John 13:32–14:31. Jesus Dialogs With the Disciples. Part II.
Key Notes: Five themes: His relationship to the Father; Prayer; the Holy Spirit; Peace; Satan's defeat. John's unique teaching on the Trinity: four examples.
We continue our summaries of Jesus’ teaching of themes 3–7.
3. Jesus’ relationship to the Father.
“ Believe in God, believe also in Me. (14:1). He declares the equivalence of Himself and the Father.
“…no one comes to the Father, but by Me.” 14:6. Jesus is also the entry-way to the Father.
“He who has seen Me has seen the Father. Do you not believe that I am in the Father and Father in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own authority: but the Father who dwells in Me does His works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me; or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.” 14:9–11
“…the word which you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent Me.” (14:24)
“…I do as the Father has commanded me so that the World may know that I love the Father.” 14:31
These words almost efface Jesus’ personality, as if He were totally dominated , as if the work He did were automatic, but that too is the manifestation of the mutual indwelling of Jesus and the Father.
“I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Counselor” 14:16
There is a timely and dynamic interaction between Father and Son, dependent on Jesus’ death. His Resurrection and Ascension are necessary preconditions for Pentecost and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the disciples. Jn.7:39
“In that day you will know that I am in My Father and you in Me and I in you.” 14:20.
The unity of the Father and Son is analogous to the unity of the Son and the believer.
“The Father is greater than I.” 14:28.
Comment: The Arians took this last verse (14:28) and said it proved Jesus’ inferiority, and hence His lesser deity. They declared Him less than God. But they ignored all the other verses that speak for His radical equality. As we have seen earlier in John, Jesus repeatedly affirms His subordination to the Father, and I think 14:28 is saying that also. Subordination is not inferiority.
We may think that Jesus’ statement that “I do not speak on My own authority, but the Father who dwells in Me does His work” puts His relationship, His oneness with the Father, beyond the reach of human beings. This is something we can never equal. However Paul says,
“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Gal.2:20
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in My Name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son; if you ask anything in My Name, I will do it.” 14:12–14
Jesus speaks of prayer in connection with the disciples doing great works—greater works than His-- for God. We know that Peter, for example, won more converts in a single day (Pentecost) after a prayer session in the Upper Room than Jesus did in any day of His ministry, perhaps His entire ministry. The number soon exceeded 5000. (Acts 4:4). [There were 500 at one gathering after the Resurrection (I Cor. 15:6) to give us a feel for relative size of Jesus's assembled disciples.]. Peter and John stirred up the city of Jerusalem with one healing. (Acts.3:1–11). Another powerful prayer session is described in Acts 4 after the first persecution. The healing ministry of Peter was awesome. (Acts 5:12–16). The Church’s prayer for Peter saved his life (Acts 12:17) even though they did not believe it possible.
Most of our prayers are for our own needs. Praying in Jesus’ name is more complicated than saying the words. It demands conformity to His will and perhaps with a focus on the Big Picture rather than my headaches. I think many of our prayers are not answered because they are not in His plan, yet I have had prayers answered for the most trivial of personal needs. “Teach me the patience of unanswered prayer.” My prayer is "Lord, what do You want me to do today?"
[A helpful book on prayer is “Prayer. Conversing with God.” R.Rinker, Zondervan,’59.]
5. The Holy Spirit
“… If you love me, you will keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Counselor, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of Truth, whom the World cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him….” (14:15–17). A Moslem at lunch once asked me to explain the Holy Spirit to him, and I could not and would not try. He was not ready to receive Him.
“Another” Counselor implies that Jesus had a counselor's role during His life.
"While Jesus has been with them, He Himself has been their Advocate. He has stood beside them like counsel for the defense summoned to the side of a prisoner to plead his cause and strengthen him in the hour of trial. He defended the disciples against the criticisms of the Pharisees. (Mk.2:18–20; 3:23). He prayed for Peter that his faith might not utterly fail. (Lk.22:32). He befriended the blind man, upon whom He bestowed sight, after his excommunication from the synagogue. (9:35). At His forthcoming arrest He will plead with His adversaries to allow His followers to go free, so that the whole weight of the enemy’s attack may fall upon Himself. (see 18:8).” from The Gospel according to St. John. R.V.G.Tasker; Eerdmans,’68; p.166
“…even the Spirit of Truth…” 14:17.
