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

Explanation

 

[D2]    13:31-14:31... The disciples’ questions

·         The new commandment (13:31-35)
·         A prophecy of the denial (13:36-38)
·         Christ, the way (14:1-7)
·         The Son as the way to the Father (14:8-14)
·         The coming of the Spirit (14:15-17)
·         The manifestation of Christ to the disciples (14:18-24)
·         “I go to the Father” (14:25-31)

 

The following discourse is for committed followers of Jesus only. There are three important themes: (a) the continuation of instruction on love, (b) the “going” and “coming”, 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. The glory of the Father is bound up with the glory of the Son.

13:32   Jesus is uttering three certainties: (a) God is glorified in Jesus -- in His death, (b) God will glorify Jesus -- in heaven as the resurrection that followed the crucifixion is the Father’s seal on the work of the Son, (c) God will do this without delay.

13:33   “My children” was a diminutive expressing affection and Jesus’ tender concern for His disciples. He said that they would not be able to follow Him (like the words to the Jews). But He did not say that they would not find Him because this would be only temporary as shown in v.36.

13:34   “A new commandment” is in an emphatic position. This is the only place in this Gospel where Jesus uses the term “new”. 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. His love was set forth in the cross while disciples are to keep on loving.

13:35   This is the distinguishing mark of Christ’s followers. Love will help the world recognize that Christians follow Jesus and that they are different.

 

13:36   Peter ignored the words about love and reverted to the subject of Jesus’ departure. This time Jesus added: “You will follow later.”

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 exactly opposite. Peter was not ready to lay out his life while Jesus would lay down His life for Peter.

13:38   Peter’s use of the sword in the garden shows that he was ready to certain extent to face death. Yet when all seemed lost, he was not ready to stand for Jesus.

“I tell you the truth” was a solemn pronouncement. The prediction must have come as a shock to Peter. He was not recorded to say anything further before Jesus was arrested.

 

14:1     The imperative means “stop being troubled.” From Jesus’ words to Peter, the disciples 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 in the Father and to continue to believe also in Him.

14:2     “My Father’s house” clearly refers to heaven. “Rooms” probably mean permanent residences and there is room for all the redeemed in heaven. The words “if it were not so, I would have told you” should be in parenthesis.

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

14:4     Jesus is asserting that they know how to follow Him.

14:5     The verse demonstrates Thomas’s fundamental honesty.

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, also the term refers to the saving truth of the gospel. The “life”: Jesus is both life and the source of life to believers. The three 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 and 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 the heavenly Father.

 

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. Here, “greater things” do not refer specifically to miracles. The disciples could do greater things “because” Jesus was going to the Father. This probably refers to 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 larger numbers of people and work in many different areas. On the day of Pentecost alone, more believers came to believe than throughout Jesus’ entire earthly life.

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   There is no object to the verb “ask”. The prayer should probably 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” (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 friend, especially 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 world is unaware of the Spirit’s activities.

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.

 

14:18   Jesus will not leave the disciples to battle their way through the world alone. The words “you will see you” refers to His post-resurrection appearances. Some think it refers to the Second Coming.

14:19   After Jesus’ death, the world will see Him no more but they would see Him after resurrection. His resurrection is the guarantee that they will not be overcome by death.

14:20   By the day of resurrection, the disciples would know the truth of Jesus’ relations with the Father and His relations with them.

14:21   The important element of love is putting it into action by obedience. Those who obey will be loved by God and will see God in an undefined way.

14:22   This Judas may be the same person as Thaddeus (Mt 10:3; Mk 3:18). He expected to see the Messiah appear before all the people in His glory.

14:23   The answer again refers to love. Those who love God through obedience will experience the immediate presence of God.

14:24   The negative is repeated to increase the emphasis. Love cannot be simply 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’ bequest to His disciples. It was commonly used as a word of greeting or of farewell. For most people, peae was essentially negative, the absence of 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.

14:28   “My Father is greater than I” refers to the Son’s voluntary subordination while on earth.

14:29   The disciples would trust their Master all the more when they saw His words verified.

14:30   The coming of the evil one would be shown in the coming of Judas and the soldiers.

“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. This obedience would lead 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.