John 14 - The Departing Jesus
A. The departing Jesus' relationship to the Father.
1. (1-4) Jesus assures a future reunion in His Father's house.
"Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know."
a. Let not your heart be troubled: Although He is leaving them bodily, it is not forever. Jesus is confident that He will meet Peter and the rest in His Father's house
b. Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me: Even though there was good reason why their hearts might be troubled, Jesus tells the disciples to challenge their troubled hearts with faith in the Father and the Son. They did not have to give into the emotions of fear and despair - they really could let not your hearts be troubled.
c. I go to prepare a place for you: You only prepare a place for someone if you are confident of their arrival. Jesus could only say this to the group after Judas had left. He would not go to prepare a place for Judas - at least not a place in His Father's house.
d. Many mansions: In light of the ancient Greek, "mansions" is better translated "dwelling places." The noun mone (connected to the verb meno, "stay" or "remain") means "a place to stay." But in light of God's character, it is better to translate it mansions. Whatever dwelling place God has for us in heaven, it will be as glorious as a mansion.
e. To receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also: The entire focus of heaven is being reunited with Jesus. Heaven is heaven not because of streets of gold, or pearly gates, or even the presence of angels. Heaven is heaven because Jesus is there.
i. Take comfort; even as He prepares a place for us, He prepares us for that place.
2. (5-6) Jesus is the exclusive way to the Father.
Thomas said to Him, "Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?" Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."
a. I am the way, the truth, and the life: In light of soon events, this declaration is a paradox. Jesus' way would be the cross; He would be convicted by blatant liars; His body would soon lie lifeless in a tomb. Because He took that way, He is the way to God; because He did not contest the lies we can believe He is the truth; because He was willing to die He becomes the channel of resurrection - the life to us.
b. No one comes to the Father except through Me: Is Jesus the only way to God? An often-heard disagreement with Christianity is "Jesus and Christianity are fine, and it is great that you have a way to God. But I have my own way, and the Muslim has his, and the Buddhist has his. All roads lead to God if we are sincere in seeking Him."
i. If a Christian objects to such a statement, they are often met with the reply, "What right do you have to send me to Hell just because I don't believe in Jesus the way you do?"
ii. But the Bible tells us that Jesus is the only way to God. How can we say this? We begin with the basic truth that Jesus is at least a way to God. Was He a true or a false prophet? Was He at the very least an honest man? If Jesus is a true prophet - or at least an honest man - then what He said about Himself is true. Therefore, Jesus is the only way to God.
iii. Simply put, if Jesus is not the only way to God, then He is not any way to God. If there are many roads to God, then Jesus is not one of them, because He absolutely claimed there was only one road to God, and He Himself was that road. If Jesus is not the only way to God, then He was not a honest man; He was most certainly not a true prophet. He then would either be a madman or a lying devil. There is no middle ground available to us.
iv. Sometimes people object and say, "I believe Jesus was an honest man, and I believe He was a true prophet. But I don't actually believe He said those things about Himself in the gospels. I believe Christians added those things in later on all by themselves." But there is no objective reason for a person to make a distinction between "Jesus really said this" or "Jesus really didn't say that." We have no ancient texts showing us just the supposedly "true" sayings of Jesus. Any such distinction is based purely on subjective reasons - "I personally don't think Jesus would have said that, therefore He did not say that - later Christians just put those words in His mouth."
v. If it is all up to personal opinion - if we can determine what Jesus said or didn't say on our own whims - then we can just throw out the gospels period. It really is an all-or-nothing deal. Either we take the words of Jesus as recorded by these historically reliable and accurate documents, or we throw it out all together.
vi. To take it a step further, it is not enough to merely believe in Jesus. Shockingly, that isn't narrow enough! The Bible also tells us the atoning work of Jesus on the cross was the only way salvation could be accomplished. In the Garden of Gesthemene, the night before His death, Jesus prayed if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me (Matthew 26:39). Jesus asked the Father if there was any other way to accomplish the salvation of man other than His atoning work on the cross, other than Him drinking the "cup" representing the wrath of God poured out upon Him in our place, let it be so. But there was no other way.
vii. Even the demons could admit the truth that Jesus was the Son of God (Matthew 8:29); but they did not submit to Jesus or believe in His atoning work on their behalf.
viii. The idea that all religious beliefs are equally valid, and all that maters is that we be sincere in our beliefs is so absurd that people would only apply it to religion. If you thought you were a cow - sincerely, of course - and insisted that you should stay outside and eat the lawn, men in white coats would take you away. Why won't they allow you to be sincere in your beliefs? Because they objectively know you are wrong. Why do we apply the same muddled thinking to religion?
ix. But is Christianity bigoted? Certainly, there are some who claim to be Christians who are in fact bigots. But Biblical Christianity is the most pluralistic, tolerant, embracing of other cultures religion on earth. In fact, Christianity is rather pluralistic - it is the one religion to embrace other cultures, and has the most urgency to translate the Scriptures into other languages. A Christian can keep their native language and culture, and follow Jesus in the midst of it. An early criticism of Christianity was the observation that they would take anybody! Slave or free; rich or poor; man or woman; Greek or Barbarian. All were accepted, but on the common ground of the truth as revealed in Jesus Christ. To leave that common ground is spiritual suicide, for both now and eternity.
3. (7-11) Jesus again explains His unity with and dependence on the Father.
