian parents, experience this care. They see it in the gifts provided, in the loving letters; they know it follows in earnest prayer. So was it with the disciples. Thus Pentecost, the after-guidance of the Spirit, the inspiration and help in time of need, the power of doing mighty works in Christ's name, were all tokens of His presence.

4. More than this, they would be conscious of the possession of that same life which was in Christ, would realise that they were bound up with Him by the indissoluble bond of a common spiritual life. "Because I live," etc. His presence then was no imagination, no dream of fancy, but a great spiritual reality.

5. And this in turn leads to a clearer realisation of the disciples' unity and fellowship with the Father in Christ as they go forward in the way of His commandments. And thus more and more Christ is manifested to them in the experiences of the Christian life, until that day when "they shall be like Him, seeing Him as He is." Those who could appropriate such promises were not orphans.

III. The same promises remain to us.—

1. Only those who by faith live because Christ lives can appropriate these promises. They who cannot are orphans, with no promise of a place in the Father's house, no hope because no capacity for receiving the Father's spiritual gifts, no assurance because no desire for the Saviour's blessed presence.

2. But when in living union with Christ they receive of His Spirit, then the sense of orphanhood passes for ever away, as they attain to the conception of their divine sonship and cry, "Abba, Father" (Gal ).

Joh . The promise of divine manifestation to loving, obedient disciples.—These blessed words of promise were spoken in answer to an inquiry by Judas, not Iscariot, as to how Christ was to manifest Himself to the disciples, and yet not to the world. How could the world see Him no more, whilst they were to see Him? The simple-minded disciple was still wandering among materialities. He was thinking of visible appearances, which indeed, in a limited sense, did take place after the Resurrection. But Judas had no true conception of the spiritual manifestation which Christ more especially referred to. Our Lord proceeded to enlighten the disciple. Not that the latter would even then clearly understand; but when the Spirit was given, Christ's words would become plain. Jesus pointed out that the prerequisite for this manifestation of Himself is love in the believer's heart, that love which evidences itself in the keeping of His commandments. To those who thus obey Him He manifests Himself in glorious fashion.

I. In the consciousness of the Father's love.—

1. What men have desired in all ages has been shelter from the wrath of the Deity, and for the manifestation of His mercy and favour. For these ends they raised their shrines and multiplied their sacrifices, etc.

2. But only in Christ and through fellowship with Him in His atoning work has this even been possible. Here Christ promises a higher blessedness. Through love to Him and being loved by Him disciples are bound by a close tie of affection to the Father, who loves those whom Christ loves.

3. And in this love all fear and terror of God and the future pass away, etc.

II. In the divine indwelling.—

1. With the manifestation of Christ to His disciples will be conjoined the indwelling of the Father and the Son; both will come and make their abode in the loving heart.

2. Think of what this means. How highly favoured do even the rich and noble esteem themselves to be when a great monarch or prince visits them, and sojourns with them perhaps but for a night in passing! How proudly, even in after-centuries, are the rooms where those great ones slept pointed out by the descendants as the king's, the queen's, the prince's, etc., room! But here God the Father, says our Lord, will come with Him, and they will make their abode in the hearts of true disciples.

3. And this indwelling is not that common and universal presence of God, as He who rules over all and is everywhere present; who "comes near in judgment" to those who outrage His laws, and in the stings of an accusing conscience makes His presence felt; who comes to obstinate contemners of His commands, like Pharaoh (Exo ; Exo 8:15), and in this very coming hardens or leads them to harden their hearts.

4. The indwelling of Father and Son here promised is the indwelling of love. To those who listen to and keep Christ's words, His promise to the Laodicean Church endures (Rev ). And where He comes the Father will come.

III. Christ manifests Himself in the indwelling Comforter.—

1. All the fulness of the Godhead, indeed, is represented in this indwelling. Christ and the Father come and make their abode with the true disciple in the uniting Spirit of truth.

2. When the Spirit comes, sent from the Father in Christ's name, He will teach all things, etc. The Comforter is the revelation of Christ and the Father. And by His indwelling the divine presence will become ever more manifest. He will bring to remembrance the words of Jesus, so that the heart will be led to love Him more perfectly the more He is known. And in loving Him and keeping His word, His presence will become a blessed reality.

3. The proof of this indwelling will be evident to all around. Taught and guided by the Spirit and words of Jesus, and showing an obedient walk in love toward the brethren, the true disciple will be conspicuous as one who has been with Jesus, one with whom God abides.

