John 14:1-31 The Spirit

John's Gospel Commentary by Robert Brow ( 2000

Earlier in the Gospel John gave us many of Jesus' words about his relationship as eternal Son of God to the Father (see 5:17-23, 26-27, 36-43, 8:15-19). . Those texts alone would be sufficient to explain that God is not a Unitarian undifferentiated oneness. In chapters 14 to 16 John now fills out the very brief references to the last supper in the Synoptic Gospels with an account of what Jesus said about the work of the Holy Spirit.

The disciples will soon be empowered to "do greater works" than those done by Jesus in his ministry on earth (14:12). "The Spirit of truth . . . abides with you, and he will be in you" (14:17). "The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything" (14:26, 15:26), and "will guide you into all the truth" (16:12).

The writers of the Old Testament already knew that the Holy Spirit empowered administrators (Genesis 41:37), artists (Exodus 35:31), political leaders (Judges 3:10, 6:34), wise persons (Proverbs 8:14-17, see James 3:17), prophets (Ezekiel 2:2, 3:12, 14, 24, see Hebrews 1:1, 2 Peter 1:21), and the Messiah himself (Isaiah 11:2, 61:1). They also knew that the Spirit was going to be poured out (Isaiah 44:3, Ezekikel 36:26-27, Joel 2:29), and the early Christians recognized this had in fact happened (as Jesus predicted, Luke 24:49, Acts 1:5, 8) on the Day of Pentecost.

We cannot therefore avoid the question of the relationship of the Holy Spirit to God the Father and God the Son.

At the heart of his teaching about the work of the Holy Spirit, which we will be looking at in the next two chapters, Jesus gives us the parable of the Vine (15:1-8). It is a parable of the Trinity. And it pictures the different functions of the Father as vine tender, the Son as the Vine, and the Spirit giving life to every little branch to produce grapes. The functions are different, but the relationship is organic. And the New Testament makes clear that the Trinitarian organic oneness of God is to be explained in every baptism (Matthew 28:19-20), lived out in Christian worship (Ephesians 5:18-20), and in the personal experience of every child of God (Romans 8:14-17).

As Jesus gives his teaching about the Holy Spirit, we will see how he answers many questions which were in the disciples' minds. Where is Jesus going? (14:2). What about the miracles which Jesus worked among them? (14:12) How will they pray? (14:14) Who will teach to be their teacher? (14:26)

14:1 A heart at peace is like a quiet lake. The Sea of Galilee can quickly be disturbed by a violet wind. The disturbance can also be internal as in the Pool of Bethzatha (John 5:7). The cure for a troubled or disturbed heart is not just the vague faith in God which most people have. It is faith in the Messiah Son of God who delights in coming alongside to walk with us, and in the Holy Spirit who is eager to empower us (14:12, 17, 26).

14:2 Each of us needs a space we can call our own. The Father's home (heaven) is a city (Revelation 21:2) with a huge variety of dwelling places to suit each of our personalities and longings. We need both community and the opportunity to be ourselves. This is very different from the Hindu Monistic Absolute or the Buddhist Nirvana, which have no place for the flowering of individuality. In them the sense of personality is ultimately a fault that we need to escape.

14:3 When Jesus goes, it is to keep coming again (erchomai is a present continuous meaning "I keep coming"). As we saw in the Prologue, "The true light, which enlightens everyone, kept coming into the world" (1:9). Similarly, instead of leaving us as orphans, he says "I keep coming to you" (14:8). And the coming is not to take us out of the world (17:15) but to be by our side. "We will come to them, and make our dwelling with them" (14:23). "I go and keep coming to you" (14:28, again a present continuous). These comings are not experienced as a change of location but a sense of being enveloped like a child in the love of parents who come to the child in many different ways..

