SS Lesson for 07/31/2022
Devotional Scripture: Eph 2:13-22
By one estimate, there are over 100 million people in the world who face the harsh reality of being orphans. War, famine, and disease have no respect for the plight of children stripped of their parents. Such children have little hope unless someone steps in to help. They feel—and often literally are—abandoned (Lamentations 5:3). For most of three years, Jesus had been the constant companion of his chosen 12. They had left everything to follow him. But he was about to leave. What would the sheep do if they were abandoned by their shepherd? Jesus revealed God to humanity. Jesus was the Word who “was God”; he was the Word who “became flesh” (John 1:1). He was the Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world (1:29). As the Gospel of John progresses, we see an increasing emphasis on Jesus’ divine nature. He was accused of “making himself equal with God” (5:18). He exhibited power to raise the dead and authority to pronounce judgment (5:21–22). He said, “I and the Father are one” (10:30). His miracles proved the truth of his claims (10:36–38). The climax of Jesus’ claims came in an upper room in the week before his death. There Jesus told his disciples that no one could come to the Father except through him (John 14:6). More stunningly, he declared, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (14:9). Truly God was present with his people! But Jesus also had an unpleasant shock for his disciples that night: he was leaving. Just when they were realizing that they had God’s presence in their midst, it seemed that they were about to lose it! It was in this setting that Jesus promised to send another: the Holy Spirit. From the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry, the Spirit had had an active role (see John 1:32; 3:5; 4:24; etc.), and Jesus promised that one day the Spirit would be granted to all believers (7:39). On that Thursday night in the upper room, Jesus made final preparations for that to be possible.
And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever
The disciples were completely bewildered and discouraged. Jesus had said He was going away (7:34; 8:21; 12:8, 35; 13:33), that He would die (12:32-33), that one of the Twelve was a traitor (13:21), that Peter would disown Him three times (13:38), that Satan was at work against all of them (Luke 22:31-32), and that all the disciples would fall away (Matt. 26:31). The cumulative weight of these revelations must have greatly depressed them.
14:1-2. To comfort the disciples, Jesus gave them several exhortations along with promises. Do not let your hearts be troubled, He said. “Troubled” is tarassesthō4 (“stirred, agitated”) from the same verb translated “troubled” in 11:33; 13:21; 14:27. One’s heart is the center of his personality. Each believer is responsible for the condition of his heart (cf. Prov. 3:1, 3, 5; 4:23; 20:9). By a firm trust in God the Father and Jesus the Son, they could relieve their soul-sorrow and be sustained in their coming tests. When Jesus said, Trust in God; trust also in Me, He was probably giving commands, not making statements (see niv marg.). Death should not be a terror to them because Jesus was leaving to prepare a place for them in heaven, the Father’s house.
14:3-4. I will come back refers here, not to the Resurrection or to a believer’s death, but to the Rapture of the church when Christ will return for His sheep (cf. 1 Thes. 4:13-18) and they will be with Him (cf. John 17:24). Jesus said nothing about the nature of the place where He was going. It is sufficient that believers will be with the Father and Jesus (cf. 2 Cor. 5:8; Phil. 1:23; 1 Thes. 4:17). The disciples knew how to get to heaven. He told them, You know the way to the place where I am going. Throughout His ministry, Jesus had been showing them the way, but as Thomas indicated (John 14:5), they did not fully understand.
14:5-6. Thomas’ statement (We don’t know where You are going) and his question (So how can we know the way?) reflected the perplexity of the Eleven (cf. Peter’s similar question; 13:36). They would remain puzzled until His death and resurrection and until the advent of the Spirit. They had all the information but they could not put it together. Jesus’ words, I am the Way and the Truth and the Life, are the sixth of Jesus’ seven “I am” statements in the Gospel of John (6:48; 8:12; 10:9, 11; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1). Jesus is the “Way” because He is the “Truth” and the “Life.” As the Father is Truth and Life, Jesus is the embodiment of God so people can come to the Father (cf. 1:4, 14, 18; 11:25). By His words, No one comes to the Father except through Me, Jesus stressed that salvation, contrary to what many people think, is not obtainable through many ways. Only one Way exists (cf. Acts 4:12; 1 Tim. 2:5). Jesus is the only access to the Father because He is the only One from the Father (cf. John 1:1-2, 51; 3:13).
