Jesus the Way to the Father (14:1-14)
1 The disciples’ hearts were certainly troubled, and they were soon to become even more troubled. Jesus had just said that He was going away (John 13:33). He had said one of them would betray Him (John 13:21). He had said that Peter, His chief disciple, would deny Him three times (John 13:38). That meant that terrible trouble was surely coming! They had left all for Jesus. Now they were about to be left alone. Perhaps they too would be arrested, tortured, killed. Certainly the disciples were troubled! But in spite of all this, Jesus still said to them: “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” His meaning was: “Stop being troubled; stop being anxious.”
What is the way to remove trouble and anxiety from our hearts? By believing, trusting. And so Jesus said: “You trust in God;100 trust also in me.” All Jews trusted in God; the disciples, being Jews, trusted in God too. But here Jesus adds: “… trust also in me.” Trusting in God and trusting in Christ go together. If a person truly trusts in one, he will also trust in the other.
It was no small thing Jesus was asking His disciples to do. He was about to be hung on a cross like a criminal. It was one thing to trust in the mighty God of Israel. But, in the disciples’ mind, it was another thing to trust in this man who had just washed their feet like a slave, and who was about to be killed like a criminal. Nevertheless, Jesus said to them, “… trust also in me. It is the same as trusting in God.”
2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. The Father’s house is heaven. The many rooms are the resting places of believers. There is space in heaven for every believer. That is why the disciples do not need to be troubled. If they only believe, they will have a sure place in heaven. Jesus told them that He was going now to His Father’s house to prepare their rooms.
Christian, are you troubled? Or afraid? Are you being afflicted with persecution or calamity? If so, then remember this: Jesus has gone to prepare your place in heaven. Trust in Him.
3 Then Jesus promised His disciples, “I will come back and take you to be with me.” He was referring to His second coming at the end of the world (see Mark 13:26-27; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 and comments).
Jesus didn’t say exactly what His Father’s house was like. He only said that we will be with Him. If we are with our Lord, we don’t need to think about anything else. A small child doesn’t care about what his house is like; all he cares about is that his parents are there.
4 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “You know the way to the place where I am going.” He had shown them the way. The way was His teaching and example. If they followed His teaching and example, they would get to heaven.
5 But the disciples were confused. What did Jesus mean when He said that He was going to His Father’s house? He had just told them that where I am going, you cannot come (John 13:33). Therefore, how can they know the way? “We don’t know where you are going,” Thomas said.
Notice that Thomas was an honest man. When he had doubt in his mind, he spoke about it openly (John 20:24-25). In the end, his doubt was replaced with faith (John 20:27-28).
6 When the disciples said that they didn’t know the way, Jesus told them, “I am the way.” Jesus not only shows men the way to heaven; He is Himself the way. He is the way, because He is the means by which we enter heaven. It is through His sacrifice, His death, that our sins are forgiven and we are counted righteous in God’s sight (see
Mark 10:45 and comment). Jesus’ righteousness, which we receive through faith, is our passport to heaven.
I am … the truth. Jesus not only teaches the truth; He is Himself the truth. He is totally trustworthy. His Gospel is true. When we believe in the truth of Jesus, when we accept His teaching, we receive salvation. We are set free from ignorance and sin (see John 8:31-32).
I am … the life. Jesus not only gives life; He is Himselflife. In him was life (see John 1:4; 5:26 and comments). To know Jesus is to have eternal life (John 17:3).
Showing the way, teaching the truth, and giving life are all different parts of Jesus’ great work of saving men. Only Jesus can save men. Only Jesus is the Savior of the world. Only by faith in Jesus can we come to the Father and dwell in His house (verse 2).
Think on these words. Jesus was about to be hung helpless on the cross, yet He said: “I am the way.” He was about to be condemned by the lies of men, yet He said: “I am … the truth.” His own corpse was soon to be placed in a tomb, yet He said: “I am … the life.”