IV. The indwelling Christ gives peace.—

1. Not as on Sinai, with sound of trumpet and thunder-roll, nor in the earthquake or the fire, but in still and gentle breathings, a still small voice, the Spirit comes to dwell with Christ's chosen.

2. And the divine abiding leads to peace. Where Christ comes living and loved, He brings His peace, a peace resulting from restful, undisturbed reliance on the Father. So will it be with those into whose hearts the Lord has come. They rest implicitly on the Father's will.

3. He gives not as the world, for the world will often take more than it gives. He who takes the world into his heart takes also with it the world's unrest, its gnawing, carking care, its strife of tongues, its angry passions, its jars and bitter enmities. But those who have opened their hearts to Christ, whose hearts have become temples of the Holy Ghost, shall be at rest, even though the storms beat around them.

4. And they may be fearless; for the citadel is safe with Christ within.

Is God abiding with us?—

1. In order to fit us for this close fellowship Jesus came to earth, died, rose again, and poured forth the Pentecostal gifts on the waiting Church. 2. The Church needs to send up earnest prayer for the continued renewal of these gifts. "Lift up your heads, O ye gates," etc. (Psalms 24). Let God in all His fulness of blessing come and dwell with and in you, that He may be your God, that you may be His people.

Joh . Christ and His words.—

I. The connection between Christ and His words.—

1. Christ and His words are both very fully made known to us. This is not always the case with those whose names have gone far and wide among men as teachers of the race.

2. We may have great and noble words from a man, but we may know little of his personality. But in Christ both the personality and the words have been brought out into the clearest and fullest illumination.

3. And with the words God has been pleased to give us the life, as never a life was given, by these four [Gospels], each different, yet each the same, a separate mirror to take in the side presented to it, but all disclosing in lifelike harmony the one grand person, each so absorbed in his theme that he himself is forgotten, his personality lost in the object—all eye, all ear, all heart, for Christ alone.

4. As they are made known to us there is a perfect harmony between Christ and His words. A man should always be more than his expression. This is pre-eminently true of the Lord Jesus Christ.

II. The connection between loving Christ and keeping His words.—

1. The way in which our Lord states this brings before us the central truth of Christian doctrine, viz. that in some way there must be a change of heart before there is a change of life. We must begin to love Christ before we can keep His words. But here comes in a view which admits this, which dwells upon it very strongly and beautifully, and which has done much to bring out the value of the personality of Christ in its bearing on our service. It shows how He creates a new power in the soul, not by His example merely, but by His whole being—not simply by teaching us and moving before us, but by in a manner transfusing Himself into us.

2. The connection between loving Christ and keeping His words brings before us the Christian philosophy of morality. As Christians we believe that the morality of Christianity is superior to any other, in the kind of duties it gives prominence to, and the light in which it presents them; and candid men who profess to stand outside generally admit this. There would be a fatal objection to this if Christ were either less than He is, or if He had done less for man than He has done. There are only three conceivable ways in which morality can be thought of as springing up in man.

(1) The first is by something like an instinct, and that this does exist in man we are far from denying. If it were perfect in all its parts on any such principle, morality by instinct would be morality mechanical.

(2) The second way is by reason; and that reason can do much for morality must also be admitted; but it can never furnish it with sufficient motive power.

(3) The third and last way is an appeal to love, and love going forth to a person. It is this way that Christianity has chosen. It sets before men the person of Jesus Christ, noblest and most beautiful in itself, and infinitely attractive in its self-sacrifice for them. To love Him is an impulse of the heart, and this impulse is the spring of all morality. If, then, we would be partakers of this noble Christian morality, the true way, the only way, is to come closer to the person of Christ as set before us in God's word, looking on Him and learning to love Him.—Dr. John Ker.

Joh . To what does the Holy Spirit lead believers?—The indwelling of the triune God in the believing and loving soul—the work of the Holy Spirit in those who desire to be Christ's disciples, Christ's peace—the conflict of Jesus with the prince of this world, and the certainty of victory in this conflict to which Jesus submitted in loving obedience to the Father,—these are the chief points in the passage.