14:7. The first sentence in this verse may either be a promise (“If you really knew Me, you will know My Father as well”) or a rebuke (If you really knew Me, you would know My Father as well). The Lord seems to be rebuking them for a failure to understand His person and mission (cf. 8:19). The following dialogue (14:8-9) indicates a failure on the disciples’ part. From now on, you do know Him is a promise, which looks beyond the Cross and the Resurrection (cf. 20:28, “My Lord and my God”).
14:8-9. Philip expressed a universal desire of mankind: to see God (cf. Ex. 33:18). In a perverted form this desire leads to idolatry. Philip was probably longing for a theophany (cf. Ex. 24:9-10; Isa. 6:1) or some visible display of God’s glory. Jesus’ statement, Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father (cf. John 12:45), is one of the most staggering claims He ever made. The Father is in Jesus and Jesus perfectly reveals Him (1:18). Hence no theophany was necessary, for by seeing Jesus they were seeing the Father!
14:10-11. The proof of the union of Jesus and His Father is threefold. They should believe Jesus (a) because of His character (I am in the Father [cf. v. 20] and... the Father is in Me); (b) because His words are the Father’s (The words I say to you are not just My own (cf. 7:16; 12:49-50; 14:24); and (c) because the miracles reveal God’s working through Him (the Father, living in Me... is doing His work.... believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves; cf. 5:36). One of the key elements in John’s Gospel is the stress on the signs as gracious pointers to faith (cf. 5:36; 10:25, 38; 11:47; 12:37; 20:30-31).
14:12-14. The apostles would not necessarily do more stupendous miracles than Jesus did (e.g., feeding 5,000) but their outreach would be greater (e.g., Peter in one sermon had 3,000 converts). This was possible because Jesus had gone to the Father and had sent the Spirit. Miracles are important, but some evangelists have done even greater things than these by preaching the good news to many thousands of people. In My name (vv. 13-14) is not a magical formula of invocation. But the prayers of believers, as Christ’s representatives doing His business, will be answered. John expanded this teaching in his first epistle. He wrote, “If we ask anything according to His will... we have what we asked of Him” (1 John 5:14-15). To ask Me for anything in My name means to ask according to His will (cf. “in My name” in John 15:16; 16:23-24, 26). The word “Me” is omitted in some Greek manuscripts but it is probably correct here. Prayers in the New Testament are usually addressed to God the Father, but prayer addressed to the Son is proper also (e.g., Stephen’s prayer to the “Lord Jesus” [Acts 7:59]). The goal of answered prayers is to bring glory to the Father. Also bearing fruit glorifies the Father (John 15:8).
14:15. The disciples’ love for Christ is revealed in their obeying His commands (cf. vv. 21, 23; 1 John 2:3; 3:22, 24; 5:3). Christ has set the pattern of love and obedience (John 14:31); His disciples are expected to follow (13:15-16).
14:16-17. This is the first of several passages on the Holy Spirit in the Upper Room Discourse. Up to this point in John’s Gospel, little has been said about the Holy Spirit. The words to Nicodemus (3:5-8) were private and 7:39 pointed ahead to Pentecost. The Holy Spirit is to be the Counselor (paraklētos; also used in 14:26; 15:26; 16:7; 16:7). In a sense He has now replaced Jesus’ physical presence; and He mediates God to believers. The Spirit is in a believer forever (cf. Rom. 8:9). He is also the Spirit of Truth (lit., “Spirit of the truth”; cf. John 15:26; 16:13) and thus would guide the apostles. He is invisible (the world cannot accept Him because it neither sees Him nor knows Him), yet He is real and active. Without a radio, radio waves go unnoticed. The Holy Spirit is unnoticed by the unsaved who have no spiritual life. The disciples had some experience with the Spirit (doubtless in preaching and miracle-working) but now His working would be much more intimate. Why did Jesus say that the Holy Spirit will be (fut. tense) in them? Because in Old Testament times the Spirit came on some believers for special enablement, but after Pentecost He indwells every believer permanently (Rom. 8:9; 1 Cor. 12:13).
