On the Gospel of John 14

John 14  •  20 min. read  •  grade level: 8
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In chapter 14 the Lord presents to His disciples the consolations which were suited to make them accept the revelation He had made to them of His approaching departure.
The first thing that He declares to them, in His grace, is, that if He was going away, it is not to abandon them, but to prepare them a place elsewhere, that is, in His Father's house. There, there was not room for Him alone (perhaps He alluded to the temple?) but abodes for them also; and then He Himself would come for them, so as to have them with Him where He was Himself He could not dwell with them down here, but they should be with Him; and He would not send to seek them, but He would come Himself to take them to Himself. Precious and tender love that associated His own with Himself, according to the place they had in His heart, and according to the eternal counsels of the love of God. Instead of the kingdom of an earthly Messiah, they would have the eternal and divine glory of the Son of man in heaven, to be like Him, and with Him. Man having entered there, consequent upon redemption, the place was prepared for them. It was not a question of preparing them for the place (that is the subject of chapter 13), but of preparing the place for them. The presence of their Forerunner, where He was going, accomplished it. The blood made peace according to divine righteousness, the water prepared them to enjoy it. The entrance of Christ left nothing to be done that they might enter; only the co-heirs must be gathered, and till then, the Lord remains seated on His Father's throne.
The return of the Savior is therefore the first consolation given them, and it would introduce them, where Jesus was, into the Father's house, being themselves made like Him in glory, instead of His remaining with them down here-which, moreover, was not possible, since all was defiled, and unfit for the Lord's continuance with His own. Jesus will come again, and take us to Himself, that where He is, we may be also (v. 1-3).
But there was more. The Lord says, " And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know " (v. 4). Thomas objects that they did not know where He was going, how therefore could they know the way? In His answer, Jesus shows them that what they had possessed during His stay upon earth, would furnish an immense blessing when He should have left them. He was going to the Father, and the Father had been revealed in His Person down here. Thus, having seen the Father in Him, they had seen Him to whom He was going, and they knew the way, for in coming to Him, they had found the Father. He was the Way, and, at the same time, the Truth of the thing, and the Life in which it was enjoyed. No one came to the Father but by Him; if the disciples had known Him, they would have known the Father, and from henceforth said He, " Ye know him, and have seen him " (v. 7). Philip says, " Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us "; for the disciples, although they were attached to Jesus, always had in themselves a reserve of uncertainty. The Lord blames Philip for his want of spiritual perception, after His having been so long with them; for they had not really known Him in His true character of Son, come from the Father, and revealing the Father. The words that He spoke were not as coming from Himself as man; and the Father, who dwelt in Him, was He who did the works; that which He said, that which He did, revealed the Father. They ought to trust His word, if not, on account of His works; and not only so, but glorified on high He would be the source of greater works than those which He did Himself in His humiliation, for He was going to ascend to His Father. All that they should ask in His name, He would do it, that the Father might be glorified in the Son. He was the Son of the Father; His name should avail for all that they could desire in their service; and the Father, to whom He referred everything, would be glorified in the Son, who would do all that they should ask in His name. His power had no limit: " and whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, I will do it." In fact, the apostles gave proof of a greater power than the Lord when He was down here. Peter's shadow healed the sick; one single discourse of his was the means of converting three thousand men, and the napkins, carried to the sick from Paul's body, drove away the sickness from them, and cast out the evil spirits.
It is well to remark here, that the disciples never did any miracles to save themselves from suffering, or to heal their friends when they were ill. Paul left Trophimus sick at Miletus; it was only God's mercy that healed Epaphroditus. The miracles performed by the apostles were the confirmation of the testimony, of which Christ glorified with the Father was the object and source.
In the next place, obedience would be the proof of love when the Lord should be gone away. This introduces the second principal revelation of this chapter; that is, the effect for them of the presence of the Holy Ghost, the other Comforter.
