As we move into John 14, we realize that it is a continuation of chapter 13. After Judas had left, the men likely had amazed looks on their faces, maybe along with some discomfort and apprehension. In 13:31, Jesus declares that He (the “Son of Man”) is going to be “glorified”, and the men were beginning to pick up on where this was headed. While they didn’t adequately understand what He meant by “glorified”, they did sense that something was happening, thus the question “Where are You going?”
John 12-17 – The Upper Room Discourse and High Priestly Prayer. There is enough deep truth in these chapters to keep us “digging in the Word” while we worship & serve Him until He comes again. They are essential context as we study John 14, and we are reminded to always consider the “near” and “far” context of any passage we are studying. These five chapters are unique to John, only a few short phrases or incidents from these chapters are found in the Synoptic Gospels. More importantly, note the short period of time involved. The Last Supper in the Upper Room occurs on Thursday, and Jesus would be crucified on Friday. The Disciples were going through a demanding crucible of testing as they listened to the their Master. They had experienced layers of shock (Judas’ betrayal, Jesus really is leaving, and we can’t go with Him) and their emotions bare. On top of that, there is a notable new revelation given by the Lord in 14:3, that He, the Messiah, will return to take His saints to be with Him in heaven. Then the exclamation point in 14:6, the sixth “I Am” statement John records for us.
Now 2100 years later, we have the benefit of God’s completed revelation in Scripture – we can see the Father’s “Grand Plan” which Jesus is following. Some of it we have already seen: His First Coming as Messiah – His Crucifixion to provide propitiation (payment) for sin’s penalty – His Resurrection to provide His saints eternal life – His Ascension to the right hand of the Father. Now we are anticipating the completion of the plan: His Return to take His saints to be with Him in heaven (1 Thess. 4:18) – His Second Coming to establish the Millennium (Zech. 14) – and finally His Reign with His saints for Eternity (2 Tim. 2:11-12). Jesus has all of this is view as He proceeds with this discourse.
So, with this background, Jesus proceeds with an important message of Comfort for His disciples before going to the Cross. Please be sure stop and read John 14 completely before continuing this study – perhaps twice, once using an alternative translation that you find helpful (e.g., NAS, NKJV). This comfort addresses not only their present concerns, but is also a comfort that will continue into the future.
John 14:1-3 – Good News, Bad News
How many times have we had someone start a conversation with that phrase? And how many times did we only want to hear the good news? Right. Great glory lays out in the future, not only for Jesus, but for all of His believers. Yet there are difficult realities that must be faced and experienced first. In our own lives, just like the disciples, we quickly ask what lay ahead. What is it that we don’t understand? Where do I fit in? We want all the pieces to be fit into place right now, but we know that isn’t how God works. Jesus had to explain to the men more about how things would proceed, and there certainly is good news to be had in this difficult conversation.
- 14:1-3 answers Peter’s question of 13:36
- In 13:36, Peter asked the “question of the hour” – “Lord, where are You going?” Jesus’ answer is in two parts: 1) you can’t follow at this time; 2) but you will follow Me later.
- Peter is likely shocked to hear Jesus mention “denial”. Peter had been the de facto leader, even perceived as the “hero” among the Jesus’ followers. How could it be possible that He would deny Jesus? Sadly he underestimated his capacity for weakness, his quickness to make a poor decision. He does recover over time – check out his testimony in 1 Peter 1:3-5.
- 14:1, “Believe” is the headline word. Here, the word is an instruction, not an observation – STOP being troubled, instead BELIEVE – believe in Jesus Christ the same way you believe in God Himself. Not: “Oh, this is nice, you have belief.” – But instead, “Now you should believe stronger!” Jesus is saying to count on this, He will return for them (and us!), so live your life based on this guarantee. Our goal is His presence for eternity.
- For 3 years, Jesus was “very” physically believable – read how John describes his personal experience with Jesus, 1 Jn. 1:1-4. Now the disciples, and all who believe in Jesus as Savior would be enabled by the Holy Spirit to grow in intimate knowledge of the Savior, much more than last 3 years.
- The “dwelling places” that Jesus speaks of (not a mansion) is God’s home, the place where God “dwells”. Jesus plans for us to live there with Him. Is Jesus delayed? (“You’d think by now He’d have the place finished!”) No, think about what He is doing – not building a dwelling place since it’s already there – He is preparing the “living stones” (1 Pet. 2:4-10) who will dwell there.
- Another headline: Jesus gives a totally new revelation: the Rapture. Nowhere previously in Scripture is the Messiah described as returning before the physical, earthly millennial kingdom to take up His saints from the earth – a coming not for the Jews, or for the Kingdom, or for Judgment. This is OUR comfort (1 Thess. 4:13-18).
Bible Study Journal
Look at the verses below to learn about denial – look each up reference and write down what you learn about how denial relates to our faith. How does this perspective apply to John 14:1-3?
- Matt. 10:33; 26:34; Jn. 13:38
- Matt. 16:24; Mk. 8:34; Lu. 9:23
- Acts 4:16
- 2 Tim. 2:12
- Tit. 1:16; Jude 1:4
- Rev. 2:13; 3:8
John 14:4-7 – Show Us the Way
It is kind of disconcerting when we need to get somewhere and the person we’re talking with says “You know where that is!” The disciples are in the midst of a challenging discussion with the Lord, He’s leaving and He says that they know where He is going & how to get there. The truth is, if they had been listening more carefully to His words, they would have known.