Introduction.—"In Christ was life" (Joh ); and the high purpose of the whole work of Christ is to impart His life to sin-sick humanity. The manner in which this life comes from God and becomes incarnate is unfolded in the Christmas story; the manner in which it overcomes death is shown in the resurrection festival; and the manner in which, through the Holy Spirit, it flows into our hearts, in the Christian community, and among the nations, is the object of the Pentecostal commemorative festival. Nature reawakened is an image of the stream of life, which surges in every branch and through every twig. The Holy Spirit as a wind of divine life penetrates the hearts of men, rests on them like cloven tongues of fire, and changes the unlearned apostles into eloquent preachers. He divides the multitudes, and leads a great number to believe. In those crowds should we also be included; and may the Holy Ghost come to-day into our hearts to fill them with faith and love. The Holy Spirit leads us to:—

I. Union with God.—

1. He shows forth to us the love of Jesus in God's word, and thereby stirs us up to answering love, which manifests itself in our keeping the word of Jesus.

2. Thereby the Spirit brings us into a condition with which the Father is well pleased, so that He comes with the Son to rejoice and bless our hearts with the presence of His grace.

II. Comprehension of the words of Jesus.—

1. Although we search and examine the Scriptures, our own reflections lead us to no true understanding of this or that passage. But all at Once, in answer to prayer, the Holy Spirit will bring the meaning of such passages home to our souls with striking clearness. We may read over many sentences of deep meaning again and again; their connection with the whole, however, is not clear to us, until the Holy Spirit makes our glance more keen, so that it penetrates into the deeps of the thought, and is able also to survey the whole. Thus He teaches.

2. He also calls to remembrance. He impresses the words of Jesus not only on the understanding, but on the heart. At the proper moment He brings back to our remembrance those passages which are just fitted for the special conditions in which we find ourselves, and which are the most comforting and salutary in the circumstances. He brings it about that we inwardly experience the truth of the word, so that we may be satisfied with it.

III. The peace of sonship.—

1. Our heart finds no tranquillity either in itself or in the world; it is restless, fearful, despondent.

2. The Holy Spirit awakes in the soul a desire after the peace of Jesus; through repentance, to which He impels our hearts, He prepares us for the reception of this peace. He assures us of forgiveness of sins and our divine sonship. Thereby He stills our unrest and satisfies our hearts, so that we want for no gift, and experience only blessedness.

IV. Victory in tribulation.—

1. We do not see Jesus with the bodily eye, and hence doubts arise in the heart as to whether He is near. But the Holy Spirit reveals Jesus as the exalted one, who is ever near those who love Him till the end of the world.

2. Satan brings tribulation to us, because in our sins he finds a vantage-ground. But the Holy Spirit drives us to Jesus, beneath whose shield the arrows of the wicked one cannot harm us. He presses into our hand the word of God as the sword of the Spirit, with which we can rout the enemy.

3. Oftentimes we obey God's will reluctantly and dejectedly; but the Holy Spirit shows us God's leadings in such a glorious light that in all our ways we realise God's goodness. He then awakes us to a joyful obedience, which we thenceforth show forth in reference to God's commands and gracious leadings.—J. L. Sommer.

Joh . The Holy Ghost the teacher and Paraclete of believers.—Jesus had to depart, but He promised to send His Spirit in place of His own immediate presence. "I will not leave you orphans," He had said (Joh 14:18). You shall not be left without a comforter to encounter what lies before you. Ye who have companied with Me through evil and good report, in dangers, toil, and weariness, who have brought Me the burden of your cares, confided to Me your difficulties, turned to Me in all your sorrows till My presence has become indispensable to you—ye shall not want a counsellor, a guide, an advocate. The Paraclete, which is the Holy Ghost, shall come and lead you to higher attainments than those you have yet reached, etc. He shall not only call to remembrance all things which I have spoken unto you, but shall teach you all things, lead you to understand what has been revealed. Therefore have My peace, etc.

I. We shall think especially of that part of the Spirit's work to which the text refers. He is the teacher of the faithful. He is the divine teacher of the Church. "He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance," etc. Those to whom the words were first spoken needed such a promise. For nigh three years they had been in the company of Christ, i.e. they had been learning of Him "in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Col ). They had had a training such as no university now can give to ministers of the word. And how had they profited by this training? Alas! not as they should or might have done. Had not the Lord after His resurrection to speak of some of them as fools and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets had spoken, etc. (Luk 24:25)? And did they not show on the very eve of His ascension how far they were from fully apprehending His teaching (Act 1:6-8)? But see the same men after the Pentecostal outpouring of the Spirit. A mighty change had taken place in them. A flood of light seemed to have been poured on the sacred page and the sayings of Jesus. What was dark and mysterious before was now bright as noonday. Before, the lowly life, shameful cross, etc., had been stumbling-blocks to them. But after Pentecost the true meaning of that humiliation—humbled that men might be exalted—was clearly seen. The cross, instead of being a portent of shame, was seen to be a symbol of Christ's glory, etc. And the result of this divine teaching was, as Christ foretold, a mouth and wisdom in the day of trial, which all their adversaries could not gainsay, etc. (Luk 21:15).