There is no trace in John's Gospel of one single second coming. The Messiah keep coming again and again to intervene in our world. He came to walk with our first parents (Genesis 3:8), and he has kept coming to individuals in many different ways and for different purposes ever since (Genesis 11:5, 12:1, 15:1, 17:1, 18:1). The prophets also recognized days of the Lord, when the Messiah came to deal with nations such as Babylon (Isaiah 13:6, 9), Egypt (Isaiah 19:1), and he came to help and judge the Jewish people (25:8-9, 26:8, 30:26-27, 34:8, 63:1, Jeremiah 46:10, 48:47, etc. in the Minor Prophets).

The Messiah came to be born among us as a little baby. He came to destroy the temple and the city which rejected his purposes for them (Matthew 21:40-41, 23:35-36, 24:1-2. Notice the word "coming of the son of Man, Matthew 24:27 ). In the book of Revelation we are told he also comes to deal with churches that reject his purposes for them (Revelation 2:5, 16, 25, 3:11, 20).

That is why we have the word erchomai - I keep coming - in 14:3. Faith is continuously looking to the next coming, or intervention of the Messiah.

14:4-5 Thomas should have known that the going to be with the Father in prayer was a constant experience of Jesus during his earthly life. But Thomas felt he still did not know the way to the Father.

14:6 We all need a direction for our lives (the way). And we need an explanation of what life is all about (the truth). As opposed to boring existence we need creativity (the life). We experience all three as we get to know the Messiah.

Based on this verse some suggest that only those who get to hear about Jesus, and make the right decision to accept him as Savior, can be saved. The Messiah did not say that. He does claim that no one, but no one, will end up in heaven except through him. And he can take care of babies that die in infancy, retarded persons, and those who have been brainwashed by a false religion. He alone can deal with our sin, take us through death, give us the resurrection body we need, and perfect us in love. None of those are within our power, and we do not need to understand how he does it.. The only way to exclude ourselves is by a deliberate choice of death and eternal darkness (3:19).

A baby leaving hospital can never survive without the love and care of parents. But the baby does not understand how he or she is going to be cared for. The parents' love is the fixed point, and so it is with the Messiah's "no one come to the Father but by me."

14:7-11 Jesus has already described this close relationship with the Father (5:19-23, 6:40, 8:29), and he suggests the disciples are beginning to grasp it. But Philip still has problems. So Jesus explains that the Father and the Son work very closely together (as in 5:17-20).

14:12 Now Jesus moves to the tremendous power which they will be able to access through the Spirit. All the mighty works that Jesus did, he did by the power of the Holy Spirit, and we have the same Spirit to empower us.

14:13-14 And we also have the right to pray in Jesus' name, and prayers that result in the Father being glorified will certainly be effective.

14:15-17 Jesus' main commandment is that we should love one another (13:34-35), and where this happens in any church congregation the Holy Spirit is powerfully active among us.

14:18 As in a previous verse (14:3) the Greek is a present continuous. "I keep coming to you."

14:23-25 For the present continuous of "we will keep coming to him," see the comments on 14:3, 28. The idea of the Messiah being in us will be worked out more fully in the parable of the Vine (15:1-7). And as we will see in that parable, the Lord only works in those who abide in him.

14:26-27 The word advocate (Latin advocatus) means one who is called alongside. It can mean an advocate who is called alongside to help in a law suit. Or a counselor. It can also refer to a friend who comes to help us through a difficult time. And the Holy Spirit comes alongside to give strength, and wisdom, guidance, inspiration, and much else. That means the Spirit is there to quieten our hearts when we are upset and afraid.

14:28-29 "I go and I keep coming to you" is a present continuous (as in 14:3 and 14:23). The comings and goings of the Messiah can be compared to the coming and goings of a mother who is constantly attending on her child. We are never out of his sight, and he is ever coming is for our good.

14:30 There are also the comings of Satan. He has no ultimate power over us, but he is able to tell lies to deny the love of God, and he loves to create guilt in us (8:44, 1 Peter 5:8, Revelation 12:9-10)

14:31 And once again Jesus reiterates his oneness with the Father (as in 5:19-23, 6:40, 8:29, 14:7-11).

15:1-26 The Vine