Verses 4-11 had given the revelation of that which Jesus had been for the disciples during His stay upon earth; but the Holy Ghost would teach them more still, and would procure advantages for them that they could not have during the stay of Jesus down here; whilst, at the same time, that which they had possessed by this means, would remain always true, and be understood in quite another manner.
But there is a difference between these two Comforters. To begin with, there was no incarnation in connection with the second; the spiritual power of God was in Him, and the power of the truth, but not an object for the soul. He was characterized as the source of truth and revelation, there where He acted; but He was not presented to the world as an object to be received by it. The world cannot receive Him. The world would not receive the Lord, but He had been presented to it to be received, and He had manifested the Father; He could say of those amongst whom He came, " They have both seen and hated both me and my Father." As to the Holy Ghost, the world could not receive Him; it did not see Him, neither know Him; He presented the truth, and acted by this means. But He should be given to believers; they should know Him, for He would dwell with them, and not leave them, as He [Jesus] was doing, and He should be in them.
Here also we find the other Comforter, in contrast with the Lord. Jesus was going away at that moment, then He had been with them; but the other Comforter should be in them.
The presence of the Comforter is the grand present fact of Christianity: its basis is the revelation of the Father in the Son, then the accomplishment of the work of redemption by the Son; but the fact that man in His Person has entered into the divine glory, has given occasion to the descent of the Holy Ghost down here, given to believers to dwell with them and in them, that they may realize the fullness of this redemption, their relationship with the Father, the fact that they are in Christ, and Christ in them, and the heavenly glory where they will be like Him; and that He may lead them across the desert, with spiritual intelligence, and having their conversation in heaven, till they arrive there. The Spirit also gives us to realize the presence of Jesus with us here below. Jesus does not leave us orphans; He comes to us, and manifests Himself to us. Strengthened in our hearts by faith, the joy of His presence makes itself felt to our souls during our pilgrimage below.
Soon the world would see Him no more (ver. 19); His relations with the world were ended, save as Lord of all, but they were not with His own; they would see Him, not yet with their natural eyes, but by faith, and revealed by the Spirit-sight far clearer and more excellent than that which their natural eyes had given them. It was a sight that became identified with the possession of eternal life. Their eyes had seen Him bodily here, but they would have the sight of Jesus glorified, and who had accomplished the work of redemption, and that by the power of the Holy Ghost, that other Comforter. The sight of the life of faith identified itself with a real union with Him, so that if He lived, they should live also; He Himself would be their life. Rather than that they should die, it was necessary that He Himself, such as He is in the glory, should die, and they would have by the presence of the Comforter, the consciousness of being thus in Him. " In that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you." The disciples ought to have seen the Father in Him, and to have recognized that He was in the Father during Ibis sojourn upon earth, however little intelligent they might have been. Now, in that day, when the Holy Spirit should have come, they would know Jesus as being in the Father (the Father in Him is omitted, because it was no longer a question of His manifestation in Him down here). Thus Jesus would be in the Father in His own deity; but, more, the disciples should know that they themselves were in Him, Jesus, and He in them.
After that, the Lord establishes, as in all this part of the Gospel, man's responsibility, here that of the Christian, " He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me " (v. 21). This supposes that we pay attention to what the Lord says: one listens to the voice of divine wisdom, as a child who seeks to please its parents, or a wife her husband, observing the words of the parents or the husband, without even their having the form of a commandment, and knowing what they wish. Thus the Christian attends to the words of Jesus; he is familiar with that which the Lord wills, and desires to do His will. This is the proof of true affection. Now, he who is thus attached in heart to Christ, and obeys Him, shall be loved of the Father, and Christ will come, and will manifest Himself to him The manifestation of which He speaks here is a manifestation of Himself, and from Him, to the soul which He causes to realize His presence and makes him sensible of it. This is what Jude does not understand; he does not perceive how Jesus could be manifested to His own, without being manifested to the world (v. 22). Alas! it is just what too many Christians do not understand. Jude, too, was only thinking of some outward manifestation, of which the world could necessarily take knowledge; but the Lord was speaking of a manifestation such as we have just shown, adding still something more permanent; that is, that if any one loved Jesus, he would keep, not only His commandments, but His words, so that the Father would love him, and that the Father and Son would come, and make their abode in him (v. 24).
