[17]   Farewell Discourses 2: Christ as the Way (13:31-14:31)

Explanation

[D2]    13:31-14:31... The new commandment, the true way, the Holy Spirit

The following discourse is for believers only. There are 3 themes: (a) new commandment of love, (b) “coming” of the Holy Spirit, and (c) interpretation of the death and resurrection of Jesus.

13:31   “Now” indicates that the betrayal was under way and the glorification of the Son had begun.

13:32   Jesus uttered 3 certainties: (a) God is glorified in Jesus’ death, (b) God will glorify Jesus as the resurrection is the Father’s seal on the work of the Son, (c) God will do this without delay.

13:33   Jesus said that the disciples would not be able to follow Him but only temporarily (v.36).

13:34   “A new commandment” is in an emphatic position. This is presented as a marching order for the community of believers about love within the community (not with all people).

Love itself is not a new commandment (see Lev 19:18). The new element is the foundation of this love: mutual affection among Christians is founded on Christ’s great love for them. It is love for Christ’s sake. We love because Christ has loved us. Jesus uses the aorist tense for His own love but uses the present tense for disciples’ love of one another, meaning keep on loving.

13:35   Love will help the world recognize that Christians follow Jesus and that they are different.

13:37   The words that Peter used were almost exactly the same as those used of the Good Shepherd (10:11) but the actual outcome would be different. Peter was not ready to lay out his life.

13:38   “I tell you the truth” again. The prediction must have come as a shock to Peter.

14:1     The imperative means “stop being troubled.” The disciples now began to realize that some great trial was imminent and they were disturbed. But Jesus’ comforting words help them to look beyond the trouble. They were commanded to continue to believe.

14:2     “Rooms” means permanent residences and there is room for all the redeemed in heaven.

14:3     The reference is to the Second Coming. The present tense indicates great certainty.

14:6     “I am” emphasizes Jesus’ divinity. The “way”: Jesus not only shows people the way (by revealing it) but He IS also the way (by redeeming us). The “truth”: Jesus is totally dependable; the term also refers to the saving truth of the gospel. The “life”: Jesus is both life and the source of life to believers. The 3 separate articles indicate that Jesus is the real way, the real truth, and the real light while all others are transitory. There is no other salvation & no other way to God.

These express the different characteristics of the saving work. “Way” speaks of the link between God and sinners. “Truth” speaks of the complete reliability of Jesus in all that He does and is. “Life” speaks of unending existence beyond the present life.

14:7     Up to now, the disciples had not known Jesus in His full significance. From now on, they would fully know. God cannot be physically seen but to know Jesus fully is to see God.

14:8     Philip did not fully understand Jesus’ words so he asked for a theophany, such as those divine appearances in the Old Testament.

14:9     Jesus’ reply is a gentle rebuke. Jesus is the revelation of the Father.

14:10   The “you” here is plural. Jesus now speaks to the whole group. The words and work of Jesus are both a revelation of God. “Living in me” points to a permanent relation.

14:11   There is a mutual indwelling of the Father and the Son. “Works” refer to the miracles.

14:12   “I tell you the truth” again. The disciples could do greater things “because” of the coming of the Holy Spirit who would come only when the Son goes away (16:7). The things are greater because the disciples can influence much more people and work in many different areas.

14:13   Asking in the name of Jesus does not mean simply using the name as a formula. It means that prayer is to be in accordance with all that the name stands for. It is: (a) prayer proceeding from faith in Christ, (b) prayer that gives expression to oneness with Christ, (c) prayer that seeks to glorify Christ, (d) prayer that aims to glorify God.

14:14   The prayer should be directed to the Father while the Son is said to respond to the asking.

14:15   The present tense refers to a continuing attitude of love.

14:16   Based on the Son’s request, God will give “another Paraclete” (Greek). It seems that Jesus, a “Paraclete” (see 1Jn 2:1), will be replaced by another “Paraclete”, the Holy Spirit because Jesus’ bodily presence was about to be withdrawn from the disciples.

Traditionally, “Paraclete” has been translated “Comforter”. Modern studies have concluded that the better translation is “Counsellor” or “Advocate”. It means a legal friend who will help in legal matters. This Counsellor once given will not be withdrawn and will stay forever.

14:17   “The Spirit of truth” probably means “the Spirit who communicates truth.” The present tense “lives with you” indicates a continuing reality while the future tense “will be in you” means a future certainty. The emphasis is on the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in individual Christian.

14:19   Jesus’ resurrection is the guarantee that believers will not be overcome by death.

14:21   The important element of love is putting it into action by obedience.

14:22   This Judas may be the same person as Thaddeus (Mt 10:3; Mk 3:18).

14:23   Those who love God through obedience will experience the immediate presence of God.

14:24   The double negative is an emphasis. Love is not an abstract emotion. It involves obedience.

14:26   The Holy Spirit is to be sent by the Father, but in the name of the Son, meaning he is Jesus’ emissary. He is to be the guide and teacher of the church. The things of which He will remind the disciples are the things that Jesus has spoken.

14:27   Peace is Jesus’ gift to His disciples. It is a common greeting or farewell. Usually, peace was essentially negative, no conflict. But for the Jews, peace meant positive blessing, especially a right relationship with God. The peace that Jesus speaks of is not dependent on outward circumstances. It is an inward Christ-given serenity that includes joy (not troubled in heart) and courage (not afraid) even in times of toubles.

14:30   “He has no hold on me” means that sin gives Satan his hold (power) on people and he has no hold on the sinless Jesus. But it may also mean he has nothing common with me.

14:31   Jesus also demonstrated His love for the Father through obedience, leading to His death.

At this point, the group seemed to have departed from the house of the Last Supper. But the discourse continues in chapters 15-17. It is possible that the departure did take place here while the following chapters record words spoken as the group walked to Gethsemane. It is also possible that the words were spoken at a half somewhere along the way.

Application

§         The commandment of love is compulsory (v.34). It is not conditional on the behaviour of brothers and sisters. It is a witness to the world (v.35).

§         There is no other way to God (v.4); we must reject attempts to accept all religions as valid.

Hymn

Hymns of Universal Praise no.319 “O Master, let me walk with Thee”

O Master, let me walk with Thee

In lowly paths of service free;

Tell me Thy secret, help me hear

The strain of toil, the fret of care.

Help me the slow of heart to move

By some clear, winning word of love;

Teach me the wayward feet to stay,

And guide them in the homeward way.