John’s Theme: John 20:31 … these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
Overview of Chapters 14-17
Chapters 14-17 form a unit, possibly all taking place while in the upper room still at supper or shortly thereafter. Or, chapters 15-17 may have been given while in route to the Garden of Gethsemane. The text does not give enough information to know conclusively.
Chapters 14-16 form a single, long discourse by Jesus to his disciples, while chapter 17 is a prayer to God by Jesus both for himself and for his disciples. A general description of each chapter is given below.
- ch 14 Comfort with an emphasis upon the Trinity
- ch 15 Admonition
- ch 16 Prediction
- ch 17 High Priestly Prayer
Section 1: John 14:1 – 11
I. Trust in God and trust in me. I will still take care of you, even though I am leaving. Jesus strongly implies that he is God.
ESV John 14:1 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.
“Troubled” is the same word used of Jesus himself at Lazarus’ death in chapter 11 and Jesus’ announcement that he would be betrayed by one of the twelve in chapter 12. Undoubtedly, Jesus himself, as a man, is still “troubled” in his own heart (witness the prayers and drops of bloody sweat in the Garden), yet here he is tenderly, patiently, and compassionately comforting his disciples.
From Fame to Shame in a single day:
In just one day, the disciples’ world has crashed down upon them utterly.
- The triumphal entry ends disappointingly for the disciples, as Jesus turns away from temporary fame and hides himself from the religious leaders (John 12:36b).
- Jesus announces that one of their own will betray him (implying that he will be handed over to death) (John 13:21).
- When Peter offered to lay down his life for his master, Jesus predicted that Peter would betray him (John 13:38).
Jesus fortifies their faith in chapter 14, so that when the “bad” events (although decreed by God) continue to happen and severe doubts assail the disciples, their faith will not completely collapse.
Antidote to Fear
The antidote to fear, as always in the entire Scripture, is trust in God. Believe, says Jesus. Take hold of your heart and combat your doubts and struggles of faith by believing in God. “Believe also in me.” Be placing belief in God side by side with belief in himself, Jesus is equating himself with God. The religious leaders were right all along–Jesus does claim to be God. This is not blasphemy, however, because as events of the resurrection unfold, ascension, and Pentecost unfold, the disciples do come to see and heartily believe that Jesus is indeed God.
II. I’m leaving to prepare a place for you.
John 14:2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?
Jesus goes to heaven to prepare a place for not only each and every disciple, but also for every believer. There is plenty of room for all where Jesus is going. Jesus prepares the place, while the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus will send after his ascension, prepares the disciples and all believers for the place.
III. I’m coming again–I’ll take you with me.
John 14:3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.
The “coming again” in this verse most likely refers to the Lord’s Second Coming to take all believers to be with him for eternity in his Father’s house (see context of vs 2). “To myself” is the same phrase John uses in 1:1, there translated as “with God.” It means face to face. Believers will once again be very close to Jesus (cf. Revelation 14:1; 19:14; 20:4). Believers today can encourage their hearts in knowing that there will always be a “place” for us right next to Christ, who is in and with the Father.
IV. I’m leaving but I am still the way, and the truth, and the life.
John 14:4 And you know the way to where I am going.”
Christ is going to be with the Father. For Christ, he is going the way of the cross. The disciples, on the other hand, know already that the way to the Father for them is Christ himself. They must go through Christ to get to the Father. Christ is inviting them to come to the Father by belief in himself, whom they know (see John 8:19; 10:1, 7,9, 37, 38; 12:26, 44, 45, 49, 50. See also Hebrews 11:13-16).
Thomas then becomes the spokesperson for the group. His question in verse 5 resembles the Pharisees’ question in John 7:35. Now as then, Thomas was thinking that Jesus would be going somewhere physically on earth. Although Thomas’ question reveals his doubtful, despairing heart, it also reveals his love for Jesus, in that he wants to go with him wherever that might be.