Men of this world believe in many different kinds of gods and incarnations. But there is only one, Jesus Christ, who can say: “I am the way and the truth and the life.” Only He can give men salvation, eternal life. There is no other way to heaven besides Christ. Other religions and other religious leaders may point men to heaven, but only Christ can lead them there.
A question arises here: What happens to the person who has never heard of Christ? Will he never be able to “come to the Father”—that is, get to heaven? The Bible indicates that he will not. All men are sinners (Romans 3:10-12); they all are deserving of God’s wrath (see Romans 1:18-20 and comment). On the other hand, God judges men according to their knowledge. Thus the Bible indicates that the person who has never heard of Christ will be judged less severely than the one who has heard of Christ but then rejected Him (see Luke 12:47-48 and comment). God is the final judge. He will show mercy to whom He wants to show mercy (Romans 9:15). It is not for us to judge. It is for us, however, to show all men the one sure way to heaven—namely, Jesus Christ.101
7 The disciples still did not know Jesus fully. They would not know Him fully until after the resurrection. They would not have been so confused at that time if they had truly known who Jesus was. They would have known where He was going. They would have known the Father. “If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well.” Those who know Jesus, know the Father. To see the one is to see the other (see John 8:19; 12:44-45 and comments).
8 Philip still didn’t understand. According to the Old Testament, no one had ever seen God face to face. Now Jesus had just said, “You have seen him” (verse 7) Therefore, Philip answered, “Let us see the Father, and we’ll believe.” In Philip’s mind, Jesus was only a man. He still didn’t understand that Jesus was actually God Himself.
9 Jesus gently rebuked Philip. “Do you still not know who I am?” He asked Philip. Philip had known from the first day he met Jesus that Jesus was the Messiah (John 1:45). But he had never really seen God in Jesus.
Then Jesus said, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” Jesus was the revelation of the Father. Those who look at Christ without faith see only a man. Those who look at Christ with faith see God.
Even for us today, Jesus remains the revelation of God, even though He is no longer present with us in bodily form. Through the reading of the New Testament, together with the help of the Holy Spirit, we too can see Jesus; and when we see Jesus, we also see God (John 12:44-45).
10 Philip should have known that Jesus was in the Father, and that the Father [was in Jesus]. Even ordinary Jews who saw Jesus’ works should have known that (John 10:37-38). Philip should have known that the Father was living in Jesus, because the works and the words of Jesus clearly came from the Father (John 7:16). Jesus had said, “The Son can do nothing by himself” (John 5:19).
When we see Jesus’ works and hear His words, we are really seeing God’s works and hearing God’s words. From this we can know that God is in Jesus and Jesus is in God—or, in other words, that Jesus and God are one (see John 10:30).
11 Then Jesus told His disciples, “Believe me. Believe not only in me, but also believe what I say.” The faith of a Christian has two parts. First, we must believe in Jesus Himself personally. Second, we must believe that what He has said is true. Faith in Jesus without faith also in the truth of His words is nothing but blind faith.
But Jesus knew that the disciples’ faith was weak. So He said, “Even if you can’t believe my words now, at least believe the miracles I have done. My miracles will show you who I am” (see John 5:36; 10:25). Faith based on miracles is weak faith, but it is better than no faith. Jesus never despised weak faith; after all, most Christians start out with weak faith in the beginning. But faith must be strengthened, or it will not endure when trials come.
We must remember that the devil and his servants can also do miracles (Mark 13:2223). We must look not only at Jesus’ miracles, but also at His character, at His inner qualities. We must look at His motives. False Christs and false prophets do miracles to bring glory to themselves. Christ performed His miracles to bring glory to God. Christ’s miracles are signs that point men to God.