We see everywhere here responsibility. It is not sovereign grace which first loves the poor sinner: here the Father loves the soul which shows its affection for the Savior in keeping His words. It is fatherly government, the satisfaction of the Father's heart because the Son is honored and obeyed. " If a man love me, he will keep my word," and then-precious words-" my Father will love him, and we will make our abode with him." The Father and the Son come to dwell in the loved person; and this does not take place merely by the Holy Ghost, as every divine activity; but by the Spirit we enjoy the presence of the Father, and of the Son, their dwelling with us; and the Spirit does not leave us, so that we enjoy constantly in our hearts the presence of the Father and the Son. The kind of communion, of the realization of the presence of the Father and the Son, is of all-importance, and gives an ineffable repose and joy. We shall dwell in the Father's house, and we shall find there the Son in glory; but, till then, the Father and the Son come, and reveal themselves in us, and make their abode in us. All is done by the Spirit, but it is the presence of the Father and the Son that makes their presence felt in this character of Father and of Son; and the Son is Jesus, who loved us, and gave Himself for us. The Son had revealed the Father, for him who had eyes to see; and now the Holy Ghost makes us enjoy the presence of the Father and Son, but " in us," if we keep the Savior's words.
We may remark that the scripture employs two different words here: " commandments ' and " word." Both have their importance, in that the first speaks of authority and obedience, the second of attention to what the Lord says, each having thus a special bearing. To the soul that has the commandments and keeps them, the Lord manifests Himself, and it is the fruit of obedience; but the blessedness of the abiding of the Father and Son in the heart, is the fruit of the word of Jesus, exercising its rightful influence in the heart. Now he that does not love Him, he, whose heart is not governed by this personal affection, does not keep the words of Jesus; and the word that they heard was not their Master's word, as of a man, of a teacher who spoke on his own account, but the word of the Father who had sent Jesus. All the work of grace is indeed the Father's work, but the Son's work also, the Spirit having His place in it in immediate operation in the soul. Thus the miracles of Jesus were really His own works but it was by the Spirit of God He cast out demons; the Father also, who dwelt in Him, did the works. Here the Spirit would teach the disciples and would call to their remembrance that which Jesus had said to them; but that which Jesus had said to them was from the Father; He spoke the words of God, for the Spirit was not given by measure. Here again we find the Father, the Son, and the Spirit.
We have seen that the Father and Son make their abode in those who keep Christ's word • but also it is by the Holy Ghost that this abiding is realized, not that we should not feel the presence of the Father and Son, but to make us feel it. It is a lasting thing, not that our thoughts are always there, that cannot be, but the consciousness and influence of their presence are always there. I think of working at something which my father, according to the flesh, wishes; but if he is there, in thinking of the thing, the consciousness and influence of his presence will always make themselves felt.
To the things which He had just said to them, and which terminate this part of His discourse, the Lord adds the precious revelation, that the Comforter, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father would send in His name, should teach the disciples all things, and should bring to their remembrance that which He had said to them. We enjoy every day the effect of this precious promise.
There are here other points of great value which is it important to notice.
The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are not separated in this work of blessing. The Holy Ghost comes to communicate all, but it is the Father that in His love, sends Him: but He sends Him in the Son's name, for His glory, and as Mediator in grace, in virtue of the redemption He has accomplished. The Holy Ghost should make the disciples realize according to the thoughts of the Father, all that had happened, all that manifested God's ways in grace during the Son's stay here below. This is what we find in the Gospels, which give us, not a human recital of things that come to the mind, but the communication (according to divine intelligence, and according to God's intention in the facts) of that which happened in the life of Jesus; for there is a divine intention in the Gospel recitals.
