In this part of the gospel of John the Lord is leading His disciples away from earth to associate their minds with Himself up in heaven. That begins from chapter 13. In chapters 8 and 9 we have His rejection. Then, chapter 10, He states He will have His sheep in spite of everything. Chapter 11, that which He was on earth as Son of God borne witness to. Chapter 12, the Son of David riding on an ass, and Son of man when the Greeks come to Him; but He says, “I must die.” He cannot have to say to the disciples on the earth, though loving them to the end. Then He washes their feet, and says, “If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.” The possibility of His having a part with man down here was over— the world had rejected Him; and now instead of blessing the disciples here, He was taking their hearts up there. The thread that runs through the rest of the gospel, up to the last chapter, is—not here, but there, and you must take up your cross here.
In chapter 14 the Lord gives us our portion on the ground of taking us up there. They would not have Him with them; but He says, “Let not your heart be troubled” at My going away. You do not get the comfort of God by seeing Him in bodily presence, and so with Me. “Ye believe in God, believe also in me.” He is going to prepare a place, that is the whole thing. ‘I am going to My Father. I have brought you redeemed ones into the same relationship as I am in; He is your Father as much as Mine, and your God as much as Mine. I am not to be alone there. In My Father’s house are many mansions. I go to prepare a place for you.’ The place He was going to prepare (and that He was putting before their hearts) had this specific character, that the children were at home there. He had brought them into this place of children before God and the Father; and therefore, when the time was come, they should go to the Father’s house. The thought and purpose of God was to have us with Christ and like Him, His own blessed Son, in His house. “I will come again, and receive you unto myself”—in the Father’s house—“that where I am, there you may be also.” Where the Son is, in the joy and blessedness and rest and glory of the Father’s house, there we are to be with Himself. That is His purpose—what He is bringing us to. Then He adds this blessed truth, that He is coming back Himself to fetch them. He is interested in them, and it is a fixed abiding interest. He would not be satisfied to send, but would come Himself. What wonderful blessing! It would be an honour to be sent for as redeemed ones who are everything to Him. I may send to meet a person I make something of; but if I make a great deal of him, I go myself.
He goes on to tell us how we know it all now, so that our souls live in it while He is away. The blessed Lord’s death— redemption—giving us a title to be in no less a place than the Father’s house, like and with Himself. But while His death accomplished that for us, it was a total breach with the world. “The world seeth me no more.” He is going to the Father’s house, and the world and the Father are in direct opposition. “The friendship of the world is enmity with God.” They saw no beauty in Him that they should desire Him. And when He was rejected by the world, He went up to sit at the Father’s right hand. The accepted One of the Father was the rejected One of the world. Man may have hopes that he is going to do a great deal with man. God has done all as to responsibility. And at last He says, ‘I have one Son, they will reverence him.’ But they said, “Come, let us kill him.” The Lord says, “Now is the judgment of this world.” The obedient, accepted One of the Father sits on His right hand, on His total rejection by the world, and He takes His redeemed ones with Him there. We get the place of sons; we are to have the glory; to be conformed to the image of His Son, the First-born among many brethren. While His work on the cross put away our sins, it gives us a place with Him and like Him in the glory.
After the statement of this in the first three verses we get how to realise it now in our souls. There are two parts—First, the object that is before us; and second, the power that is in us. First He tells us the place He is going to take us to—it is the Father’s house. And what makes the Father’s house of importance to the child—if he has right affections? It is, that the Father is there. The blessedness of being there is that the Father is there. Christ is there too. However feebly we may enjoy it now, when we talk of ‘going to heaven,’ it is going to the Father. The Lord says, ‘No man cometh to the Father, but by me.” He was going to the Father, and bringing us in spirit there now, hereafter actually in glory. Therefore they say, “Shew us the Father.” No one has seen God at any time; but there is that blessed relationship of the Father to the Son, and to us as putting us in His place. He brings us to the Father. So He says, “Where I go ye know, and the way ye know.” Thomas thought of a place. “We know not whither thou goest, and how can we know the way? “The Lord says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” And then we get the point— “No man cometh to the Father, but by me.” If I know the Father, I know where He has gone and where I am going. When Philip says, “Shew us the Father,” He answers, ‘You have the Father this long time with you revealed in the Son. He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father.’ There we have this blessed truth, that when the Lord tells us He is going to bring us to the Father’s house, we know what the blessedness of that house is, we know the centre of it. We know the Father because He is perfectly revealed in the Son. In coming to Christ I have found the way. I may see “through a glass darkly”; but as to the object, I have got the Father Himself revealed in Christ, so that in believing on the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ I know the blessedness I am called to—the place of Christ as Son, He who is the source and centre of eternal blessedness, loving-kindness, and favour. It is not the mere abstract theory of God and of a holy place that it is; but I stand in a perfect relationship, and the Spirit of adoption crying Abba in my heart, there is a consciousness of the love that has put me in this place of favour. If I say, How can I know I have seen the Father, a poor worm such as I? Have you seen Christ (not with the outward eye, but seen Him by faith)? “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father.”
