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The Gospel of John
Volume III (13-17)

THE WORD BECAME FLESH!

by LARRY CORY

 

A SUMMARY OF THE MESSAGE OF
THE GOSPEL OF JOHN

 

PROLOGUE - THE ETERNAL WORD BECAME FLESH (1:1-18)

PUBLIC  MINISTRY TO ISRAEL (1:19-12:50)

PRIVATE MINISTRY TO HIS DISCIPLES (13-17)

PASSION OF JESUS CHRIST (18-19)

POST-RESURRECTION MINISTRY (20-21)

 

Introductory Information About the Gospel of JOHN

The author:  Although the author does not give his name, he does refer to himself in many ways.  His references to himself reveal to us that the author was the apostle John.  In the final chapter of the Gospel, John identifies himself as the author"Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, 'Lord, who is going to betray you?') When Peter saw him, he asked, 'Lord, what about him?' Jesus answered, 'If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.' Because of this, the rumor spread among the brothers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, 'If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?' This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true." See also John 13:23, 19:26, 20:2, 21:7  There was one disciple and apostle that was identified as "the disciple whom Jesus loved." (21:20)  Also, the author was an eye witness of what is described in John.  "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." (John 1:14)  "Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe." (John 19:34-35)  "The writer of the Gospel has a good knowledge of the apostolic band.  He recalls words the Twelve spoke among themselves (4:30, 20:25, 21:3, 7).  He shows knowledge of their thoughts on occasion (2:11, 17, 22, 4:27, 6:19, 60f.).  He knows the places they frequented (11:54, 18:2)." "Taken from The Gospel According to John by Leon Morris.  Copyright 1971 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co."  There is therefore, strong evidence in the book itself to support the traditional view that John the Apostle was the author of the Gospel of John.  "It has never really been doubted in tradition that the beloved disciple is John." "Taken from The Gospel of John by William Barclay.  Copyright 1975 by the Westminster Press."  "Generally it is even made clear that this John was the apostle, the beloved disciple who reclined on Christ's bosom.  The major witnesses are Eusebius, Origin, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Ireneus, the writer of the Muratorian Canon, and Theophilus." "Taken from New Testament Commentary by William Hendriksen.  Copyright 1953 by Baker Book House."

The date:  "The Traditional view places it toward the end of the first century, C.A.D. 85 or later . . . More recently, some interpreters have suggested an earlier date, perhaps as early as the 50s and no later than 70." "NIV Study Bible introduction to John."  It can be said, then, that the date is not certain, but there is strong evidence that the Gospel of John was written at a later date than the other Gospels.  "Last of all, John, perceiving that the external facts had been made plain in the gospels, being urged by his friends and inspired by the Holy Spirit, composed a spiritual gospel." "Taken from Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, VI, XIV.7. "quoted in New Testament Commentary by William Hendriksen.  Copyright 1953 by Baker Book House." 

The theme and purpose:  The theme of the Gospel of John is given to us within the Gospel.  "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning." (John 1:1-2)  "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." (John 1:14)  John wrote the Gospel of John so that we might believe that Jesus is the Messiah and God's Son.  "Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." (John 20:30-31)  The Gospel of John reveals to us that if we believe in Jesus, we will experience eternal life, and if we obey Him we will experience an abundant life.  "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." (John 3:16)   ". . . I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." (John 10:10b)

The manner in which the Gospel of John reveals Jesus to us:  There are eight miracles that each represents and pictures an aspect of the Spirit-empowered life that Jesus offers to us that each removes part of the effect of sin on us:  1) Sin takes away joy, and God's life brings us joy—turning the water into wine.  2) Sin brings soul sickness, and God's life brings healing—the healing of the official's sick son.  3) Sin brought us an inability to do good, and God's life enables us to walk a new walk—the healing of the paralyzed man.  4) Sin separates us from God and empties us of life, and God's life fills us—the feeding of the 5,000.  5) Sin creates storms of confusion and chaos in our lives, and God's life gives us peace—the stilling of the storm.  6) Sin blinds us, and God's life heals our spiritual blindness—the healing of the blind man.  7) Sin kills us spiritually, and God's life gives us new life—the resurrection of Lazarus.  8) Sin prevents us from being successful in God's work, and God's life enables us to be able to be successful in God's work—Jesus' miraculous catch of fish.

Seven symbols each reveal an aspect of the Spirit-empowered life to us.  1) "I am the bread of life" (6:35): if we come to Him, we will never hunger or thirst spiritually.  2) "Streams of living water" (7:37): God's life in us will be like streams of living water flowing from within us.  3) "I am the light of the world" (8:12, 9:5): God's life in us opens our eyes to be able to see spiritual truth.  4) "I am the gate" (10:7): He is the way to God's life.  5) "I am the good shepherd" (10:11): He guides us, protects us, and keeps us on His narrow path.  6) "I am the resurrection and the life" (11:25): His life resurrects us from being dead spiritually to being alive spiritually.  7) "I am the true vine" (15:1): staying in fellowship with Him provides us with His life so that we can be fruitful.

Six interactions that reveal to us how we receive God's life.  1) The interaction with Nicodemus (3): we must be born again.  2) The interaction with the woman at the well (4): If we drink the water that He gives to us, we will never thirst.  3) The interaction with the blind man (9): Jesus came so that the blind may see.  4) The interaction with Martha and Mary (11): If we believe, we will be resurrected from death to eternal life.  5) The interaction with the disciples (13-17): the Comforter, the Holy Spirit will come to give us God's life.  6) The interaction with Peter (21:15): God's life will enable us to be effective in ministry, "feed my lambs." 

How the Gospel of John differs from the Synoptic Gospels Matthew, Mark, and Luke:  1) There is nothing in John about the birth and childhood of Jesus.  2) There is nothing in John about the baptism of Jesus, temptation of Jesus, the Sermon on the Mount, the Last Supper, and Gethsemane.  3) There are no parables.  4) Most of Matthew, Mark, and Luke emphasize Jesus' ministry in Galilee, but in the Gospel of John only chapter 6 takes place in that region.  John's Gospel describes Jesus' ministry in Judea and Jerusalem (southern Israel).  5) There is much in the Gospel of John that is not found in the other Gospels: the first miracle in Cana, Jesus' time with Nicodemus, the woman at the well, the raising of Lazarus from the dead, and the teaching about the Holy Spirit.

 

THE MESSAGE OF THE BOOK OF JOHN

Most of the world lives as if there is no God.  Has God revealed Himself to us?  The Gospel of John reveals to us that God has revealed Himself to us in a very personal way.  God became a man and lived among us.  The most important question of all is the following question: "Who is Jesus Christ?"  If Jesus was no more than another man, then the answer to the question is not that significant to us.  But, if He was both God and a man, then, we should, above all else, seek to know Him; for by getting to know Him, we are also getting to know God.

The Gospel of John was written to reveal to us that Jesus was and is God become man.  It contains the most famous verse in the Bible—John 3:16.  It was written that we "may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing" we "may have life in His name."  Let us then, get to know the Son of God, and by getting to know Him, get to know God!

We continue now as the focus of Jesus' ministry shifts to His closest followers.  This part of His ministry has been called the upper-room discourse.  In the previous volume, we left off at the end of chapter 12.

JESUS' PRIVATE MINISTRY TO HIS DISCIPLES (13-17)

1. Jesus washes His disciples' feet (13:1-17)

a. Jesus' pattern of servant-hood (13:1-5)
"It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love. The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him."

Thought Question:  What is meant by Jesus "showed them the full extent of his love"?

 

 

Years ago, I watched a movie on the Last Supper.  There is one part of it that I will never forget.  In the movie, they depicted the disciples arguing over who was the greatest.  Then, the camera focused on Jesus' face.  His face showed deep disappointment and sadness.  Although it was only a movie, I thought that what was on the face of the actor who played Jesus was an accurate depiction of how Jesus must have felt when His followers, so many years ago, were arguing over who was the greatest. See Luke 22:24-30 

In the verses that we are about to cover, we will see that Jesus showed His disciples who actually is the greatest in God's eyes—it is those who are willing to serve.  He is about to show them His greatness by showing them very dramatically what real service looks like, as He washes their feet and, then, as He dies on the cross for them.  Chapters 13-17 have been called the Holy of Holies of the Bible.  These chapters describe Jesus' last evening with His closest disciples—the night before His death. What is found in John 13-17 is not found in the other Gospels.

"It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love."  Let us consider what Jesus knew was about to happen to Him: (1) Judas, a close follower, was about to betray Him; (2) He was about to be arrested and murdered; (3) Peter was about to deny Him; (4) His closest followers are about to abandon Him; and (5) He was about to fully absorb on Himself the wrath of God for all of the sins of the world.  Earlier He had said, "my heart is troubled." (12:27)   Nevertheless, He continued to do all that He did in love for us: "Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love."  Other translations say, He loved them "to the end."  But the NASB adds a note: "to the uttermost or eternally."  Now, we do know "the full extent of his love"; for we now know that because of His measureless love for us, He willingly went to a horrible death.  As it says in one of Charles Wesley's hymns: "Amazing love, how can it be?"

Jesus knew that this was His last Passover Feast, and it was about to be the last of His days on earth.  At previous times, Jesus had said that it was not His hour or time. See 2:4, 7:30, 8:20  But, here, He says that "the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father."  At "the Passover Feast," the "Passover" lambs were slain symbolizing Israel's rescue from Egypt through the blood of the lambs that were slain to save their firstborn sons from death by "the destroyer." (Exodus 21:23) See Exodus 12:3-13, 21-23, 29-30; Psalm 78:49; Hebrews 11:28  At this "Passover Feast," Jesus "our Passover lamb" was about to be slain. (I Corinthians 5:7)

"The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him."

Jesus knew that he was far superior to the men who were with Him in that room.  He also knew that one of them was soon to be empowered and motivated by the devil to betray him.  What is the normal human response when we feel that we are superior to others in some way?  It is to lord it over them and to expect them to be subservient to us and serve us.  Jesus was infinitely superior to the men who were with Him that night, but He nevertheless served them.

"so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing,"  Jesus "got up" from His throne, "took off his" "outer" garments of Deity and became a man to serve us.  "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!" (Philippians 2:5-8)

The custom at that time was for a servant to wash the feet of the visitors.  "The roads of Palestine were unsurfaced and uncleaned.  In dry weather they were inches deep in dust and in wet they were liquid mud.  The shoes ordinary people wore were sandals, which were simply soles held on to the foot by a few straps.  They gave little protection against the dust or the mud of the roads.  For that reason there were always great waterpots at the door of a house; and a servant was there with a ewer and a towel to wash the soiled feet of the guests as they came in.  Jesus' little company of friends had no servants.  The duties which servants would carry out in wealthier circles they must have shared among each other." "Taken from The Gospel of John by William Barclay.  Copyright 1975 by the Westminster Press."

They may have been arguing over who should wash the others' feet previous to the time when they were arguing over who was the greatest.  The last person who should do the feet washing was the Rabbi in a group of his followers.  The meal was already "being served," so they were sitting at the table with dirty feet.  It appears that no one had been willing to wash the dirty feet, so Jesus needed to do it.  They were arguing over who was the greatest; whereas, they should have been pressing in and seeking to be the first to serve the others by washing their feet.  This spirit is much different than arguing over who is the greatest.  People pushing forward and seeking to be the first to serve does not usually result in heated arguments.  This type of attitude is, instead, a selfless, humble, and giving spirit.

"the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus."  Verse two has another possible translation from the one given in the NIV: "and the devil had already prompted Judas . . . to betray Jesus."  The Disciples' Literal New Testament puts it this way:  "The devil having already put into his heart [the devil's heart]that Judas . . . should hand Him over."  Stedman quotes F. F. Bruce on this verse: "The devil had already resolved that he would use Judas Iscariot to betray him." "Taken from God's Loving Word by Ray Stedman.  Copyright 1993 by Discovery House Publishers."  In the end, both possible translations have the same result—whether the devil put it into his own heart or whether devil put it into Judas' heart, Judas ended up having it in his heart "to betray Jesus."

b. Our blindness to our need for Jesus to serve us (13:6-11)
"He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, 'Lord, are you going to wash my feet?' Jesus replied, 'You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.' 'No,' said Peter, 'you shall never wash my feet.' Jesus answered, 'Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.' 'Then, Lord,' Simon Peter replied, 'not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!' Jesus answered, 'A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.' For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean."

Thought Question: In what way or ways are you like Peter in what he does here?

 

 

"He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, 'Lord, are you going to wash my feet?' Jesus replied, 'You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.' 'No,' said Peter, 'you shall never wash my feet.' Jesus answered, 'Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.' 'Then, Lord,' Simon Peter replied, 'not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!' Jesus answered, 'A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.'"  Jesus washing Peter's feet did not fit into Peter's plans at all.  He was horrified, "What are you doing washing my feet?  What is the Lord of Glory doing washing my feet?"  The literal translation of Peter's words are "never, no, not in eternity." "Taken from New Testament Commentary by William Hendriksen.  Copyright 1953 by Baker Book House."  His refusal to have Jesus wash his feet could not have been stronger.  It made no sense to him at all.

Later, Peter would understand.  After he was humbled by his denials of Jesus, he came to understand the servant role of Jesus, his need of Jesus' service to him, and his own servant role.  Listen to his words in I Peter 5:1-6: "To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, 'God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.' Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time."
 
"'Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.'"  Jesus' washing of feet had only begun in Peter's time.  We all were washed in Jesus' blood when we put our faith in Him.  All of the disciples except Judas had put their faith in Him and had experienced the forgiveness and cleansing from sin that was about to be made possible by Jesus' death on the cross for them.  But, we all walk in this world and need the cleansing from sin in our lives that can happen as we fall short of His glory through some sin.  That cleansing from sin is described in I John 1:9—the Christian's bar of soap.  "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify [or cleanse] us from all unrighteousness."  We are already forgiven for all our sins, but we need to maintain our fellowship with God by regularly admitting and confessing our sins.  Humility is needed to do this.  Peter needed this humility to have a "part with" Jesus.  The washing of the feet of Peter and the other disciples describes our need to confess our sins so that we will return to a close fellowship in the light with Jesus after we have sinned in some way.

"'not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!'"  Peter was horrified that Jesus the Lord of Glory was washing his dirty feet, but he was even more horrified that he might have "no part" with Him. 

"The basic truth of Christian living is beautifully illustrated in the Old Testament priesthood.  When the priest was consecrated, he was bathed all over (Ex. 29:4) and that experience was never repeated.  However, during his daily ministry, he became defiled; so it was necessary that he wash his hands and feet at the brass laver in the courtyard (Ex. 30:18-21).  Only then could he enter the holy place and trim the lamps, eat the holy bread, or burn the incense." "Taken from Be Transformed by Warren Wiersbe.  Copyright 1986 by Victor Books."  It is only after we confess our sins that we can return to our "holy place" relationship with God.

Peter, because of his brashness in many situations, shows how any of us can be out of touch with Jesus and His ways:  "'You shall never wash my feet.'"; "'not just my feet.'"  Peter, like us, was sure on many occasions that he had a better idea of what was best for him than Jesus did.  "Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 'Never, Lord!' he said. 'This shall never happen to you!'" (Matthew 16:22)  "But Peter declared, 'Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.' And all the other disciples said the same." (Matthew 26:35) Jesus understood Peter's humanness and loved him.  He understands our humanness and loves us also.  "Jesus always looks beyond our flaws and sins, and looks upon our hearts." "Taken from God's Loving Word by Ray Stedman.  Copyright 1993 by Discovery House Publishers."

"The word translated wash in 5, 6, 8, 12, and 14, is nipto and means 'to wash a part of the body.'  But the word translated wash in verse 10 is louo ["had a bath" in the NIV] and means to bathe all over." "Taken from Be Transformed by Warren Wiersbe.  Copyright 1986 by Victor Books."  Louo is also in the perfect tense, meaning we were washed and remained in a state of being washed.

"For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.Among Jesus' closest followers was one who was not washed—he had not believed in Christ as his Lord and Savior.  He would not be filled with God's Spirit.  Instead, he would be filled with Satan.  "As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. 'What you are about to do, do quickly,' Jesus told him." (John 13:27)

c. Jesus' explanation of His calling of us to a life of service (13:12-17)
"When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. 'Do you understand what I have done for you?' he asked them. 'You call me “Teacher” and “Lord,” and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.'"

Thought Question:  How should leadership in the church differ from the type of leadership we see in the world?

 

 

"When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. 'Do you understand what I have done for you?' he asked them. 'You call me “Teacher” and “Lord,” and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.'" 

There is a simple meaning to Jesus' words.  Jesus, by washing their feet, showed to us what Christians of all time are to be like—we are to humbly serve each other.  These disciples believed that they were to be rulers in God's kingdom.

How are we to serve each other?  We are to forgive each other, confess our sins to each other; we are to both mourn and rejoice with each other; we are to bear each others' faults; and we are to sacrificially love each other.  The Christian life is a serving life.  Some think that the Christian life is a ruling-over-others type of life.  We are to point out each others' faults; we are to look down on those who are below us in religious achievement; we are to punish each other; we are to gossip about each other; and we are to hate those who offend us.  That was the Pharisees' type of religion. See Matthew 23 

Jesus when He kneeled and washed His disciples' feet forever established that the leaders in His church are to be the servants of those that they lead.  "Jesus said to them, 'The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.'" (Luke 22:25-27)

"Christians are not to engage in hierarchical authority, in lording it over one another.  Our churches are not to be hierarchies of bosses, but lowerarchies of servants, where Christians compete not to lead and rule, but to love and serve . . . The issue of servant authority is one of the greatest challenges the church faces today.  We are called to demonstrate a different kind of authority than that which is practiced in the world—yet instead of demonstrating servant authority; the church has adopted the leadership models of the world.  We have popes, bishops, priests, reverends, chairmen, superintendents, and authorities of every description.  We even have unofficial 'church bosses' and 'power brokers'—those individuals in the church who are feared and obeyed even when they have no official title or job description in the church structure.  But that is not the kind of authority Jesus modeled and taught to His church.  He taught that it is those who quietly, humbly serve who earn the mantle of authority in the church." "Taken from God's Loving Word by Ray Stedman.  Copyright 1993 by Discovery House Publishers."

"I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him."  Leadership in the church is not to come from those who aspire to be rulers over others but from those who aspire to be lowly servants under others.  Our Lord chose to humbly serve us.  He was born in a lowly stable; He was raised by a lowly carpenter and his wife; He did not achieve a prominent position in society during His life; and He died on a wooden cross on a desolate hill.  Those who follow Him should not aspire to a place of worldly prominence; but like our Master, we should also seek to live a life of lowly service.

Why should we do this?  Because we are "not greater" than our Lord, "nor" are we "greater than the one who sent" Him.

"'Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.'"  What will bring us true happiness?  Jesus says here that those who, from the heart, live a life of service to others are those who are truly happy.  An interesting study is to look at a concordance and find all the verses that contain the word "blessed."  Then, focus particularly on those verses that describe what will lead to our lives being "blessed""blessed" by God.  These verses tell us what will lead to true happiness.  It is quite different from what the world says will lead to true happiness.  One of the verses that contains the word "blessed" is Acts 20:35: "In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'" See Psalm 1:1, 2:12, 32:2, 40:4, 41:1, 84:5, 94:12-13, 106:3, 112:1, 118:26, 119:1, 127;3-5; Proverbs 3:13, 8:24, 29:18, Isaiah 30:18; Matthew 5:2-11; James 1:12; Revelation 1:3, 22:7,14

Jesus says happiness comes through serving others; and the more we serve the happier we will be.  Then, we are following Jesus' example, both when He washed His disciples' feet and when He, as our Servant, gave His life for us.

Why does service bring us true happiness?  It is because rather than living our whole life for ourselves—to bring us happiness, we are seeking after the happiness of others.  We find our greatest happiness in the happiness of others.  The more that others find happiness through our service, the greater happiness we find.  "It gave me great joy to have some brothers come and tell about your faithfulness to the truth and how you continue to walk in the truth.  I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth." (III John 3-4)

We find a deep happiness as parents when our children are happy.  We also find a deep happiness when those in our church are growing in happiness by growing into a closer relationship with Jesus Christ.  We find a deep happiness when someone comes to know Jesus Christ through the church's life of service.  We find a deep happiness when we know that Jesus is pleased by our life of service.

So, from what Jesus demonstrated and said in these verses in John 13 so far, what is to be the pattern of servant leadership in the church?  It all begins with the One who gave His life to serve us.  Out of appreciation for what He did for us—laying His life down for us in love, we are to lay down our lives for others.  The greatest servants in the church become those who lead us in their service—those who lay down their lives for others.  As we see what Jesus did for us and as we see these humble servants laying down their lives for others, we are to follow their path of service.  I have heard that Howard Hendricks said that if you want your disciples to bleed then you must be willing to hemorrhage.  Those who are to lead in Christ's church are those who are the most like our Lord in their humble and sacrificial service and in their genuine love and care for others.  They do not demand obedience, but they serve us in such a way that we are drawn through them to a life of service like their life of service.

This type of leadership can be seen in a loving and sacrificial love of a husband who serves his wife so humbly that she finds it very easy to follow him.  The opposite of this is the dominating and demanding husband who constantly reminds his wife that the Bible tells her that she is to submit to him.  Instead, the servant husband competes with his wife to be an even better servant of her than she is to him.  With my wife, I am trying, but she continues to be a better servant than I am.

2. Jesus predicts Judas' betrayal. (13:18-30)

a. Jesus predicts that one of them was going to betray Him. (13:18-21)
"'I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill the scripture: “He who shares my bread has lifted up his heel against me.”  I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am He. I tell you the truth, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.' After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, 'I tell you the truth, one of you is going to betray me.'"

Thought Question: Jesus never sinned, yet here He is "troubled."  Can we be "troubled" and not sin?  Please explain your answer.

 

 

"'I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill the scripture: “He who shares my bread has lifted up his heel against me.”'"  One school of psychology emphasizes that our environment determines the type of person that we become.  Certainly, there is some truth to that.  But, children can be raised in the same home and yet choose very different directions for their lives.  There is not a better example of that than Judas Iscariot.  He was perfectly loved and had a perfect role model, but did not choose to follow Christ.  Instead, he followed after his greedy lusts.  Jesus was about to express the greatest love—giving His life for us; Judas was about to express the greatest selfishness—to participate in the taking of Jesus' life for thirty pieces of silver.

How could this be?  Judas was one of Jesus' closest followers.  He had been with Him for three years.  Judas saw Jesus' gentle love; he saw Him reach out to social outcasts; he saw His pattern with the crowds; he heard His great wisdom; He saw the clever hatred of the Jewish religious leaders; and He saw Jesus' many miracles first-hand.  He heard and saw it all, yet saw no beauty in Jesus that drew him to Him; he heard no wisdom that he sought after; and he saw nothing in Jesus that was worth more than the small amount of money that he was to be paid to reject Him.  What was there in Judas' heart that enabled him to reject all of this?  As we look at what was in Judas' heart, we see what we do not ever want in our hearts.  Yet, Jesus humbly bowed before Judas and washed his feet also.