II. The Spirit still exercises the same enlightening influence in the hearts of believers.—Those not taught of Him, and who therefore cannot "discern" divine truth, see no beauty in the gospel, are not influenced by its promises or threatenings. And although they may admire the Saviour as a great moral teacher, etc., will see no beauty in Him as the Redeemer of men, etc. They do not, cannot understand spiritual religion; its source and manifestations seem to them too vague and uncertain to merit their deepest regard. How different the aspect those things wear to those who have been taught of the Spirit, etc.! Invisible and spiritual things become to them the highest realities. Their lives are thenceforth not governed by the seen and temporal, but by the unseen and eternal. This divine Teacher "makes even the simple wise" by revealing to them the will of Heaven. The simple and unlearned, knowing only the Scriptures, but taught in them by this heavenly Teacher, will be able to confute and confound those who, although wise in their own eyes, are fools in the sight of Heaven. And the possession of this heavenly learning brings with it a spirit of contentment, gladness, peace, such as those wise only in regard to earthly things never possess.

III. One other truth must be simply noted in regard to this aspect of the Holy Spirit's work: He was to teach and bring to the remembrance of the disciples all things which Jesus had spoken to them. They had not fully understood all Christ's teaching. Sometimes it seemed to them He spoke in enigmas. But after His resurrection and the descent of the Spirit sayings that had appeared dark and obscure became luminous (Luk ; Joh 2:22; Joh 12:16; Act 11:16). The heavenly Sower had scattered the seeds of divine truth into hearts prepared to receive it; but there was needed the outpouring of the Spirit, with heavenly influence, the dews and rains of grace, to awaken it to life, to cause it to spring forth and bloom into fuller fruitfulness. And a test of any teaching professing to be divine will be its accordance or non-accordance with the great principles of truth revealed in the teaching of Christ and amplified in the apostolic writings. Any Church or religious body that claims that its symbols (doctrinal) and decisions (ecclesiastical) have the same authority as Holy Writ, and should be as binding on the faithful, can only claim such authority for them by showing that they stand the test of the Holy Spirit's teaching in Scripture. It must be the final court of appeal in matters of faith and doctrine. We are not told that the Spirit was to teach the apostles any new truth. He was to instruct in and call to remembrance what the Master Himself had taught.

IV. This experience of the Holy Spirit's power as a teacher is not confined to the past.—It is a present reality. It is known in some measure by every one progressing in the narrow way. Not all at once does the full day of the Spirit's enlightening power illuminate the soul. Here, as in all God's works, there is a wise progression. The plants of grace are not ephemeral gourds, but palms and cedars. At the beginning of their course believers feel that to know God's will and to serve Him aright is a task beyond their own powers. They feel the need of the Spirit's help and teaching. But day by day as they look more earnestly into the divine oracles, and use with diligence the means of grace, what was dark will become light, "the crooked straight, and the rough places plain."

Joh . A heavenly legacy.—Peace now reigned undisturbed in the upper chamber. Judas had gone out into the night to do the work for which he had received the wages of iniquity. The withdrawal of his presence removed a feeling of restraint perhaps. The Saviour's discourse now flowed along a stream of blessing, which not only refreshed and cheered the disciples on that memorable night, but which has brought joy and comfort to many in every age since then. These are words of farewell, but also of hope. In all this history in St. John's Gospel we cannot fail to notice a calmness and repose which are marvellous, when we think of the circumstances in which these words were uttered. The unutterable agony, the shameful trial, the bitter cross, lay before Jesus. Yet it was not of Himself He thought, but of His disciples. His mind was calm and tranquil Here the Redeemer showed the same lofty repose of spirit that characterised all His life on earth,