The spring of all our blessedness is in Christ, actually when He comes, and the soul lives in it now as far as he is in heavenly-mindedness, and in spirit enjoys it all, looking forward in the brightness and blessedness of hope to being there. I must for this understand the work as well as the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is my tide. I know in His death my sins are perfectly put away, and what He has done is so perfect in glorifying God, that He has taken His place at the right hand of God as man, and that gives me a place. He can say, “Glorify thy Son.” There we get the relationship, and then, “I have finished the work that thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me,” etc. That is the tide by the work, and He has done the work for me. He has gone to the Father, and in Him is the way to go. He makes us feel that blessing is for us as a present thing. I quite admit we see through a glass darkly; but the things I shall get in heaven are not things I have not had revealed on earth. I have not seen the glory, but if I speak of the Father’s love as my portion there, it is that which has given me Christ now. If of my title, it is no new thing, but the work and blood-shedding of Christ; if of eternal life, I have it now in His Son (shall have it fully then). Whether the thing enjoyed or the title to enjoy, we have it now, though we do not apprehend it fully. What a thought to be able to say, according to Christ’s own thoughts of the blessedness of heaven, I have it now. He was revealing the Father’s name. “I have declared thy name unto them, and will declare it.” What He tells them is: ‘Now you have seen the Father, the very one my delight is in, and my joy (eternally infinite, of course), the One that I walk on earth with, that I am one with. I have brought you into this relationship with Him, and revealed Him to you.’ How far can we say, I have got on earth what I am to have in heaven—the revelation of the Father in the Son? What settled quietness of spirit it gives, to have found yourself with the Father, through the knowledge of the Son, in confidence of heart! Have your hearts got that? Are they really occupied with the Father? (worshipping, of course; but the clearer the knowledge of the relationship is, the more worship there will be). He is the way. Can you say, I have been that way, and He has brought me to the Father? That is, in this world; it will be no new thing up there. “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” Can our hearts say, I have found the Father in Christ? That is what the Lord was insisting on; and there was far more ignorance then than now, for the Holy Ghost had not come.
The second part of this chapter—the power that is in us— begins at verse 15. The Lord says, I cannot stay, but I will send you One who will abide with you. The Holy Ghost is only known by being in us. Christ was before them, they could see Him. Everything that came out from Christ to the world was the manifestation of God, His words and His works, and the world was called on to believe that He was there, the blessed testimony of the goodness of God in the midst of their needs and their wretchedness, and they would not have Him. That is not the way with the Comforter—they cannot see Him. Fruits ought to be shewn; but no person is manifested. When the Holy Ghost came down, there was power that struck them, and fruits of grace where the Spirit works, which are a deeper testimony—for a wicked man can do a miracle, or a dumb ass speak, if God choose. Therefore He is only known where He dwells. The effect of the Spirit is, “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” The Holy Ghost brings Christ to our hearts, and He dwells in our hearts. “The world seeth me no more; but ye see me”; and mark what it is connected with, “Because I live, ye shall live also.” The power of divine life was triumphant over death, and where a person believed on Him, Christ is brought, through the presence and power of the Spirit, to that man’s heart much closer and nearer than if He were on earth. Not that the eye sees Him; but He says, ‘I am going to be with you and in you, in a far better way, that the world cannot see or know.’ The Holy Ghost testified to the world of all this; but He is not here to be received by the world, but is given to those who believe, and the moment He is given He brings Christ down to the heart. Our immediate intercourse with Christ is established. He comes to us by the power and presence of the Holy Ghost. The One who “loved me, and gave himself for me,” that He might redeem me by blood, and who has washed me in His blood, and done everything for me—I have got Him. A poor vessel I am for Him to dwell in, but when we are cleansed by the blood, fit for God, He comes and dwells in me. How far do all our souls know that? He has not left me comfortless, He has come; I know what it is to have Christ, to hear His voice. In the world I have tribulation, but I know what it is to have peace in Him. “Ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also.” He is in us, the power of eternal life, and He must die before I die. The life I have got is, “Not I, but Christ lives in me.” What a thing to be able to say! He has overcome death, broken all its bands. He lives as man; and if He lives as triumphant over it all, I shall live also. How blessed to have it from His own lips, anxious to have us happy! He says, ‘Do not be uneasy, I am going to prepare a place for you, and meantime I will come to you and reveal Myself to you. I will not leave you comfortless.’
