The five chapters John 13-14 may be considered as the constitution/manifesto of the church. In these five chapters, Jesus commissions his community – the first church of 11 members/disciples. This is part 2 in the series on the farewell discourse of Jesus. In Part 1, we have discussed John 13. This article covers John Chapter 14.
In John 13:34-35, Jesus says: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.”
In John 15:9, Jesus says “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.”
Essentially, Jesus was comparing the love/relationship in the Trinity with the love/relationships among the followers. John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world ..”. It is not as if God has learned to love only after creating the world. God is love before the creation of the world (in Trinity). God is sharing that relationship with us. In the same way, the love within the church comes first. That pre-existing love is shared/extended as the love of the church towards the lost and hurting world.
One of the first course corrections we have to make as the body of Christ is to realize that the true mark of a disciple is the ability and the quality of our love/relationships with one another.
Three promises of Jesus in John Chapter 14
The disciple’s hearts are troubled as Jesus is telling them that he is going away. We see three promises made by Jesus in Chapter 14:
- He will come again and be with them – will come back in the person of the Holy Spirit (v3, v18, v19, 28)
- promise that they will have power as Jesus had and that they will conduct his works as he conducted the Father’s works (v12)
- that they are authorized to speak and pray in Jesus’ name and God will honor that (v13, v14)
How did Jesus come back to be with disciples?
They lost Jesus’ physical presence but gained a permanent presence. He lived alongside them till then, now he will live inside of them. Jesus was saying that he will be closer to them than in his incarnate state. His spirit will be in them (not just with them). That’s good because his spirit is now in all the followers.
We can become dwelling places of God when the Helper comes.
Roman 8:9-10 says: “However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.”
We see that the “Spirit of God” is synonymous with “Spirit of Christ”. Christ is in you, means the Holy Spirit is in you. Christ is in you through the spirit of Christ, the holy spirit, the spirit of God. Christ’s spirit (Holy Spirit) dwells in you.
John 14:6: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”
The place where Jesus is going is not a destination but a person – Father.
The way to that place is not a road but a person, Jesus himself.
Coming to Father does not mean dying and going to heaven. We come to union with the Father through a relationship with Jesus. We don’t have to go to heaven to be with Father. He will come to you.
Jesus came to bring people to the Father; lost sheep to the shepherd; to reconcile people to God and bring people back to a relationship with God. Jesus did not come to be a buffer between us and the father. He came to bring us to the Father. It is through the merits of Christ that are given to us, that we have access to the Father.
Salvation is not where we go when we die. Where we go when we die is a continuation of that salvation. Salvation begins here and now. Salvation is not heaven – salvation is we having a restored relationship with God or proper connection with God. We are being saved for God.
In John 1:51, Jesus says to Nathanael, “Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man”. Here Jesus is claiming to be Jacob’s ladder.
Jesus Before the Incarnation
Matthew, Mark, and Luke traced Jesus biologically. John, on the other hand, shows Jesus as the eternal Word of God. John 1:1-5:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
So Jesus, from the beginning/eternity (even before incarnation), is the mind/will of God expressed; the means by which God created all things. God has always communicated. God always spoke and his Word was/is Christ. The Word (Jesus) was in the world, though the world did not recognize him. Eventually, the Word was made flesh and dwelt (“tabernacled”) among us.
John 14:12 “whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things”
Does that mean every Christian can heal sick, raising the dead, walk on water, command the storm to stop, etc? Should we all do even greater things?
1 Corinthians 12:8-10 lists several gifts of the Spirit. Not everything in the has to do with miracles or healing. Doing greater things does not mean performing greater miracles per se. Work simply means what a person does in general. Jesus perceived himself primarily as a proclaimer of the Kingdom of God. His miracles were to confirm that the Kingdom of God had come. He was primarily the messenger, rather than the miracle worker per se. The primary work of Jesus was the dissemination of the gospel. Miracles were just confirmation of his message. Mark 16:20 says the same thing about disciple’s miracles.
Jesus proclaimed his message for less than three years publicly and mostly limited to the Jewish community. The apostles, however, would duplicate his works of preaching and confirmed with signs, but they would do it on a much larger scale.
Disciples reached whole cities and whole countries beyond the place where Jesus did. Later, gifted missionaries and evangelists reached millions of people with the gospel. In terms of propagation and dissemination of the gospel, they did it in a bigger way.
And Christ’s Suffering?
Of course, some things like redeeming mankind with his own death, only Jesus can do – no one else can do. The apostles, however, saw their own sufferings as a continuation of that work in a sense. In Colossians 1:24, Paul makes a peculiar statement:
“Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.”
Is Paul saying that something is “still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions” and that he is suffering to”fill up” for the sake of the church? The suffering of Christ continues as long as his people suffer. Jesus appeared to Paul on the road to Damascus and asked, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” (Acts 9:4). Christ’s suffering completed propitiation of sins, but we suffer for propagation.
Passing the Leadership Baton
Often we see a lack of second-line leadership, even in churches – as if, their ministry is building of a personal empire. The fact that Jesus was willing to tell this 11 ordinary group of followers/believers that they will do greater things than himself, should tell us how second line leadership should be developed and passed on. This should be the characteristic of the Christian community. The vision that God gave to Moses was fulfilled by Joshua, who he trained. Elisha could ask for a double portion of the blessing of Elijah’s blessing. We should never run into a leadership crisis within the church.
“Show us the Father” (John 14:8)
John 14:7-11 are among the strongest declaration of the deity of Christ. Knowing Jesus is the same as knowing the Father. Seeing him is the same as seeing the Father. If you have a taste of what it is like to see, know what Jesus said and did, that’s the Father that we are seeing and hearing.