Why did this happen?  Jesus said it happened "'to fulfill the scripture: “He who shares my bread has lifted up his heel against me.”'"  It was predicted that one of those whose feet He would wash would kick Him in the face.  Jesus quotes from a Psalm of David.  Here is the complete quotation of Psalm 41:9:  "Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me."  David says something similar in Psalm 55:12-14:  "If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were raising himself against me, I could hide from him. But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship as we walked with the throng at the house of God." (Psalm 55:12-14)  The disloyalty of friends was for the Psalmist the sorest of all hurts.

What is meant by "has lifted up his heel against me"?  "Most commentators understand 'lifted up the heel' as a metaphor derived from the lifting up of a horse's hoof preparatory to kicking, and this is probably correct.  We should not, however, overlook the possibility that it is the shaking off of the dust from the feet that is meant (cf. Luke 9:5; 10:11)." "Taken from The Gospel According to John by Leon Morris.  Copyright 1971 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co."

David had experienced this "sorest of all hurts."  He also was betrayed by a close friend.  His own son Absalom even betrayed him.  And, then, his close friend Ahithophel sided with Absalom against him. See II Samuel 15:1-12, 16:15-23  David understood the pain Jesus would feel with Judas.  When David wrote of his personal pain, he was also predicting the pain that would be caused by the future betrayal of Jesus by Judas.

Here, we have an example of the mystery of how man's choices are also God's sovereign plan.  Certainly, Judas chose himself to do what was wicked.  But, at the same time, his betrayal of Jesus fulfilled God's sovereign plan.  How can both be true?  We do not need to figure out matters that defy our ability to figure them out.  "Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!" (Romans 11:33)  Our part is to affirm that man's choices and God's sovereignty are both true.

Why did Jesus choose a man whose heart was so far from His own heart to be one of His closest followers?  We cannot be sure, as Jesus does not give us His reason, but a probable reason is that it prepared the church of all time for the fact there will always be weeds among the wheat.  Jesus also prepared them for this reality in Matthew 13:  "Jesus told them another parable: 'The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. The owner’s servants came to him and said, “Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?” “An enemy did this,” he replied. The servants asked him, “Do you want us to go and pull them up?” “No,” he answered, “because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.”'" (Matthew 13:24-30)  "Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, 'Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.' He answered, 'The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.'" (Matthew 13:36-39) 

There was a man sown by the devil among Jesus' closest followers.  Jesus told them about him before Judas showed himself for who he was, so that when Judas betrayed Him, it would not weaken their faith but strengthen it.  "He did not want the disciples to think that he was caught up in a blind web of circumstances from which he could not escape.  He was not going to be killed, he was choosing to die." "Taken from The Gospel of John by William Barclay.  Copyright 1975 by the Westminster Press." 

"that I am he"  Jesus simply said, "ego eimi"—"I am!"  This is similar to what Jesus said in 8:58: "'I tell you the truth,' Jesus answered, 'before Abraham was born, I am!'"  Jesus was saying that when this prediction that someone would betray Him occurred, they would recognize that only God could make this type of prediction—they would recognize that Jesus is God!

"'I tell you the truth, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.'"  How do these words fit in with what Jesus has just said about Judas?  They seem to be disconnected from verses 18 and 19.  But, as Boice observes, they are not disconnected from His words about His humble service of washing their feet.  Judas did not accept His teaching, but that was not true of the rest of the disciples.  In the future, if someone accepted their humble ministry of service, they would also be receiving both Jesus and "the one who sent" Him. 

"After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, 'I tell you the truth, one of you is going to betray me.'"  Judas' hard-heartedness did affect Jesus.  We may think of Him as being above pain, stoically looking on evil without emotions.  No, here we see how deeply Jesus felt about Judas' upcoming betrayal.  He was deeply wounded by Judas' cold-heartedness toward Him.  Jesus was "troubled in spirit" by what Judas was about to do.

"troubled in spiritWe can feel pain in our body.  We can also have mental and emotional pain.  This pain "in spirit" appears to be the deepest pain that can be experienced, for it is at the very core of our being.

Because Jesus felt emotional pain that comes from rejection, He understands the emotional pain we also feel when we are rejected by hard-hearted people.

b. Jesus disciples talk about which of them is the betrayer. (13:22-30)
"His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, 'Ask him which one he means.' Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, 'Lord, who is it?' Jesus answered, 'It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.' Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, son of Simon. As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. 'What you are about to do, do quickly,' Jesus told him, but no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the Feast, or to give something to the poor. As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night."

Thought Question #1:  Was John boasting when he refers to himself as "the disciple whom Jesus loved"?  Please explain your answer.

 

 

Thought Question #2:  Why do you think that the disciples did not immediately know it was Judas who would betray Jesus? (How does this apply to us today?)

 

 

"His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant.One of the most surprising parts of the Bible is described in this verse.  The other "disciples" had no idea who Jesus was talking about—which of them was going to betray Jesus.  Judas had completely fooled them.  Judas was inwardly a wolf, but outwardly he looked completely like one of the sheep.  He was an expert at showing people what they wanted to see.  He fooled everyone but Jesus. See Matthew 26:24-25

Are there people in the church today like Judas?  We may not know for sure until we get to heaven.  But, we can be confident that Satan is still planting weeds among the wheat.

"One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, 'Ask him which one he means.' Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, 'Lord, who is it?' Jesus answered, 'It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.' Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, son of Simon.

Barclay describes what the seating arrangement for a meal was like in Jesus' time.  We will see that it was not like the painting of the Last Supper by DaVinci where the disciples were all sitting at a table in much the way we sit at a table today.  "The Jews did not sit at a table; they reclined.  The table was a low, solid block with couches around it.  It was shaped like a U and the place of the host was in the centre.  They reclined on the left elbow, thus leaving the right hand free to deal with the food.  Sitting in such a way, a man's head was literally in the breast of the person reclining on his left.  Jesus would be sitting in the place of the host at the centre of the single side of the low table.  The disciple whom Jesus loved must have been sitting on his right, for as he lent on his elbow at the table, his head was in Jesus' breast." "Taken from The Gospel of John by William Barclay.  Copyright 1975 by the Westminster Press."

Most believe that "the disciple whom Jesus loved" is John the writer of this Gospel. See also 19:26, 20:2, 21:7,20 where John uses the same term to describe himself.  Is it boasting for John to describe himself as "the disciple whom Jesus loved"?  He is not boasting of his love for Jesus, but he is marveling at Jesus' great love for him.

"Judas" must have been on Jesus' left, for Jesus was able to talk to him without the others hearing what He said to him.  When Jesus offered "Judas" the bread, it "was a sign of special friendship . . .a mark of special affection." "Taken from The Gospel of John by William Barclay.  Copyright 1975 by the Westminster Press."  The other disciples saw Jesus' giving of "the piece of bread" as nothing more than a show of affection by Jesus.  They still did not know who the betrayer was.

"As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. 'What you are about to do, do quickly,' Jesus told him,"  How did John know that Satan entered "Judas" at this specific time?  Certainly, no one could see this entering of Judas by Satan taking place.  Also, what is meant by Satan entering "Judas"?  In 13:2, we learned that the devil was the evil villain behind the plot to murder Jesus.  "The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus."  It appears that "Judas," at this time when "Satan entered into him," fully chose to unite with Satan in his wicked plan.  We learn in the Bible that even Christians can become part of Satan's plans.  "'In your anger do not sin': Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold." (Ephesians 4:26-27) See also Matthew 16:21-23  Satan entered "Judas" when he fully gave himself over to the ugliest and most wicked act ever planned and carried out by man—the murder of the Holy One.

How did John know "Satan entered into" "Judas"?  Somehow, He was enlightened by God's Spirit to utter these inspired words about what took place in the invisible realm.  But, it appears that Judas' hardened rejection of Jesus' loving act of giving him the bread was the final step in the rejection of Jesus by "Judas" and the reception of "Satan" into his life.  Jesus did an act of love; "Judas" responded to the love with a hardened act of greed and hate.

"but no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the Feast, or to give something to the poor. As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night.

We see, first of all, that the disciples were still oblivious to what had begun to happen as "Judas" left the room.  They thought that "Judas" who "had charge of the money," was off on a mission of mercy to "give something to the poor."  Giving to "the poor" was part of what was done at the Passover Feast.  Instead, he was off to begin the most unmerciful and treacherous mission ever conceived and acted upon by a man—it was the ultimate betrayal of love and loyalty.  As soon as "Judas" had taken the bread, he went out.  "And it was night."It is always night when a man goes from Christ to follow his own purposes.  It is always night when a man listens to the call of evil rather than the summons of good.  It is always night when a man puts out the light of love.  It is always night when a man turns his back to Jesus." "Taken from The Gospel of John by William Barclay.  Copyright 1975 by the Westminster Press."  "To leave Christ's presence is to go into darkness; and not just the darkness of a physical night either, the spiritual darkness, which means death and damnation." "Taken from The Gospel of John by James Boice.  Copyright 1985 by Zondervan Publishing House."  Judas, at this moment, joined Satan's total darkness—as he will also share in Satan's doom.

3. A new command (13:31-35)

a. Jesus' glory (13:31-32)
"When he was gone, Jesus said, 'Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once. My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.'"

Thought Question:  Why was Jesus "glorified" during His arrest, unjust trial, and crucifixion?

 

 

"When he was gone, Jesus said, 'Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in him.A significant change had just taken place in Jesus' little band of followers—a man with darkness in his soul had just departed from them.  So, for the next few chapters, Jesus will share only with those whose hearts are fully with Him.  Also, a countdown had begun.  Shortly, just a number of hours away, Jesus would be arrested and crucified.  These last verses of John 13 and on through chapter 17 are Jesus' final words to His future apostles.  These are His last words to them preparing them for spiritual leadership In His church.  They are obviously words that we also need to hold on to tightly.

Soon, Jesus' greatest moment would occur.  The world would see God's love expressed in the most costly way love has even been expressed or will ever be expressed.  As we look at the cross, we see the full glory of the God who is love.  We know what is coming next.  He will be betrayed by one of His closest friends; He will go through a completely unjust trial; false witnesses will be marched out to testify against Him; He will be beaten by soldiers; He will be mocked by His countrymen; He will be hung on a wooden cross between two criminals; and, finally, He will be abandoned by these His closest followers.  Is this the glory that Jesus is talking about here?  It is glorious; for He did it all and went through it all in complete loving service to us.  We honor, ultimately, those whose motives are the purest and those who are the greatest and most selfless servants of others.  "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress . . ."  (James 1:27a) 

Jesus' honor and glory is that He was the greatest and most selfless servant of all.  "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:2)  At the cross, we see the total purity of God's motives.  We see his holiness.  God hates sin so much that our sin had to be punished.  His perfect love resulted in His Son taking the punishment.  We see God's wisdom at the cross, for He made a plan so that He could both punish sin and love us.  At the cross, we see God's faithfulness, for He had promised throughout the Old Testament that One would be sacrificed to atone for our sins.  The "Son of Man" was about to be "glorified and God" was "glorified in him."

And Jesus, when He does not prevent Judas from going out to begin that which would lead to the cross, shows that He chose this path willingly.  His glory began when he allowed Judas to leave Him without any resistance.

"If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once."  In I Peter 5:6, Peter says: "Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time." (1 Peter 5:6)  Jesus humbled Himself in obedience to the Father and the Father then exalted Him by His resurrection from the dead, His ascension into heaven, and His present position of glory in heaven.  Paul summed it up in the following way: "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2:5-11) See also John 17:5

"My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come."  Soon, Jesus would be gone.  He would no longer physically be with them.  In the following verses, He describes to them how they can bring glory to Him after He is gone.  He also describes how we today can bring Him glory as well.

b. How we are to bring God glory (13:34-35)
"'A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.'"

Thought Question:  In what ways are you and your local church obeying this command?

 

 

"'A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.'"  How can we bring God glory?  We are to love each other just as Jesus "loved" us.  How else will the world know what God is like through us than by our also showing God's sacrificial love toward each other?  How did Jesus love us?  No sacrifice was too great in the seeking of our best.  How should we love each other?  No sacrifice is too great as we seek each other's best.

Why was it a "new command"?  In one sense it was not a new command, for it is found in Leviticus 19:18.  "Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord." (Leviticus 19:18)  It was new, though, for they were about to see the ultimate expression of the love described in Leviticus when Jesus died in our place.  They were soon to see what real love is truly like as they witnessed His death on the cross for them and for us.  So, they would see through Him, in a "new" way, what love is like and how they were to "love one another."

"By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.My definition of love, coming from I Corinthians 13 is "to actively and affectionately seek another's best no matter what the cost or what the circumstances."  "God is love" (I John 4:8), so He loves us like that and He is like that.

In a selfish and heartless world, do people need to see what God is like?  Where can they see what He is like?  Jesus desires that they see what he is like through us.  "We don't need to be commanded to love people who are attractive or generous or delightful or kind or helpful.  The people Jesus commands us to love are those who are unlovely, stingy, nasty, dull, selfish, or downright mean." "Taken from God's Loving Word by Ray Stedman.  Copyright 1993 by Discovery House Publishers." 

So, Jesus is physically gone now.  Where will the people in our church see that "God is love"?  Where will the people in our neighborhoods see that "God is love"?  There can only be one answer—through you and me.  His command remains in force today.  There is nothing like genuine and dynamic love to permeate and transform our society.

"The church leader Tertullian (A. D. 155-220) quoted the pagans as saying of the Christians, 'See how they love one another?'" "Taken from Be Transformed by Warren Wiersbe.  Copyright 1986 by Victor Books."  May those in the world today say the same of us. See I John 3:16-18, 23, 4:7-12, 19-21

4. Jesus predicts Peter's denials. (13:36-38)
"Simon Peter asked him, 'Lord, where are you going?' Jesus replied, 'Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.' Peter asked, 'Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.' Then Jesus answered, 'Will you really lay down your life for me? I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!'"

Thought Question:  Why do you think that Peter thought that his commitment to Jesus was greater than it actually was? (How does this apply to us?)

 

 

"Simon Peter asked him, 'Lord, where are you going?' Jesus replied, 'Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.'"  Jesus was preparing His followers for His soon departure from them.  "My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come." (John 13:33) See also 7:33-34; 8:21

Peter was worried and asked where Jesus was going.  But, Jesus had already told Peter and the other disciples very clearly what was ahead for Him.  "From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life." (Matthew 16:21) See also Mark 10:32-34  What was Peter's response at that time?  "Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 'Never, Lord!' he said. 'This shall never happen to you!'" (Matthew 16:22)  Peter did not get it then and here on the evening before the cross, he still did not get it.  Like Peter, there is so much we do not get at first, and so much we still do not get.  God's ways are much different than our ways.

"Peter asked, 'Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.' Then Jesus answered, 'Will you really lay down your life for me? I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!'Here, we see how far "Peter" was from seeing the difference between Jesus and himself.  Here, "Peter" promises to "lay down" his "life" for Jesus.  We know that the very opposite happened: Jesus "laid down" His life for "Peter."

I am reminded of what the people of Israel said when God was giving them His law through Moses.  "Go near and listen to all that the Lord our God says. Then tell us whatever the Lord our God tells you. We will listen and obey." (Deuteronomy 5:27)  What was God's response to them?  "The Lord heard you when you spoke to me and the Lord said to me, 'I have heard what this people said to you. Everything they said was good. Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever!'" (Deuteronomy 5:28-29)  What they wanted to do was good, but God knew their human weakness and they did not.

What "Peter" wanted to do was good, but Jesus knew Peter's human weakness and Peter did not.  Jesus, then, predicted that Peter would not lay down his life for Him, but instead he would "disown" Him "three times." See also Matthew 26:33-35; Mark 14:29-31; Luke 22:31-34  Later, however, in the power of Jesus' life inside of him, he would lay down his life for Jesus.

Jesus did not reject "Peter" as He had rejected Judas.  This an encouragement for all of us who love Jesus, but have failed Him in moments of weakness.  Judas callously planned out his wicked choice; whereas, "Peter" never meant or desired to do what he did.  In fact, "Peter" intended to do the very of opposite of what he would end up doing.  He was convinced if everyone failed Jesus, he would not fail Him.  "Peter declared, 'Even if all fall away, I will not.'" (Mark 14:29)

It is encouraging to us as we see that Jesus used Peter even in a leadership position in His church, though he would fail Him at the most critical time.

Jesus looked beyond Peter's human weakness and failures to the time when he would no longer trust in his own strength, but would trust in God's strength.  We see this God-strengthened Peter as he wrote to Christians in the two books he wrote—I and II Peter.

What does it take to move us from human zeal in our own human strength to being used of God in His strength?  Ray Stedman gives this answer to that question.  "Jesus can teach us and build us up through the process of pain and hurt, rejection and failure.  In fact, I don't know any Christian who has ever been greatly used by God who didn't go through such a process." "Taken from God's Loving Word by Ray Stedman.  Copyright 1993 by Discovery House Publishers." 

5. Jesus comforts His . (14:1-31)

a. Trust in God. (14:1)
"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me."

Thought Question #1:  What do you learn about Jesus from these words?

 

 

"Thought Question #2:  How are Jesus' words helpful to you?

 

 

"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.These words of Jesus to His disciples and the words that follow are some of the most comforting words in the Bible.  They came at a time when Jesus' closest followers needed comforting.  Jesus had just told them that He was about to leave them; He had just predicted that one of them was going to betray Him; and he had just told Peter that He was going to "disown" Him.  His disciples were certainly very insecure about their futures.  Then, comes these comforting words to His followers—and they can be comforting words to us today also.  Through the ages, they have comforted many.  When I first heard these words, years ago, I was comforted by the gentleness and love of Jesus.

"Do not let your hearts be troubled."  Jesus' own heart was "troubled" shortly before He said these words.  "Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour." (John 12:27)  "After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, 'I tell you the truth, one of you is going to betray me.'" (John 13:21) See also 11:33  The fact that His heart could get troubled shows us that one is not sinning when his or her heart is troubled.  There are some things in life that are troubling.  What was about to happen to Jesus, understandably, was troubling to Him.

His disciples saw that He was "troubled" and they also were "troubled."  What would help them not to be "troubled" in heart?  What will help us not to "be troubled"?  Only trust in God will put our hearts to peace.  "The meaning, for the thought is not, 'Do not begin to be troubled,' but 'Stop being troubled,' or 'Do not be troubled any longer.'" "Taken from New Testament Commentary by William Hendriksen.  Copyright 1953 by Baker Book House."

"Trust in God; trust also in me.Jesus says, "Do not let your hearts be troubled."  How can we "not let" "our hearts be troubled"?  There are many troubling times in our world that we all experience.  As I am writing these words, our son is in a foreign land where he is in constant danger.  That troubles all of us who know him and love him.  It is very human for us to be troubled by what troubles the waters of our lives.  What is the only solution?  To continually pray for him and constantly entrust him to God.  There are many troubling times that come into our lives—many pressures, strife, someone is angry with us, rejection by a once close friend, pressure from a legalistic church member, and the list goes on.  Our world often seems out of control.  It is out of our control.  What can we do?  We can regularly turn all of these problems that are more than we can carry over to God.  We cannot handle them; He can!  They are out of our control, but they are not out of His control.  "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." (1 Peter 5:7)

"Trust in God; trust also in me.Both of these verbs for "trust" are in the present tense.  Jesus was exhorting them to continually "trust" God and continually "trust" Him.

"trust also in me."The exhortation is based on love of the most tender and self-forgetful character, for when Jesus uttered it he was himself troubled in the spirit . . . The agonizing shepherd facing the cross, comforts others." "Taken from New Testament Commentary by William Hendriksen.  Copyright 1953 by Baker Book House."  As we look at that day now, we see that nothing was out of control.  We see that God's plan that was best for all mankind was going to take place.  They needed to trust Jesus even before it happened; they need to trust that absolutely nothing was out of control—out of God's control.  Jesus was "troubled" because of what He knew was about to happen to Him—the great cost He was about to pay for us.  His disciples could trust Him because it would all be for their great good.

In our circumstances, God is just as much in control; though, at times, we are troubled.  Because we are human, we need encouragement like is found in the following verse: "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" (Jeremiah 29:11)  Recently, a wonderful Christian lady shared in front of our church that she had just learned that the cancer that she had just learned about had spread and that she was going into surgery to remove part of it the next week.  She put it this way: "Because I am human, I am nervous, but I ask for your prayers."  I am sure that we all understood what she meant.  She was troubled, but she was seeking to trust God. 

The fact that Jesus was "troubled" and His disciples were "troubled" brings up a practical issue.  Jesus does not rebuke them for being "troubled," but He comforts them by encouraging and exhorting them to "trust" God and Him.  Boice has some helpful words on this subject.  "Sometimes when a person comes to us with a problem.  We want to say, 'But that is not so bad.  Think how things could be worse . . . Nothing is gained by minimizing the problems.  Instead, we must hear the troubled soul out, and we must acknowledge that in many, if not all cases, there is that which rightly troubles him. Indeed, we must even weep with them that weep." "Taken from The Gospel of John by James Boice.  Copyright 1985 by Zondervan Publishing House."

Ray Stedman has similar words of encouragement for us.  "Does this mean that Christians should never feel anxious, pressured, or afraid?  Does this mean that such feelings are sinful?  Are we supposed to feel cheerful and confident, even when our circumstances point to approaching disaster?  Many have taken John 14:1 to mean exactly that.  But those who believe that way forget that Jesus Himself was not immune to deeply troubled feelings in time of hurt or pressure. . . .Stress is a normal human response to change and problems in life . . .we cannot prevent stress, we can overcome it." "Taken from God's Loving Word by Ray Stedman.  Copyright 1993 by Discovery House Publishers."

Jesus' disciples were understandably "troubled"; Jesus was even "troubled."  Being "troubled" by troubling times is not a time to arrogantly rebuke people for being "troubled" instead of being peaceful; it is a time for coming alongside them in their time of need.

It is only when others know that we care and empathize with what is troubling them that we can help them by encouraging them to "trust God."  Jesus did care for these men, and He did empathize with what "troubled" them.  It "troubled" Him also.  That is why His gentle comforting words helped them and help us also.

b. Reasons to trust God (14:2-31)

(1) Your future home is assured (14:2-4)
"'In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 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. You know the way to the place where I am going.'"

Thought Question:  What can you learn about what heaven will be like from Jesus' words here?

 

 

"'In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.'"  Because this verse is so rich in providing hope for us, we need to closely examine the words that Jesus uses here.  "In my Father's house."  When we think of "house," we think of a building in which people live.  Christians who are near death, sometimes say that they are ready to go home.  Pilgrim's Progress is a book about someone who is a "pilgrim" on this earth.  The home he is traveling toward is heaven—there he will be at home with God.  A line in a songs says, "This world is not my home." The "Father's house" is also to be our house—our future home.  It is the place where we will finally feel fully at home—a "pilgrim" no more.  "But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body." (Philippians 3:20-21)  See Hebrews 11:9-10

Our "Father's house" could refer to the third heaven where the angels dwell.  "I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell." (II Corinthians 12:2-4)  Or Jesus could be referring to the New Jerusalem described in Revelation 21-22.  "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.' He who was seated on the throne said, 'I am making everything new!' Then he said, 'Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.'" See Hebrews 11:16; Psalm 33:13-14

The "Father's house" will be our home, for in it we will be with God the Father and Jesus forever.  " . . . And so we will be with the Lord forever."                        (I Thessalonians 4:17b)  "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is." (I John 3:1-2)  Our future home will be our home because we will be with God our Father and we will be part of His eternal family forever.