14:18-19. What did Jesus mean when He said, I will come to you? Was He referring to (1) His resurrection, (2) the Rapture, (3) the death of a believer, (4) a mystical experience, or (5) the Holy Spirit’s coming at Pentecost? Views 1 and 5 seem best. Verse 19 favors view 1 since the disciples did see Him after His resurrection. His resurrection is also the pledge of their resurrection (Because I live, you also will live; cf. 1 Cor. 15:20-21) and the foundation of a new life.
14:20-21. On that day refers to the day of Pentecost when the outpoured Spirit gave evidence of Jesus’ Ascension to the Father. (Some, however, take the “day” to refer to Jesus’ resurrection, the basis for believers’ assurance.) The Spirit would come into believers (v. 17), and would teach them of their union with Jesus (you are in Me, and I am in you) while He manifested Christ in them. Christian love is manifested as a believer obeys the Lord’s words (cf. vv. 15, 23). The rewards of loving Him are great: (a) the Father will show His love to him (cf. v. 23), and (b) the Son will love him and show Himself to him. This passage does not teach a “works” religion, but rather that one who believes and obeys Christ’s Word is loved by the Lord. Saving faith results in obedience (cf. “the obedience that comes from faith,” Rom. 1:5).
14:23-24. Jesus answered that He and the Father will not manifest themselves to those who are disobedient to His teaching. Obedience grows out of love for Jesus and His Word (cf. vv. 15, 21; 1 John 2:3; 3:22, 24; 5:3). And as a result, the Father and the Son abide (make Our home) with him. “Home” is monēn, the singular of plural monai, translated “rooms” in John 14:1. This word occurs in the New Testament only in those two verses. To rebel against Jesus’ word is to rebel against God the Father who sent Him. Jesus’ words were not His own, as He had said previously (12:49; 14:10).
14:25-26. What Jesus said in the days of His earthly ministry was only partially understood. Three things were needed for the apostles to understand Jesus’ person and mission: (1) His death had to occur. (2) He had to rise again to vindicate His claim and demonstrate His victory. (3) The Spirit had to come (He would be sent by the Father... in My name, i.e., in Jesus’ place and for Him) and interpret the meanings of Jesus’ words and deeds. The Spirit, Jesus said, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. This verse is addressed to the apostles. The context limits the “all things” to the interpretation and significance of His person and work. The Spirit worked in their minds, reminding them of His teaching and giving them insight into its meaning (cf. 2:22; 7:39; 20:9).
14:27. In New Testament times the normal way to say good-bye was Peace (šālôm in Heb.). In His death Jesus provided a legacy for His disciples: My peace I give you. They would have “peace with God” (Rom. 5:1) because their sins were forgiven and the “peace of God” (Phil. 4:7) would guard their lives. The world is unable to give this kind of peace. Fear of death (Heb. 2:14-15) and fear of the future are removed as Jesus’ followers trust in Him. Thus they need not be troubled (cf. John 11:33; 13:21; 14:1).
14:28. If the disciples had been more mature in their love for Jesus, they would have been glad for His departure. But their love was still selfish at this point. Jesus was in His humiliation on earth, but by going back to the Father He would be exalted in glory (cf. 13:31-32) and He will come back (cf. 14:3). Arians and Jehovah’s Witnesses argue from the statement, The Father is greater than I, that Jesus is a lesser god. But this would make Jesus a created being or would lead to polytheism, both of which are clearly unbiblical. The Father and the Son share the same essence (cf. 1:1-2; 14:9; 20:28). The Father and the Son are “One” in purpose and essence (10:30). Thus the Father is greater in office or glory than the Son was in His humiliation.