The Church has relied on the Holy Spirit to give us assurance of what books will make up the Canon of Scripture, and to guide us in its interpretation and application.
“…whom the Father will send in My Name…” 14:26.
The Holy Spirit is sent by the Father as Jesus is sent by the Father. 12:44
“…He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” 14:26.
A vital role of the Holy Spirit is in our conscious minds, teaching and reminding us of Jesus’ words to us.
Modern critics of Christianity wonder what would have happened if the Gnostics had won what the critics think of as a political battle in the early Church. Wouldn’t the Church be better off with a New-age perspective? Salvation by grace through Christ's atoning sacrifice would have been lost. The Holy Spirit, not the bishops, prevented that from happening.
We will learn more about the Holy Spirit in John 16.
6. Jesus’ peace.
“Let not your hearts be troubled….” 14:1
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the World gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” 14:27.
Peace with Jesus leaving? Jesus dying? Peace in persecution and poverty and homelessness? Friends gone? Peace in the middle of battles? His peace comes from Him. It is not a pill. We have it for the asking from Him. It is a supernatural grace, a fruit of the Spirit. Gal.5:22
7. Satan’s defeat.
“…the ruler of this world is coming. He has no power over Me, but I do as the Father has commanded me.” 14:30–31.
Jesus’ death is controlled by His own obedience and love for the Father, rather than Satan’s scheming. God so loved the World that He gave His only-begotten Son. The Only-begotten Son so loved the Father that He freely gave up His life for the World God loved.
Addendum on the Trinity:
So far in John we have read much about the relationship between the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit, and our relationships to Them. The Trinity in itself is ineffable, indescribable, and it is not our task to understand it. If we could explain God, He would not be God. His attributes can be catalogued but His Essence is beyond comprehension. Popular analogies of the Trinity such as triangles, intersecting spheres or ice, water and steam are modalistic and incorrect.
But John’s teachings on the Trinity are practical and not theoretical. The Trinity is not an enigma to be solved, but a pattern of relationships to be obeyed. John gives us at least eight examples of a relationship that we are intended to follow. The examples are simple enough that they can be reduced to a formula: The Father is to the Son, as Jesus is to us disciples: A / B = B / C.
LIVING. “As the living Father sent Me / and I live because of the Father = so he who eats Me / will live because of Me.” 6:57. This most difficult of Jesus’ statements says that our life comes from Christ as His life comes from the Father. It is a mystery.
KNOWING. “I know My own / and My own know Me = as the Father knows me / and I know the Father” 10:14. [The order here is reversed to keep the formula uniform.]
RECEIVING. “He who receives anyone whom I send / receives Me; = and he who receives Me / receives Him who sent Me.” 13:20. Here the order is inverted, beginning in the right corner.
INDWELLING. “In that day you will know that I am in My Father and you in Me and I in you.” (14:20)
To cite four other examples,
Loving: "As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you." Jn.15:9
Obeying."If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in His love." Jn.15:10
Commissioned. "As the Father has sent Me, even so I send you." Jn.20:21
Doing. "I can do nothing on my own authority" Jn.5:29. "Apart from Me you can do nothing." Jn.15:5
Whether we speak of living in Him (6:51), of knowing Him (10:15), of receiving Him (13:20) or being indwelled by Him (14:20), our relationship to Jesus is (could be, should be, must be) like the relationship of the Father to the Son. However, Jesus does not offer us options. The relationship between the Father and the Son is like the Son’s relationship to us. But the comparison is not simple. Jesus's relationship to the Father is perfect, flawless; our relationship to Jesus is weak and tenuous. I confess that the whole thing is beyond my comprehension.
“O Lord, You have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You discern my thought from afar.
You search out my path...and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue, lo, O Lord,
You know it altogether.
You beset me behind and before, and lay Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain it.” Psa. 139:1–6
“I know My own….”