"are many rooms"  The Greek word translated "rooms" and "mansions" in the KJV is monai.  "Old word from meno, to abide, abiding places." "Taken from Word Pictures in the New Testament by A. T. Robertson.  Copyright 1932 by Broadman Press."  Jesus appears to be saying that each of us who are His followers will have a place to reside in our "Father's house."  It is implied that it will be a personal and an ample place to live.  What our dwelling places will be like remains a mystery, but Paul refers to what he saw in the third heaven as "paradise." (II Corinthians 12:4)

"I am going there to prepare a place for you.Randy Alcorn has written a wonderful and thorough book on heaven titled Heaven.  I highly recommend it.  Listen to what he says about what our "rooms" or abiding places will be like.  "In the same way that God paid attention to the details of the home he prepared for Adam and Eve in Eden, Christ is paying attention to the details as he prepares for us an eternal home in Heaven (John 14:2-3).  If he prepared Eden so carefully and lavishly for mankind in the sixth day of creation, what has he fashioned in the place he's been preparing for us in the two thousand years since he left this world." "Taken from Heaven by Randy Alcorn.  Copyright 2004 by Tyndale pp. 241-242."  "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." (Romans 8:18)  "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all." (II Corinthians 4:17)

"a place"  Randy Alcorn in the book just quoted emphasizes that our heavenly home will be "a place."  We will have bodies and we will dwell in "a place."  Also, the New Jerusalem will be "a place"—a wonderful "place."

"for you."  Not only is Jesus preparing "a place," He is preparing "a place" for each of us: "in the great home of the Father's there is a place being prepared particularly for us." "Taken from The Gospel of John by James Boice.  Copyright 1985 by Zondervan Publishing House."  Since James Boice died not too long after writing this commentary I quoted, he now has personal knowledge of "the place" that Jesus prepared for him.

Boice quotes Paul Tournier about the importance of having hope that that there is a personal place for each of us ahead: In Tournier's book, "A Place For You, he deals with the idea of a place and ofthe need we all have for it.  For instance, at the beginning of the book he tells of a young man whom he had once counseled.  The young man had been born into an unhappy home, had developed a sense of failure—first failing to reconcile his parents and then in an inability to settle down into any one area of life—and at last had come to see Tournier.  Together they explored the young man's problems.  On one occasion, as he was trying to look at himself objectively and put what he saw into words, the student looked up at his counselor and said, 'Basically, I'm always looking for a place—for somewhere to be.' This says Tournier as the book unfolds, is a basic desire of the human heart.  It is the desire to have a genuine place of our own, a home, a place where we belong and know ourselves to belong.  The problem, says the counselor, is that many people apparently never find this place and so spend much of life wandering." "Taken from The Gospel of John by James Boice.  Copyright 1985 by Zondervan Publishing House."

As I was typing these words, I remembered the song in the movie "The West Side Story" that I saw many years ago when I was stationed in the Navy.  I saw the movie in Yokohama, Japan.  There is a song in that movie that has this line: "There's a place for us."  The Caucasian young man who sang it in the movie had fallen in love with a Puerto Rican girl.  There really was not a place for them in their society, though, for they were from rival gangs and from different races.  Shortly after this he is killed by someone from the rival gang.  But, what was not true for the characters in the movie is true for all who have put our faith in Jesus Christ—there is a "place" for us!

Shortly after typing these words, I went to a funeral of a pastor's wife and heard of her life-long testimony of faith in Christ from many people.  There was not a doubt in my mind that she is in Jesus' "place" for her—she is in that "place" right now!

"'if it were not so, I would have told you.'"  It appears that Jesus added these words to emphasize the total certainty that what He was saying would and will take place.  If it were not true, He "would have told" us!

"'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.'"  Jesus was about to leave them, but He would not be gone permanently.  We are still waiting for Him to return.  But we can be sure that He will return; and when He returns, He will "take" us to be "with" Him.

"'that you also may be where I am.'"  When I return home, I often look to see if my wife's car is in the driveway.  If the car is there, I am not coming home to an empty house, but to our home where my wife is present.  When we go to heaven, we are not going to just any place, but we are going to our eternal home to be with the One who loves us and the One who died for us.

(2) Jesus is the only way to an eternal home with God. (14:4-11)
"'You know the way to the place where I am going.' Thomas said to him, 'Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?' Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.'  Philip said, 'Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.' 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”? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 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 miracles themselves.'"

Thought Question #1:  If someone says that believing in another religion will also lead to God and eternal life, how can you use this verse to show them that what they have said is not true?

 

 

Thought Question #2: What do the words of Jesus: "Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father" tell us about Him?

 

 

"'You know the way to the place where I am going.' Thomas said to him, 'Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?'"  "Thomas" knew more about Jesus' ways than he realized.  We also know more about Jesus' ways than we realize.  I was raised going to churches.  They were, for the most part, liberal churches; but I was taught about Jesus when I was a child.  I knew the truth, but did I realize and believe fully that it was the truth?  So, "Thomas" and the other disciples had heard the truth, they just had not yet understood the significance of Jesus' words.  He had been teaching them who He is and what He had come to do, but their eyes had not yet been opened to see what was right in front of them.

Like the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, their eyes needed to be opened.  "And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. . . .  Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 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?'" (Luke 24:27, 31-32)  Thomas and the others had not yet been given the Spirit.  When they received the Spirit, they would remember what He had taught them and then they would understand the significance of His words.  "But the Counselor, 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." (John 14:26)  Jesus had already taught them many times what "the way" to the Father is.  "'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.'" (John 5:24) "Then Jesus declared, 'I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.'" (John 6:35)  "On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, 'If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.' By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified." (John 7:37-39)  "When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, 'I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'" (John 8:12)  "Therefore Jesus said again, 'I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep.'" (John 10:7) "Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies.'" (John 11:25)

The disciples' dullness to what Jesus had been telling them continues with those of us who are His disciples today.  All of us have had times when a verse suddenly made sense to us.  We had read it or heard it many times, and then at a particular time we gain a deeper understanding of its meaning.  Also, you may have taught the Bible in a class and have realized that many in the class are not really paying attention to what you believe is a critical part of the lesson.  The disciples of our time can be dull of hearing just like the disciples of Jesus' time. 

"Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'"  We will look at each of Jesus' statements of who He is one at a time.  First of all, he is "the way."  A "way" is a path between two points.  Jesus is the path between two points.  Jesus is the path that takes us from being apart from Him—sinful and separated from God—to a satisfying and abundant relationship with God.  There is no other "way" to a relationship with God.  He is the only "way' to God.  This is a completely exclusive statement.  All of the other religions that teach a different "way" to God, do not lead to a relationship with God.  Christianity was called "the Way." See 19:9,23, 22:4, 24:14

The tabernacle in the Old Testament pictures this "way" to God through Jesus.  There was only one "way" into the tabernacle—through the opening in the fence around the tabernacle.  When you entered that opening, in front of you was the brazen altar where sacrifices were made.  Those sacrifices symbolized the blood sacrifice of Jesus made on our behalf.  Only Jesus' sacrifice cleanses us from sin so that we can enter into the presence of a completely holy God. See Revelation 5  No other religion provides an adequate sacrifice to pay for our sins and to give us access into God's holy presence.

Second, Jesus is "the truth."  There was a point in my life when it was apparent to me that there was just too many religions and philosophies in the world for me to ever get to know them well.  As a result, I thought, "How can I ever know which one of them is "the truth"?  Jesus, as He claims here, is "the truth."  He alone shows us what God is like—the "truth" about how we can be like Him.  "To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, 'If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.'" (John 8:31-32) See 1:17

Third, He is "the life."  What is it that makes "life" truly fulfilling and abundant?  We need Jesus and His "life" in us.  "To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." (Colossians 1:27)  Jesus said: "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty." (John 6:35)  His "life" fills the hunger for spiritual "life" inside of us. See 6:68  See also 1:4, 10:10, 27-28, 11:25

Finally, He is the only "way," "truth," and "life": "No one comes to the Father except through me."  This completely contradicts what people are saying.  How often people say such things as the following:  (1) That God reveals Himself to different parts of the world in different ways.  (2) People are all climbing up to God, but they are just climbing up to God on different sides of the same mountain.  (3) It is wrong for us to say that our truth is better than someone else's truth.  (4) It is not important what you believe, but all that is important is that you are sincere in what you believe.  These all may sound reasonable, and they are what people want to hear, but Jesus said they are all inaccurate.  For He said clearly that He is the only "way" we can come to God.  "No one" can come "to the Father except through me."  Peter said the very same thing: "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12)  Paul also said the same thing: "For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus," (I Timothy 2:5)

Truth is always exclusive.  If you want to reach me by phone, only my phone number will result in my phone ringing.  You can try thousands of numbers and you will not reach me.  There is only one way to reach me.  Truth is always exclusive. 2+2=4 is truth.  2+2=15 is false, even if we are sincere in believing it is the truth.  It is false, even if we believe that we have a good reason for believing that it is the truth.  There is only one answer for what 2+2 equals.  So, there is only one answer for how we can come to know God—through belief in Jesus and His death for us.

John 14:6 sums up the message of the whole Bible—Jesus is God's answer to man's fallenness, sin, and emptiness.  He was predicted in the Old Testament; He was described in the Gospels; His purpose for coming is explained to us in the letters of the New Testament; and He is described in all of His glory in the book of Revelation.

"If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.'"   "If you really knew me" means that Jesus' disciples did not "really" know Him.  Do we "really" "know" Him?  If we "really" "know" Him, we will also will "really" "know" the Father.
We can see that they had no idea what He was talking about.  "'From now on, you do know him and have seen him.'  Philip said, 'Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.'"  We can see that Jesus' disciples did not realize that God stood right in front of them.  They, undoubtedly still saw Him as someone who was born of a father and mother, raised in an ordinary family, and had brothers and sisters like most everyone else.  It was hard for them to see that He was and is God.  John the apostle knew that He is God when He wrote these words, for he stated clearly that Jesus is God in this Gospel.  "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. . . . . The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. . . . . No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known." (John 1:1-3,14,18)  But at the time he writes about here, it was still not clear to Phillip and the other disciples.

They probably were thinking of God being so totally beyond them and so fearsome that seeing God with our eyes was not a possibility for anyone.  The people of Israel at Mount Sinai with Moses wanted to have nothing to do with seeing God.  "When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, 'Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.'" (Exodus 20:18-19)

"To say that Phillip was baffled by spiritual truth is not the same as saying he was indifferent to it.  His request revealed a consuming earnestness that was more than curiosity.  If only God could be made visible to him, if He could be brought down to the level where he could understand Him, he would be satisfied." "Taken from John the Gospel of Belief by Merrill Tenney.  Copyright 1948 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company."

"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”'?"   Another problem that the disciples had is that they did not understand the Trinity.  We do not understand the Trinity either, but we do understand more than they understood then.  A basic teaching of the Old Testament that the Jews emphasized is found in Deuteronomy 6:4:  "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one."  We know today that God is one, but we also know that this oneness is expressed in three Persons.  John clearly taught this in John 1:1-2: " In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning."  According to these verses, "in the beginning," Jesus was both "with God" and He "was God."  Jesus is not a part of God and the Father another part of God, but the Father is undivided God and Jesus is undivided God.  How can this be?  We may not understand the Trinity, but the Bible clearly teaches the Trinity.

Jesus answers Phillip by saying: "Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father."  What is God like?  God's ultimate revelation of Himself to us is Jesus Christ.  As we get to "really" know Jesus, we also are "really" getting to know "the Father." 

Boice observed that Jesus uses a different Greek word for "seen" here from the normal Greek word for "see,"blepo; he uses orao—"which means 'to see with understanding.'" "Taken from The Gospel of John by James Boice.  Copyright 1985 by Zondervan Publishing House."  If we see Jesus "with understanding," we will recognize that we have "seen the Father."  "Phillip had asked to be 'shown' the Father.  This is the word deiknumi, which, in effect, calls for a demonstration.  Jesus replies that what was needed was not so much a demonstration as an apprehension.  It is not a seeing but a perceiving that is important." "Boice."

"'Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.'"  "The Father" and the Son are completely united—whatever Jesus did and said were from "the Father."  "The Father" and the Son are not only united in a common purpose, but they are united in that they are one essence. See 5:17-23, 10:38

"'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 miracles themselves.'Superstition is believing in something even though there is no "evidence" upon which to base one's belief.  Jesus' miracles were "evidence" upon which to base our belief in Him.  He did many "miracles," even raising people from the dead.  The greatest miracle was His own resurrection from the dead. See 10:25, 38

(3) Through Jesus' name, we will do greater things than He did. (14:12-14)
"I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it."

Thought Question:  What are the "greater things" that Jesus talks about here?  (Are we doing them now?) 

 

 

"I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father."  When I read these verses as a young Christian, I concluded that Jesus Christ promised that if we have faith, we will be able to do "greater" miracles than He did.  For example, He walked on water; then, we should be able to do a "greater" miracle than walking on water.  He raised the dead; then, we should be able to do a greater miracle than that.  Have we done "greater miracles" than these miracles of Jesus?  Did His disciples do "greater" miracles than Jesus did?  Most would agree that neither Jesus' disciples nor we do more spectacular physical miracles than Jesus did.  But, some will tell us it is because of our lack of faith.  If we, according to them, can muster up enough faith, we will be able to do more spectacular miracles than Jesus did. 

There, though, is another interpretation of Jesus' words.  According to this interpretation, we are doing greater miracles right now than Jesus did—this is happening today.  I do not believe that Jesus meant that we were going to do more spectacular physical miracles than He did, but that we would do miracles that are much "greater" in importance than the miracles that He did.  We find what is a greater miracle than the spectacular type of miracles in Luke 10:17-20: "The seventy-two returned with joy and said, 'Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.' He replied, 'I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.'"

What is the "greater" and more important type of miracle?  It is the miracle that God is doing right now all over the world.  It is much "greater" than the miracles that Jesus did.  It is the supernatural transformation of lives from eternally damned children of the devil into becoming eternally born-again members of God's family.  It is also God fulfilling His purposes through the prayers of His people.  It may not be more spectacular, but it is much "greater" in importance.  Today, the church made up of Spiritually reborn people, has spread throughout the world  and is able to do much "greater things" than Jesus did.  For when Jesus walked on the earth as a man, He only lived and walked around in very small area of the earth, and He only influenced that small area of the world.  Today, His church is located in every part of the world and is having influence in every part of the world.  Also, our prayers are influencing every part of the world.

"anyone who has faith in me"  The "has faith" is in the present tense and describes one who continually believes in God.  It is this one who will do the "greater things" that Jesus promised.  Also, the "greater things" will happen "because" Jesus went "to the Father."  As Jesus will explain in the next verses, He now indwells His believing ones through the Holy Spirit.  He now works through many Spirit-indwelt individuals and is, therefore, present all over the world.

"And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.Here, in these two verses, we find God's guidelines for prayer that will accomplish the "greater things" that Jesus has just promised.  A book that I have benefitted from is titled, Praying Backwards.  It was written by Bryon Chapell.  He makes these comments about these verses.  "Why do we finish our prayers with the refrain 'In Jesus' name'?  Is this just the religious form of saying, 'Yours truly,' or 'roger, wilco, over and out'?  Is Jesus' name just a 'sanctified' period?  We know better . . . Though Jesus commands us to pray in his name, the reason we do so is not simply to make sure that we get our prayer formula right.  Our prayers are not more powerful because we chant our Savior's name like a magic spell . . . When we pray in Jesus' name; we confess that we are not coming to God or asking for his blessing on the basis of our merit.  In essence, we are saying, 'Lord there is not enough goodness in my best works to warrant your listening to me or answering my prayer.  But, Lord, I am not appealing to you on the basis of my merit, I ask you to listen to me as one who trusts in the blood of Jesus to wash away my sin.'  Also, "when we pray in Jesus' name, we are appealing to the Holy Spirit to conform our prayers to Christ's purposes. . . . To do anything in the Lord's name means to do it for his purposes. . . . Praying backwards is an attitude of the heart.  It means we back away from making ourselves, our wishes, or our wants the primary concerns of our prayer.  We always put the purposes of Jesus first." "Taken from Praying Backwards by Bryan Chapell.  Copyright 2005 by Baker Books. pp. 20-21, 24,25,27."

When can we pray with confidence, trust, and belief that God will answer our prayers?  First of all, Chapell tells us what it is not.  "Proper belief is not unwavering confidence that something we want will happen, nor is it doubtless trust that we know what is best.  Our trust is not in the thing we want or in our sufficient faith.  The success of our prayers does not lie in exceptional confidence that we have pumped enough of our own faith into our prayer (and extracted enough doubt) so that now God must respond." "Chapell, p. 52"

What, then, is praying that will result in God doing the "greater things" that He promised so long ago?  Faith that God will answer a prayer occurs when we are confident that what we are praying for is what will fulfill what He wants to do.  When we are confident that what we are praying for is what Jesus also wants and it is what will "bring glory to the Father," then we have the type of faith that will result in the "greater things" that Jesus promised.  As is taught in the book of James, the prayer of faith comes from a purified heart—a heart that can clearly see God and His purposes. See James 1:2-8, 4;4-10, 5;13-18; Matthew 5:8; Ephesians 1:15-17  God's Spirit enables us to pray for that which is God's will. See Romans 8:26-27; Ephesians 3:14-19, 6:18; I John 5:14-15  We can even say that prayers for God's will come to us from God as He leads us by His Spirit.  Prayer like this will result in God doing through us the "greater things" that Jesus promises in these verses.  "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." (Ephesians 3:20-21).

"You may ask me for anything in my name"  We know that Jesus did not mean, "Ask me for a million dollars" and you will get it.  Jesus obviously did not mean that we can ask Him for enough money so that we can spend an evening in a bar.  What, then, does Jesus mean?  What He meant is similar to Psalm 37:4.  "Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart."  If we "delight" in seeing God being glorified as a result of our prayers, we will ask Him only for that which is within His holy and exalted purposes and will.  Then, we will ask for "anything" and He "will do it—for, then, we will only ask for what we know He wants us to ask Him for.

Also, He says "ask in my name."  That also limits the "anything" to that which He desires and to that which lines up with His will.  Hendriksen lists some places in the book of Acts that happened after prayer: "Acts 1:14 [the prayer described there is] followed by the great miracles of ch. 2; 4:31; 6:6, 7; 9:40, 41; 10:4, 9; 12:15; 16:25-34." "Taken from New Testament Commentary by William Hendriksen.  Copyright 1953 by Baker Book House."  The Father was glorified by the answers to these prayers.

Sometimes, what glorifies "the Father" is much different that what we want.  Jesus glorified "the Father" when He died on a cross. See 12:23-38  Some who glorified God in the past were going through some type of painful trial; yet, rather than live in self-pity, they put God's glory above their difficult circumstances.  Is God's glory our highest goal?  It will purify and redirect our prayers so that they are directed toward this goal.

(4) The Father will give you a Comforter. (14:15-27)
"'If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. 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. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.' Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, 'But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?' Jesus replied, 'If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He 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. All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, 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. 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.'"

Thought Question #1:  What do you find in these verses that teaches you how to grow closer to God?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  What do you find in these verses that helps you not to become a legalist and not to drift into license?

 

 

"'If you love me, you will obey what I command.'"  It is a principle that what we "love" is what we do.  For example, if someone loves a particular sport, he or she will play that sport or watch that sport either in person or on television.  And so it goes from person to person; what we "love" is what we do.  Our greatest "love," then, determines what we do most.

"Love" like this is to be the primary motivator for both the Christian life and for service within Christ's church.  Church leaders are not to force, pressure, intimidate, or manipulate Christians into obeying God and serving God.  The Christian life is meant to be something that we want to do, not a duty that we have to do.  Jesus says here that He could tell whether or not His followers loved Him; for if we "love" Him, we will "obey" Him.

Jerry Bridges, in his book Transforming Grace gives an illustration that helps us to see the importance of Jesus' words in this verse:  "In one southern state, a narrow two-lane highway has been built though a swampland by building up the road bed above the swamp.  You must be extra alert not to drift off the road because there is no margin for error.  If you go off the road, you do not end up on a grassy shoulder but rather submerged in a swamp." "Taken from Transforming Grace by Jerry Bridges. Copyright 1991 by NavPress."

His point is that the Christian life is lived on a road between legalism on one side and license on the other.  License is when you feel that because you are under grace—God forgives your sins, it gives you license to do whatever you want to do.  Legalism is when people seek to somehow force their rules on you.  Living by grace is where we, out of love for God, choose to obey God.  License is also called "antinomianism"—against (anti) the law (nomos).   Jesus, however, said, "If you love me, you will obey what I command."  His words will keep us squarely on His narrow path, doing what He wants us to do for the right reason. See also I John 2:3-5, 3:22-24, 5:3 

"If you love" and "will obey" are in the present tense.  So, Jesus was saying, if you keep on loving me, you will also keep on obeying me.  This, in just a few words, describes both the motivation for the Christian life and the direction of the Christian life. See also 14:21, 23-24

For the Christian, the greatest goal in life is to do what pleases Jesus.  Our life will revolve around Him; not because it is a duty, but because our greatest joy is to please Him.

"And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. 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. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you."  Jesus says that in response to His request, "the Father" was going to send them "another Counselor."  A key word here is "another."  It is "another of like kind (allon, not heteron)." "Taken from Word Pictures in the New Testament by A. T. Robertson.  Copyright 1932 by Broadman Press."  In other words, the One who was going to be sent to them was going to be just like the One who was with them!  Jesus, the God-man, was with them.  So, also, the Holy Spirit is God, and He would soon come to be with them in the same way that Jesus had been with them.  This is important for us, for the Holy Spirit is also with us and in us today.

We will look first at who the Holy Spirit is and then we will look at His Counselor role with us.  First of all, the Holy Spirit is both God and a person.  He is God and can be blasphemed.  "And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come." (Matthew 12:31-32)  When someone lies to Him, he or she lies to God.  "Then Peter said, 'Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God.'" (Acts 5:3-4)

The Holy Spirit is also a Person who makes decisions and speaks.  "In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, 'Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.'" (Acts 13:1-2) 

So, the Counselor that Jesus has sent to us is the third member of the Trinity.  Watchman Nee has this to say about the Counselor who is with us and in us:  "Do you know my friends, that the Spirit within you is very God?  Oh that our eyes were opened to see the greatness of God's gift.  Oh that we might realize the vastness of the resources secreted in our hearts!  I could shout with joy as I think, 'The Spirit who dwells within me is no mere influence, but a living Person; He is very God.  The infinite God is within my heart!'  I am at loss to convey to you the blessedness of the discovery, that the Holy Spirit dwelling within me is a Person.  I can only repeat: 'He is a Person!'  And repeat it again; 'He is a Person!' and repeat it yet again: 'He is a Person!'  Oh, my friends, I would fain repeat it to you a hundred times—The Spirit of God within me is a Person!  I am only an earthen vessel, but in that earthen vessel I carry a treasure of unspeakable worth, even the Lord of Glory." "Taken from The Normal Christian Life by Watchman Nee.  Copyright 1957 by Christian Literature Crusade, p. 91."