Finally, if the Lord leaves His own, He leaves them peace, which He could not have done had He remained with them, for peace would not have been made; but He defines this peace in a way that gives it a perfection which the fact of the purifying of the conscience would not have procured for them. That indeed took place by His blood: the disciples would be perfect as to the conscience. His conscience was always perfect; ours is made perfect by His blood. But, with the exception of the cross, and the anticipation of the cross, the heart of Jesus was ever with God. Feeling everything in love, nothing distracted Him, nor weakened His communion with His Father. Perfect obedience and confidence maintained in Him a peace which flowed from a walk with God, and from communion with His Father that never belied itself. The current of the life that He lived on the part of the Father was uninterrupted: there were no breakers in the life of Jesus. The difficulties He met with were but the occasion of the showing forth of divine life in the heart of a man, of the peace which the consciousness of being always with God gave Him. Thus His words and actions were words and actions that came directly from God, in the circumstances in which He found Himself as man. A perfect sensibility, a perfect measure and characterizing in His mind of all that acted upon Him, gave occasion to the answer, to that which the presence of God and the divine impulse produced in man. What could trouble the peace of Jesus? When it was a question of being made sin, and of bearing our sins before God, it was another thing; because that was taking place, the answer of God in His soul was not the effect of His perfect and blessed presence, but the being forsaken, according to the perfect opposition of His nature to sin. But here we approach sufferings that no one can fathom.
The Lord does not give as we give anything which consequently we do not possess any longer; He brings us into the enjoyment of all that He Himself enjoys: the glory, the Father's love, His joy. He keeps back nothing for Himself, which is reserved to Himself, and in which we have not part.
The verses that close the chapter contain a touching expression of the manner in which the heart of Jesus expects the affection of His own. " If ye had loved me, ye would have rejoiced that I go to the Father " (v. 28). If you think of yourselves, it is quite natural that you should be troubled; but if you could think of Me, it would have been your joy to think that I leave this world of sorrow and suffering to go to the Father, in taking again My glory and entering again into the land of holiness and peace, where all My rights are recognized. Thus the Lord places Himself near us, and desires that we should think of His happiness. What Christian is there that does not rejoice at the thought of His glory?
Jesus can still speak, while making His way towards Gethsemane, of what His own had had in Him, and of the gift of the Holy Ghost, but in reality, His communications in their midst were at an end. The prince of this world was coming: it is this character that Jesus now gives to Satan. The disciples were fled in fear; all the rest of the world united together cheerfully to drive out of it the Son of God, come in grace; they had seen and hated both Him and His Father.
It is not all that man has sinned. After the sin, God came in; God worked in a world too evil to be any longer borne with. The promise had been given to Abraham, called from the midst of the idolatry which overran all; the law was given; the prophets were sent; last of all the Son came, healing all those who were under the yoke of Satan (the strong man having been bound, his victims were delivered)-the Son, God's last resource for putting man's heart to the proof, to see if that even could produce in him any return towards God, and discover any good that might have remained there hidden in the midst of the evil. But God was manifested there; and if the effects of sin disappeared by His means, the presence of Jesus awakened the enmity of the flesh, and Satan's power took possession of the world, or rather showed that Satan was its prince. Up to that time-that is, until all the means that God could employ to reclaim men had been exhausted, this title of " Prince of the world " had not been given him; but when He of whom God had said, I have yet My Son, had been rejected, Satan was called by this terrible title. There was One, One only, in the world who was not under this power of Satan, One only in whom the prince of this world had nothing, One only who was not of the world, One only, who though truly a man in the world, and who passed through all its temptations, sin apart, had nothing whatever in Him, either before or after, that gave Satan a right over Him, even in death which now He was going to meet. Neither in His walk, nor in His Person was there anything whatever that exposed Him to the enemy. Satan had tried, he had used the power of death to hinder Jesus from obeying unto the end, but his efforts had been vain. The death of Jesus was the effect of obedience, and of His love for the Father. " The prince of this world cometh: and hath nothing in me: but that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do " (v. 30, 31). That which brought death for Him, was not sin in Him, or by Him, but it was His perfect obedience and His love for His Father. Jesus warns His own of it beforehand, so that, knowing it, their faith should not be shaken by it.