John 14 – The Way, the Truth, and the Life
This chapter is one of the fullest and most amazing chapters of comfort in the Scriptures. It is glorious not just in the reassurances it contains but also in the firm foundation it gives Christ's disciples of all times in God the Father, Son, and Spirit.
Christ is preparing His disciples for His departure. Even that word "departure" is full of significance. Christ doesn't speak of what will happen at His death, much less mention murder. He is just going to leave them for a time. He is going to His Father. Believers should be happy for that, especially because it is for our benefit.
The tone with which Jesus talks with His disciples is tender. He speaks like a mother putting her children to bed at night. He doesn't want them to be troubled; He is going ahead of them to prepare dwellings for them in His Father's house. But He reassures them that He won't leave them alone. In fact, the Father and He will make their home with those who do His will. And the Spirit will comfort them by reminding them of everything they need to know.
Let not your heart be troubled
Who doesn't have heart trouble? When our hearts are troubled, they are in commotion. Like a tank that's filled with water, jostling all over the place, our hearts can feel like they will capsize and break! That's what it must have felt like for the disciples to imagine being without their Lord. If anything signaled trouble, it would be His departure! So when Christ says: "Let not your heart be troubled," we want to know why. How can Christ say this? What does He mean? Why wouldn't we need to be troubled?
It's interesting to note that Christ Himself had been troubled; in fact, just before this statement, He had been sorely troubled (12:27; 13:21). This is not a coincidence. I like to think of it like this — Christ takes the trouble to free His people from trouble. "Let not your heart be troubled" (v. 1). As the forces of hell unite and come against Christ, the disciples no doubt would be troubled. However, Christ is going to shield them from it through His words of truth. They will need to take heed to His words. They will need to believe Him, and His words, or they will suffer much needless trouble.
At some small level we can relate to this. Think of a Christian father dying and leaving a precious family behind. "Don't think that death is snatching me from you," he says. "I'm going to my Father. He's calling me. He'll take care of you." What comfort faith can give! The Christian father can say this because Christ enabled him to; here Christ says it in a divine way, in a bedrock kind of way, in a worldview shaping way, in an absolutely true way.
But this truth is exactly the opposite of what the disciples are feeling! They feel they are about to lose everything that they had gained. However, Christ makes clear that they will not only not lose anything; rather, they will gain infinitely more. Death will not deprive them of their Lord; Christ will defeat death in His death in order to induct them into the presence of Him who is Life Himself.
Believe also in Me
Right on the heels of telling them not to be troubled, Jesus says, "Ye believe in God, believe also in me" (v. 1). He knows they believe God. They trust God. They know Him and that His Word is sure and true. Now they should look at Christ the same way they look at God, for He is God.
Christ's statement would be blasphemous if it were not true. He is not making Himself equal with God (John 5:18), He is equal with God. The disciples are still very confused (to say the least) about the identity of Christ. They believe in God, though even this faith needs strengthening for a greater focus on Christ. We can do with nothing less than true faith in Christ. As the Holy Spirit brings Christ into focus, His person, and His equality with the Father and union in the Father, we will find our heart no longer troubled.
Jesus is no less than the Way, the Truth, and the Life (v. 6). By our sin, we have lost the way, we followed a lie, and we are dying! But here is the One we need. He is everything. We should follow Him. We should believe Him. We should embrace Him. If we believe Him, we will have everything we need. Our heart can be secure in Him no matter what our situation is.
Such confidence in Christ drives us to our knees. Christ invites us to pray boldly: "Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it" (v. 14). This does not mean that God is to be approached as some Santa Claus figure, who will give us everything on our wish list. Rather, this promise is given to someone who truly believes on Christ — trusts Him, leans on Him, submits to Him, follows Him, obeys Him, and lives for Him. Such people are not living for themselves or for their own comfort. They are not at ease in this world, happily accumulating all the world's luxury. Moreover, we are told to ask "in his name" (v. 13), which means, "in a way that matches what He has revealed about Himself." If we ask things that advance His cause, His reputation, His glory, He will most certainly respond to us. We need to persevere in such prayer, and pray wherever God's people gather for prayer (notice the plural — "ye" [vv. 13, 14]), and God will most certainly answer our request in His time, and in His way.
When we are unsettled, we usually want to retreat to our homes. Home is where you are at peace and comfortable. Christ was going home to His Father, but what about the disciples?
Christ focuses not only on His homecoming but on the home His disciples have through Him. He does this in two different ways. First of all, He is going to prepare a future home (v. 2). The path to those dwellings is also revealed now, for Christ embodies that path. He is the way. You don't need to start making up your own way; He is the way and there is no other. In fact, eternal life, which is to know God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent (John 17:3), lies contained in the knowledge of God even now!
The second home Jesus refers to is the home that the Father and the Son will make for themselves in believers. Christ explains it like this: "If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him" (v. 23). What a staggering truth! It's one thing for us to live in God (see Ps. 90:1). It's another to think God would make us His temple and choose to abide in sinners!
There is a third way in which the disciples will experience the stability of being at home. It will be in the communion they experience in the presence of the Spirit, who is called the Comforter (v. 26). The Spirit will bring the teachings and presence of Christ so close that they will feel as if Christ has come to them again (v. 28). He won't leave them comfortless; He will come to them (v. 18) through the Spirit, whom the Father would send (v. 16). This will allow the disciples to do greater things than even Christ Himself did while on the earth. We could hardly believe it, if Christ hadn't said it. But He does: "He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father" (v. 12).
The events after Pentecost and down through the history of the church would prove this to be true. What Christ did in Galilee, Samaria, and Judea, the disciples would do the world over, even to the uttermost part of the earth (v. 13). His name is powerful, and they will ask in His name. This is the secret to Christian ministry and life. We ask in our need from out of His name, power, character, and attributes — and He does what He has promised (v. 14).
Such life presupposes love and doing the will of God (v. 15). That is the vehicle whereby the Father, Spirit, and Son all come to indwell the people of God. At the end of time, the people of God will dwell with Christ; but this manifests itself in the present in principle, as Christ has promised.
My peace I give unto you
All of this teaching works peace (v. 28) when we embrace it in faith. Christ doesn't just mean that believers will have a feeling of peace, though this certainly is part of it. They will have the shalom, or the wholeness that comes when He who is the Prince of peace fulfills His purpose, securing and applying peace in our lives.
Satan wants anything but peace for the children of Adam. He has ruined the wholeness we had in Paradise, when we lived in communion with God at the beginning. And he works very hard to keep it that way! Our world is full of chaos, and yet so many are at war with God, when knowing Him is the only way to true peace. But out of free mercy, Christ has come to take away this trouble and restore a full communion with the triune God for all those who believe in His name.
- Verse 1 starts with a promise. In what way(s) can believing in God calm a restless heart?
- How should we pray, according to verse 13? What is the main purpose of our prayer according to this verse?
- What is the "Spirit of truth"? Does His presence make a difference between a believer and an unbeliever? If so, can you expand on these differences?
- How can God's people show love to Christ, according to verses 21-24? How does this work in daily life?
- What does verse 30 tell us about the spiritual hierarchy? What comfort is this today?
- Do you ever find yourself longing for heaven? How is Christ the only way?