He is also our wonderful "Counselor."  It is the Greek word paraclyton or "Paraclete."  "This old word (Demosthenes), from parakaleo, was used for legal assistant, pleader, advocate, one who pleads another's cause . . ." "Taken from Word Pictures in the New Testament by A. T. Robertson.  Copyright 1932 by Broadman Press."

It is a person that comes alongside—para—to strengthen, give wisdom and guidance, and to support and encourage us.  Do you need this type of "Counselor"?  I know that I do!  It is the same word that John uses in I John 2:1:  "My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; " (1 John 2:1, NASB95)  I quote the NASB version as it is clearer.  Here, the Greek word translated "Advocate" is the same word translated "Counselor" here in John 14.

Do we need God to personally intervene with us against the devil and his accusations of us when we sin?  Do we need God the Spirit to guide us in our lives?  God the Spirit has come alongside us—even within us—to powerfully and gently help us to represent God in this evil world.

What is exciting about this "Counselor" that now abides in us is that having Him with us is exactly like the disciples having Jesus with them.  He is personally with each Christian to support and encourage us as we seek to serve Jesus.  As the disciples did not always understand Jesus, so we do not always understand the Spirit.  But, if we seek His perception of life, He will joyously give it to us. See Acts 13:1-2; Ephesians 1:15-23

"the Spirit of truth"  John also refers to the Holy Spirit as "the Spirit of truth" later in John.  "When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me." (John 15:26)  "I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 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." (John 16:12-13)  As a non-Christian college student, I was exposed to many viewpoints about life.  In a small group, led by a philosophy professor, I asked, "How can you tell which of these philosophies is right?"  She laughed and said, "You can't!"  But, not much later, I put my faith in Jesus Christ and realized that the Bible was the "truth."  The Bible, of course, was written by "the Spirit of truth." See II Peter 1:20-21  Paul said the following about how "the Spirit of truth" leads us to the "truth."  "We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words."
(I Corinthians 2:12-13) See also I Corinthians 2:6-16; I John 4:6

"The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him."  Why is the world unable to "accept" the Holy Spirit.  It is because they do not want to know about the things of God.  Paul describes the world as those who "refused to love the truth and so be saved." (II Thessalonians 2:10) See also I Corinthians 2:14; Romans 8:7

"But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you."  "Live with you is menei or abides "with you."  "'By your side,' 'at home with you,' not merely 'with you.'" "Taken from Word Pictures in the New Testament by A. T. Robertson.  Copyright 1932 by Broadman Press."  So the One who was "with" them would soon be "in" them.

"I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you."  An orphan, for one reason or another is alone in a world where he or she does not belong anywhere.  We live in a world that "cannot accept" Jesus.  We are "aliens and strangers in the world." (I Peter 2:11)  But, we are not alone.  ". . . surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:20b)  ". . . God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'" (Hebrews 13:5)  God has sent the Holy Spirit who is in us, so that we do not go through even one second without Him being with us and in us.  We are never fatherless nor abandoned by God.  We need never feel lonely for we are never alone.

Some commentators believe that Jesus is speaking here of His return to His disciples after His resurrection from the dead.  In 16:16-22, 28 and 29, Jesus is predicting His resurrection.  I believe, however, that here Jesus is speaking of the Holy Spirit coming to them, for two reasons:  (1) He has just been speaking of "another Counselor."  (2) He has just said that He would be "in" them.  The very next verse says, "I will not leave you as orphans."

"Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live."  What does He mean by "'you will see me'"?  Three answers to this question are possible: (1) Jesus' resurrection appearances to them; (2) seeing Him as the Holy Spirit opens their eyes to see Him with spiritual eyes; and (3) Jesus' future return at the Second Coming.  Ray Stedman, I believe, gives the answer, and it is both #1 and #2: "This is a reference to His appearances following the resurrection.  Following the crucifixion and resurrection, the disciples saw Him and spoke with Him several times over the course of forty days.  But there is an even deeper meaning to His words.  He is saying, 'You will continue to see me by means of the Spirit.  You will know me more richly, more deeply, more truly after the Day of Pentecost than before.'" "Taken from God's Loving Word by Ray Stedman.  Copyright 1993 by Discovery House Publishers."

"Because I live, you also will live."  These words clearly point to Jesus' resurrection making our resurrection life possible.  "You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. 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." (Romans 8:9-11)  Jesus is predicting two resurrections: (1) His resurrection and (2) their resurrection life through the Holy Spirit.

"On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you."  One of the essential beliefs of Biblical Christianity is the belief in one God in three Persons—the Trinity.  The Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are one essence.  Jesus is "in" the Father and the Father is "in" Jesus. See John 17:21  This is a unique oneness—they are in unity with each other because they are one essence.  We, by the Holy Spirit, have been grafted into that oneness.  Jesus is "in" us and we are "in" Christ.  "To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." (Colossians 1:27)  " Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ." (Ephesians 1:3)  God's Spirit enables us to see with spiritual eyes this oneness within the Trinity and our oneness with Christ.

We do not need to perform to enable us to deserve this oneness; but, rather, we need to see that we already have this oneness.  "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, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength," (Ephesians 1:18-19)  Then, we are to live in the power and life of our graciously given new life in Christ.  "As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received." (Ephesians 4:1)  "Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God." (Colossians 3:1-3)

"Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him."  There are those who offer ways to grow closer to God.  Here, Jesus offers His way to grow closer to Him.  There are two requirements: (1) we are to love Him, and (2) in our love we are to obey Him.  Do we want to grow closer to Christ?  Do we love Him above all?  Do we love everything about Him?  Then, do we above all desire to be like Him by obeying Him?

And as we obey Him, He will "show" Himself to us.  "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. . . . " (James 4:7-8a)  We draw closer to God by obeying Him; then God promises to draw near to us.  "Jesus replied, 'If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.'" (John 14:23)

"Show myself to him" is a present tense verb and describes Jesus continually showing Himself to us as we continually seek to obey Him—our union with Jesus Christ becomes more and more real to us as we obey Him.  As our hearts become more united with Him as we choose to walk and live in His ways, He reveals more about Himself to us.

"Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, 'But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?' Jesus replied, 'If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.'"  It is still true today that Jesus does not reveal Himself to everyone.  As "Judas (not Judas Iscariot)" asked, Why does Jesus reveal Himself to us "and not to the world?"  The answer is the same today: He reveals Himself to those who love Him and show their love for Him by obeying Him.

Allow me to explain simply how this works.  If I were about to drive to Los Angeles and I knew someone who also wanted to go to Los Angeles, I could invite him to join me.  This person would be at home in my car because he would be going where I am going.  Now, that is the same as growing close to Jesus.  We only grow close to Jesus if we are heading in the same direction as He is going.  There is a total difference between going to church and giving someone a ride there, and going to a bar and giving someone a ride there.  So, if we are going God's direction, He will come and make His home with us. See Ephesians 3:14-19

 A little booklet is called, "My Heart—Christ's Home."  Robert Munger, in this booklet, illustrated inviting Jesus into our home, but not yet making him welcome in every single room in our home.  When we choose to obey Jesus, we invite Him and welcome Him into every area in our life.  As a result, He comes in and makes Himself at home in our life.

"Judas (not Judas Isacariot)"  We know little about him. See Luke 6:16; Acts 1:13.  He may also have been named Thaddeus. See Matthew 10:3; mark 3:18

"He 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."  Jesus will not reveal Himself to someone who does not want to know Him and who does not want to obey His ways.  "He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him." (John 1:11)  "If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own." (John 7:17)  "Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him." (John 12:37)  Those who continually choose not to love Him and not to obey Him will also continue to have what they choose.  They are not interested in Him or His ways and He will also choose not to reveal Himself to them.

"These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me."  Jesus was not speaking out of a personal reaction to those who rejected Him, but it was what "the Father" had ordained Him to say.

"All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, 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."  Jesus' disciples did not really understand much of what Jesus taught and said to them.  But after Jesus was gone and the Holy Spirit had entered inside of them, God's Spirit enabled them to understand what He meant by what He said to them.  If we read a book, we do our best to understand what was in the author's mind when he was writing the book.  When we read the Bible, however, we have the Spirit of the Author Himself inside of us to reveal to us what was in His Spirit as He guided the authors in writing it. Paul first explains how God's Spirit guided him in the writing of the Bible. "We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words." (I Corinthians 2:12-13)  Then, he describes our spirit to Spirit understanding of the Spirit-directed words of the Bible.  "The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment: 'For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?' But we have the mind of Christ." (I Corinthians 2:14-16)   See also II Peter 1:20-21

God's Spirit in John enabled him to remember and understand what Jesus said to him; then, he wrote down what God's Spirit revealed to him; and, finally, God's Spirit led him to write the words that are now found in this Gospel of John. See also 15:26-27, 16:12-14

God's Spirit continues to teach us as Christians.  Each time we read the Bible—as Christians who are commanded to be continually filled and directed by the Spirit—we are to continually seek the Spirit's guidance and teaching as we seek to understand God's ways.  Each Christian has had those moments when suddenly a truth in the Bible has been personalized to us as God's Spirit has enlightened us to its meaning and application to our lives.

"whom the Father will send in my name,"  "The Father" desires that we know Him and understand His ways.  He sent the Spirit to us to enable us to do that.  In 15:26, we learn that Jesus also sent the Spirit.  We will discuss the importance of that when we come to that verse.

"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."  All kinds of uncertainty is par for life in this world.  Economic uncertainty, relational uncertainly, health concerns, and other types of uncertainty are a common part of life.  How does the world deal with these types of uncertainty?  They retreat into the fantasy world of movies, television, and video games.  They resort to pills, illegal drugs, and alcohol.  We are told here that an attribute of Jesus and of God is "peace."  A fruit of the Spirit is "peace." (Galatians 5:22)  We are told here that the opposite of His "peace" is to be "afraid" and to "let" our "hearts be troubled." 

The disciples were about to enter into a very troubled time.  Jesus was soon to be taken away from them by an armed guard.  He was to be arrested, tried and found guilty of blasphemy, beaten by Roman soldiers, crucified, and buried in a stone tomb.  In short, they would soon become a leaderless gang in a shocking and horrible way.  They also would be "troubled."  Yet, as we know, God would be totally in charge of all that would happen to them.  And, in the end, God's purposes would be accomplished.  In other words, they actually could have been peaceful through all of these unexpected and horrible times.

We can easily see the application to each of our lives.  At this moment, we can be going through a stormy time in our life.  We can do what is very human for us to do—we can respond to the storm on the outside of us by being stormy and unpeaceful on the inside.  We can also go through storms and not be "afraid," but instead be filled with God's peace—trusting that God's purposes are being accomplished.

It is very human for us to at times to be peaceful in a storm and at other times to be affected on the inside by the storms on the outside; for even Jesus was troubled at times. See 11:33, 12:27; Matthew 26:38-39  Jesus' "peace did not consist in freedom from turmoil, but in a calm undeviating devotion to the will of God. . . . Jesus' mind was at rest because of His trust in the Father. . . Jesus found tranquility in adherence to the will of God even on the verge of the Cross." "Taken from John the Gospel of Belief by Merrill Tenney.  Copyright 1948 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company."  "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." (Luke 2:14)

There is a difference between peace with God and the "peace" of God.  Jesus' death removed the condemnation that we deserved and gave us peace with God.  "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. . . . " (Romans 5:1-2a)  The "peace" of God is His own peacefulness.  Philippians 4:6-9 describes how we can experience the "peace" of God: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you."
The Greek word for "be afraid" is not the most common Greek word for fear—phobos ("phobia"), but deilia.  "It means to be cowardly, timid, or fearful. In distinction from phobos, which is often used in a good sense (pious fear), delilia to which the verb deilao is related, is never used in a good sense." "Taken from New Testament Commentary by William Hendriksen.  Copyright 1953 by Baker Book House." 
We are not be overcome with craven fear and cowardice in the face of trials; but, instead, we are to have peacefulness at the core of our lives as Jesus had peacefulness at the core of His life—even as He went through the horror of His last days.  He exercised composure and calm through it all.  This is the type of "peace" that is also available to us in the storms in our life.

(5) His going away will be good for Him. (14:28)
"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.'"

Thought Question #1:  Why should they have been "glad" that He was leaving them?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  How can the Father be "greater" than Jesus and they be equal members of the Trinity?

 

 

"'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.'Why could the disciples be peaceful even though he was about to leave them?  He states one reason here—it would be much better for Him.  Sometimes, we are relieved when a Christian dies.  They are in so much pain that we are glad that they are now in a place where they are no longer experiencing pain.  Jesus now is no longer in a fleshly body in a sinful world; He is in glorified body and He has been restored to His former state of glory.  Listen to Jesus' words to "the Father" as He neared His death, resurrection, and ascension back to heaven:  "And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began." (John 17:5) See also 17:11,13  If His disciples understood how much better it would be for Him to go to "the Father," they would have been "glad" that He was "going to the Father." 

Part of the reason that they would not initially "be glad" was that their focus was on what was best for them, and not on what was best for Him.  When a beloved Christian dies, we can feel bad for us that he or she is gone, but if our focus is on what is best for them, we will 'be glad" for them.

"the Father is greater than I.Do these words mean that Jesus is less God than "the Father"?  At the start of the church and after the time of the apostles, there was a controversy over the identity of Jesus.  Arius, an influential church leader at that time, taught the Jesus was a created being who was like God, but was not God.  Athanasius led the opposition to Arius and taught that Jesus is God.  Cultists of today also teach that Jesus is not God.  This verse is used to support this view.  How can we harmonize this verse with the verses that clearly state that Jesus is God—especially, when Jesus Himself says here that "the Father is greater than" Him? See 1:1-3,14  The answer is that Jesus, in His fleshly state took on Himself the role of a human so that He could be the perfect Mediator between God and Man.  "Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness." (Philippians 2:6-7)  "The Father" was "greater than" Jesus at the time when He uttered these words—when He was in His fleshly state.  But, they should have been "glad" that He was about to be restored to His previous place of glory equal with "the Father."  "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning." (John 1:1-2)  "I and the Father are one." (John 10:30)  "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”?'" (John 14:9)

There is a sense, though, in which Jesus even now continues in a voluntary role of submission to "the Father."  Paul puts Jesus' final relationship to "the Father" in the following way:  "Then the end will come, when he [Jesus] hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For he 'has put everything under his feet.' Now when it says that 'everything' has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him ["the Father"] who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all." (I Corinthians 15:24-28)

(6) His telling them of His going away would help them (14:29-31)
"'I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe. I will not speak with you much longer, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on me, but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me. Come now; let us leave.'"

Thought Question:  In what ways are the predictions in the Bible of what is going to happen in the future helpful to you?

 

 

"'I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe.'"  The Bible is filled with predictions of the future.  Many of those predictions have already happened.  For example, Jesus' life, betrayal by a friend, death by crucifixion, and resurrection were predicted and have taken place just as predicted. See Psalm 16:10, 41:9; Isaiah 7:4, 9:6, 52:13-53:12  Other predictions have not yet taken place.  The Bible predicts that the world is going to get more sinful and godless just before Jesus returns.  These predictions help us not to despair as the world gets more sinful—for it is happening just as God predicted it would happen.  Jesus predicted His death and departure so that they would not despair, but continue to "believe." 
    
"'I will not speak with you much longer, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on me, but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me. Come now; let us leave.'Jesus knew what was ahead for Him.  The mob was already forming in Jerusalem.  Judas was ready to lead the religious leaders to Gethsemane.  Satan was filling their hearts and he was about to have the Son of God in his clutches.  Jesus knew all of this, yet He would, in obedience to "the Father," get up, leave, and head back to Jerusalem.  It was not because Satan had any power at all over Him; it was because He loved "the Father" and He would do exactly what His "Father" "commanded" Him to do.  And so, He said, "Come now, let us leave." 

"the prince of this world"  When Adam and Eve believed Satan's lies and rebelled against God, this world yielded to Satan as our ruler.  "As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath." (Ephesians 2:1-3) See also John 12:27, 31, 16:11; Ephesians 6:12  We are, though, protected from Satan as we stand in Christ. "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power." (Ephesians 6:10) See Ephesians 6:10-18

"He [Satan] has no hold on me,"  Satan has a hold on us.  Our sin and sinful nature has given Satan a "hold" on us.  Satan, though, had "no hold on" Jesus.  So, Jesus defeated Satan on the cross and His resurrection from the dead freed us from Satan's "hold on" us.  "Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death." (Hebrews 2:14-15)

6. Jesus admonishes His disciples to abide in Him and to love each other. (15:1-17)  Commentators disagree on when these words in John 15 were spoken.  Some believe that Jesus and His disciples left the upper room and were walking next to a vineyard.  Jesus had just said, "Come now, let us leave."

a. Jesus is the vine and we are to abide in Him (15:1-6)
"'I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.'"

Thought Question #1:  What parts of these verses, do you believe, refer to non-believers and not to Christians?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  What is there in these verses that tells us how we can be fruitful Christians?

 

 

"I am the true vine,"  This part of the Gospel of John can be titled, "How to be a fruitful Christ."  First of all, as with grapes, fruitfulness comes from the vine.  A branch that is not attached to the grapevine will not be fruitful, while a branch that is attached to the vine will be fruitful.  Even though Jesus was about to leave them, His life and the fruitfulness of His life would be even more available to them after He left.  For His life would go from being with them to being in them.  As life flows from the grapevine to its branches and produces fruit, so would His life flow from Him to them.  The very same life that became available to Jesus' earliest followers is now available to us.  Every fruit tree and fruitful vine is a picture of Jesus' life producing fruit in us.

The grapevine is used in the Old Testament to describe God's relationship with Israel. See Psalm 80:8,14; Isaiah 5:1-7; Ezekiel 15:1-8, 17:7-8, 19:10-14; Hosea 10:1

"and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful."  It is the "gardener's" job to watch over the grapevines and to do all that he can so that his grapevines will be as fruitful as they can be. 

First of all, he cuts off the suckers and dead limbs.  If the vines are left to themselves, there will be a lot of growth but few grapes.  Also, "dead wood harbors insects and disease and may cause the vine to rot, to say nothing of it being unproductive and unsightly." "Taken from John the Gospel of Belief by Merrill Tenney.  Copyright 1948 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company."

Boice believes that Jesus is describing the "gardener" as lifting up branches so that the branches will hang freely.  He says that grapes are more fruitful when they are lifted up off the ground.  This is a possible translation of the Greek word airo which is translated "cuts off" in the NIV.  Then, Jesus is saying that "the Father" lifts up Christians to be closer to Him.

How does this apply to Christians?  Just before Jesus said these words, a fruitless branch had just been cut off from the group of disciples as Judas left them.  The apostle John describes others like Judas in I John 2:19: "They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us."  There were those who had been in the church, but they left the church because they were spiritually dead.  Today, not every person who attends a church meeting has God's life in him or her.  Many of these are cut away from the church over time by "the Father." See Matthew 3:8-10, 7:15-20, 12:33

Next, "the gardener" "prunes" the branches that do "bear fruit" so that these branches will become "more fruitful."  His pruning leaves a lot of stumps with bleeding sap coming from them.  As we each look back on our Christian life, there has been a lot of bleeding and pain in our lives, but the pruning's purpose has been so that we will be "more fruitful."

This teaching on pruning and God's disciplining His children is found throughout the Bible.  "Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord." (Deuteronomy 8:2-3)  "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." (James 1:2-4)  "Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees." (Hebrews 12:7-12)  "Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." (Romans 5:3-5)

The pruning is painful, but "later on . . . it produces a harvest of righteousness and
peace." (Hebrews 12:11) See also II Corinthians 12:7-10

What is the fruit that Jesus speaks about here?  Other verses state the fruit that God produces in us is godliness.  Then, the pruning produces more godliness in us—more godly lives.  "Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness." (II Corinthians 9:10)  "(for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth)" (Ephesians 5:9)  "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." (Hebrews 12:11)  "filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God." (Philippians 1:11) See also John 4:35-38

"You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you."  In John 13:10-11, Jesus explains what clean means.  "Jesus answered, 'A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.' For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean."  Coming to Jesus in faith results in a cleansing from sins and a new relationship with God—we receive a clean start with God.  Judas, however, did not turn to Jesus for forgiveness of His sin and a new start with God.

"Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me."  We have seen that Jesus' part is to give us His life and that the Father's part is to prune us.  Now, we see our part.  "Remain in me, and I will remain in you."  We are to "remain in" Jesus.  A line in a song goes, "Trust and obey, for there is no other way."  We live the Christian life by constantly trusting in the life of Jesus and by constantly seeking to obey Him.  And we do it all because we love Him.  Then, He will do His part—He will give us His power and His type of life. 

Here is how it will be lived out by us.  It will be our responsibility as soon as we wake up in the morning to immediately be aware that we must stay close to Jesus the whole day—we must rely on His strength and help so that we can live the Christian life.  We must seek to obey Jesus in His strength.  We must continually realize that we are completely unable to live the Christian life without His constant help.  The following illustration pictures what the Christian life is to be like.  A mother takes a 4-year old child downtown.  She tells him that he must stay very close to her and follow her directions very carefully.  A disobedient and self-sufficient child will not do this.  Also, a disobedient and self-sufficient Christian does not do this with Christ.  But, an obedient Christian stays very close to Christ and carefully follows His directions all day long each and every day.

The ways that we stay close to Him and follow His directions is by reading the Bible, spending time in prayer; constantly being in an attitude of prayer and reliance on God; fellowshipping regularly with other Christians; loving our family, other Christians, and those outside of the church; by living a life of service; and by seeking to express His type of life through it all.  None of this can be done apart from Him and the strength that He supplies to us.

"As Christians. we are called to discipline our lives.  That means building habits that bring us closer to Jesus, while doing away with those habits and sins that hinder our relationship with Him.  The more we practice the disciplines, the closer we grow to Jesus, and more consistently we remain in Him." "Taken from God's Loving Word by Ray Stedman.  Copyright 1993 by Discovery House Publishers." 

Another illustration that helps us to understand what it means to "remain in" Christ is what it takes to remain close to a friend.  It means that we spend time together, listen to him or her, and get to know each other better.  If there is something wrong between us, we straighten it out.  Our goal is to grow in greater agreement.  This describes what we are to do as we seek to "remain in" Christ.

"No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me."  Why is it so vital to "remain" in Christ?  It is because if we do not actively "remain" in Christ, we will be lifeless and fruitless Christians.  We cannot bear Christian fruit apart from Christ.  We can do much that looks like Christianity without Christ, but it is only empty churchianity and empty religion.  It is not Christianity.  True and authentic Christianity is Christ's life lived through His people.