I. In unfolding the central thought of this verse, consider first that this gift of peace which Jesus bestows is what all men need, even when they know it not.—These words are not merely words of farewell. Luther says: "They are the parting words of One who is about to bid farewell to His friends, and gives them His good-night and His blessing." True, the words might also bear this interpretation. The common Hebrew salutation has some resemblance to these words. How often do we meet such words as לֵךְ לְשָׁלזם, "Go in peace"; and also in the closing salutations in letters (1Pe ), and as a greeting to reassure those in fear (Gen 43:23)! And viewed in this light, they are not like the world's farewell greetings, often insincere, mere words signifying nothing. Not so the words of Jesus; they are heartfelt and real. But this is more than a mere leave-taking. The words themselves show that. "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give unto you." It is the Lord's legacy to His disciples, something real which He bestows on them, more precious than gold or jewels. It is what all men have been seeking since the Fall, and have never of themselves found. In their restless striving after satisfaction in pleasure, etc., they were in reality seeking peace, which cannot be found in the possessions of earth. It is sought for in vain apart from God. It may be described as a state of the spiritual nature of man resulting from a right relation between man and God. And this is brought about not by any change on the part of God—He is unchangeable—but by a renewing of man's nature after the divine image.

II. How is this change brought about?—By God Himself, the author and giver of peace. When the new-created world arose at His command, no jarring element marred the unison of all things. Peace reigned in earth as in heaven. Nor was it God who banished peace from earth. It was sin. Sin came like a flood, covering all things with its noisome waters; and peace, like Noah's dove, could find no resting-place. And as men sinned they lost peace (Jas ). But God yearned over men in pity and love. He Himself sent the Son of His love to bring peace to men. "He is our peace." And He was peculiarly fitted to undertake this work; for He is the "Prince of peace" (Isa 9:6). One of the chief blessings of His advent was proclaimed to be "peace on earth." And it comes to men through His cross (Eph 2:15-16; Rom 5:1). Through faith in Him men become "new creatures," made anew in the divine image; and thus harmony between the Creator and the creature is again restored. God is the author of peace.

III. The characteristics of this peace.—

1. It is Christ's own peace.—"My peace." Contemplate the story of the Redeemer's life on earth. He was at peace alike when He was praying on the mountain top; or when, awakened from sleep in the sinking fisher-boat, He arose and said, "Peace, be still," and the storm ceased to rage; when He taught the multitudes by the seashore, or was dragged to the brow of the hill above Nazareth; when He sat with the disciples in the upper chamber, or heard the crowds shout, "Crucify Him," or prayed for His murderers on the cross. And the key to this characteristic of our Lord's life on earth is to be found in the dose and intimate communion He had with the Father, and His unreserved submission to the Father's will. Such communion and submission could exist only when there was complete harmony between the Father and the Son. But He was "one with the Father." The rule of His life of humiliation was, "not My will, O Father, but Thine be done." Here again we come in sight of the way of peace. We must, through Christ, enter into the same relation of submissive trust in God. The more we can attain to this spirit, the nearer shall we be to perfect peace.

2. This peace it not dependent on outward circumstances, whatever these may be.—The man of the world is most miserable when circumstances are adverse. Who so miserable when the props that upheld his happiness have fallen? It is not so with the man who has entered into fellowship with God through Jesus Christ. Trouble and sorrow indeed drive him nearer to God, and lead him, like the prophet, to say, "Although the fig tree shall not blossom," etc. (Habakkuk 3). In the case of true disciples of our Master and Lord, the direst calamities have not been able to shake the firmness of their trust or overturn the foundations of their peace. It is an inner heritage; and no external circumstances, however untoward or unhappy, can deprive them of it or drive them to despair.

3. It is an abiding peace.—This follows from what has been said. It comes from trust in God, not in ourselves; and it is this that makes it abiding and eternal. It is in the eternal Jehovah that the believer's hope lies. What need he fear who is one with Christ and thus with the Father? As the Rock of Ages stands firm and sure, so believers shall never be moved. In view of this well might the disciples be exhorted to be trustful and courageous! And to disciples now the realisation of this blessed truth should lead to the same steadfastness. "Let not your heart be troubled" when difficulties and trials meet you. Christ knows them all, and the way out of them. Be not over-anxious about the morrow. "God will provide." "Neither let your heart be afraid." All that is really opposed to you who are in Christ is opposed to Him; and therefore can even the gates of Hades prevail? Your life in Him should be a joyful service, and its latter end—peace.