12 Then Jesus gave His disciples a great promise: They would do greater works than He had done. Indeed, the apostles did perform many great miracles, just as Christ did. Many of them are described in the book of Acts. Peter even raised a woman from the dead (Acts 9:36-42). But when Jesus said that His disciples would do greater things, He meant mainly that they would bring more people to God than He had brought. These greater works would be converting works. On the day of Pentecost, about three thousand people believed through the preaching of the apostles (Acts 2:41). That was more people than had believed during Jesus’ entire three years of public ministry.
Jesus told the disciples that they would do greater things because He was going to the Father. The disciples needed the Holy Spirit in order to do these greater works, but the Holy Spirit could not come to them until after Jesus had died and gone to the Father (John 16:7). That is why Jesus said, “Because I am going to the Father, you will do these greater things.”
Today also, Jesus’ disciples, through the power of the Holy Spirit, are continuing to do greater things than Jesus did. Jesus’ promise is for us too!
13 In order to do mighty works, the disciples would need to pray. In order to receive the power of the Holy Spirit, we need to pray for it. We need to pray for it in the name of the risen Christ, with whom is all authority and dominion in heaven and on earth. Jesus said, “I will do whatever you ask in my name.” “Whatever” we ask in Jesus’ name He will do! There are no limits to the power of prayer.
We usually ask Jesus for such small things. But He can do anything. He can do more than all we can ask or imagine (Ephe-sians 3:20-21). Let us not set limits on Christ by our small prayers!
To pray in Jesus’ name means to pray in His stead, to pray as His representatives on earth. We are Christ’s ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20). When we pray in His name, we pray with His authority. We pray for His sake. We pray according to His will. When we pray in this way, Jesus will do whatever we ask (see Matthew 7:78; Mark 11:22-24; John 15:7,16 and comments).
Notice here that Jesus Himself answers our prayers. God answers them; Jesus answers them. God and Jesus do everything together; there is no difference. It does not matter whether we pray to Jesus or to God; they both hear and answer together.
Jesus answers prayer so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. Everything Jesus did on earth was to bring glory to the Father. Everything He does through us is also to bring glory to the Father. Therefore, the purpose of our prayers and requests must be to glorify God. If what we ask for is not going to glorify God, Jesus will not do it.
Let us examine ourselves. Can we say as Jesus did, “I don’t seek my own glory”? (John 8:50). For what do we pray? For God’s benefit, or for our own? And in between our prayer times what do we live for? For God’s glory, or for our own? God doesn’t only hear our prayers—He looks at our whole life. If we do not live our lives for His glory, He will not believe us when pray for His glory. So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).
But we ask: Who can live all day solely for God’s glory? We can’t do it, we say. True, in our own strength we cannot. But we have no excuse, because the power of the Holy Spirit has been promised to us. But we must pray for it. Through the Holy Spirit’s power, we shall be able to lead lives to the glory of God.
Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit (14:15-31)
15 Just as the proof of faith is obedience, so the proof of love is also obedience. It is easy to say to Jesus, “I love you,” but we must then prove it by our actions. Love without obedience is afalse love. True Christians obey Christ not because they are obliged to, but because they want to. They obey Him because they love Him. If a man does not obey Christ, that means he does not love Christ (verse 24). This is love for God: to obey his commands (1 John 5:3).
16 If we love and obey Christ, He will send us another Counselor, that is, the Holy Spirit (verse 26). Christ will send the Holy Spirit only to those who love and obey Him. If we are not experiencing the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives, it is because in some area of our life, we are not obeying Christ.
Who is this Counselor? Who is this Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God and of Christ. God and Christ are in heaven, but the Spirit is with us here on earth. The Holy Spirit is in us (verse 17). All of our spiritual knowledge, our spiritual strength, our spiritual joy, peace, and love come from the Spirit (see Galatians 5:22-23). Our new birth, our new spiritual life, comes from the Holy Spirit (see John 3:5 and comment). God has three forms or modes of existence: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. These are all one God. But the form of God that touches and enters our lives here on earth is the Holy Spirit. God the Father is invisible. God the Son has returned to heaven. But God the Holy Spirit is with us who believe. Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would be with us forever.