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit;"  Fruitfulness does not come to us and through us because we are so disciplined, but comes to us and through us because we have become so dependent on Christ.
It is only Christ's life in us that results in people seeing Him through us.  His strength empowering our life and His strength enabling us to be effective in ministry.  "I can do everything through him who gives me strength." (Philippians 4:13) 

"much fruit;"  When we are united with Jesus Christ, the Creator of the universe, there is power and life working through us to produce "much fruit."  "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." (Ephesians 3:20-21)

"apart from me you can do nothing."  It is obvious that there is much that we can do without Christ.  Non-Christians do much even though they are completely without Christ.  What did Jesus mean, then, when He said, "nothing"?  Christians who are not guided and empowered by God's Spirit can do "nothing" of any eternal value—they can produce no real fruit.  Paul contrasts what is done by God with what is done without God in the following way: "By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames." (I Corinthians 3:10-15)

"If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned."  "Branches" of a grapevine that are connected to the vine produce grapes.  What about grapevine "branches" that are not connected to the vine?  Ezekiel explains how useless a "branch" of a grapevine is when it is severed from the vine.  "The word of the Lord came to me: 'Son of man, how is the wood of a vine better than that of a branch on any of the trees in the forest? Is wood ever taken from it to make anything useful? Do they make pegs from it to hang things on? And after it is thrown on the fire as fuel and the fire burns both ends and chars the middle, is it then useful for anything? If it was not useful for anything when it was whole, how much less can it be made into something useful when the fire has burned it and it is charred?'" (Ezekiel 15:1-5)

Grapevine "branches are not even good for firewood.  They are burned in a bonfire so they do not make a mess, but not to provide a warm fire.  Of what use is a Christian who does not remain closely connected to Jesus Christ the Vine?  He or she is just as useless as a "branch" that is not connected to the vine.  Apart from being constantly connected to the Vine, we express the works of the flesh just like the non-Christian. See Galatians 5:19-21  What is walking in the flesh?  It is what occurs every time we are not walking in the Spirit.  "The wood, hay or straw" that will be burned up that was described in I Corinthians 3:10-15 is the life lived in the flesh.

Is Jesus speaking here of Christians who do not remain close in their fellowship with Him or is He talking about people who do not know Him?  Some that profess to be Christians, but they are not Christians.  Jesus speaks to them in Matthew 7:21-23: "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'" (Matthew 7:21-23)  But there are also Christians who are fleshly.  "Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men?" (I Corinthians 3:1-3)  When someone is fleshly, we cannot tell from his or her life whether or not he or she is a Christian or a non-Christian, even if they profess to be a Christian. See Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43  What should we do in response to Jesus' words?  We should seek to remain close to Jesus so that it will be clear to us and to others that Jesus' life is in us.  This will result in Jesus being fruitful through us.

b. Remaining in close fellowship with Jesus will result in answered prayer. (15:7-8)
"If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples."

Thought Question:  What do these verses teach about how to pray so that are prayers are answered?

 

 

"If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you."  Earlier in John, Jesus said, "And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it." (John 14:13-14)  Then in I John, John says these words: "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him." (1 John 5:14-15)  How can we know that when we pray that God hears us?  It is when  what we are asking for is according to His will—asking according to His will is another way of saying that we are asking in His name.  How can you know if you are asking according to His will?  Jesus answers that question here.  When our fellowship with Him is so close that His "words remain in" us, then we will be asking according to His will and according to what He desires—for what He desires will also be what we desire.

The closer our walk with God, the more that Jesus' desires and our desires will be the same.  And when we pray for what He desires to do, "it will be given" to us.  "Prayer is not getting man's will done in heaven.  It is getting God's will done on earth." "Robert Law." 

The problem occurs when we ask God for what we want to happen and not for what He wants to happen.  "When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures." (James 4:3) 

How can we walk closer to God and learn what is His will so that we can be confident that God approves of what we are asking for and will give us what we are asking for?  Jesus gives us at least part of the answer in this verse: "If . . . my words remain in you . . . "  What we ask for must be in harmony with Christ's teachings.  Jesus' "words" remaining in us does not just mean that they are in our minds.  "Jesus replied, 'If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.'" (John 14:23)  We must not only learn Jesus' words and understand them, but they also need to become deeply embedded in our hearts and become a part of our lives.  Then, what we ask in prayer will come as a result of our intimate walk with God—His concerns are also our concerns.

What was true of Elijah will also be true of us.  "Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops." (James 5:17-18)  Elijah's prayer was answered because he shared the same concern for Israel as God had.  Israel's king Ahab married Jezebel.  She brought with her the worship of Baal and Asherah into Israel. See I Kings 16:29-33  Baal was a god of fertility.  If the crops of Israel were fertile, it would appear that the worship of Baal was the reason.  What did Elijah pray for?  "Now Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, 'As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.'" (1 Kings 17:1)  Elijah shared God desires; His prayer was answered because it was both God's and Elijah's desire.  Our prayers will also be answered when we pray for what is both on God's heart and on our heart.

"This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.How do we as Christians bring glory to God?  We bring glory to God to the degree that Jesus' life is expressed through our life.  "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." (John 15:5)  The "fruit," in short, is Jesus' life—His love, His purity, His righteousness, His kindness, His patience, and His will being accomplished through our prayers.  Another "fruit" can be people becoming Christians and Christians growing through our witness, words, and prayers. See John 4:35-42; Romans 11:11-13  All of this 'fruit" points to God and not to ourselves; for only He could produce this "fruit." See I Corinthians 3:10-11, 4:7; Ephesians 2:8-10

c. The glorious circle of love (15:9-17)
"'As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: Love each other.'"

(1) The glorious circle of love (15:9)
"'As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.'"

Thought Question #1:  Make a list of the ways that God has shown His love for you. (Make one list that summarizes His love for you over the years.  Make another list that describes ways He has shown His love for you in recent months.)

 

 

Thought Question #2:  How did making the above list affect you?

 

 

"'As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.'"  How much does the Father love Jesus?  We cannot understand how much one member of the Trinity loves another member of the Trinity, but we can know that there is no greater love than the love that they have for each other.  This is how much Jesus loved His disciples.  And it is also how much Jesus loves us.  We, then, can be sure that there is no greater love than the love that Jesus has for us.

"'Now remain in my love.'"  "The Father" loves the Son.  Next, He loves us.  For the glorious circle of love to continue, we must draw close to Jesus and fully enjoy being loved as we are loved.  Our love for others depends on our experiencing God's love.  The degree to which we experience His love is the degree to which we express love to others.  The following statement in I John is an absolute.  "We love because he first loved us." (I John 4:19)  As we experience His love, we realize that we are completely secure because the Creator of the universe cares about us and has, at great cost to Himself, graciously reached out to us so that we might be included in His family.  Now, we whose need for love is fully met, reach out in love to others so that they also might experience the love that we have experienced.  Children who are deeply loved by their parents are more like to express love to those outside of the family.  Two signs that we are experiencing God's love is that we are thankful and loving to others.  Jesus prayed in the following way for us.  "'I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.'" (John 17:26)

(2) The glorious circle of obedience (15:10)
"If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love."

Thought Question:  How does obeying Jesus' commands result in us remaining in His love?

 

 

"If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.The "Father's complete love for Jesus led to Jesus trusting His Father and it led to His perfect obedience to the One who loved Him.  If Jesus loves us in the same way, what should we do?

This theme is found many times in Jesus teaching. See 14:15,21,23, 15:10,14, 21:15-17  It is also found in I John. See I John 2:3-6, 3:21-24, 4:19-21, 5:2-3

How is obedience to Jesus at the same time also remaining "in his love"?  Again, it is the opposite of a legalistic, fearful, and dutiful obedience to God—it is a loving obedience to God.  A friend recently told me of working in a chain store.  His first boss was a kind and hard-working older man.  My friend loved working for him, and he loved doing a good job for him.  Half-way through his working at this chain store, the older man sold the store.  In came the corporation.  They put managers in charge.  During that period in his work at that store, he was working for a business that was all business.  The joy of working for a man he loved and respected was gone.  He still did his job, but his motivation for working was not the same.  We are working, serving, and obeying Someone who is infinitely loving and kind.  We complete His love for us by responding to Him with our love.  Our love is expressed to Him through our loving obedience to Him.  "And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us." (I John 4:16-19)

(3) The glorious circle of joy (15:11)
"I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete."

Thought Question:  What do you believe it is like when we are experiencing His "joy" and when our "joy" is "complete"?

 

 

"I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.What is Jesus' "joy" that He desires that we also have?  We find a description of Jesus' "joy" in the midst of suffering in the book of Hebrews.  "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:2)  Jesus remained in His Father's love and continued to lovingly obey Him even though it led to His horrible trip to the cross.  Yet, He did it with a deep inner "joy," knowing what it would mean for us who now experience His forgiveness and have the certain hope of spending eternity with Him.  Should this not also bring us "joy" as we share in His sufferings; as we lovingly seek to obey Him; and as we seek to further His cause during the remainder of our lifetime.  We also are laboring for what will bring others into a relationship with God.  The suffering is hard right now; but if we see what it is leading to, we also can be joyful even in the midst of suffering.

When David sinned with Bathsheba, he lost this "joy."  When he confessed his sin, he asked God: "Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice." (Psalm 51:8)  "Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me." (Psalm 51:12)

Our daughter just told me that she compares walking with God to white-water rafting.  We must be careful to do all that the experts on the ride tell us to do, but it is also a joyful and exciting trip.

Joy comes when we believe we are seeking to lovingly obey Jesus Christ—we are united to Him; we are strengthened by Him; and we will one day be with Him forever after our life of service is completed.  Ray Stedman said that "joy is the flag that flies over the castle of the heart when the king is in residence." "Taken from Secrets of the Spirit by Ray Stedman.  Copyright 1975 by Fleming Revell." 

"my joy" "You can have [His type of] joy when your health is slipping, when  your business is failing, when you are facing opposition, when you have lost your job, or when a loved one passes away.  True Christian joy runs deeper than happiness, deeper than sorrow.  It does depend only on God, and God is always faithful." "Taken from God's Loving Word by Ray Stedman.  Copyright 1993 by Discovery House Publishers." 

Here are some verses that describe this type of "joy." First, John the Baptist's "joy."  "The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete." (John 3:29)  Listen to Jesus' promises of the joy he wants us to experience.  "I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy." (John 16:20-22)   "Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete." (John 16:24)  "I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them." (John 17:13)  And, finally, David predicts Jesus' "joy."  "I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure," (Psalm 16:8-9) See also I John 1:4; Romans 14:17; Philippians 2:17-18, 31, 4:4; I Thessalonians 5:16; I Peter 1:3-9

(4) The glorious circle of love continued (15:12-17)
"My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: Love each other."

Thought Question:  What do you see in these verses that helps you to better understand your special relationship with Jesus Christ?

 

 

"My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you."  The Christian life does not begin with God commanding us to obey His commands.  Obeying His commands comes after we have experienced His love—after he has loved us who are totally undeserving of His love.  "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8) 

He has also given us "another Comforter" exactly like Himself who now indwells us.  He promises us if we "remain" in Him (Jesus), we will bear much fruit.  He loves us just as the Father loves Him.  Then, He commands us to "love each other as" He has "loved" us.  Jesus, here, repeats a command He made earlier.  "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another." (John 13:34)

"as I have loved you."  Ray Stedman does a good job of describing Jesus' love for His disciples.  "And how did Jesus love His disciples?  Well, have you ever considered how difficult it must have been at times for Jesus to love His disciples?  Remember, these were stubborn, selfish, quarrelsome, ambitions, often presumptuous men.  They were disobedient and lazy at times.  Most of all, they were dense!  Jesus had to explain the same truths again and again, and they still did not get it!  You can hear the exasperation in His voice in the many times He says to them, 'How long must I be with you?'  These men could be annoying and even infuriating.  In short, they were people just likes us!" "Taken from God's Loving Word by Ray Stedman.  Copyright 1993 by Discovery House Publishers."  And, of course, the greatest expression of His love for us was that He was willing to lay down His life for us.

"My command is this:"  How can love be commanded?  We might ask, "Must I love someone when I do not feel like loving them?"  We may have heard someone in a marriage say, "I am no longer in love with my husband." (or "my wife.")  If love were only a feeling, husbands and wives could go in and out of love all week.  But, love is primarily doing that which will result in the highest good for another.  We are commanded by Jesus to always do that which is best for others, even when we do not feel like it.  I Corinthians 13 describes how to do that which is the best for another.  "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails." (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a)

"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."  Jesus demonstrated in history this ultimate expression of love for us—He laid down His life for us.  The greatest love is to seek another's best even if it costs us our life.  The greatest selfishness is to seek our best even if it costs another their life.  Jesus expressed the greatest love for us. "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." (John 10:11)  "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." (John 3:16)  "You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:6-8)  And he did it when we were His enemies.  "For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!" (Romans 5:10)  Jesus Christ died for us—He died "for his friends."  So now, we are to love others with this self-sacrificial type of love.

"You are my friends if you do what I command."  Many Christians seek a more intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.  Some seek after it by seeking after a mystical relationship with Christ as outlined by some famous mystic of the past.  But, the way to a close and intimate relationship with Christ is given here by Jesus.  "You are my friends if you do what I command."  We get to know Him by walking in greater and greater agreement with Him.  Are not our closest friends those who are in most agreement with us?  "Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?" (Amos 3:3)  That agreement may not always be a correct agreement.  If, though, we are in agreement with Jesus and obey His commands, it will be a correct agreement and it will be true friendship. 

"if you do" The verb "do" is in the present tense.  So, we are Jesus' "friends," if we continually "do what" He "commands" us "to do."  Our friendship with Jesus will grow as we continually, out of love, obey His commands.

"I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you."  If the President of the United States invited you to Washington, D. C. to attend a cabinet meeting; then, after the meeting, he talks with you privately about how he thought the meeting went, how would you feel?  He would be treating you as he only treats his closest friends.  That is exactly what Jesus, the Son of God, did for His closest disciples; and it is exactly what He does for us.  First of all, each of us who is a Christian has been personally called to become a son of God by faith in Jesus Christ and His death for us.  Then, God, through the Holy Spirit, helped us to understand His most intimate plans.  Then, He says that if we need anything, just ask; and if it is what is best for us and fits into His good plans, He will give it to us.  We might say, "I thought Christianity was getting dressed up each Sunday, but this sounds pretty good.  I accept this very privileged position with You that You have offered to me free of charge.  But, Why me?"

In the Old Testament, God had such "friends": Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Samuel, Elijah and others. See James 2:23; Isaiah 41:8: II Chronicles 20:7  We are as privileged as they were.  And we are even more privileged: for God's Spirit permanently indwells us; we have the whole Bible and they had only part of it; we know about Jesus Christ and they lived before He was even born; and we are part the church, the bride of Christ.  By God's grace, we are Jesus' "friends."

"I no longer call you servants,"  "The bondservant might be loved by the master, and might be treated kindly; but he never would be regarded as an equal nor given an insight into the master's mind.  He would be expected to obey without knowing the reason why." "Taken from John the Gospel of Belief by Merrill Tenney.  Copyright 1948 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company."  This was not true of Jesus' disciples, and it is not true of us.  Jesus has revealed to us "everything" He "learned from" His "Father."  He has taken us into His confidence and has revealed to us what His goals are; what part we have in His plans; and how He is accomplishing His plans.

"You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last."  Jesus has not only revealed His ways to us, but He has also chosen us to be part of His plans.  Jesus chose the Twelve.  "Then Jesus replied, 'Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!'" (John 6:70)  In Luke 6 we learn that after Jesus spent a night in prayer, He chose the twelve disciples. See Luke 6:12-16

In the Old Testament, God chose people to play important roles in His plans.  For example, God chose Abraham from Ur of the Chaldees to become the father of His people.  "The Lord had said to Abram, 'Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.'" (Genesis 12:1-3)  "To this he [Stephen] replied: 'Brothers and fathers, listen to me! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham while he was still in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran. “Leave your country and your people,” God said, and go to the land I will show you.”'" (Acts 7:2-3)  It was not part of Abraham's plan to be part of God's plan in this way.  It was totally God's plan and He chose Abraham to have a part in that plan. See also Acts 9:15-16

Jesus' disciples certainly had no idea about God's plans for them.  It was God who chose them to be part of His plans.  Also, it is true for us.  Like Jesus' disciples, we were oblivious of God's plans until He chose us and began to reveal Himself and His plans to us.

"to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last."  "Note three present active [verbs] . . . to emphasize continuance (hupagete, keep on going, pherete, keep on bearing fruit, menei, keep on abiding), not a mere spurt, but permanent growth and fruit-bearing." "Taken from Word Pictures in the New Testament by A. T. Robertson.  Copyright 1932 by Broadman Press." 

God called the twelve disciples minus Judas to create a church that would last.  And you and I are a part of the lasting fruit of their ministry.  We also have also been called to "bear fruit—fruit that will" also "last."

A worldly person sees his or her life as being limited to what he or she sees—there is no life beyond the grave, no God, no angels, no Satan, no heaven, and no hell.  We as Christians believe in God and in a life after death.  We want what we do here to have an eternal impact on others.  We want to have "fruit that will last." See I Corinthians 3:10-15; I Thessalonians 2:19-20

"Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name."  How can we who are so small have an eternal impact on our world?  God has given us a way that we can impact people all over the world.  It is by praying for people all over the world.  " . . . The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." (James 5:16b)  "Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven." (Matthew 18:19)

"This is my command: Love each other."  Our fruit-bearing will primarily be the product of our genuine Spirit-produced love for "each other."  "'A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. " (John 13:34-35)

7. Jesus predicts the world's rejection of His early disciples and us. (15:18-25)
"If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates me hates my Father as well. If I had not done among them what no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen these miracles, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: 'They hated me without reason.'"

Thought Question:  Why is it inevitable that the world outside of the church will hate us?

 

 

"If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you."  Who is this "world" that Jesus says will hate us?  The "world" are those who live as if there is no God, no life after death, and no consequences for our sin. " . . . 'Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.'" (I Corinthians 15:32b)

Those who live in this way do not want anyone to tell them that there is a God, there is a life after death, and that there are consequences for their sin.  They want to be able to live like they want to live without anyone telling them there will be eternal consequences for what they choose.  They want to ignore God and they do not want anyone telling them that He is there.  We who are Christians represent the reality that they are trying to avoid.  They hated Jesus because He was a constant reminder of all that they did not want to think about.  They hate us for the very same reasons.  The world says that they hate hypocrites.  The truth is that they hate us when we are not hypocrites; for, then, we make God an issue in their lives.  Having God as an issue in their lives is the very opposite of what they desire.  They do not want to think about God.  Genuine Christianity makes it harder not to think about God.

"If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own."  I spent four years in the U. S. Navy.  During that time, I was not a Christian,.  One year and a half of my time in the Navy was spent on the island of Guam.  I can remember our group having the goal of turning a young man with religious convictions into one of us.  Sadly, we were successful.  When he was one of us, we loved him.  Before that, he was a threat to us.

"but I have chosen you out of the world."  We are now different from "the world" because God chose us to be like Him and not to be like "the world."  Paul teaches us that Christ in us creates a God-aroma.  Some love it and others hate that aroma.  "But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life." (II Corinthians 2:14-16)

"Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also."  Jesus, in the first part of this verse, repeats what He said in verse 18: "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first." (John 15:18)  But, in this verse Jesus tells us that there will also be those who receive us—some will hate us, but some will also love us.  I went, mysteriously, from hating Billy Graham the famous evangelist in my non-Christian days to loving him after I became a Christian.  Now, I have read nearly all of his books.  Just as some loved Jesus and followed Him, so there will be those who will love what we teach also.  And just as some hated Him, so there will be those who hate us also.

Those who "persecuted" Jesus were primarily the religious leaders.  It was also the Jewish religious leaders who have played a large role in the persecution of the early Christians.  How, then, were these religious leaders the Christian-hating "world"?  Although someone may be a religious leader, that does not mean that his motives are in line with Jesus' motives.  Diotrephes was a leader in the early church, but his motives were not in line with Jesus' heart.  "I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will have nothing to do with us." (3 John 9)    He also was a persecutor of the church.  "So if I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, gossiping maliciously about us. Not satisfied with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church." (III John 10)  Many a sincere Christian, through the years, has been murdered by religious leaders.  One of my personal heroes, John Huss, was one of them.  "They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God." (John 16:2)

"They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin."  Before Jesus came, they presented themselves as those who loved God, but when God in the flesh stood in their midst and spoke words to them from the Father, they were exposed as haters of God.  They did not love God; they loved the big Pharisee in the sky, not the true God.  In short, they loved themselves and not God.

How can we tell if someone who claims to love God, instead, is actually a hater of God like these Pharisees?  The answer is found in these verses.   "If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin."  When their sinfulness was exposed and they were shown to not be godly, they hated the Messenger.  When the light was shown on their sin, they showed that they really loved the darkness and hated the light.  "This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed." (John 3:19-20)

Boice shares a story told by Ironside.  "The wife of an African chief happened to visit a mission.  The missionary had a little mirror hung up on a tree outside his home, and the woman happened to glance into it.  She had come straight out of her pagan environment and had never seen the hideous paintings on her face, or her hardened features.  Now, gazing at her own face, she was startled.  She asked the missionary, 'Who is the horrible-looking person inside the tree?'  'It is not the tree,' said the missionary.  'The glass is reflecting your own face.'  She could not believe it until she was holding the mirror in her hand.  When she had understood she said to the missionary, 'I must have the glass.  How much will you sell it for?'  The missionary did not want to sell the mirror.  But she insisted so strongly that in the end he thought it would be better to see it to her and thus avoid trouble.  A price was set, and she took the glass.  Fiercely she said, 'I will never have it making faces at me again.'  She threw it down and broke it to pieces." "Taken from The Gospel of John by James Boice.  Copyright 1985 by Zondervan Publishing House."  Just as this woman did not like to see herself as she was, so the Pharisees did not like Jesus revealing to them who they were.

Paul was one of those who thought he was offering a service to God by arresting and killing Christians.  When Jesus spoke to him, though, he repented.  The Pharisees saw and heard Jesus and did not repent.

"If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin."   After Jesus came and spoke to them clearly, they no longer sinned in ignorance.  They knew exactly Who and what they were rejecting.  "I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the very work that the Father has given me to finish, and which I am doing, testifies that the Father has sent me. And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me." (John 5:36-39) 

"Jesus does not mean, of course, that the Jews would have been sinless had He not appeared.  But He does mean that the sin of rejecting God as He really is would not have been imputed to them had they not had the revelation of God that was made through Him." "Taken from The Gospel According to John by Leon Morris.  Copyright 1971 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co."

"He who hates me hates my Father as well."  His words and works were from His "Father," yet at one point they said His works came from the devil.  "But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, 'It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.'" (Matthew 12:24)  "But the Pharisees said, 'It is by the prince of demons that he drives out demons.'" (Matthew 9:34)  "And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, 'He is possessed by Beelzebub! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.'" (Mark 3:22)  Obviously, they not only hated Jesus, they also hated His "Father."

"If I had not done among them what no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen these miracles, and yet they have hated both me and my Father."  "Have seen" and "hated" are in the perfect tense and indicate a "persisted attitude and responsibility." "Taken from Word Pictures in the New Testament by A. T. Robertson.  Copyright 1932 by Broadman Press."  They saw His miracles and knew that they could not have come from a mere human, yet they "hated" Him and His "Father" from whom the miracles came.  Jesus stated clearly that His works came from the "Father."  "Jesus gave them this answer: 'I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.'" (John 5:19)

"But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: 'They hated me without reason.'"  Jesus quotes from Psalm 35 and Psalm 69—Psalm 35:19 and 69:4.  In Psalm 35, David cries out to God because there are those who have repaid him "evil for good." (Psalm 35:12)  When he "stumbled, they gathered in glee." (Psalm 35:15)  They were his "enemies without cause." (Psalm 35:15)  In Psalm 69, David says "the insults of those who insult you, fall on me." (Psalm 69:9)  As David was hated for his walk with God, so Jesus was hated because He is God.