Joh . Comfort for trial.—Our Lord knew the weakness of the disciples' hearts, and what was needed to strengthen their faith, so that they might not utterly fail in trials just before them. He therefore repeated with wider reference what He had already said (Joh 13:19) as to His knowledge of what lay before Him. They were to learn that no blind fate, but a directing Providence, was overruling the events about to happen. Our Lord here showed—

I. His divine prescience.—

1. All through His public ministry He had shown His omniscient prevision regarding the course of events that should group themselves round His person and work, e.g. the action of the traitor, the manner of His death, etc.

2. This would prepare the disciples, in part at least, for what was to happen, and would tend to assure them of the certainty of His promise, "I will not leave you orphans." Further, by this prediction—

II. Our Lord strengthened the disciples to endure.—

1. He called attention to the fact that the prince of this world was beginning his final onslaught. But He added, "and hath nothing in Me."

2. The conflict was in reality already over. The will of Christ was one with the Father's will; and thus in face of the coming foe He arose to meet and vanquish him as He said, "Arise, let us go hence."

3. Therefore might the disciples realise that with Christ and the Father abiding with them they too would be secure.

III. The same truth remains for our comfort and strength.—

1. One part of what our Lord foretold has come to pass. Shall this not lead to faith that what remains shall likewise be fulfilled? The Father hath put all things under His feet: "He must reign till He hath put all enemies under His feet." As He conquered before, so His people believe He will conquer in the end.

3. In later days the Church will again enter into conflict with the prince and forces of evil (2 Thessalonians 2, etc.). But those with whom the Father and Son abide, to whom the Comforter has come with enlightening and guiding power, need not fear. As in the past, the prince of this world shall have no real power over the people of God. With the Captain of salvation within, and the walls of salvation around, there is safety. No device of the enemy, no engine however cunning and strong, no weapon however vaunted, no fiery darts, can avail to move the heart in which God dwells.

HOMILETIC NOTES

Joh . Keeping Christ's words.—His words mean all that is commanded and promised in them. Thus one who loves Jesus will not only possess or hear but will keep His words, in remembrance, in faith, in the midst of sorrow.

No fear when God dwells in the heart.—If the emperor could say to the boatman, Fear not, for Cæsar is in the vessel, why should I not say to my soul, Fear not, God is with thee?

The manner of the divine indwelling.—God will not dwell with us merely as a guest in an inn, who comes to-day and goes to-morrow; He will come as the Father of the family into His house, and will never forsake us.

Joh . The Christian's love to God shown in his deeds.—It is a fatal self-deception when any one boasts of having love to God, and yet proves the contrary by his deeds (Tit 1:16; 1Jn 2:3-4).

In the offering of obedient service to God three things must be observed.—Obey God willingly (Psa ); obey God all through life (Luk 1:74-75); obey God before all else (Act 5:29).

Figure of a loveless Christian.—A Christian without love is like a painted image; or a corpse wrapped in beautiful garments and covered with flowers; or, after the apostle's similitude, like sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal (1Co ).

Joh . He who teaches all things must know all things.—God alone knows all things. For this reason the Holy Spirit is appointed to be Doctor Doctorum; so that those who are set to teach others should first learn of Him.

Joh . What Christ's peace comprehends.—It contains this assurance, that God is well pleased with us in Him.

The world's peace.—The world often speaks peace with the lips, and cherishes discord in the heart; just as Joab spoke quietly with Abner (2Sa ), and immediately stabbed him with the sword. Without peace with God men have no true peace on earth.

A peace-loving heart is a dwelling of the triune Jehovah, for the Father is the God of peace; the Son is the Prince of peace; the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of peace.

Joh . Experience is a powerful confirmation and assurance of our faith.

Joh . The prince of this world.—The devil is a prince of this world in conformity with—

1. His vain-glory.

2. His tyrannical rule.

3. The willing subjection of the impious.

4. The heathen idolatries.

Joh . The Christian's pilgrimage.—What is the pilgrimage of a true Christian? A continual departing hence, and a continual going to the Father.

Genuine love exceeds words.—Love to God must not be merely an expression of the lips. To love in word only is the way of hypocrites. If we would be more than these, then we must love in deed.

Love perfects obedience.—Without love obedience is slavish, and cannot endure; but a loving obedience is in no way contrary to our freedom—on the contrary, it makes us joyful and blessed.—Translated from a collection by Weigel.

