Read John 14: 1-6
1 ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.’
5 Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?’
Jesus didn’t want to concentrate on the fact that he would die, rather on what would happen next:
What would happen next?
Resurrection, sit at God’s right hand etc., but also ‘prepare a place for you’.
What these ‘rooms’ might be we can only guess – but we read in 1 Corinthians 2:9 ‘Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.’ (King James Bible "Authorized Version", Cambridge Edition)
More importantly, Jesus will return and take us to where he is. So how do we get there? – Put our trust in Jesus, and become a Christian!
Do you feel for Thomas (v5)?
It is almost impossible for non-Christians to understand what it is to be Christian, until they too are converted and it then all makes sense. The early Christians, while Jesus was still alive, could not fully understand until after Pentecost when they were filled with the Holy Spirit.
6 Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
This is an amazing verse and it needs unpacking:
I am the way . . . No one comes to the Father except through me.
There are many religions and philosophies and people may or may not believe them, but there is one undeniable fact: everyone will eventually die. Many believe that following that, they will be ushered into God’s presence. According to God’s word it is also a fact that everyone else will, too!
But it is at that point that people’s hopes may be at variance with what God’s word has clearly explained:
The world generally rejects the salvation that Jesus offers and hopes there is some other way – but there isn’t. If there were the death of Jesus would have been unnecessary.
Do you believe this? It’s the truth –
I am the truth
Jesus – God the Son – cannot lie. He is sinless; his nature is truth. Truth is the opposite of error, lies and falsehood. Today many philosophies say ‘there is no truth’ but if that is so we can therefore happily dismiss what they teach – as that too must be a lie.
(This website http://www.gotquestions.org/what-is-truth.html could be useful)
Jesus is also hinting that if he is the TRUTH, there could be someone who is the LIE: John 8:44 ‘You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies’.
I am the Life
We saw in Chapter 1 that Jesus was the creator who brought life and light to the world. Now Jesus confirms he brings new life and light to those who trust in him. Accepting or rejecting Jesus is choosing between life or death.
Now verse 7:
If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.’
God is spirit, and so cannot be known in the same way that the disciples knew Jesus. Once Jesus had returned to the Father, their understanding of who Jesus was would be transformed from the physical realm to the spiritual. Then they would find that what they had understood of the nature of Jesus was actually the nature of God himself.
But for now Philip just couldn’t grasp it.
8 Philip said, ‘Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.’
9 Jesus answered: ‘Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father”? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.
Jesus was trying to explain that there was actually no distinction between God the Father and God the Son. Jesus was the physical manifestation of the Father, separate yet the same. Jesus was so at one with the Father that every word, every action was that of the Father himself.
11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me;
or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.
Why were miracles (works) important? Did Jesus really need to do any miracles?
Jesus said that the Father was in him, and working through him. But we know now that as Christians we have Jesus living in us (Galatians 2:20) by his Holy Spirit (See John 15c study), and so:
12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
(Take time over this next section)
Believers have the son (and therefore the Father) living in them (John 14:20, 23) and so we become instruments for God to use – just as God used his Son while he was on earth. Not for our own benefit or glory, but for similar outcomes to those we just looked at in verse 11. It is when God uses us, when our actions are ‘in my name’ that we sometimes see miracles happen!
It seems that Jesus’ teaching is:
Do we sometimes expect Jesus to be in complete agreement with our will and be obedient to us? (The study in John 15i looks at unanswered prayer)
It is Jesus, living in us, who is doing his work – look again at the last part of verse 10.
Personally I believe that God will take the initiative, and we simply have to be obedient. Some would argue that we have to be ‘in the right spiritual condition’ but that is limiting God: he can use whoever he chooses. I also believe that this is not an open invitation to have every prayer answered simply by tagging ‘in Jesus’ name’ on the end!
It may well be appropriate to invite discussion at this point.
15 ‘If you love me, keep my commands’.
Jesus had just said ‘I will do whatever you ask’ – now the tables are turned and Jesus effectively says ‘so you do whatever I ask’.