The Jewish leaders did not like to see themselves as being like David's enemies—who persecuted him "without reason."  But, in truth, they were even worse, for they persecuted God in the flesh "without reason." 

8. The disciples' commission: they were to preach what God's Spirit revealed to them (15:26-27)
"'When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.'"

Thought Question:  What do these verses say that gives us confidence that we can reach people with the gospel message?

 

 

"'When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me.'"  How will we be able to reach the world that hates us with the gospel message?  We cannot do it by ourselves; but we are not by ourselves, for we are supported by all three Persons of the Trinity.  Jesus sent us the "Spirit of truth" to come alongside of us.  The "Spirit of truth" "goes out" or proceeds from "the Father."  All three members of the Trinity are united in enabling and supporting Christians as we seek to reach the world that hates us with the gospel message.  The fact that people keep becoming Christians is proof that "the one who is in" us  "is greater than the one who is in the world." (I John 4:4) See I John 4:4-6

This verse in John 15 created a controversy that divided the early church into the western and eastern church.  They divided over whether the Holy Spirit proceeded only from the Father or from the Father and the Son.  It was called the "filoque" controversy.  "The word filoque is a Latin term that means 'and from the Son.'  It was not included in the Nicene Creed in either the first version of A.D. 325 or the second version of A.D. 381.  Those versions simply said that the Holy Spirit 'proceeded from the Father.'  But in A.D. 589, at a regional church council in Toledo (in what is now Spain), the phrase 'and the Son' was added so that the creed then said that the Holy Spirit 'proceeds from Father and the Son
(filoque) . . .'  This additional phrase gradually gained in general use and received official endorsement in A.D. 1017 . . . this apparently very insignificant point was the main doctrinal issue in the split between eastern and western Christianity in A.D. 1054." "Taken from Systematic Theology by Wayne Gruden.  Copyright 1994 by Intervarsity Press. pp 246-247."

That the Holy Spirit comes from the Father and is sent by the Son does not mean that the Holy Spirit is in any way unequal with the Father and the Son.  Instead, it describes the roles members of the Trinity play in their relation to people and, possibly, it also describes the eternal roles of the members of the Trinity among themselves.  It does not mean, though, that the Father or the Son created the Holy Spirit.  Again, from our personal perspective, it means that all the members of the Trinity are united in enabling us to effectively reach out to our world.

"the Spirit of truth"  For people to understand the gospel message so that it impacts them, they need to see the "truth" about their sinfulness; they need to see the "truth" about their need for a Savior; and they need to see that Jesus is indeed the Son of God that died for them and rose from the dead.  The following verse talks about this role of the Holy Spirit.  "When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment:" (John 16:8)  "One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message." (Acts 16:14)  God's Spirit opens people's eyes to the "truth."  He also empower us to be effective witnesses for Jesus.  "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (Acts 1:8)

"And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning."  Even though the world will hate our message, we are to "testify" about Jesus and how He died for our sins and rose from the dead to give us eternal life.

Sharing the gospel message by the power of the Holy Spirit is not done without our involvement.  It is to be something that we do intentionally.  We are not as Christians to cloister with other Christians—safely avoiding any significant contact with those outside of the church.  Instead, we are to get to know people outside of God's church.  We are to be lights and salt in our world.  "Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us." (I Peter 2:12)  "But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." (I Peter 3:15)

9. Jesus warns them about the coming persecution of Christians. (16:1-4)
"All this I have told you so that you will not go astray. They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God. They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. I have told you this, so that when the time comes you will remember that I warned you. I did not tell you this at first because I was with you."

Thought Question #1:  Why did those in Israel's religious community think that they "were offering a service to God" when they killed Christians?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  Can religious people today think that they are "offering a service to God" when they are persecuting Christians?  Please explain your answer.

 

 

"All this I have told you so that you will not go astray. They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God."  As a young Christian, I thought that if you love people and tell them the truth, that people would also love you in return.  Certainly, these disciples were not expecting what lay ahead of them.  What would be even more unexpected is that it would be the religious leaders that would become their worst enemies.

"They will put you out of the synagogue;"  My wife and I recently watched a video titled, "Expelled."  It was a documentation of how biological scientists who believe in the "intelligent design" explanation of how the universe and life came into existence and question the evolutionists' view are being "expelled" from university teaching positions.  Also, recently, I have become aware of a concept called "Groupthink."  What happens to scientists who do not hold the evolutionary viewpoint is an example of "Groupthink."  "Think like we do or we will expel you."  The disciples were about to discover that since their belief in Jesus as the Messiah was not in agreement with the Pharisees' "Groupthink," they would be thrown "out of the synagogue." 

"out of the synagogue;"  Being thrown "out of the synagogue" in Israel was much more severe than being thrown out of a church today.  If one is put out of a church, he or she can merely go to another church.  Closer to what was meant by being "put out of the synagogue" in the disciples' time, was to be put out of the Roman Catholic Church in the Middle Ages.  The Jewish person that was thrown "out of the synagogue" was put out of the Jewish community.  It meant being separated from God and from His people.  That person would no longer be able to participate in the religious life of Israel.  They would be shunned by their own people and treated like they were pagan Gentiles.  Their exclusion from the Jewish community would affect them financially, lies would be told about them, and, in short, life would radically change for them.

But the fact that they were to be persecuted by the religious leaders would be even more difficult for them than if they were persecuted by secular leaders.  Boice points out why: "for it is the fact that persecution comes from our religious superiors that makes it so devastating . . . When it comes from religious authorities, it strikes inwardly, for the argument is always that they, not we, are the true church and have the true religion.  It is the persecuted one that is always called the heretic . . . Consequently, the persecuted one (if he is at all honest and even a bit humble) must find himself asking, 'are the authorities right?  Can I actually be on the right track with all this great weight of opinion and tradition against me?'"  Boice points out that Martin Luther struggled with these very thoughts when he was excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church.  They said to Luther: "You are a heretic and an apostle of the devil.  You are preaching against God's people and the Church, yes, against God himself."  Boice said, "This must affect every sensitive Christian.  Consequently, this is where the pain of this particular persecution comes in." "Taken from The Gospel of John by James Boice.  Copyright 1985 by Zondervan Publishing House."

"All this I have told you so that you will not go astray."  Peter said, "Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you." (I Peter 4:12)  Paul and those with him said to the new churches in the Galatian region: "We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God." (Acts 14:22b)  Jesus gave the same warning in the Sermon on the Mount:  "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you." (Matthew 5:10-12)  Nevertheless, we can still be shocked at the ferocity of the hatred that there is toward us.  But, when it occurs, we need to remember that Jesus warned us about it, so that we would not allow it to get us off track from obeying Him, following Him, and serving others in His name.

Churches, though, over the years have a pattern of getting off track.  Somewhere in the past, liberal churches began to be liberal, legalistic churches began to be legalistic, and the Roman Catholic Church drifted into the Church that it has become.  There were those who spoke out and took a stand for what is right during the early days when those churches were just beginning to drift in the wrong direction.  They were probably vilified, shunned, and persecuted.  What Jesus predicted here did not just happen to the early disciples.  Religious people have been persecuting those who have stood for the truth of Jesus since the beginning of the church.  We just recognize it better in the light of church history than we do when it is happening to us now.  We should not be surprised, though, when it happens.  For, Jesus warned us about it.

"in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God."  Foxe's Book of Martyrs tells stories of those who were killed because of their walk with God.  Many of them were killed by religious authorities.  One of the most horrible times when Christians were killed by religious leaders was the infamous Spanish Inquisition.  How could those who believed that they were God's people, kill Christians for following their own conscience before God?  Jesus answered that question in these verses.  They thought that they were "offering a service to God."  When men harden themselves against the truth, there is no limit to how far from God's will it will take them.

"They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me."  They thought they knew God, but the true God would not call it right to kill His Son, nor would He call it right to kill and persecute those who become followers of His Son.  So, they had a god, but it was not the God of the Bible.

Earlier, Jesus told them who their god was.  "'I know you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are ready to kill me, because you have no room for my word. I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you do what you have heard from your father.' 'Abraham is our father,' they answered. 'If you were Abraham’s children,' said Jesus, 'then you would do the things Abraham did. As it is, you are determined to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. You are doing the things your own father does.' 'We are not illegitimate children,' they protested. 'The only Father we have is God himself.' Jesus said to them, 'If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me. Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. 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. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me!'" (John 8:37-45)

"I have told you this, so that when the time comes you will remember that I warned you."  Many a young army and marine recruit has no idea about the ugliness and horror of fighting in a war where the enemy hates you and wants to kill you.  So, these disciples of Jesus did not understand yet what type of life Jesus was calling them to.  They also would learn that they would have enemies who would also want to kill them.  But, "when the time" came, they would "remember" that He "warned" them.

We are also in a war with enemies who would like to kill us.  "Once and for all, let's get rid of this cherished fantasy that so many Christians have, that we can settle down in this world, be liked by everybody, and have no problems and no hardships.  There is a war going, but victory is certain—if  we are on the right side!" "Taken from God's Loving Word by Ray Stedman.  Copyright 1993 by Discovery House Publishers." 

"I did not tell you this at first because I was with you.What did not Jesus tell them while He was "with" them?  Hendriksen appears to give at least part of the answer: "As long as he [Jesus] was physically present, the brunt of the attack was directed against him, not against his disciples." "Taken from New Testament Commentary by William Hendriksen.  Copyright 1953 by Baker Book House." 

Also, while He was "with" them, he was there guiding them and helping them to stay on track in the midst of those that hated Him.  When He was gone, they would need to keep doing what He wanted them to do without Him being physically present to explain everything and to point them in the right direction.

10. The work of the Holy Spirit (16:5-16)

a. Jesus must go so the Counselor will come to them (16:5-7)
"'Now I am going to him who sent me, yet none of you asks me, “Where are you going?” Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief. But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.'"

Thought Question #1:  Why do you think that they were not asking Him, "Where are you going?"

 

 

Thought Question #2:  Why was it for their "good" that He was "going away"? (and for our good)

 

 

"'Now I am going to him who sent me, yet none of you asks me, “Where are you going?”'"  We see here that the disciples were just like all of us today.  They were unhappy that Jesus was leaving them, but not concerned about Him and where He was going to go.  We tend to do the same when a beloved Christian dies.  We can focus on how much we will miss that person rather than on where he or she is going.

Earlier, His disciples did ask questions about where He was going.  "Simon Peter asked him, 'Lord, where are you going?' Jesus replied, 'Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.' Peter asked, 'Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.' Then Jesus answered, 'Will you really lay down your life for me? I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!'" (John 13:36-38)  "Thomas said to him, 'Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?'" (John 14:5)  But, on this last evening before His death, they appeared to have thought that He meant that He was going somewhere else on the earth.  But, Jesus did tell them later that He was going to the Father.  "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." (John 14:28)

Now, He welcomes their questions "as to what that return would mean for him, and for them. . . . In this failure to ask questions there was an element of selfishness.  So deeply concerned were these men with the thought of their own impending loss that this sorrow had crowded out every other consideration." "Taken from New Testament Commentary by William Hendriksen.  Copyright 1953 by Baker Book House."

"Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief. But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.The disciples were not thinking of what was best for Jesus; yet, Jesus was thinking of what was best for them.  He was heading toward the most horrible experience a man has ever faced—He was about to absorb the hell that we deserve; yet, His focus was on His concern for them.  He had already told them some reasons why His departure would be for their benefit. See 14:2-3, 12-14, 19,23,25, 15:1-8, 16

b. The Counselor will do Jesus' work in the world through them.  (16:8-11)
"When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned."

Thought Question:  Do you believe that these verses are teaching that God's Spirit convicts people of sin by working through Christians, by working directly on the non-Christian, or both?

 

 

"When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment:"  This section of verses have been very difficult for me to interpret for many years.  My main unanswered question has been, "Is Jesus saying that the Holy Spirit will use Spirit-filled Christians to "convict" non-Christians of sin or will He work directly on non-Christians to "convict" them of sin?  Or, will He do both?  We will look outside of these verses for the answer.

I will list verses, and then seek to describe how they apply to answering the question about whether the Holy Spirit convicts people through Christians, directly convicts people of sin, or both.  First, Acts 7:51, and then I will continue with other verses or sections of verses: "'You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit!'Here, the religious leaders of Israel could have resisted the Holy Spirit as He spoke though the prophets, as He worked directly in them, or both.

"'Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.'When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, 'Brothers, what shall we do?''' (Acts 2:36-37)  Again, they could have been convicted of sin because of God's Spirit working though Peter's words, working directly in their hearts, or both.

"But if an unbeliever or someone who does not understand comes in while everybody is prophesying, he will be convinced by all that he is a sinner and will be judged by all," (I Corinthians 14:24)  Once more, they could have become "convinced" of sin because of God's Spirit empowering the "prophesying," by working directly in them, or both.

"But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing." (II Corinthians 2:14-15) Here, Paul is describing God's Spirit creating an "aroma of Christ" through Christians.

"You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them.We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood." (I John 4:4-6) Here, John appears to be teaching that God's Spirit revealed to us the reality that Jesus is the Son of God when we were a non-believer. See I John 4:1-6

"For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you,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." (I Thessalonians 1:4-5)  Here, Paul appears to be saying that God's Spirit worked directly in them convicting them of their sin, convicting them of their need for a Savior, and convincing them that Jesus was that Savior. 

"One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message." (Acts 16:14)  Here, it appears that God's Spirit worked directly in Lydia, enabling her to be able to"respond to Paul's message."

"Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight.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?'" (Luke 24:31-32) Here, it appears that these two men did not understand what Jesus said until God's Spirit enabled them to understand.

My conclusion, from these verses, is that the Spirit of God enables our lives to be an "aroma of Christ,"  gives us His words—"prophesying," and works directly on non-believers—"with deep conviction."  See also Matthew 16:13-17; Acts 1:8; Luke 15:11-26, especially 15:17

"in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me;"  It is obvious from what John records in this Gospel that Jesus living in their midst, speaking what the Father guided Him to say, and doing what the Father guided Him to do was not enough to cause everyone to believe in Him.  Other parts of the Bible say the same.  "My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power," (I Corinthians 2:4)  "None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. However, as it is written: 'No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him'— but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God." (I Corinthians 2:8-10)  "We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us." (I Corinthians 2:12)  "The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned." (I Corinthians 2:14)  Without God's Spirit revealing the truth about our sin and the truth about Jesus, we will have ears but we will not hear.  Jesus in Matthew 12 differentiates between someone blaspheming Him and someone blaspheming the Holy Spirit.  When God's Spirit reveals to us who Jesus is, we then will understand who it is that we are receiving or rejecting.  "And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come." (Matthew 12:31-32)

"in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father,"  Since Jesus left, God's Spirit has been revealing Jesus' "righteousness."  The Spirit reveals Christ's "righteousness" through us who are Christians.  We are to be "the light of the world." (Matthew 5:14) See also Ephesians 5:8-18  Many Christians have had a non-Christian start out with a swear word then catch himself or herself before they finished it: or, they finish the swear word and then apologize for what they have just said.  We Christians are supposed to have this effect on the world.  It is the Holy Spirit working in us and in the non-Christian that reveals to the world what is righteous and what is not righteous. See 1:4-5 3:19-21

"and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned."Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out." (John 12:31)  When a person is part of the unbelieving world, he is also part of Satan's kingdom.  Jesus' death on the cross shows God's judgment on Satan and his kingdom.  "Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death." (Hebrews 2:14-15)  Jesus' death on the cross provides a righteous way for all men and women to be freed from the rule of Satan in their lives and the condemnation that comes from following his path.  "As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved." (Ephesians 2:1-5) See also John 14:30

c. The Holy Spirit will guide the disciples into greater truth (16:12-15)
"'I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 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. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.'"

Thought Question:  What do you learn about the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives from these verses?

 

 

"'I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear.'"  Our children had a wise first grade teacher.  She knew that all children are not ready for first grade materials at the same age.  She was sensitive to what her children were ready for and what they were not ready for.  Jesus was, in the same way, sensitive to what His disciples were ready for and not ready for.

God, of course, is also aware of what each of us is ready for and not ready for.  He is teaching us one new lesson right now; later, He will teach us another lesson.  Most Christians, certainly, have had a part of the Bible come alive to them at some time in their life.  Also, a Christian book can suddenly become relevant to us, where before it had little interest for us.

Through the years, I have had a number of opportunities to teach baby Christians.  During those times, I do what most who work with baby Christians do, I try to be sensitive to what they are able to handle and to what they are not able to handle.  Jesus gives us an example of this pattern here.

"But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth."  There are times when we need a "guide."  A number of times, we have been in unfamiliar parts of the world.  At those times, we have had those from that part of the world who have guided us so that we would get around without getting lost.  For us human beings, the "truth" of reality is unfamiliar territory.  "The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned." (1 Corinthians 2:14)  We need the "Spirit of truth" to "guide" us "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."  The "Spirit of truth" is not independent from the Father or from the Son.  What the "Spirit of truth" was going to teach these early followers of Jesus would be exactly what He and the Father wanted them to be taught.  Jesus was about to leave them, but what He wanted to teach them would continue to be taught them.  And what He wants to teach us is also taught to us by the "Spirit of truth."

"guide you"  "He does not drive, he leads." "Taken from New Testament Commentary by William Hendriksen.  Copyright 1953 by Baker Book House."  As Christians, we experience the gentle and dove-like leading of God's Spirit in our lives.  He is grieved when we have an ungentle spirit in us that is not like Him.  "And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice." (Ephesians 4:30-31)  The fruit of the Spirit describes what he is like.  "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." (Galatians 5:22-23)  He gently guides us into "all truth." 

"all truth"  God's Spirit does not lead us into only one area of truth or doctrine.  He leads us to becoming well-rounded Christians. 

"what is yet to come."  Jesus may be speaking of His new covenant relationship with Christians that we now experience —as He now indwells the church that is His body.  He also may have been speaking of prophesies of the future that are, for example, contained in the book of Revelation.  It is more likely that He is speaking of both, for both the nature of the church and the last days were revealed to the New Testament writers after Jesus was gone.

"He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you."  Jesus tells us here how we can tell if God's Spirit is moving or is not moving others.  Who is getting glorified?  If it is a man, a woman, a church, or even the Holy Spirit that is getting glorified, it is not God's Spirit that is leading.  He will lead us to "bring glory" to Jesus.  When God's Spirit is controlling Jesus' people, we will see what Jesus is like through them—others will see His truth, His love, His compassion, and His heart.  "For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 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." (II Corinthians 4:5-6)

"'All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.'There is perfect unity of thought, knowledge, motives, vision, and purpose between "the Father," the Son, and "the Spirit."  So, when God's "Spirit" inspired the Bible, that inspiration also came from "the Father" and the Son.  When God's "Spirit" illumines our minds to understand some part of the Bible better, it is also what "the Father" and the Son want us to understand.

11. Jesus prepares His disciples for His death. (16:16-33)

a. The disciples' confusion about Him leaving them (16:16-18)
"'In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.' Some of his disciples said to one another, 'What does he mean by saying, “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me,” and Because I am going to the Father”?' They kept asking, 'What does he mean by “a little while”? We don’t understand what he is saying.'"

Thought Question:  What do you understand now that these early disciples did not understand?

 

 

"'In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.' Some of his disciples said to one another, 'What does he mean by saying, “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me,’ and Because I am going to the Father”?' They kept asking, 'What does he mean by “a little while”? We don’t understand what he is saying.'"  The disciples were about to enter a period of great pain.  They would watch Jesus be taken away from them by armed soldiers.  They would see their Master humiliated, tortured, and murdered.  They would scatter like sheep scatter when a predator approaches them.  They would become perplexed, confused, and frightened.  We can see here that they had no idea at all of what was going to happen to them in the next couple of days.  Every Christian, including me, has been shocked and surprised at something that has suddenly happened in our lives.  We can see here that these events that surprise us do not surprise God.

When Jesus said, "In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me," they began to ask among themselves what He meant by these words.  These words did not fit into their understanding of what they thought was ahead for Jesus and for them.  In their minds, He was about to become King of the Jews and they were about to be part of His ruling elite.

"Because I am going to the Father"  These words are also found in 14:2: "In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you." (John 14:2) See also 16:5,10,28

b. Jesus explains the meaning of what He meant about leaving them and returning to them. (16:19-28)
"Jesus saw that they wanted to ask him about this, so he said to them, 'Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me”? I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. In that day you will no longer ask me anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete. Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father. In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.'"

Thought Question #1:  How was what was about to happen to the disciples similar to what a mother experiences when she gives birth to a baby?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  What do these words of Jesus tell us about the importance of prayer to us who are Christians?

 

 

"Jesus saw that they wanted to ask him about this, so he said to them, 'Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me”? I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.'"

"I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices." Jesus compares what was about to happen to them to a mother in the pain of childbirth.  The disciples were about to go through a very painful time.  It would be a time when they would "weep and mourn." See John 20:11, Mark 16:9-10, Luke 23:27  The world, on the other hand, saw Jesus' death as time for rejoicing—the false messiah was gone, and life for them could get back to normal.  The world said, "Good riddance!"

"A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice,"  Jesus also told them that just as a mother giving birth to a child has her pain changed to joy when the baby is born, so the disciples' pain would be changed to joy.  What caused the pain—the birthing of the child, becomes the cause of the joy—the newborn child!  What was about to be the cause of their pain—Jesus' death on the cross, was about to be a cause of great joy—the forgiveness of sins through Jesus' death for them.

"and no one will take away your joy."  The "joy" that comes as we realize what Jesus accomplished when He died on the cross for our sins will never go "away," for our joy at our eternal salvation will never end. See Revelation 5

"In that day you will no longer ask me anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name."  The subject of prayer was a very important subject for Jesus on the last night before His death. See 14:12-14, 15:7, 16, 16:23-23,26  Also, he ends His time with the disciples in prayer. See chapter 17  And He also was heading for a time of prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Why would prayer later become so important a subject to Jesus' disciples?  When He was gone, it would be the main channel through which His will would get done through them.  Should not prayer also be very important to us?  Boice quotes R. A. Torrey who gives us "eleven reasons" that prayer is important:  "'(1) Because there is a devil and because prayer is the God-appointed means of resisting him; (2) Because prayer is God's way for us to obtain what we need from Him; (3) Because the apostles, whom God set forth to be a pattern for us, considered prayer to be the most important business of their lives; (4) Because prayer occupied a prominent place and played a very important part in the earthly life of our Lord; (5) Because prayer is the most important part of the present ministry of our Lord, since He is now interceding for us (Heb. 7:25); (6) Because prayer is the means God has appointed for our receiving mercy from Him and obtaining grace to help in time of need; (7) Because prayer is the means of obtaining the fullness of God's joy; (8) Because prayer with thanksgiving is the means of obtaining freedom from anxiety and, in anxiety's place, that peace which passes understanding; (9) Because prayer is the method appointed for our obtaining the fullness of God's Holy Spirit; (10) Because prayer is the means by which we are to keep watchful and be alert at Christ's return; and (11) Because prayer is used by God to promote our spiritual growth, bring power into our work, lead others to faith in Christ, and bring all other blessings to Christ's church.'" "Taken from The Gospel of John by James Boice.  Copyright 1985 by Zondervan Publishing House."