After His death Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to take His place, so that the disciples would not be left alone. Therefore, the Holy Spirit was sent to do the same things that Christ Himself did on earth. When we think of the Holy Spirit, we must think of Him as being Christ’s presence with us. What Christ did, the Holy Spirit is still doing. The work of the Holy Spirit is to continue the work of Christ on earth.
Christ was with the disciples; so is the Holy Spirit with us (verse 16). Christ was their teacher; so is the Holy Spirit our teacher (verse 26). Christ bore witness to Himself; so does the Holy Spirit bear witness to Christ (John 15:26). Christ strengthened, admonished, encouraged His disciples; so the Holy Spirit strengthens, admonishes, and encourages us. Everything Christ did for His disciples, the Holy Spirit will do for us. This is why Jesus called the Holy Spirit another Counselor. Jesus was the “first Counselor”; now the Holy Spirit has come in His place.
17 The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth (John 15:26). Christ is the truth (verse 6); therefore, His Spirit must be the Spirit of truth. The Spirit guides believers into all truth (John 16:13).
The world, that is, the world of unbeliev-ing men, cannot accept the Spirit (see 1 Corinthians 2:14). Those who do not accept Christ cannot accept His Spirit. But to those who believe in Him, Jesus has sent His Spirit. And the Spirit lives not only with the believer, but also in the believer.
18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you,” said Jesus to His disciples. This can have two meanings. First, it can mean that Jesus would come again to His disciples in the form of the Holy Spirit. Second, it can mean that He would appear to them after His resurrection in bodily form. Both meanings are true.
19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore. The next day Christ was going to die. After that, He would not appear again to unbelieving men of the world. But He would appear to His disciples. But you will see me (see John 20:19,26). Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to those who had believed in Him (see 1 Corinthians 15:3-8). He conquered death. Even though His earthly body had been killed, nevertheless, He continued to live. Because He conquered death, so will we, His disciples, conquer death. Because of His resurrection, we too will live forever. Death has been swallowed up in victory (1 Corinthians 15:54).
20 On that day, that is, on the day of Jesus’ resurrection, the disciples would realize the spiritual nature of Christ. On that day, Jesus breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:22). As soon as they received the Holy Spirit, they fully realized that Jesus was indeed in [His] Father. They also realized that they were now in Jesus, and Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, was now in them.
21 In the first part of this verse, the thought of verse 15 is repeated.
Then Jesus said that the one who loves Him will be loved by both Him and His Father. Jesus does not mean that God loves us because we love Him. That is not so. Rather, we love God because He loves us. God loved us first (see 1 John 4:10,19). God loved us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8).
However, after we have received God’s love, we must love Him in return. Through the Holy Spirit, God’s love flows into us (Romans 5:5), and that same love can then flow out from us both to God and to other men. The more our love flows out to God and to others, the more His love will flow into us. Love gives birth to love.
Not only will God love the believer who loves Him, but Christ also will love that believer. And Christ will show Himselfto the believer through the Holy Spirit. Jesus says: “I will … show myself to the one who loves me.”
22 Judas,102 one of the twelve disciples (but not Judas Iscariot), was still thinking that Jesus was going to show Himself to the whole world in the form of a victorious Messiah. Now it seemed that Jesus was going to show Himself only to His followers. “Why is that?” Judas wanted to know.
23 Jesus didn’t answer Judas directly. He simply repeated what He had already said in verse 21. That is, Jesus would manifest Himself to those who love Him. Not only that, but He and the Father would make their home with those who love Him. Think of it! The almighty God in the form of the Holy Spirit lives in each believer (verse 17).
24 Love for Jesus and obedience to His teaching must always go together (see verse 15). If there is no love, there will be no obedience. To disobey Christ’s words is to disobey God, because the words that Christ speaks are really the words of God (John 7:16; 12:49).
25-26 The Counselor, the Holy Spirit (verse 16), is sent to us by the Father in the name of the Son. The Holy Spirit comes from both the Father and the Son together (see John 15:26).