14:29-31. Fulfilled prophecy is a great comfort and support to believers (cf. Isa. 46:8-10). Jesus had predicted His death and resurrection many times (e.g., Mark 8:31-32; 9:31). When this came to pass, after their initial shock, it would greatly help their faith. His teaching time was now limited because Satan, the prince of this world (cf. John 12:31; 16:11), was moving his forces against Jesus through Judas (cf. 13:2, 27). And yet Satan had no hold on Jesus. Sin leads to death (Rom. 5:12, 21a; 6:16), and sin and death give Satan a hold over people (cf. Heb. 2:14-15; Rev. 12:10). But since Jesus is sinless, Satan cannot claim Him for his kingdom of darkness. Satan thought Jesus’ death was a victory for him, but actually it was Jesus’ victory over Satan (John 16:11; Col. 2:15). Because Jesus loves the Father, He did exactly what the Father... commanded (cf. John 10:18; 12:49-50) including being “obedient to death” (Phil. 2:8). Then He said, Come now; let us leave. Jesus had been with the disciples in the Upper Room. He now prepared to go to the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives. Whether Jesus’ words in John 15-17 were spoken in the room or on the way to the garden is uncertain, but probably they were given in the room.
15 "If you love Me, keep My commandments.
16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever--
17 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.
6 "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter — when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? 8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. 9 Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. "If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
22 But Samuel replied: "Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up."
16 Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey — whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?
8 Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered
6 And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.
19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;
27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.
11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.
13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.
16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
13 We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.
7 Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading though it was, 8 will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? 9 If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! 10 For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. 11 And if what was fading away came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!
8 For God, who was at work in the ministry of Peter as an apostle to the Jews, was also at work in my ministry as an apostle to the Gentiles.
4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power.
3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 6 And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.
16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,
5 because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake.
18 I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.
19 "A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also.
20 At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.
21 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."
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 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.
24 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.
23 "Am I only a God nearby," declares the Lord, "and not a God far away? 24 Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him?" declares the Lord. "Do not I fill heaven and earth?" declares the Lord.
27 "But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!
38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
15 Then Moses said to him, "If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. 16 How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?"
7 Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? 8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. 9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, 10 even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. 11 If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me," 12 even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.
5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."
22 For the sake of his great name the Lord will not reject his people, because the Lord was pleased to make you his own.
25 I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.
10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.
2 a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time,
7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.
16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
24 "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.
39 You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life.
12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
68 Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.
5 For in him you have been enriched in every way — in all your speaking and in all your knowledge—
6 For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
9 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ — to the glory and praise of God.
2 My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
3 Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
12 Wisdom is a shelter as money is a shelter, but the advantage of knowledge is this: that wisdom preserves the life of its possessor.
24 "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy."
15 "If you love me, you will obey what I command.
58 Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
2 who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance.
12 Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation — but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, 14 because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
25 "These things I have spoken to you while being present 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 things that I said to you.
The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.
26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will.
Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus.
As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit-- just as it has taught you, remain in him.
36 Put your trust in the light while you have it, so that you may become sons of light." When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them.
30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?"
16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge — that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, 20 which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.
45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.
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 heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
28 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.
29 "And now I have told you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe.
1 Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him. 2 Praise the Lord with the harp; make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre. 3 Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy.
10 I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
17 Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, 18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. 19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights. For the director of music. On my stringed instruments.
6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that your faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,
10 (and for this we labor and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe.
21 But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
There is enough material in these verses to keep a preacher going for a long time. It will take all eternity to plumb the depths of these words, so I will not attempt to do so here—as though I could. Instead, I would like to try to capture the main point which unifies the entire passage and constitutes the principle argument John is seeking to develop in chapter 14. That will make sense of the whole text and help us plug in some of the details as we continue to study this great text in the days and years to come.