5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”
Jesus’ response in verse 6 is classic and famous:
6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Thomas, as mentioned above, was asking Jesus how they would be able to follow in his way, whereas Jesus answers with the way that the disciples must take.
Verse 6 comprises the last of the seven “I Am” statements in John (Seven I Am Statements in John). Scripture shows that Christ teaches the way (Mark 12:14; Luke 20:21), he guides us in the way (Luke 1:79), he has dedicated for us the new and living way (Hebrews 10:20), and he is the way (John 14:6).
Because Jesus is the way, believers learn that we are not saved by a principle, nor a force, but by a person, which is a specific self-contained consciousness.
The way, the truth and the life–
- the way brings the believer to God
- the truth makes people free
- the life produces fellowship with God and with others who also have Christ’s life in them
7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
Jesus’ further reply to the whole group in verse 7 implies that the disciples do not yet truly know Jesus as well as they could and should. Knowing Jesus is the same as knowing the Father. Had the disciples been listening, paying close attention, and praying the last three years. Jesus states in paraphrase, Now I am telling you clearly–you do see me and therefore you do know the Father.
Bless Philip! He says,
8 Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.”
Philip, haven’t you heard anything at all that Jesus has been saying? Or, are you expecting a visible theophany of the manifestation of God’s glory, like Moses in the cleft of the rock in the desert when God passed by?
9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
Again, what had Jesus been saying, teaching, and doing for the last three years if not manifesting the Father? (See John 1:18; 3:33-36; 5:17, 18 19-32; 6:29, 38, 57; 7:29; 8:16, 19, 28, 29, 42, 54, 55; 10:15, 30 33, 37, 38; 12:45; 13:31.)
“What the disciples lacked, however, was not genuine faith as such but genuine faith in full measure.” (Hendriksen, Vol. 2, 270)
10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works.
Jesus and the Father are one essence, sharing one self-consciousness. How is this comfort?
- Every Jewish person of that day believed in one God, who was creator of everything. They knew God to be the all-powerful one. By making himself to be one with the Father (which the disciples still did not see yet), Jesus is comforting them that he is greater than all opposition, greater than all the adversaries.
- Further, even if he leaves, which he will, the Father is still the same, still with them, still the almighty and powerful one.
- Finally, by Christ’s being in the Father and the Father in Christ, Jesus is saying that he is eternal. Jesus will be alive and well even if he does go away for awhile.
11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.
This section of encouragement ends very much the way it began:
John 14:1 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.
John 14:11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me,…
This time, however, there is only one “believe.” Believing in the Father and believing in Christ are one and the same, because they are one. Jesus is in the Father and the Father in him.
And, to make things super-easy for the disciples if that seems too difficult, Jesus adds, “or else believe on account of the works themselves.” No one could do all the works that Jesus has done before them unless he were God.
“…Believe on account of the works themselves,” is implied evidence for the continuation of miracles today. If Jesus permitted and encouraged the disciples to believe on account of all the miracles that he had done while he was with them, then even more so, why wouldn’t he allow non-believers today to access belief through miracles?
1 Timothy 2:3 …God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
Section 2: John 14:12-24
V. Because Jesus goes to live with the Father, the disciples will do great and greater works. They should pray and ask in Jesus’ name and he will do the works for them.
John 14:12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. 13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.
Paraphrase of vs. 12–If you believe in me [Jesus], then I will continue to supply miracles from heaven. I have the power to do so, even after I am no longer with you. (Jesus and the Father are one.
It is clear from vs. 14 that even today, it will be Christ who performs miracles. Believers are to ask (pray) for “anything” in Jesus’ name (according to Jesus’ character and desires), and he will do it.
The greater works will occur because Jesus is going to the Father. These “greater” works are most likely spiritual in nature, because the spiritual is always more difficult than the material, and the material follows the spiritual.
Matthew 6:10 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
VI. I and the Father will send you another Helper, the Spirit of truth. Knowing this should comfort you now, and when he comes, you will be greatly encouraged and comforted at that time.