"my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name."  "In my name means, first, asking in line with our Lord's objectives.  To ask in anyone's name means to ask as though you were that person.  This means we are to ask for what Jesus would want, what he is after, and not for our own desires.  Prayer is not a means by which you get God to do what you want, but rather, it is a means by which God does through you what he wants." "Taken from Secrets of the Spirit by Ray Stedman.  Copyright 1975 by Fleming Revell."

Also, praying in Jesus' "name" describes the great privilege that His death has opened up for us.  In Jesus' name, we now have direct access to the Father.  "Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." (Hebrews 4:16)

"In that day you will no longer ask me anything."  These words can be taken in two ways: (1) They would not need to ask Jesus "anything" about why He was going to leave them, for they would know why He left them—He died for their sin and gave the Holy Spirit to be with all Christians to guide and empower them.  (2) They would not ask Him any longer, for they would then ask the Father in Jesus' name.  Both possibilities are true and probably were included in what Jesus was telling His disciples at this time.  "In that day," they would have their questions answered about why Jesus had to die, for they would have God's Spirit to illumine their minds about the meaning of Jesus' words.  "But the Counselor, 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." (John 14:26)

"Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete."  Jesus is stating clearly here that something was about to change.  What would that change be?  What was about to be different from what they were experiencing before His death and resurrection?  Up to this time, they had not prayed to the Father in Jesus' name.  Jesus' death opened up access to the Father in a way that pre-Christian believers never had experienced.  We can pray in Jesus' name without really understanding how significant it is for unholy people to have direct access to holy God.  Also, we call Him "Father."  Furthermore, He hears and answers our prayers.  Understanding what an amazing and undeserved privilege that we Christians have each time we go to the Father will bring us great "joy."  "We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete." (I John 1:3-4)

"Ask and you will receive,"  The "joy" comes in the receiving what we ask for.  Over the years, I have asked requests of the Father in Jesus' "name" for my wife and family, for my original family, and many other requests.  It has been my joy to see God answer these prayers in many wonderful ways.  I could tell many stories of what to me are amazing answers to prayer.  Older Christians can look back on their lives and recount how God has answered their prayers.  His ways of answering prayers are both different than our ways and better than our ways.  His answers to our prayers bring complete "joy" to our hearts.  It brings "joy" to us because it causes us to realize that Almighty God listens to our prayers and, even more amazing, He answers our prayers.

After Jesus was gone and the apostles were filled with God's Spirit, the church spread throughout the world.  A large part of what happened was a result of their prayers.  Paul, for example prayed every day for the new churches and for the new Christians in them. See Romans 1:9-10; Ephesians 1;15-18, 3:14-21; Philippians 1:4-11; Colossians 1:3-13  Why is prayer so important?  It is God's chosen way to do His work through us!  Christians in prayer today unleash God's power, spread His word, and accomplish His work throughout all the world; just as prayer did in the time of the apostles.

"your joy will be complete."  Prayer also takes away from us that which steals our "joy" from us.  Prayer for our enemies removes bitterness and replaces it with compassion.  Praying about our worries replaces fear with peace.  Praying for wisdom replaces confusion with understanding.  Praying helps us to get the big picture in our trials and helps us to be free from self-pity.  Praying for others widens our focus and removes self-centeredness.  We see this process throughout the Psalms as David's prayers and others' prayers lead them out of guilt, worry, despair, self-pity, and into "joy."  "Be joyful always; pray continually." (I Thessalonians 5:16-17)

"Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father."  Jesus used many figures of speech in His teachings to describe spiritual realities—He used earthly realities to describe spiritual realities.  For example, He used wind to describe the invisible working of the Spirit; born again to describe the spiritual rebirth of Christians; bread of life to describe how He could satisfy our spiritual hunger, and many more (vines and branches, good shepherd, etc.)  He used these figures of speech because they had not yet received the Holy Spirit and were not yet experiencing what He was speaking of. See 10:3-6

"In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God."  When Jesus said that they would pray in Jesus' name, He did not mean that they would pray to Jesus and then He would go to "the Father" and tell Him our requests.  No, they would go directly to "the Father."  Jesus did not die to get "the Father" to love us, Jesus' dying for us shows us how much the "the Father" already "loves" us.  The most famous verse in the Bible says that the Son came because the Father already loved us: "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." (John 3:16)  "The Son does not persuade the Father to be gracious." "Taken from The Gospel According to John by Leon Morris.  Copyright 1971 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co."  Grace was in the Father's heart when He gave His Son to die for us.

"Often we tend to think in terms of an angry God and a gentle Jesus." "Taken from The Gospel of John by William Barclay.  Copyright 1975 by the Westminster Press."  We may feel that we can go to Jesus in prayer more easily that we can go to God "the Father."  The truth is that "the Father" is as much a loving God as is Jesus.  The cross showed to us both the Father's love and the Son's love for us.  We can approach Jesus and "the Father," being confident that the One who is listening to us loves us.

"No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God."  Is Jesus saying here that the disciples earned the Father's love by their love for Jesus and their belief in Him?  That would contradict the plain teaching of the Bible.  "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9) See also Romans 3:21-28  But, our love for God and our belief in Him is evidence that we are His children; and He welcomes His children to come to Him and to ask Him in prayer in His Son's name for all that is within His will.

"I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.This verse, if believed, leads to one having a Christian worldview.  Jesus is the Son of God who entered this world by becoming a man like us.  Then, He left the world and returned to His "Father"—where He is right now.  We also know that He left because He had competed His work on earth by dying for our sins and resurrecting from the dead.  After a brief post-resurrection ministry, He ascended into the clouds and into heaven before the astounded faces of His close followers.  Jesus' heavenly origin is clearly taught in the Gospel of John.  "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." (John 1:1-3)  "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." (John 1:14)  "And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began." (John 17:5)

And His presence in heaven right now is clearly taught in another of John's writings—the book of Revelation.  "I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone 'like a son of man,' dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: 'Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.'" (Revelation 1:12-18)

c. The disciples' faith gets stronger. (16:29-30)
"Then Jesus’ disciples said, 'Now you are speaking clearly and without figures of speech. Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. This makes us believe that you came from God.'"

Thought Question:  Why do you believe that they suddenly understood what Jesus was saying?

 

 

"Then Jesus’ disciples said, 'Now you are speaking clearly and without figures of speech.'"  Like us, the disciples understood somewhat, but they did not understand as clearly as they thought they understood.  If they had really understood, they would not have been so disheartened when Jesus was taken away by the religious authorities, when He went through the mockery of a trial, and when He was crucified.  They understood that He was going away, but they did not understand how and why He was going away.  We Christians of all times are like them—we understand much, but there is so much that we do not understand.  One part of life that we do not understand is the seriousness of our sin problem.  They did not understand the cost that Jesus needed to pay for their sin.  The light had come on a little bit for the disciples, but there was a lot of fog still in their thinking.

"'Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. This makes us believe that you came from God.'What had they realized?  Just before this time, John tells us the following: "Jesus saw that they wanted to ask him about this, so he said to them, 'Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me”?'" (John 16:19)  They realized that Jesus knew their question without them asking Him.  They concluded that He could not have been able to do this unless He "came from God."  A light had come on for them. For other examples of Jesus knowing what we humans are unable to know, see 1:42, 47-48, 2:24-25, 6:64

d. Their faith was about to be tested, but God would give them peace. (16:31-33)
"'You believe at last!' Jesus answered. 'But a time is coming, and has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me. I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.'"

Thought Question: From these verses, what will bring us peace in troubling times?

 

 

"'You believe at last!' Jesus answered. 'But a time is coming, and has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.'"  They had faith in Jesus, but not enough faith that they would continue to trust God when Jesus was taken away and crucified.  We can be hard on the people in the Bible when they show their humanness.  But we are not living through what they lived through, and we know how God ultimately brought them victory in the end.  We know about why Jesus died; we know about the resurrection; and we know about the book of Revelation.  They lived through it without all of this knowledge that we have; and they did scatter to their homes instead of being there for Him.  I believe that we would have done the same.

"a time is coming, and has come,"  This "time" was to happen on the next day, but since Judas was already conferring with the religious leaders, the "time" was already occurring as Jesus spoke.

Jesus' prediction that His closest followers would scatter was predicted in the Old Testament.  Jesus quotes this prediction from Zechariah 13:7 in Matthew 26:31: "Then Jesus told them, 'This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.”'"

"scattered" "You will leave me all alone."  Two actions are predicted by Jesus of His closest followers:  (1) They would scatter—thus, they would no longer be strengthened by each other and united with each other in their resolve to stand with Jesus.  (2) They would leave Jesus alone to go through this trial by Himself.  But though they would not be with Him, He would not be alone, for his Father would always be with Him.  "But you, O Lord, be not far off; O my Strength, come quickly to help me. Deliver my life from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dogs. Rescue me from the mouth of the lions; save me from the horns of the wild oxen." (Psalm 22:19-21) See 8:29

In these verses, there is encouragement to all of us who fail at critical times.  Many in the Bible failed when their faith was tested.  Elijah trusted God against the prophets of Baal and Asherah while on Mount Carmel. See I Kings 18:16-46  But, he crumbled before an angry Queen Jezebel. See I Kings 19:1-18  Moses had his moments of weak faith. See Numbers 11:10-15. 20:9-12  Job's faith was weak in the face of the great trial that he went through. See Job 7:16, 10:1-2, 18-19, 30:16-31  Yet, God loved, strengthened, and encouraged these heroes of the faith.  Here, Jesus would return to His scattered disciples after His resurrection.  He would even give these men the responsibility of starting and leading His church.  For all of us weak and failing believers, we can be encouraged by God's very gracious love toward us also.  Our success and effectiveness in God's work is not dependent on us, but on God's adequacy for the task.

"'I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.'The "world," it would appear, was about to completely conquer Jesus.  He would be in their hands for them to do their evil worst to Him.  But, did He stay conquered?  No, He overcame "the world"

For this reason, His disciples should have "peace" in the midst of the storms that would soon come to them.  Wiersbe's quote of George Morrison gives a good definition of peace: "the possession of adequate resources." "Taken from Be Transformed by Warren Wiersbe.  Copyright 1986 by Victor Books."

Is it not true that when we get a bill and we have plenty of money in the bank to pay that bill, that we are peaceful about that bill.  But, if we get a bill and we do not have the money to pay that bill, then we are not peaceful.  So, if we face a trial and we feel inadequacy in any way to deal with that trial, we lose our peace.  On the other hand, if we always believe that the God who is in us and with us is adequate to enable us to get through that trial victoriously, we will be peaceful as we go through that trial.  I am one that will admit that I have had times when my faith was weak and when I failed to believe in God's adequacy.  I will also say that time and time again I have seen God's adequacy even in spite of my lack of faith.  I do not believe I am alone in this.  But, thank God, what Jesus said here continues to be true.  "'I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.'"

Ray Stedman found these words of Jesus comforting in a time of great trouble in his own life.  "These words have meant a great deal to me in these past few months and years.  I've been going through a time of great personal stress, times of deep sorrow, times of great pressure, times of uncertainty, and lack of understanding, not knowing what God is working out, perceiving him to be working in ways which I have thought were utterly wrong, thinking he had no business doing things like this to me.  And I have had to rest upon these tremendous revelations of his word." "Taken from Secrets of the Spirit by Ray Stedman.  Copyright 1975 by Fleming Revell."

"trouble."  The Greek word can be translated "pressure" and "affliction."  It describes times when our life becomes very difficult for some reason.  When those times come, and they will come, we can remember the One who has "overcome the world."  "for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith." (I John 5:4)  "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." (Romans 12:12)

12. Jesus' High Priestly prayer (17)

a. Jesus' prayer to be restored to His former glory (17:1-5)
"After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: 'Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.'"

Thought Question:  Why do you believe that "eternal life" is knowing the Father?

 

 

"After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed:"  John 17 is the only long prayer of Jesus to the Father recorded in the Bible.  The whole chapter is a conversation between two members of the Trinity that took place on the night before Jesus' death.  This recorded prayer of Jesus is certainly "holy ground."  It reveals to us what their conversations are like.  So let us enter with our High Priest into the very Holy of Holies to hear the Son of God's prayer to the Father just before his obedience to the Father led to His death for our sins.  Let us take off our shoes, for we will immediately be standing on holy ground.

"'Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.'"  The world was about to have revealed to them the greatness of God's love in an astounding way.  The greatest act of love was about to take place.  The most horrible action of men was about to reveal God's complete love for us.  When Jesus was hanging on that cross, He or the Father could have at any second said that we were not worth it and ended this ugly spectacle; but Jesus continued to hang there until He paid the full penalty for our sins.  The cross reveals to us both the holiness of God—God's holiness required that someone must pay the penalty for our sins—and the absolute love of God—Jesus the Lamb of God took the penalty for us.  We should all cry out, "I should be up there and not You!"  Jesus' act of love revealed both His holiness and love and the Father's holiness and love—God's holiness and love.  Jesus asks here to be glorified so that the Father will be glorified.

At Jesus' death, we did see His glory in many ways.  The crowd hated Him, but He did not hate them in return.  Instead, He asked that His Father might forgive them.  He reached out to a thief who hung on the cross next to Him.  He made sure his mother was taken care of.  And He transformed a cruel symbol of torture into a symbol of love.

Jesus also glorified the Father on the cross, for John 3:16 has become the most famous verse in the Bible.  "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." (John 3:16)  What is God like?  He is love!  "Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love." (1 John 4:8)

We also see Jesus' glory and the Father's glory through Jesus' resurrection from the dead.  "We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life." (Romans 6:4) See also Romans 1:4 

"For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent."  If we have believed in Jesus Christ, we are told here that we are a gift given to Jesus Christ by the Father.  The Father gave us to the Son so that we might have "eternal life."

What is this "eternal life" that we now have as Christians?  It is defined in verse three: "Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent."  What is the most satisfying experience on this earth?  Is it eating at a fancy restaurant?  Is it taking an expensive cruise on the Caribbean Sea?  Is it watching the latest movie in 3-D?  No, the most satisfying experience on this earth is the Christian's very real and satisfying spiritual relationship with God the Father. 

What will be our most satisfying experience in heaven?  Will it be our new bodies?  Will it be the beauty of the New Jerusalem?  Will it be the beauty of the new heaven and new earth?  No, it will be our personal relationship with the God who made everything and loved us so much that He sent His Son to die for us. 

"Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent." (John 17:3)  The most satisfying experience in heaven will be getting to know the Father  more clearly and deeply.

"The present tense of the verb know indicates also that 'eternal life lies not so much in the possession of a completed knowledge as in the striving after a growing knowledge.'  Eternal life is growing and expanding, not static." "Taken from John the Gospel of Belief by Merrill Tenney.  Copyright 1948 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. It includes a quote from Westcott."

Stedman compares our experience in knowing God as being like a marriage where the love and the relationship grows deeper and deeper over the years.  This is what "eternal life" will be like.  We will grow deeper and deeper in love with God forever.  Because God is infinite, we will be forever growing in our relationship with Him.

"For you granted him authority"  "The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands." (John 3:35)  "Then Jesus came to them and said, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.'" (Matthew 28:18)  And Jesus has been given "authority" to "give eternal life to all those" the Father has "given him."  Are we not exceedingly glad about the "eternal life" that has been given to us because the Father granted Him "authority" to give it to us?  And the "authority" to give "eternal life" was given to Him because of His death on the cross.  "And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life." (I John 5:11-13)

"For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him."  There is, among Christians a controversy over whether God chooses us or we choose Him.  My answer is that both are true.  But, it is clear that we would have never have chosen God if He had not first chosen us.  "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day." (John 6:44)  We come to the Son because the Father "draws" us.  Then, when we believe in Jesus Christ, we become one who was given to the Son by the Father.

"given him" We are a gift to Jesus from the Father.  In Ephesians 1:18, we learn that we are, in our new grace-enriched state, the "riches of his [God's] glorious inheritance."  Jesus, "for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame."  What was "the joy set before him"?  We are that "joy"!  "Those given to Him by the Father" is found in 17:2,6,9.

"I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.All of Jesus' life was "the work" the Father "gave" Him "to do."  As a child, He did the Father's "work."  Remember He told His parents after they lost Him: "'Why were you searching for me?' he asked. 'Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?'" (Luke 2:49)  When He was talking to the Samaritan woman at the well, He was doing the Father's "work."  "'My food,' said Jesus, 'is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.'" (John 4:34)  Then, on the cross, He "said, 'It is finished.'" (John 19:30)  His primary work was then done and our debt before God was fully paid.

How long before Jesus' actual death on the cross was Jesus aware of this "work" He was to do?  He knew of it before the world began:  ". . . the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world." (Revelation 13:8)  "This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross." (Acts 2:23)  Jesus was aware of the "work" He had to do before this world was created.  Here, on the night before His death, the completion of His "work" was right before Him.  We know, though, that this horror had been known by Him before this world began.  We see how conflicted He was about it in 12:27-28: "'Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? “Father, save me from this hour”? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!' Then a voice came from heaven, 'I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.'" (John 12:27-28)  Yet, He continued on in obedience to Father "for the joy that was set before him." (Hebrews 12:2)

"I have brought you glory on earth"  God's "glory" has been revealed to us in many ways, but through Jesus' life and "work" we have seen up close and personal what God is like.  He is absolute perfection in every way. 

"'And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.'This is one of the clearest verses that Jesus is God.  Jesus' words are an unmistakable statement that He identified Himself as God.  In John 1:1-3, Jesus is described as God.  "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."  (John 1:1-3)  Here in John 17:6, Jesus states that He is God.  Before Jesus became a man He was God—the God who created everything.  Now, the time had come for Him to return to His former state of glory. See also 8:58, 16:28

Some of us have been away from home for a long time.  In the early sixties I was overseas in the Far East for 3 ½ years in the Navy.  I will never forget what it was like coming back to the United States and again seeing my parents and family.  Jesus was away from home for more than 30 years.  At the time of this prayer, He was about to return home.  His home is also now our true home.  Although, unlike Jesus, we have never been there before.  But, when we get there, we will also finally be home!

b. Jesus' prayer for His first group of disciples (17:6-19)

(1) Why His first disciples believed in Him (17:6-8)
"'I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me.'"

Thought Question:  According to these words of Jesus, why did we come to believe in Jesus? (both God's part and our part)

 

 

"'I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word.'"  Why do we believe in Christ and others do not?  Why did these disciples become Jesus' followers?  Jesus explains here why they followed Him.  The Father "gave them to" Jesus.  Acts 13:48 explains why people believe in Jesus Christ.  "When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed." (Acts 13:48)  Who are those who believe in Jesus Christ?  It is those "who were appointed for eternal life."  In John 10, Jesus says, "'I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me.'" (John 10:14)  Then, in 6:37, we read, "All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away." (John 6:37)

Why did the disciples come to Jesus and follow Him?  Why do we come to Him and follow Him?  It is because we are those whom God chose before the world began.  "For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love . . ." (Ephesians 1:4) See also I Peter 1:1-2  A critical question, though, is. "Why are some Jesus' sheep and others are not?"  There are two basic different views on this.  Some believe that we would have no interest in ever coming to God, so God must irresistibly draw or drag those He chooses to follow Him.  In this view, no one would come to God unless God chose to irresistibly draw or drag people to Himself.  Those He does not choose to irresistibly drag to Himself do not and will not come.   Why does He choose some and not others?  They would say that they do not know and that it is not for us to know.  The other view says that God chooses those who do not harden themselves when He draws them—those who will become humbly receptive to their need for a Savior.  These are the poor in spirit." See Matthew 5:3  These are the "good soil." See Matthew 13:23   I believe the Bible teaches that those given to Jesus by the Father are those who eventually are humbled as God uses everything in their lives to bring them to a place of brokenness and humility, and as He opens their hearts to see the truth by the Holy Spirit. "One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message." (Acts 16:14)

Why, then, does God choose some and not others?  It is because some "resist the Holy Spirit" and others do not. (Acts 7:51)  We may come kicking and screaming, but we eventually come.  "All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away." (John 6:37)  "Will come" indicates a willingness to come.  Here, Jesus' disciples were those who "accepted" His "words." 

How do we know who those are that the Father has given to Jesus?  They will choose to obey Jesus—they are those who are willing to obey Him.  Why will they choose to obey Him?  Why did we choose to obey Him?  "If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own." (John 7:17)  Jesus' true followers will show their love for Him by obeying Him.  "'Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.'" (John 14:21)  "Jesus replied, 'If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He 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.'" (John 14:23-24)

The Greek word translated "obeyed" in the NIV is tereo.  "It literally means to 'to pay attention to' or 'observe,' just as one would pay attention to a traffic light and observe it." "Taken from The Gospel of John by James Boice.  Copyright 1985 by Zondervan Publishing House." "To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, 'If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.'" (John 8:31-32)

They also are those who believe that Jesus offers us the only way to real life.  "Simon Peter answered him, 'Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.' (John 6:68)  "'I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.'" (John 10:10b)  "Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'" (John 14:6)

"'I have revealed you'"  The Disciples' Literal New Testament translates the Greek words as follows: "I have revealed your name."  "Name" summarizes all that the Father is.  "In the Old Testament name is used in a very special way.  It does not mean simply the name by which a person is called; it means the whole character of the person in so far as it can be known." "Taken from The Gospel of John by William Barclay.  Copyright 1975 by the Westminster Press."  "In the Bible, 'name' refers to 'nature.'" "Taken from Be Transformed by Warren Wiersbe.  Copyright 1986 by Victor Books."  Jesus revealed the "nature" of the Father and the "character" of the Father to His disciples.  "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”?'" (John 14:9) See 1:18

"'Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me.'Jesus describes a characteristic of every true Christian. We "know" that Jesus' words are God's words.  We "know" that the Bible is God's words.  How do we "know"?  We just "know" that we "know"—for God by His Spirit has made it real to us.  Jesus' closest followers knew that when Jesus spoke, His words came from the Father and they knew "with certainty" that Jesus was "sent by the Father."

True faith in Jesus will result in actions based on that faith.  "As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead." (James 2:26)  "'Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?” Then I will tell them plainly, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!”'" (Matthew 7:21-23)  Jesus' closest followers' true belief in Him will also lead to a life of obedience to Him.  He entrusted His message to them, and they were faithful in propagating it in such a way that the church began successfully as Jesus worked through them.

(2) Why He prayed for them (17:9-10)
"I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them."

Thought Question:  When Jesus says He is "not praying for the world," does that mean that He only prayed for His disciples and not for those who were not His followers? (Should we pray only for Christians?)

 

 

"I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours."  Why does Jesus pray for His closest followers and "not" for "the world"?  Is it because His disciples have earned His prayers and the people in the world have not earned His prayers?  No, for then, no one would get prayed for, for no one has earned His prayers.  He prays for them because they were valued gifts to Him from His Father who were going to carry out His ministry after He was gone.