“At that day ye shall know,” etc. (v. 20). The believer knows the Lord Jesus Christ. The lowly Man down here has gone up there, and he sees himself in Christ, and Christ in himself. We get the consciousness of His standing before God and before the world. I have a place—what a place!—in Christ, where the Father’s delight is; delight in His obedience, His perfection, His glorifying God; a place in Christ Himself, with the affections that flow from it: “My Father and your Father, my God and your God.” We get at the same time, beloved friends, what we are before the world. If I am in Christ, He is in me, and what I have to do is to manifest the life of Christ, that others may see Christ in my walk and ways and spirit. What a blessing to be able to say, I know I am in Christ and He is in me, as to present relationship! It is God’s delight to make us sons with Christ; and His work is so perfect in cleansing us, that the Holy Ghost can come and give us the consciousness of it: it makes us heavenly in our ways. We have seen that we know the place we are going to, we know the way, we know the Father and the Son; and now we get that, in order to have the present consciousness of it, we have the Holy Ghost.
Now He takes up the practical realisation of it: obedience is the path. Not only He dwells in me and comforts me, but there is manifestation in the path of obedience. The characteristic of those that love Him will be obedience (v. 21). When we get to this close relationship, the sign of love is knowing the wishes of the person you love. Where Christ is precious, there is attentiveness. It is not, “Can I do this?” but, “Is it pleasing to Him?” Many Christians have not His commandments. Why? Because they have something else. If we had an open ear—wakened morning by morning—we should have His commandments, we should know His mind, and what He wishes. I can find out the wishes of my father if I am thoughtful and attentive. He that has them, and keeps them not, is worse, of course. He that loves Him gets the “secret of the Lord.” There are Christians who do not get the manifestation of the delight and favour of Christ; but there it is for them. We are very feeble; but the Lord’s heart is true if our hearts are not; and if we loved Him, we should want to have things according to His wish and mind, and that only; if I could please Him I should be satisfied, and should have the present enjoyment of Christ because my heart was walking in obedience. There is the anticipation of what is heavenly when walking in this path. The Father and the Son come and make their abode with us (v. 23). How little we have this manifestation! The Lord’s heart is on them, they cannot be happy here; but they are to look for the blessedness of being with the Father, and ‘we will come and abide in you, till you can come and abide with us’; but it must be in this path.
Mark what He says in verse 27. He has not only made peace, but “my peace I give unto you,” as He always does; He has brought us into the same place with Himself. What was the peace of Christ? He was here in uninterrupted intercourse with the Father, carrying His joy with Him. He had “meat to eat ye know not of,” joy where all were rejecting Him—the peace of perfect communion. Christ puts us into His place, and we have fellowship with the Father; and when we walk in that, we have this peace of Christ, like Matthew 11:29. Where the will is broken, we have the peace of the man who has no will but the will of Christ, keeping His commandments, nothing disturbing communion. The saint passing through this world in obedience and communion, where there is no self-will, walks in peacefulness, the peace that Christ had! His love will give us all He had; the same place as sons by grace, the same place in heaven, in the glory. His heart is bent on blessing us. He may chasten us if necessary; but He gives the consciousness of being in Him and He in us. The world gives liberally; but it gives away. Christ never does j He brings us into the enjoyment of what He enjoys. Because His love is perfect, He brings us where He is Himself, and His delight is that we are enjoying it.
One more thought, which perhaps is the most wonderful of all: the way Christ shews how completely His heart has associated itself with us, and us with it. We worship Him as the One who is worthy of all worship, but inasmuch as He has exercised love to us, He associates us with Himself, and expects us to rejoice in His happiness (v. 28). What a place to give us! To be able to say,’ I am happy because He is glorified ‘; our hearts satisfied that Christ, who has loved us and made us happy, is contented! We see Him in the glory due to Him, and we are satisfied. He says, ‘If you think of yourselves, you are sorry; but if you were thinking of Me, you would be delighted.’ He expects us to be glad in His happiness! Are our hearts there—so resting in the fulness of His work, having His peace and joy in this world, that we can be interested in His glory? Do you accept that place as to the state of your hearts? He has purchased a “peculiar people, to be zealous of good works.” He has brought you to Himself, to have your whole heart wrapped up in His interests, your thoughts, actions, everything for Him. I am sure we shall find our weakness; but are we living enough out of the world (not merely out of its pleasures, but its cares), and enough with Christ, for Him to have a large place in the daily thoughts of our hearts? The more my eye is open on His unspeakable blessedness, the weaker I am; but have we the consciousness from the time we get up in the morning till we go to bed at night, that our hearts are with Christ, as redeemed ones in the place we are going to—a consciousness that He is in us, and we identified with Him? The Holy Ghost is given that we may know what a place it is. The Lord give us diligence of heart to feed on Him, and get our hearts associated with Him, that we may find not only contrast with this evil world, but also know the place into which He has brought us before His Father.