Do we need to list the commands of Jesus? No, that’s not how it works! In verse 12 Jesus had said ‘whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing’ so Jesus may be saying ‘If you love me, you will keep my commandments’ (RSV). We will come back to this in a moment.
16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you for ever – 17 the Spirit of truth.
The word Advocate has also been translated ‘Counsellor’, ‘Comforter’, or ‘Helper’, – the thesaurus also suggests ‘Supporter’, ‘Backer’, or ‘Promoter’. The sense behind these words is precisely that of a father to his children. In whatever way they need help, the father willingly provides it, while at the same time encouraging his children and leading them into making right choices for themselves.
Here, in The Spirit, we have the third person of the Godhead: where Jesus was God in the flesh, here is God in the spirit. Jesus had fulfilled the roles we had just mentioned while he was on earth, but now as Jesus was about to leave his Disciples, the Holy Spirit will be sent to take over the role of helper, and he will be with us forever.
Why did Jesus emphasize ‘the Spirit of Truth’? (v17)
In 1 John 5:6 we are told ‘The Spirit is truth’ and in John 16:13 ‘But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the 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.’
Jesus had just said in verse 6 ‘I am the truth’ and he could say that because he is God. So too is the Holy Spirit, and living in us he can be relied on to guide us instinctively to recognise right and wrong.
But he too can only work under the direction of God the Father, but that means that he then is also able to use us in a prophetic ministry if he so chooses.
17(b) The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me any more, but you will see me.
Only those who have given their lives to Jesus in repentance and faith will have Jesus living in them by his Spirit. After the crucifixion, those who don’t know Jesus in this way will assume that he is dead and gone, Christians will know he is alive and living in them!
Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realise that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.
‘on that day’ remember that the crucifixion would take place on the next day and the resurrection was only three days away.
21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.’
This is a rephrasing of verse 15: ‘If you love me, keep my commands’ but Jesus now adds ‘and my Father and I will love you’
22 Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, ‘But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?’
23 Jesus replied, ‘Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.
Judas had still not grasped the difference between ‘the world’, and ‘believers’ (v17). What is the difference?
25 ‘All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
Another thing that has been proved by many is the way the Holy Spirit can place scriptures in our minds when they are needed! This is not because we have superior memories (I certainly don’t have) but I am often reminded of, or led to, appropriate scriptures at just the right time.
27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
Another quality of Jesus which the Spirit brings is his own peace. Not the ‘shalom’ of the world, simply used as a greeting, but a true peace which passes understanding (Philippians 4:7). Because of who he was, Jesus was at peace in his own being, and as we have Christ in us, so we can have his peace.
Is that true? What troubles us or makes us afraid? Why is that?
It is possible that we are not at peace with God, with ourselves, or with someone else? Any of these can cause our peace to suffer, and needs to be put right before our peace can be restored. There are also situations where persecuted Christians live in constant fear. For them, their only peace comes from the certain knowledge that their eternal destiny is secure. It is not wrong to be afraid of dying, it is a natural instinct; however, Christians should not fear death itself, it is only the next stage in our life!
28 ‘You heard me say, “I am going away and I am coming back to you.” If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe.
‘if you loved me’ Again Jesus repeats the phrase – only those who love him, who have him living in them, can understand the need for his death and resurrection.
30 I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold over me, 31 but he comes so that the world may learn that I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me.
‘Come now; let us leave.’
Jesus was aware that the devil himself would be present for the final hateful act; thinking that he at last had killed God’s son and that he had triumphed.
Jesus knew that the world would eventually understand that God himself had planned this, and that it would actually be his victory, and that it was a victory of love.
This would appear to be the end of Christ’s teaching to his Disciples as they moved out of the upper room, but there is more to follow, presumably given once they had arrived in the Garden of Gethsemane.
The next study – Chapter 15, contains a lot – it occupies thirteen studies as a series on ‘I am the Vine’. You may want to skim it if you want to get to the end of the book in a reasonable time! If you are not in a rush I believe it is worth studying it in depth.