There were many teachings of Jesus that the disciples could not fully understand while Jesus was with them on earth. But after His death, the Holy Spirit not only reminded the disciples of Jesus’ words and actions, but He also taught them the meaning of those words and actions.
The Holy Spirit does the same for us today. Even though we now have the New Testament in written form,103 we still need the help of the Holy Spirit to fully understand it and to apply it to our daily lives. The Holy Spirit is still today the chief guide and teacher of the church. But remember, the guidance of the Holy Spirit will never contradict or oppose the teaching of the Bible in any way. If anyone receives any teaching that is contrary to the teaching of the Bible, let him know that that teaching is not from the Holy Spirit.
27 One of the greatest gifts Jesus left with His disciples was PEACE. This was not the kind of peace that the world gives. The world’s peace depends on outward circumstances. It is a false peace. It doesn’t last. The world’s peace lasts only as long as there is no trouble or sorrow or fighting. As soon as any kind of trial comes, immediately the world’s peace vanishes.
But Christ’s peace is spiritual peace. First, it is peace with God (see Romans 5:1 and comment). Second, it is an inner peace in our hearts and minds. Even though outer trials come, Christ’s peace remains in us. Third, Christ’s peace is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). As long as the Holy Spirit is in us, the fruits of the Spirit will also be in us.
Therefore, Jesus said to His disciples, “You do not need to be troubled or afraid (verse 1). Wherever you go, whatever happens, you will have my peace” (see John 16:33; Philippians 4:7).
28 The disciples were upset and sad, because Jesus had said that He was about to leave them. But they were only thinking of themselves and their own fear and disappointment. If they had truly loved Jesus, they would have rejoiced that Jesus was going to heaven to be with His Father. His Father was about to glorify Jesus and honor Him. The disciples should have been rejoicing!
Jesus said to the disciples, “You should be glad that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. Therefore, He is able to glorify me. He is able to raise me from the dead and set me at His right hand in heaven!” (Ephesians 1:20-22).
A question arises here. We have said many times that God and Christ are equal; they are one. And that is true. Yet here Jesus says, “… the Father is greater that I.” What did He mean?
His meaning is this. When Jesus came to earth, He gave up some of His glory, which He had had with God from the beginning. He had been equal with God, but when He came to earth He voluntarily gave up that equality for a time, and took the form of a man (see Philippians 2:6-8). Therefore, while Jesus was on earth, the Father was greater than He was. Then, through the resurrection, the Father gave Jesus back the glory that He had had from the beginning of creation (see John 17:5).
29 Jesus told these things to His disciples in advance, so that when His death came, their faith would not be destroyed (see John 13:19 and comment). Indeed, when they saw the things spoken of by Jesus come true, their faith was actually strengthened.
30 The prince of this world (John 12:31), that is, Satan, was about to come in the form of Judas and the soldiers. Even at that moment they were preparing to arrest Jesus. But though Satan was able to cause Jesus’ arrest, he had no hold on Jesus. Satan “holds” men through the sin in their lives. But Jesus had no sin, and therefore Satan had no way to gain victory over Jesus. Yes, for three days Satan put Jesus in a tomb. But longer than that, Satan could not hold Him.
31 Jesus of His own choice allowed wicked men to kill Him and put Him in a tomb. This was to show the world that He loved the Father and obeyed Him (see John 10:18). This is why Jesus said: “He (Satan) has no hold on me, but the world must learn that I love the Father (verse 30). God’s will is that I should die and then be raised again. Therefore, I will let Satan kill my body and hold it in a tomb for three days, that the world may see that I have obeyedmyFather’swill”(seeJohn10:17-18).
Then Jesus said, “Come now, let us leave. Let us go, then, and meet Satan.” Jesus probably didn’t mean that they should get up immediately and leave the room. He meant that they should do so as soon as He had finished speaking with them.104