ILLUSTRATIONS

Joh . The proof of our love to Christ.—Christ promiseth His disciples—that is, such as believe in Him—that He will give them whatsoever they make petition for or desire; yea, if they love Him. For faith without love is dead, and hath no strength. Where there is faith in man, there followeth love. Many of us say, We believe in Christ, and we love Him, yet we keep not His commandments. Such men ought well to note the words that Christ here speaketh, "Whoso loveth Me keepeth My commandments" (Joh 14:15-24). The disciples thought that they loved Christ right because they were sorry for His departing; but Christ teacheth us that love consisteth in the keeping of His commandments. If we will declare our love toward God, it must not be done only with word and tongue, but with keeping of His precepts. "The eyes of the Lord behold the righteous, and His ears consider their prayers." God will not that we, whom He through His grace hath admitted for His own children, and purified through faith, should go idle. Faith which God giveth us in our hearts standeth not idle; we have for this purpose received it, even to keep His commandments. Now is it His commandment that we deny and mortify ourselves, hate and despise the world, take up our cross upon us and follow Him, stoutly and manfully confessing and acknowledging Him before the wicked world, loving one another as He hath loved us, innocently and godly leading our lives, whereby we may daily receive the more gifts at His hand. For if we keep not His grace that He giveth us, if we do not continually and daily reform ourselves, and with all diligence fashion our lives after His life, it is but right that we lose again what we have received.—Bishop Coverdale.

Joh . Christian peace and unity.—"How good and pleasant it is," as David saith, "for brethren" (and so we are all, at least by nature) "to live together in unity." How that, as Solomon saith, "Better is a dry morsel and quietness therewith, than a house full of sacrifices and strife." How delicious that conversation is which is accompanied with a mutual confidence, freedom, courtesy, and complacence: how calm the mind, how composed the affections, how serene the countenance, how melodious the voice, how sweet the sleep, how contented the whole life is of him that neither deviseth mischief against others nor suspects any to be contrived against himself; and contrariwise, how ingrateful and loathsome a thing it is to abide in a state of enmity, wrath, dissension; having the thoughts distracted with solicitous care, anxious suspicion, envious regret; the heart boiling with choler, the face overclouded with discontent, the tongue jarring and out of tune, the ears filled with discordant noises of contradiction, clamour, and reproach; the whole frame of body and soul distempered and disturbed with the worst of passions. How much more comfortable it is to walk in smooth and even paths than to wander in rugged ways overgrown with briers, obstructed with rubs, and beset with snares; to sail steadily in a quiet than to be tossed in a tempestuous sea; to behold the lovely face of heaven smiling with a cheerful serenity than to see it frowning with clouds or raging with storms; to hear harmonious consents than dissonant janglings; to see objects correspondent in graceful symmetry than lying disorderly in confused heaps; to be in health, and have the natural humours consent in moderate temper, than (as it happens in diseases) agitated with tumultuous commotions: how all senses and faculties of men unanimously rejoice in these emblems of peace, order, harmony, and proportion; yea, how nature universally delights in a quiet stability or undisturbed progress of motion; the beauty, strength, and vigour of everything requires a concurrence of force, co-operation, and contribution of help; all things thrive and flourish by communicating reciprocal aid, and the world consists by a friendly conspiracy of its parts; and especially that political society of men chiefly aims at peace as its end, depends on it as its cause, relies on it as its support. How much a peaceful state resembles heaven, into which neither "complaint, pain, nor clamour" (as it is in the Apocalypse) do ever enter, but blessed souls converse together in perfect love and in perpetual concord; and how a condition of enmity represents the state of hell.… How like a paradise the world would be, flourishing in joy and rest, if men would cheerfully conspire in affection and helpfully contribute to each other's content; and how like a savage wilderness now it is, when, like wild beasts, they vex and persecute, worry, and devour each other. How not only philosophy hath placed the supreme pitch of happiness in a calmness of mind and tranquillity of life, void of care and trouble, of irregular passions and perturbations, but that Holy Scripture itself in that one term of "peace" most usually comprehends all joy and content, all felicity and prosperity; so that the heavenly consort of angels, when they agree most highly to bless and to wish the greatest happiness to mankind, could not better express their sense than by saying, "Be peace on earth," etc.—Isaac Barrow.

 


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Bibliography Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on John 14:4". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/phc/john-14.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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