- 14:5 – Thomas blurts out “But we don’t know the way!” Jesus had already told them (7:33-34; 8:42), but their Jewish preconceptions of what the Messiah would do clouded their understanding. They anticipated the Messiah being established as a Jewish king who would deliver the Jews from Roman oppression. They had not read Isaiah 53 carefully enough to understand that the Messiah would suffer and die for the sins of all people.
- 14:6 – Jesus is not just “a” way, but the only complete, absolute way – only by faith in the finished work of Christ on the Cross. He is the way that Thomas asked for – and not just him, but in reality every person born on earth. Then further, Jesus establishes that He “is” Truth and Life – He embodies, is the source of the Truth expressed in the Bible (Col. 2:2-3) and He is the source & sustenance of real eternal life (Jn. 1:1-5; Col. 1:15-20).
Bible Study Journal
Be sure to slow down long enough to read passages of Scripture that give more information about what we’re studying. Hint: These references just giving in John & Colossians. And when you read, write in your journal a couple of thoughts of how the verses reveal more about the main point being made in John.
John 14:8-21 – Show Us the Father
- Instead of “seeing is believing”, Jesus wants them to understand that “believing leads to seeing” – in other words, how well do they know Him? Jesus makes that point in v9. They have not yet fully grasped that Jesus and the Father are One. They don’t need some special revelation of the Father. For John, when you “know”, you “see” with your heart. Weirsbe points out that John uses the word “know” about 140 times, so that act of knowing obviously has a lot to do with the message of John’s gospel. Remember how he said it in Jn 20:31, that he wrote this gospel so that we could know.
- Warren Wiersbe tells us about four different ways that “know” can be understood in the Greek language – to know as fact, to know the truth behind the fact, to know by experience, and then to know by deep communion with the truth. That process guides our thinking to consider how well we know the Lord Jesus, just as the disciples needed to grow in their knowledge of Him. For example, look at how Paul expresses knowing the Lord in Phil. 3:10.
- Philip thought a dramatic revelation would help. However Jesus knew they needed to just listen and learn more from Him and grow in faith – He reveals Himself to those who believe (Heb. 1:1-4). They already believed in God, that same belief needs to be placed in Jesus Christ.
- 14:12, Greater works, not the phenomenal miracles of Jesus, but to a much great extent and with long term results of faith in action (see Matt. 28:18-20 and Acts 1:8). This carries forward to the Jerusalem church, the great events in the book of Acts, reaching the whole Roman empire, and beyond… Note that while this prospect must have amazed the disciples, it truly reaches all the way to our current day – Christ manifesting Himself by His great works in us. He had us in mind!
- The promise of the Holy Spirit is again a marvelous revelation by Jesus
John 14:22-31 – Show Us Yourself
- In response to Jesus’ statement in 14:21 – Jude (obviously not Judas Iscariot, this Jude may be the on who wrote the Bible book of that name) asks He will Manifest Himself – what does “manifest” mean here? In referring to the Holy Spirit (based on context), Jesus uses a word that means to “reveal”, “disclose”, “make real or plain”, even “explain”. John provided unique emphasis to this important work of the Lord to clearly reveal Himself to His Disciples (and to us) by the Holy Spirit. The specific Greek word John uses here in 14:21 & 22 isn’t used anywhere else in His Gospel where he chooses to use a more common word for “reveal”.
- Jesus’ answer to Judas’ question in verse 23 is “We will come to him and make Our home in him” and we know the “we” here is literally the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in every born again Christian (1 Cor. 6:19-20).
- 14:25-26, His Person – Jesus will be manifested to us by His Holy Spirit. As the Holy Spirit manifests Christ in us, He will be our advocate, helper enabler, guide, counselor and comforter. He will recall to us the Lord’s person, character, teachings and then guide us into replicating Jesus’ likeness. Paul comments in Eph. 4:13 that we are maturing towards the full measure of Christ, although we know we won’t be finished until we see Him in heaven (1 Jn. 3:2).
- 14:27-28, His Comforting Presence – Recall Matt. 11:28-30 – our hope & comfort are not found in the world – Rom. 8:18-30; 2 Cor. 4:11-5:10; Heb. 11:13-16.
- God’s Word is the basis of our hope, not the tangible things of the world. Our heart should be focused on our real home in Christ.
- He promises Peace is completely different from what the world offers.
- Our hope is not only the Rapture, but to be in the presence of Christ for eternity – Jn. 14:3; Tit. 2:11
- 14:29-31, His Farewell
- He has told them all He could
- Now there will be no more talk
For further thought & study…
- What past experiences have you had that caused you to hesitate trusting in God?
- Think of some verses that tell us that we should not be anxious, we should trust in God?
- Look back through our previous studies in John and make a list of all the “I Am” statements Jesus declared.
- When you pray, do you conclude by stating you’re praying in Jesus’ name? Why? (Jn. 14:13). Can you find some other verses about this?
- Why was the promise of the Holy Spirit permanently indwelling us a surprise to the Disciples? See Psa. 51:11.
- In Eph. 1:13-14; 4:30, what do you learn about the Holy Spirit’s work in us as believers?
- How would the disciples be equipped to continue Jesus’ teaching after He was gone? (14:26; compare Mark 13:11; Acts 2:43; 10:41-42)