John 14:15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.
15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.“
Jesus will not send the Holy Spirit to make his home among and with those who do not love him. And love is evidenced by obedience to Christ’s commandments (John 14:23-24 see below).
When Jesus went to heaven, he prepared the way for sending the Holy Spirit, who works on earth from within the church to perform miracles of belief in peoples’ hearts.
Great conversions of the Gentiles began to occur immediately after the Holy Spirit came on Pentecost day (see the “greater works than these” above in John 14:12).
16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,
Both the Father and the Son–they are one–are involved in sending the Helper, the Holy Spirit. The Father is in the Son, and the Son is in the Father. Therefore, the Holy Spirit represents both of them. He is another Person of the Trinity; he is not different in essence.
This Helper will be with the disciples forever, i.e., with the church composed of the disciples and all believers who come after them. The Helper will never die, nor leave them. This is great encouragement indeed! And, Christ will continue to be their Helper in heaven, while the Holy Spirit will be their Helper on earth. Christ will plead the people’s case with God (Romans 8:34), while the Holy Spirit will continually plead God’s case with people (John 16:8).
17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.
As the Spirit of truth, the Holy Spirit will guide those destined to belief into and within the realm of salvation in Christ. This is because Jesus is “the way, and the truth, and the life.”
The world cannot receive the Holy Spirit, because the world believes the deception of the wicked one. Nor does the world love Christ; nor is it obedient to him. Neither seeing nor knowing the Holy Spirit, the world cannot receive him.
The disciples on the other hand know the Holy Spirit, because he currently lives with them in the Person of Jesus Christ. After Jesus’ departure, he will send the Spirit as Spirit, and the Spirit will live in them and among them.
Alternatively, one can interpret this verse as meaning that when the Holy Spirit comes–at that time, the disciples will know him, because he will dwell with them, by their side, and within them. He will make the church his temple and live there forever.
VII. In that other Helper, I will spiritually return to you, to all who love and obey me, but not to the world.
John 14:18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” 23 Jesus answered 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. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.
In this connected paragraph Jesus repeats some of the elements he has previously stated.
1. Jesus is physically leaving them, but not without provision. They will not be orphans (vs. 18). Context determines that Jesus’ coming again in this verse is in the form of the Holy Spirit, not the Second Coming at the end of the age, as in vs. 3.
Other layers of meaning could imply the Second Coming and also the New Heaven and the New Earth in Revelation.
2. The world will see Jesus no more, but the disciples will see him (vs. 19).
a. The disciples will see Jesus during the 40 days between the resurrection and the ascension. The world did not see him at this time.
b. After Pentecost, the disciples will “see”
–in each other
–in the miracles
–in the conversion of multitudes of Gentiles
–and with the eyes of their living spirits, which will have been resurrected with Christ and sealed with the Holy Spirit
c. Without spiritual belief and love for Christ, the world will see nothing of him after his death on the cross.
3. “In that day”–(vs. 20) the day of Pentecost and beyond–the disciples’ spiritual eyes will continuously be opened to greater and greater understanding by the Holy Spirit. They will see clearly that Christ is in the Father and the Father in Christ.
4. The requirement for receiving the manifestation of Christ will be love. Those who love Christ are those who keep his word. The Father will love those who love Christ and keep his word. Christ will also love these and manifest himself to them, through the Holy Spirit, as implied in prior verses.
5. verse 22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?”
It is as though Judas had stepped out of the room and just returned. He asks Jesus to explain what he has just explained. Nevertheless, Jesus does not grow impatient, but explains in nearly identical words (vss. 23-24) the same concepts all over again.
This should give encouragement to us, who also need to hear the same truths repeated over and over again before they sink in and become real. This is especially true in times of emotional stress, such as that the disciples were just them experiencing.
22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” 23 Jesus answered 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. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.