Also, the fact that Jesus was not praying for "the world" describes who He was praying specifically for at the time described in John 17.  It does not mean that He never prayed for the people of the world or that He only prayed for His closest followers.  Paul, in I Timothy, exhorts us to pray for everyone, because it is God's will that we do it.  " I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth." (I Timothy 2:1-4)  Jesus prayed for those who were crucifying Him.  "Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.' . . ." (Luke 23:34  Even in this prayer in John 17, Jesus shows concern for "the world."  He prayed "that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. . . . I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me." (John 17:21,23)

At this time, though, His main concern was for those who would take over His ministry after He was gone.  Later in this prayer, we will learn that He also prayed for us on that night before He was taken to the cross. See 17:20-26

Why did Jesus pray for his closest followers and for us?  Why does He still pray for us.  "Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them." (Hebrews 7:25)  It is because we are His eternal family, given to Him by the Father.  We, also, are the way that Jesus has chosen to reveal Himself to the world.

"All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them."  We, who are God's children, indwelt by Him, and commissioned to carry out His work in the world are the way that Jesus has chosen to reveal Himself to the world.  Is it any wonder that He prayed for His closest disciples and for us on the night before His death?  Is it any wonder that He continually prays for us?  We also need to pray for each other for the very same reason.  The reason Jesus prayed for His disciples and for us remains a reason for us to pray today—that Jesus' glory be revealed to the world.

(3) How He prayed for His closest followers (17:11-19)
"'I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name—the name you gave me—so that they may be one as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled. I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.'"

Thought Question #1:  What does Jesus mean by "protect them by the power of your name"?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  "My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one."  How should these words of Jesus affect how live in this present world?

 

 

Thought Question #3:  What did Jesus mean by "sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth"?

 

 

Thought Question #4:  What did Jesus mean by "the full measure of" his "joy"?

 

 

Thought Question #5:  What did Jesus mean when He said that His followers are "not of the world"?

 

 

"'I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father,"  Jesus knows that His upcoming death is a certainty.  So, shortly, His disciples would be without His physical presence.  In light of this certainty, what does He pray for?  "Protect them by the power of your name—the name you gave me—so that they may be one as we are one."  We can understand that Jesus would pray that they be protected after He leaves, but what does He mean by "protect them by the power of your name"?  Proverbs 18:10 and Psalm 20:1 help us to understand what Jesus meant by them being protected "by the power of" God's "name."  "The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe." (Proverbs 18:10)  "May the Lord answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you." (Psalm 20:1b)  God's "name" represents all that God is in nature, character, and power.  He is—because of His character and power—One that those who trust in Him can run to in times of trouble.  "He [David] sang to the Lord the words of this song when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. He said: 'I love you, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.'" (Psalm 18:1-2) See also Psalm 6:1-3, 91:2, 144:2; Proverbs 14:26  Jesus would be gone physically, but the Father and all that He is in character and power would continue to be with them to protect them.

"the name you gave me"  All that the Father is by nature is also what the Son is by nature. 

"so that they may be one as we are one."  It appears that this prayer of Jesus has not been answered.  There are today so many denominations and divisions in Christ's church that there are too many to count.  Besides that there are divisions within denominations and within local churches.  A friend of mine has, over the years, been disturbed that we are so divided.  He sees how much more effective we could be if we were united as one church.  Recently, he heard or read (I can't remember which) a western novel.  The subject came up that the church should be one.  A character in the story agreed and said, "Then, we will all be Methodists!"  My friend realized at that moment that the church would continue to be divided.  We can want the church to be one, but we can want them all be what we believe in—they will, then, all be Baptists, Methodists, Pentecostals, etc. (whatever it is that we believe in).  Nevertheless, the truth is that we are one.  "There is one body and one Spirit— just as you were called to one hope when you were called— one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all." (Ephesians 4:4-6)  What we are told by Paul to do is to preserve the unity that we already have.  "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace." (Ephesians 4:2-3)  We can feel that our denomination is superior to other denominations for some reason.  I do not believe that is how Jesus looks at us.  I believe that He, as He does in Revelation two through three, sees strengths and weaknesses in all churches and denominations.  We should be humbled by this truth and not be high and mighty as we compare ourselves with others.  Instead, we should be grateful for what God is doing through His church.  We should pray as Jesus prayed that the church that is one would more and more experience its oneness, so that we can together glorify Jesus Christ.  We are to seek to experience a unity of spirit and purpose with all born again Christians that make up the true body of Christ. 

We do not need to have an organizational unity or uniformity to be united in this goal to together bring glory to Jesus Christ.  For example, it should not be our goal to find the lowest common denominator so that we can have organizational unity.  Rather, we should all seek to grow closer to Christ.  As we do this, we will come closer to each other as well.  Ephesians 4 describes the type of unity that we are to grow into.  "It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work." (Ephesians 4:11-16)

"While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled."  These words of Jesus' prayer give us more insight into what Jesus meant by keeping His followers "safe" by God's "name."  Jesus' concern is that they would continue to believe in God and continue to believe in Him.  The only one that fell away from following Him was Judas. "Then Jesus replied, 'Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!' (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.)" (John 6:70-71) See 13:2,11,18, 26-30

It was predicted in the Old Testament that one of Jesus' followers would turn on Him. "Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me." (Psalm 41:9)  "This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: 'I have not lost one of those you gave me.'" (John 18:9)

In the end, all of Jesus' followers, except Judas, continued to follow Him until the end of their lives.  The devil did all he could do to stop them, but they nevertheless served Jesus until the end.  Paul describes what it is like when we are protected by the Father until the end of our life.  "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing." (II Timothy 4:7-8)

"I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them."  Jesus speaks of His "joy"the full measure of my joy within them."  Yet, Jesus was about to be horribly mistreated, to be completely misunderstood, to experience the greatest injustice ever experienced, to be completely unappreciated, and to be murdered in front of a mocking crowd.  What could bring Him "joy" in that?  His "joy" did not come from what is temporal and worldly, but from what is eternal and heavenly.  "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:2)  His death was going to result in eternal "joy"; for His death would make it possible for all of us who have believed in Him to enjoy His riches forever.  There were those who rejected Him; but there were also those given to Him by the Father who would follow Him and obey Him even to their death.  Also, He was soon to return to His former glory and his wonderful relationship with the Father.

How does this apply to us?  Our outward circumstances are not as bad as Jesus was facing on this day right before His arrest and murder; though, we may have problems.  But, how do our problems compare to what is heavenly and eternally true for us?  We also are suffering with Christ, so that one day we also will see the rewards of our labors as Jesus did.  Our eternal home with  God is not in jeopardy.  We have Jesus Christ indwelling us.  God guides us by the Holy Spirit as we seek to understand the Bible.  I am blessed with a wonderful marriage and family and with strong Christian friendships.  My hope is that you are experiencing the same.  We can fellowship with God each day.  He has given us each a meaningful task that will have eternal significance.  "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." (Galatians 6:9) "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." (I Corinthians 15:58)  God provides us with more than adequate resources to meet our needs as we go to Him in prayer.  There is no reason why we cannot share in Jesus "joy."

Another aspect of Jesus' joy was that He knew that He was perfectly obeying the Father.  We also can have his "joy" when we also know that we are obeying God.  We, though, can feel that we can only rejoice when that which is good happens to us.  For example, a pastor or a Sunday school teacher can rejoice when there is a good attendance at his church or at his Sunday school class but not rejoice when the attendance is small.  Then, his or her joy goes up and down based on how many attend the church or Sunday school class.  Jesus obeyed the Father and people stopped following Him.  "From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him." (John 6:66)  Did that affect His "joy."  He must have been saddened, but He continued to obey the Father and His Father's "joy" remained in Him.  We also should continue to be joyful when we know that we are obeying the Father.

We are told by Isaiah that Jesus was "a man of sorrows." (Isaiah 53:3)  Paul experienced sorrows, but he also always rejoiced.  "We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything." (II Corinthians 6:3-10)  The Bible does not minimize the trials of this world, but the "joy" that comes from meditating on the truth of the Bible triumphs over all that the world and the devil throw at us, for it is Jesus' triumphant "joy." "Nehemiah said, ' . . . for the joy of the Lord is your strength.'" (Nehemiah 8:10)  "The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes." (Psalm 19:8)  "Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame." (Psalm 34:5)  "Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart." (Psalm 119:111) See Luke 10:20; Romans 5:3; Philippians 4;4; III John 4

"I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world."  We have already seen that we who are Christians are different from the world in that we have a joy that is not based on the temporal circumstances of life, but on the eternal realities revealed to us in the Bible.  Here, Jesus tells us that "the world" hates us because we are different from them.  What are some of the ways that we are different from "the world"?  Jesus says here that we are different because He has "given" us God's "word."  The "word" reveal to us what is right and what is wrong, who God is and who He is not, and that we will all one day stand before God's judgment.  Is "the world" eager to hear all of this?  No, "the world" despises what we believe.  In our "world," dominated by those who say that there are no absolutes, we are despised for believing the fundamental truths taught in the Bible.  With a sneer, they call us fundamentalists.  The world wants to be able to choose what to believe—for example, they want to choose what they believe is right and what they believe is wrong.

What did Jesus' disciples think as they heard Him pray that they were "not of the world"?  They must have reflected on it later when He was gone and as they discovered that "the world" "hated" them as they had "hated" Jesus.  Surely they were strengthened and encouraged when they remembered that Jesus had forewarned them of the animosity that they would face.

"My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it."  In a church history class, I learned of a man who lived on the top of a pedestal for many years, so that he could live a life separated from the world.  Here, Jesus teaches in His prayer that it is His desire that we remain in "the world," but "not" be "of the world."  And He prayed that they would be protected "from the evil one."  Almost all of Jesus' disciples died as martyrs, so they were not protected from being killed by "the world."  But, they did remain "not of the world" until the end of their lives.  So, "the evil one" who is the ruler of this "world" system that hates Christians (see Ephesians 2:1-3) was not able to conquer their faith in Jesus; even though he took their lives.

The "evil one" also was unable to stop Christ's church from spreading all over the world.  Listen to the words of John the apostle near the end of his life:  "For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God." (1 John 5:4-5)  "We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him. We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one. We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true—even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life." (I John 5:18-20) See the following verses that give us instructions on how we can win this war with "the evil one": Ephesians 6:10-20; II Corinthians 10:3-6; James 4:7; I Peter 5:6-11

"Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth."  "Sanctify" is a big word.  What does it mean?  It simply means becoming the holy people of God that He originally intended us to be.  "Sanctify" translates a Greek word that also could be translated, "make holy."  Again, "sanctify" means becoming the holy people God created us to be.  Some men enjoy taking an old car and restoring it to what it was when it came out of the factory.  God is in the job of restoring us to His original holy purposes.

Jesus prays that His disciples would be transformed so they could become the type of people that would accomplish His original purpose for them in His plan—that they would bring glory to the Father who created them.  He desires the same of us.

One of the main ways that He produces this transformation in us is through His "truth."  Pilate sarcastically asked Jesus, "What is truth?" (John 18:38)  Mankind, on the whole is moving away from "truth," not toward it.  "The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen." (Romans 1:18-25)

The "truth" is that we were created by God after his image. See Genesis 1:26-27  And, the "truth" is that we chose sin instead of God's holy and all-wise ways. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23)   Furthermore, the "truth" is that Jesus is God's Son and that He died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins.  "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)  We become a Christian and begin the sanctification process when we believe these gospel truths with a faith that produces a life direction based on that belief.    Our society, however, is not seeking the 'truth."

But, the disciples did seek the "truth" and they sought after the One who is the "truth."  As a result, they were moving toward being restored to God's holy purposes for them.  They were being sanctified by the "truth."

Where do we find this "truth""Your word is truth" explains to us where we find the "truth."  The Bible reveals what is true—what is reality.  In a world full of all kinds of perversions, all kinds of rationalizations for what is wrong, all kinds of lies, and all kinds of wickedness; the Bible is like a light that reveals what is right—what is pure and what is accurate.  Listen to David's words about the Bible.  "The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the Lord are sure and altogether righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward." (Psalm 19:7-11)

Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible—176 verses.  It is all about the author's valuing of the Bible. "Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word." (Psalm 119:36-37)  "Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long. Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever with me. I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes. I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts. I have kept my feet from every evil path so that I might obey your word. I have not departed from your laws, for you yourself have taught me. How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path." (Psalm 119:97-105)

"'As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.'What does Jesus mean by, "I sanctify myself"?  Was He not already holy?  He was talking about fulfilling His holy and loving purpose on this earth—He was talking about His death.  "'That they too may be truly sanctified'"—His death resulted in His disciples being "sanctified."  The following verses describe how Jesus' sanctified His disciples, including us:  "Then he said, 'Here I am, I have come to do your will.' He sets aside the first to establish the second. And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool, because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy." (Hebrews 10:9-14)

The opposite of condemnation is "justified."  Justified means that we stand righteousness before God.  "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God." (Romans 5:1-2)  Jesus' disciples and we are righteous—"sanctified" through Jesus' death—the completion of His holy mission on earth.  We, of course, are not holy in actions yet, but Jesus met and paid the full legal requirement that our sin had earned before a just God on the cross.  And, through His death, we are fully freed from the condemnation we deserve.  "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23)

Jesus' disciples were to continue God's work in the world.  "As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world."  All of Christ's followers have this mission.  It is much easier to spend all our time in a Christian culture.  "As some Bible teachers have pointed out, it is possible, for example, to be born of Christian parents, grow up in that Christian family, have Christian friends, go to Christian schools and colleges, read Christian books, attend a Christian country club known as a church, watch Christian movies, get Christian employment, be attended by a Christian doctor, and finally, one may suppose, die and be buried by a Christian undertaker on holy ground." "Taken from The Gospel of John by James Boice.  Copyright 1985 by Zondervan Publishing House."  That, of course, is not the mission that Jesus gave to His disciples or to us.  One of the reasons we do not reach people outside of the church is that we hardly get to know them.  We are to seek to find ways to reach out to the lost so that we can share with them the gospel message that changed our lives so radically.  Open doors that I have experienced for a ministry to those outside of the church are a jail ministry, monthly messages at the Union Gospel, choosing to be involved in activities where I get to know people outside of the church, and taking advantage of opportunities to get to know people.

c. Jesus' prayer for His future disciples—which includes us (17:20-24)

(1) Jesus' prayer for our unity (17:20-23)
"'My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.'"

 

 

Thought Question:  Has this prayer of Jesus that we be one not been answered (because of the church's division into many denominations and divisions and the many divisions even within denominations and churches)?  Please explain your answer.

 

 

"'My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message,'"  At this time, Jesus changes whom He is praying for from His closest followers at that time to praying for "those who will believe in" Him "through their message."  He was praying ultimately for the church of all time.  He was, then, also praying for us today.

"that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me."  Again, Jesus is praying for unity among us as Christians, but He is not praying for organizational unity—ecumenical unity.  The church had organizational unity over much of the world under the Roman Catholic Church in the Middle Ages.  Is that what Jesus desired when He prayed here for unity?  That period was also called the Dark Ages.

Was Jesus praying for uniformity?  Should Christians dress the same, believe exactly the same as each other, and act identically to each other?  Should we all be cookie cutter copies of each other?

Finally, was Jesus praying for ecumenical oneness between Catholics, liberal Protestants, and Evangelicals?  Did He desire that we find the lowest common denominator among us and unite together on that basis?

It is obvious to most evangelical Christians that this is not the type of unity that Jesus was praying for.  What type of unity, then, was Jesus praying for?  Jesus' disciples were quite different from each other.  There was Simon the Zealot who was opposed to the Roman government and Matthew who collected taxes for the Roman government.  There were very different personalities among the disciples, such as the outspoken Peter and doubting Thomas.  Also, we are told that the Holy Spirit gives us different spiritual gifts. See I Corinthians 12:4-11  The unity that Jesus desires us to experience is a unity that includes diversity.

What, then, is the unity that Jesus prayed for?  It is the type of unity that Jesus and the Father experience right now.  It is the type of unity that comes from deep-hearted oneness of purpose, mutual love, and it is a unity that unifies us at the very core of who we are. 

How can we have this type of unity?  The answer is given in verse 22: "I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one."  How can we have this type of unity?  It is possible because Jesus has "given" us "the glory" that the Father "gave" to Him.  Peter speaks of this glory in II Peter.  "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires." (II Peter 1:3-4)

"The glory" of Jesus was His willingness to humble Himself and serve us even to the point of dying on the cross.  Could that "glory" lead us to serve others even to the point of humbling ourselves for the sake of unity?  "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace." (Ephesians 4:2-3)

We are able to "be one" because deep inside of us, we already have the same unity within us that exists between the Father and the Son—deep inside of us we are one.  "There is one body and one Spirit— just as you were called to one hope when you were called— one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all." (Ephesians 4:4-6)  Our part is to walk worthy of our calling.  "As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace." (Ephesians 4:1-3)

"'I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.'Ephesians four describes a unity that we already have because we are Christians and have Christ's life in each of us.  But, in this same chapter in Ephesians, Paul also describes a unity that we are to grow into.  "It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work." (Ephesians 4:11-16) 

If we are truly moving toward God together, we are also moving toward this unity.  If we are not unified, it is because we are moving toward selfishness.  "Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men? For when one says, 'I follow Paul,' and another, 'I follow Apollos,' are you not mere men?" (I Corinthians 3:1-4)

I have loved this illustration for a marriage that is both growing closer to God and closer together.  It is a triangle with God at the top.  At the bottom on one side is the wife and on the other side is the husband.  As both the husband and wife grow closer to God on their side of the triangle, so do each grow closer to each other.  The same illustration can also describe how church members grow in oneness.  And, it is only possible because we also have God's life in us.

The very earliest Christians did have this type of oneness.  "All the believers were together and had everything in common." (Acts 2:44)  "All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need." (Acts 4:32-35)

Do we have this type of oneness today?  First of all, we need to realize that all those that call themselves Christians are not Christians.  Also, there will be more unity among more mature Christians than among immature Christians.  Also, there can even be disunity that can occur between mature Christians.  For example, there was at one time disunity between Paul and Barnabas.  "Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, 'Let us go back and visit the brothers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.' Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord." (Acts 15:36-40)

How can we fulfill Jesus' prayer?  He died for us so that we can be indwelt by Him and be unified with other Christians.  Are we willing to do what it will take to be united with fellow believers?  "Only love implanted in men's hearts by God can tear down the barriers which they have erected between each other and between their churches." "Taken from The Gospel of John by William Barclay.  Copyright 1975 by the Westminster Press." 

If the world does not see this type of unity and love, it will not be impressed at all with us and our claim that we have a real relationship with God.  They already have divorce, disunity, and divisions in the world.  The church, then, has nothing to offer them.  The early church was one and they turned their world upside down.  The degree to which we are one is the degree to which we impact our world.  The One who died for us prayed that we would have this type of unity.  Real unity between all Christians "would be a 'supernatural fact which would require a supernatural explanation.'" "Taken from The Gospel of John by William Barclay.  Copyright 1975 by the Westminster Press."

"and have loved them even as you have loved me.'Another reason that we are to seek to experience the oneness that we have in Christ is that the Father loves all of us just as He loves Jesus.  If we ever wondered if God loves us with all of our faults, we can stop wondering.  Here, Jesus says that the Father loves us as much as He loves His Son.  We can be partial and love our family members more than we love those outside of our family.  God is not like this—He infinitely loves everyone.  He desires the very best for us all.

(2) Jesus prays that they will see His glory. (17:24)
"'Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.'"

Thought Question:  What are some reasons why you are sure that one day you will see Jesus in all of His glory?

 

 

"'Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.'How can we be sure that we will be with Jesus and see Him in His full glory?  First of all, we can be sure because of the price He paid.  "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." (John 3:16)  Next, we can be sure because of the prayer Jesus prayed.  Will not the Father answer Jesus' prayer after the price His Son was willing to pay for us?  Next, we can be sure because of the promise He made.  "'Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you." (John 14:1-2) 

Here are some verses that also promise that we who have believed in Him will be with Him forever and see His glory.  "I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!" (Job 19:25-27)  "I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand." (Psalm 16:8-11)  "Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known." (II Corinthians 13:12)  "Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands." (2 Corinthians 5:1)  "Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord." (2 Corinthians 5:6-8)  "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far." (Philippians 1:21-23)  "But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body." (Philippians 3:20-21)  "For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever." (I Thessalonians 4:16-17)  "Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us;" (II Timothy 2:11-12)  "Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is." (I John 3:2)

Revelation five describes a time when we will all be with Jesus in glory and we will see His glory together.  "Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they sang: 'Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!' Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: 'To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!'" (Revelation 5:11-13)

"before the creation of the world.'" See Matthew 25:34; Ephesians 1:4; Hebrews 4:3; I Peter 1:20; Revelation 13:8 and 17:8 for other examples of what has been true "before the creation of the world." 

"to be with me" "to see my glory"  Both "be" and "see"  are present tense verbs.  So, what Jesus was praying for is that we will continually be "with" Him and continually "see" His "glory."  On the following day, because His death for us fully paid the penalty for all of our sin, He ensured that His prayer would be answered for all who believe on Him.

"the glory you have given me"  "This is one of the clearest passages that sets for the eternal subordination of the Son to the Father (cf. I Cor. 15:24; 28; Eph. 3:21; Phil. 2:9-11)." "Constable's on-line commentary." 

c. Jesus' final words in prayer reveal His goal for all Christians—that we have His love in us toward each . (17:25-26)
"'Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.'"

Thought Question:  Make a list of the important Christian truths that you find in these last words of Jesus' prayer.

 

 

Jesus, in a few words describes the Father, the eternal relationship between the Father and the Son, the relationship between the Father and the world, and the relationship between the Father and Jesus' closest followers.

First of all, Jesus describes the "Father"—He is "righteous."  It is because of God's righteousness that a payment for our sin had to be paid.  A "righteous" God could not ignore our sin.  The penalty had to be paid.  Jesus was about to pay that penalty in place of us paying for it. 

Secondly, Jesus describes the relationship between the "Father" and Him.  "I know you."  Only a holy person can approach a holy God.  Jesus was the only man who could approach the holy "Father," for He also is holy.  He alone could truly "know" Him.  He lives in a perfect relationship with the "Father."  "Jesus gave them this answer: 'I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does.'" (John 5:19-20a)

Next, Jesus describes the relationship between the "Father" and "the world""the world does not know you."  "The world" has chosen darkness over knowing God.  "For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened." (Romans 1:21)  "The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." (II Corinthians 4:4)

Finally, Jesus describes the relationship between the Father and Jesus' closest followers—"they know that you have sent me."  Jesus is the Mediator between the "Father" and mankind. The disciples knew that the "Father" had "sent" Jesus to them.  Jesus' disciples are different than "the world" because the world rejected Him; whereas, His disciples received Him for who He is.  "He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God." (John 1:10-12)  "No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God." (John 16:27)  "For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me." (John 17:8)
 
"'I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.'Here, Jesus shares the purpose of the church.  Jesus desires that the Father's love for Him "may be in" us and that His life "may be in" us.  "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (John 13:34-35)

If we do all that a church is supposed to do and all that Christians are supposed to do, "but not have love," we "gain nothing." (I Corinthians 13:3b)  "Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity." (Colossians 3:12-14)  " Love must be sincere. . . . Be devoted to one another in brotherly love . . ." (Romans 12:9-10)  "The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith."  (I Timothy 1:5)  "Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart." (I Peter 1:22)  A church that does not, above all, express genuine love for each other is a church that is not fulfilling Christ's desire for His church.

 

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. ®   NIV ®   Copyright ©  1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission.  All Rights reserved.

Studies in John