In John 14:8, Phillip asks, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us”. In his response, Jesus says “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father .. 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”
“I am in the Father, and the Father is in me” – this is the mutual co-indwelling and co-inhering of the Father and the Son. In John 14:20, Jesus makes it a three-way indwelling of the Father, Son and the believer: “I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.”
Why should Jesus be both Divine and Human?
If Jesus is not divine, we are not hearing God by hearing Jesus, but if Jesus is not human, we will not be able to understand it. So when God wants to communicate with humans, the communicating medium has to be both divine and human.
John 14:13 “I will do whatever you ask in my name”
As parents, it makes us happy when our children ask us and receive from us. To ask Him and receive from Him, pleases the heavenly Father too. However, we have to understand what it means to ask in Jesus name.
We have Jesus’s name because we are his flesh and his bones, as members of his body. Christ is the head and we are his body. As Ephesians 1:22-23 says, “God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.”
The church is organically one with him. There is a shared identity between the head and body. Acting in the name of Jesus means acting in the name of the head, which is what we do every day.
Power of Attorney
His name is ours. When we come before God, we come as the body of Christ. We come in the authority of Christ, authorized by him, praying as he would pray. That’s what praying in Jesus name means.
As with a “power of attorney”, we cannot take this authority given to us, to do our own selfish thing. When we pray in Jesus name, it means that we pray such things as he would approve of praying.
We are here to bless others
Bishop D.T. Niles pointed out, ‘the Church is the only society which exists for the benefit of its non-members’. If our purpose is only what we can get out of God, we are missing much of Jesus had to say. We are here to bless others – to bless one another in the church as well as outside.
John 14: 22-24 Why “disclose to us and not to the world?”
Judas (not Judas Iscariot) asks a very important question to Jesus: “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?” (John 14: 22-24)
Jesus was telling these important things in his farewell discourse, privately to the 11 disciples. Even after the resurrection, he did not go to prominent public figures like Pontius Pilate or the Jewish chief priests. He appeared only to those who believed in him. Jesus seems to be saying that he would communicate to the unbelieving world through the church, rather than directly.
“As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”
The Father reveals Himself to us through the Son, because the Son is both divine and human. Now the same kind of transfer comes to us. We are in touch with God and by the grace of God, we are going to present Christ the world.
This means that the world will see us (the Christian community) and will take cognizance of who Jesus is. Just like Jesus represents the Father to us, we represent the Father and the Son to the world through the power of the Holy Spirit.
As John 20:21 says “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”
Qualifications to be a dwelling place of God
Being a Christian isn’t just saying a prayer or getting baptized or making a profession of faith. It is a change of heart where our love is directed toward Christ and we lovingly (not legalistically) obey Him. We want to obey when we love Him. Now, if that is the conversion experience that a person had, the person will have the Holy Spirit also.
In John 14:23 Jesus says “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”.
Hence, to be with the Father, we do not have to die and go to heaven. He comes to us and makes us His home.
John 14:26 “Holy Spirit .. will teach you all things and will remind you of everything”
Jesus says in John 14-25-26, “All this I have spoken while still with you. 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”
When Paul says in 2 Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is God-breathed”, he was referring to the Old Testament scripture. Jesus believed/asserted the inspiration of the Old Testament and promised the inspiration of the New Testament. In John 14-25-26, Jesus is promising his disciples that what they write under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit will also be equally valid.
John 14:27 “My peace I give to you; not as the world gives”
Jesus says in John 14:27, “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.”
Why is this peace different from what the world gives? The peace that the world gives is typically dependent on having relatively favorable circumstances (and temporary). In addition, there can be pleasure in sin as well, but Hebrews 11:25 refers to it as “the passing pleasures of sin”.
Fruit of Spirit
Galatians 5:22 lists peace as one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “my peace I give you”. In other words, we have His joy, His peace, His love, etc – we exhibit Jesus’s feelings and traits if His Spirit is in us. We, as Christ’s body and His Spirit will be producing these things, individually and relationally with one another. His peace/joy transcends circumstances (even in suffering/affliction for example, when there is no sensible reason to be peaceful/joyful), and it is eternal. 1 Peter 1:8 refers to it as being “filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy”.
Consequently, the existence of such joy and peace is also evidence that we are saved. We remain unmoved, secure and have the assurance/grip of truth even in the midst of affliction. Crisis does not affect it.
John 14:28 “Father is greater than I”
Jesus says in John 14:28 “If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.”. On the other hand in John 10:30 Jesus says “I and the Father are one.”.
As the Athanasian Creed says, “equal to the Father in divinity, subordinate to the Father in humanity”. in Jesus Christ there are two natures combined without any confusion. In his divinity, is equal to the father.
In John 14:28, he says “Father is greater than I” because he is going to represent us as a human being before the father.
1 Timothy 2:5 says “For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus”. Jesus’ representative role in the presence of the father is as a human. At the right hand of God is a glorified human being. Since Jesus is going as a human being (a glorified human being) to the right hand of the Father, the Father is greater in that role. That is why we should rejoice – Jesus represents us totally.
Hebrews 7:25 says “Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him because he always lives to intercede for them”. Intersession is identifying with a person for whom one is praying – putting oneself in the shoes of the person for whom one is praying. Jesus intercedes for us as a human being.
Even today, at this very moment we should rejoice that at the right hand of the Father is a human being who is representing us – Jesus, who is tempted in all points like we are, yet without sin.
Lectures by LT Jeyachandran.