Philip’s question contains the key to this text, in my opinion: “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be content.” Philip is basing his request on the premise that “seeing is believing.” If they could but see the Father, then they would believe all that Jesus has told them about the Father, and then they could have peace of mind. Jesus is going to turn this reasoning inside-out. He is going to say that it is not “seeing that leads to believing,” but rather it is “believing the leads to seeing.” Believing is seeing. It is to those who believe in Jesus to whom He reveals Himself (verse 21). Let us attempt to trace the argument as John sets it out.
Philip asks Jesus to “show them” the Father, so that they can believe. Jesus begins with a gentle rebuke. Has He been with His disciples all this time, without Philip really coming to know Him? If he had known Him as he should, he would not be asking Jesus to show them the Father. They should have known that to see and know Jesus is to know the Father. He and the Father are intimately connected. The Father dwells in Him, as He dwells in the Father. To know one is to know the other. To reject one is to reject the other.
The words that Jesus has spoken to them have been the Father’s words. I am reminded of the opening words of this great Gospel:
14 Now the Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We saw his glory—the glory of the one and only full of grace and truth, who came from the Father. 15 John testified about him and cried out, “This one was the one about whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is greater than I am, because he existed before me.’” 16 For we have all received from his fullness one gracious gift after another. 17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came about through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God. The only One, himself God, who is in the presence of the Father, has made God known (John 1:14-18, emphasis mine).
Jesus was the Logos, the Word. He did not speak independently of the Father. He spoke the words which the Father gave Him to speak (John 8:26, 28, 38; 12:49-50). The disciples should have believed His words because they were the words of the Father; they were the truth. But if this was too much for them to do, they should believe His words because of His works. They are the Father’s testimony that Jesus is the Son, and that He speaks for the Father.
These miraculous works which God has accomplished in Jesus are not the greatest works that men will see. Those who believe in Jesus will do even greater works. The basis for these greater works is the Lord’s presence and ministry in heaven. Once again, we see that it is better for the disciples that Jesus leave them behind for a time, because His absence makes possible the “greater works” of the disciples. Whatever they ask in His name, the Father will do in order to glorify Himself through the Son.
Jesus gave sight to a man born blind. He made the lame walk. He raised the dead. Just what would the disciples do that was greater? First, I would think the miracles which the apostles and the early church performed would be greater in number than those done by our Lord, in the three short years He ministered to men on this earth. Second, the miracles were greater in their outworking. Jesus healed the paralytic in John 5, but like many others He healed, this man was not saved as a result. The saving of a lost sinner, the transfer of one from death to life, and from darkness to light, is the greatest miracle of all. What a miracle a transformed life is! Such were the miracles about to take place through the disciples and their preaching. Third, I believe the miracles God accomplished through the disciples were greater because of those whom God used to achieve them. Are we surprised that the Lord Jesus Christ could heal the sick or raise the dead? We shouldn’t be. The wonder is that God empowered men like Peter and John to heal the sick and even to raise the dead.
The Lord’s statements in verses 12-14 are often twisted by those who insist that there must be miracles and signs today.32 They wish to hear our Lord assuring them that anything they ask will be granted, if the request is but made in Jesus’ name. They insist that miracles like those accomplished by our Lord (and even greater ones) should be expected today. The purpose of the miracles our Lord promises is not the glorification of the men God uses to accomplish them; the purpose is to bring glory to Himself (verse 13). He is not obliged to grant us every selfish request we might make (see James 4:1-3).
Jesus is not encouraging His disciples to become miracle-workers here. In fact, He is doing the opposite. He is urging His disciples to believe His words, because they are the Father’s words. If they must have added verification, let them take note of His miraculous works as the Father’s accreditation and approval of His teaching. The “high road” is to simply believe in what Jesus has said. The “lower road” is to believe what He has said because of the miracles He has done. Let us not twist this text and our Lord’s words to promote miracles, signs, and wonders, when Jesus speaks of sign-faith as second-class faith (see also John 2:23-25). Soon, Jesus will be speaking these words to Thomas, who must see in order to believe:
24 Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he replied, “Unless I see the wounds from the nails in his hands, and put my finger into the wounds from the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will never believe it!” 26 Eight days later the disciples were again together in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and examine my hands. Extend your hand and put it into my side. Do not continue in your unbelief, but believe.” 28 Thomas replied, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are the people who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:24-29).