Notice that the Jewish leaders, who represent the entire Jewish nation, have neither loved nor obeyed Jesus. Therefore, by vss. 23 and 24, they will not receive the Father’s love, nor will the Father and Christ come to make their home with them. From this point forward, the entire Jewish nation, as a political entity on earth, is part of the “world.” There will always be a remnant of believers drawn out from the whole. The disciples and other Jewish believers at that time are part of the remnant.
Nations, such as Rome, are also part of the world.
♦ By announcing to the disciples the coming of the Holy Spirit and by saying to them that the world will no longer see him, Jesus is continuing to announce the Grand Shift from Concrete to Spiritual. From now on, Jesus’ dealings, the Father’s dealings, and the Holy Spirit’s dealings with people will be on a spiritual level only. Jesus has been contrasting the concrete and spiritual throughout his ministry, beginning with his conversations with Nicodemus and the woman at the well. Here, as he is about to leave the world and send the Holy Spirit in his place, he is teaching that the shift from concrete to spiritual will be complete. (This does not mean that concrete miracles will no longer occur.) ♦
Jesus closes this portion by reminding the disciples, as he has many times throughout the entirety of his ministry, that the words he speaks to them are not his words. That is, he is not the originator of what he is saying; the Father is. Jesus speaks the word of the Father.
Section 3: John 14:25-31
VIII. The Holy Spirit will teach and remind them of all that Jesus has been saying.
John 14:25 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you.
26 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 that I have said to you.
Jesus seems to be saying that it will be to the advantage of both the disciples and the Kingdom which they will grow through their witness and mission activities that he go away. While with them, he has told them certain things. He has much more to say which they cannot at that moment bear to receive.
John 16:12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.”
But when Jesus leaves, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in Jesus’ name, will teach them everything they need to know, including those things that Jesus had already told them. The Holy Spirit is like a living Replay button who also adds his own, new material.
IX. Jesus leaves behind the gift of his peace.
John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
The peace Jesus leaves behind and gives is both legal and subjective.
1. Legally, by his death and resurrection from the cross, humankind’s sins have been forgiven. The atonement provides cleansing from sin and application of Christ’s righteousness. This is called justification. Only once in all eternity does humankind as a whole and persons as individuals ever need justification. The cross accomplished all.
2. Subjectively, Jesus gives and makes available to all believers an absence of spiritual unrest, the assurance of salvation, and the loving presence of God in all circumstances. This subjective feeling occurs in individuals and in the church as a collective body of individual believers, as both of these exercise faith in the Father and in Christ and draw from the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit.
The peace of Christ is permanent, durable, and sufficient, because Jesus gives not as the world gives. Paul calls it “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding.” (Philippians 4:7).
Because of this gift of peace, the gift of the Holy Spirit, and Christ’s ongoing presence with the Father, Jesus once again admonishes his disciples, “Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.“
He had said them at the beginning of this discourse in vs. 1, “”Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.”
X. Jesus repeats that he is going to the Father and that their love for him should cause them to rejoice at this.
John 14:28 You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.
It stands to reason that if there is anything at all in Jesus’ departure by death about which to rejoice, then the situation cannot be all that terribly bad. They should be comforted.
The Father in his heavenly divinity is greater than Jesus the man in his earthly tent of sorrowful flesh. Father God is greater than Son of Man in his role as mediator.
John 14:29 And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe. 30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, 31 but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.
Verses 29 through 31 are a conclusion to what Jesus has been saying.
1. The purpose of his foretelling the disciples of his death and separation from them is to strengthen their belief and trust when it actually does occur in a short while.
2. Although Jesus knows that Satan is coming to attack him (even now Judas may be talking to the high priests and they may be on their way with soldiers to arrest him), he also has the bold confidence to know for a certainty that Satan has no claim on him.
3. It is the Father’s fore plan and purpose that Christ should suffer just as he has all along and is about to even more.
4. By Jesus’ behavior, the world will know that he loves the Father.
5. It’s time to get ready to leave.