"If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him." Philip said to Him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us." Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves."
a. Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me: Jesus' gentle rebuke might well be spoken to many church-goers today. After all our time with Jesus, do we really know Jesus?
b. He who has seen Me has seen the Father: No image or material likeness could depict God, but a person could - the person of Jesus.
i. This forever finishes the idea some people have that there is a "bad God" in the Old Testament that Jesus somehow calmed down and made nice so we could be saved. If you want to know what God the Father is like, look at Jesus - the same love, compassion, mercy, and goodness which is evident in Jesus is evident in God the Father. Exodus 34:5-9, among other passages, shows this nature of God the Father in the Old Testament.
4. (12-14) When Jesus departs to the Father, His work will continue on earth.
"Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it."
a. The works I do he will do: Jesus did not expect the disciples to disband after His departure, but to carry on the work in even greater magnitude.
b. Greater works than these he will do: This promise seems impossible; yet after Peter's first sermon there were more converted than are recorded during Jesus' entire ministry.
i. Greater is not "more sensational" but greater in magnitude. Jesus will leave behind a victorious, working church, not a cowering one.
c. Whatever you ask in My name, that I will do: In My name is not an Aladdin's lamp of prayer; it signifies both an endorsement (like a check) and a limitation (requests must be in accordance with the character of the name). We are coming to God in Jesus' name, not in our own.
d. That the Father may be glorified in the Son: True prayer in Jesus' name always has this goal. Since that was Jesus' passion, to pray in the name of Jesus means the prayer will have the same passion. Surely, this is prayer God will answer!
B. The departing Jesus gives the promise of the Holy Spirit.
1. (15-18) The promise to send the Helper.
"If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever; the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you."
a. If you love Me, keep My commandments: This is a fair measure of our love for Jesus. It is easy to think of loving Jesus in merely sentimental or emotional terms. It is wonderful when our love for Jesus has sentiment and passion, but it must always be connected to keeping His commandments, or it isn't love at all.
b. I will pray the Father: God even works in us so we may love Him more perfectly.
i. John 14:16 is one of the verses in the Bible that shows the underlying theme of the Trinity. God the Son prays to God the Father that He might send God the Holy Spirit to us.
c. He will give you another Helper: Helper translates the ancient Greek word "parakletos." This means "a person summoned to one's aid," and may refer to an advisor, a legal defender, a mediator, or an intercessor.
i. Another Helper: The word "another" is the ancient Greek word "allen," meaning "another of the same kind" not another of a different kind. Just as Jesus shows the nature of God the Father, so the Holy Spirit - being "another of the same kind" - will show the nature of Jesus.
ii. Essentially, the Holy Spirit is sent to empower and help the believer live the Christian life. The greater work described in John 14:12-14 is impossible without the empowering described in John 14:15-18.
d. That He may abide with you forever: Jesus will give the Holy Spirit that He (a person, not a thing) may abide in us permanently, not temporarily (as in the Old Testament).
e. Whom the world cannot receive: The world can not understand or receive the Spirit, because He is Holy and true.
f. I will come to you: Jesus again promises to come again (previously in John 14: 3). This was a broad promise fulfilled by His resurrection, by the sending of the Spirit, and especially by the promise of His bodily return to this earth.
2. (19-24) After His departure, Jesus will only be manifested to hearts that love Him and honor His word.
"A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him." Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, "Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?" Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father's who sent Me."
a. You will know . . . he who loves Me . . . who has My commandments: Trusting, loving and obeying Jesus are all dependent on each other.
b. If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word: If we love Jesus, it will be shown in a genuine love for His word - and not a love that just admires His word, but obeys it - keeps His word.
3. (25-27) The departing Jesus leaves two gifts: the Holy Spirit and His peace.
"These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."
a. The Helper . . . Peace I leave with you: Jesus had no fortune to bequeath His followers, but He gives them gifts that can't be bought - the presence of the Holy Spirit and the presence of peace.
i. How many a defeated lives would buy the power of the Holy Spirit if they could? How many distraught souls would buy the peace of Jesus? These can't be bought, but Jesus gives them as gifts to His people.
ii. "All men desire peace, but very few desire those things that make for peace." (Thomas a' Kempis)
b. Let not your heart be troubled: These gifts do not grant us exemption from the storms of life, but promise us the power and the peace to weather any storm.
4. (28-29) Jesus' departure to the Father is a happy thing.
"You have heard Me say to you, 'I am going away and coming back to you.' If you loved Me, you would rejoice because I said, 'I am going to the Father,' for My Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe."
a. If you loved Me, you would rejoice: This was hard for the disciples to believe; but Jesus' departure really was best. It was best for Jesus, best for the disciples, and best for the world. Jesus wants the disciples to realize this, and so says, "If you loved Me, you would rejoice" at His return to God the Father.
b. My Father is greater than I: The Father is greater than the Son in position (particularly regarding the incarnation), not in essence or being. If Jesus were not God in essence, it would be absurd for Him to compare Himself to God in position. In what sense is it any kind of revelation for a mere man, or even an angel, to say, "God is greater than I"?
5. (30-31) Jesus goes forth willingly, not as one who is being overwhelmed by Satan.
"I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me. But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment, so I do. Arise, let us go from here."
a. The ruler of this world . . . has nothing in Me: What an amazing statement! Jesus declares that Satan has absolutely no hook, no foothold, no toehold of deception in Him. Satan isn't pushing Jesus to the cross. Jesus goes in loving obedience to God the Father, and out of love for fallen humanity.