Ideally, it is not “seeing” that should result in believing, but believing that should result in seeing. Philip would like to see (some dramatic revelation of the Father, some theophany), so that he might believe, and so that his mind can be at ease. Jesus urges Philip to believe His words, if necessary because of His works. Verses 15-21 spell out the “high road” for Philip and for every follower of Jesus Christ.
Those who love the Lord Jesus should eagerly seek to obey His commandments—His Word. Having trusted in Him and having obeyed His commandments, Jesus will request that the Father send “another Advocate” who will be with them forever. He is an “Advocate,” a “Helper” like our Lord. He is not an “Advocate” of a different kind, but an “Advocate” of the same kind, an “Advocate” like Jesus.33 The difference is that this “Advocate” will be with them forever. When He comes, He will not leave them. In order for Him to come, to be sent to them, Jesus must first go away. He will ask the Father, who will send the Holy Spirit to be with them—forever. He will not only dwell among them, He will indwell them. He is called the “Spirit of truth.” It is He who will call our Lord’s teaching to their remembrance. It is He who will cause all that once confused them to become clear. It is He who will transform them into bold witnesses who proclaim the gospel in the face of great opposition.
The Lord is leaving this world, and He is leaving His disciples behind, at least for a time. But Jesus is not abandoning His disciples as though they were orphans (verse 18). These are those whom He regards as His “little children” (13:33). When He ascends to the Father, the world will see Him no longer. This is not a detriment to the gospel, but a witness to the righteousness of Jesus Christ (see 16:8, 10). While the world will not “see” Him, His disciples will. This “seeing” is not with one’s physical eyes, but with the eyes of faith. They will “see” Him by faith. It is then that they will grasp the unity of the Father, the Son, and the sons of God. It is those who love God and who keep His commandments whom God will love, and to whom the Lord Jesus will reveal Himself (verse 21). Believing and obeying (the Word of God) results in seeing.
There is yet one more question to be asked, this time by Judas. This is not Judas Iscariot, who betrayed the Lord, but another Judas (verse 22). He understands Jesus to say that henceforth He will reveal Himself to His disciples, but not to the world. Judas questions Jesus as to what has happened, what has gone wrong, to produce this change. What has changed so that Jesus will no longer reveal Himself to the world, but only to His disciples?
I believe that Judas, like his fellow-disciples, was wrong. Jesus did promise to reveal Himself to His disciples. He made it clear that “the world” would not see Him any longer. But Judas was wrong to assume that Jesus had given up on all but His handful of disciples. Jesus means that He will no longer reveal Himself physically and visibly to the world, just as He will no longer be (literally) seen by His disciples. Jesus will continue to reveal Himself to the world in the same way He reveals Himself to His disciples—through His Word. Through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, Jesus’ words to His disciples will be remembered and recorded in the Gospels. This gospel will be proclaimed throughout the world. Anyone who loves Jesus and keeps His commandments will enjoy the Lord’s dwelling among and within them through His Spirit, just as His disciples will (verse 23). Those who reject His Word do not love Him, nor do they keep His commandments. In rejecting the words of our Lord, they reject the words of the Father. In so doing they reject both the Father and the Son.
These words have been spoken by our Lord to the disciples, but they have not been understood. When Jesus leaves this earth and returns to His Father in heaven, the Holy Spirit will be sent by the Father in the name of the Son. He will teach the disciples what they are to proclaim to the world, and by means of this teaching, some will believe, obey, and “see” Jesus.
The final verses of this chapter (27-31) return to the peace which our Lord gives, which will keep their hearts and minds so that they need not be distressed by His absence. He gives them peace, but it is not a peace like the world offers. It is not a peace rooted in what is seen. It is a peace based upon what is unseen, upon what is said by our Lord, who is “the way, the truth, and the life.” They heard Him say that He was leaving, but these words should bring them great joy. He is leaving them to go to the Father, who is even greater34 than He (verse 28). Having died on the cross of Calvary, and having been raised from the dead, it is from heaven that our Lord can be of the greatest help and comfort to His disciples. He can, and will, be their Intercessor with the Father. And, from heaven, the Father and the Son will be glorified, as they accomplish great things through the disciples.
Our Lord’s words are the basis for men’s faith and comfort. Jesus is telling His disciples all these things, not because they will immediately understand them and find comfort in them, but because they will remember that He told them all these things before they took place. Our Lord’s words to His disciples here are actually prophecy. When His prophetic words are fulfilled, the faith of the disciples will be greatly strengthened. If the things He promised in the near future are fulfilled, then surely His promises about heaven are sure and certain as well. There is little time left for Jesus to say more, because Satan is drawing near in the person of Judas Iscariot and the religious leaders, who are seeking to arrest Him. But in what He is doing, Jesus is Himself obeying the command He has been given by the Father. In doing this, the world will know (if not now, in the future) that He loves the Father.
Jesus now says to His disciples, “Get up, let us go from here.” Jesus does not wish to stay too long in any one place. Is Judas leading the Jewish authorities to this Upper Room at this very moment? It could be. Jesus may therefore have directed His disciples to leave that place, so that they can continue their conversation elsewhere—somewhere Judas cannot find them until it is His “time.” Once again, Jesus is in full control of the situation. He will not be arrested or put to death until it is “His time.”
The disciples in the upper room were startled, even frightened, to hear that their shepherd was going to leave them. Their lack of understanding was still evident at the empty tomb (John 20:9) and again at the ascension (Acts 1:6). But was their Lord going to abandon them? Never! One of the most precious promises in the Bible, stated in both the Old and New Testaments, is God’s promise not to abandon his people (see Joshua 1:5; Hebrews 13:5). Even though we “walk through the darkest valley,” our shepherd is with us (Psalm 23:4). We are not forsaken. As we are reminded each Christmas season, one of the names of Jesus is Immanuel, which means “God with us” (Isaiah 7:14; 8:8; Matthew 1:23). That truth becomes real for believers in every generation. Because we have the divine presence of the Holy Spirit, we are never abandoned.
Departing - Jesus' conversations with His disciples about leaving the Earth and returning Heaven caused them great sadness. He attempted to assure them of His continued presence with them through the Person of the Holy Spirit.
Reassuring - How could these men show their love to Christ after so many demonstrations of His affection toward them? Jesus answered their thoughts by saying the one who truly loves Him will demonstrate it by obedience and following Jesus' example. But with Jesus returning to heaven, how would that be possible? Jesus told His disciples not to worry. God never leaves His children to wander around as parentless kids without protection and guidance. God expects believers to obey Him, but He didn't ask them to do it independently, only on their own human abilities. The Holy Spirit walks alongside believers to empower them. In a world filled with deceitfulness and lies, the Holy Spirit brings truth about the world and about ourselves.
Promising - Jesus promises the Counselor, the Person of the Holy Spirit will be with believers. The Holy Spirit is a person, not an "it." He has the same character and mind as Jesus, and He comes to live "in" the believer. The believer is never as alone as he or she feels. Jesus is here! With the help of the Spirit, those who truly love God demonstrate it by obedience. The Holy Spirit will also teach and remind believers of Christ's teachings.
Presence - Jesus had no material riches to leave to His disciples, but He offered them His presence through the Holy Spirit—a true help despite the stormy days ahead. Peace does not mean an absence of trouble or challenges, but it does mean when the world is crumbling around, inexplicably you find yourself not toiling or spinning. In this world, Christians will encounter trouble, but God's children are never alone.