The way was now opened to bring out the Christian’s hope. Death, in its most solemn and most blessed aspect, had been put before the disciples, however little able as yet to follow their Master in thought, impossible then, indeed, in any way, as the Lord let the too confident hear, though Peter learnt it not till he proved his own utter powerlessness by the basest denial of Him he loved. How much we have to learn by most painful and humbling experience of ourselves, because we fail in sustained subjection to, and dependence on, our Lord! But now, this cleared, the Saviour turns to what is unfailingly bright, because it centres in Himself. It is no coming as Son of man to judge, no appearing in glory to set all that is crooked straight and to govern all righteously. It is His own coming for His beloved ones, that they may be with Him where He is, in the Father’s house on high.
“Let not your heart be troubled:269 ye believe270 on God, believe on Me also. In My Father’s house are many mansions: if not so, I would have told you, because288 I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and289 prepare a place for you, I am coming again, and will receive you unto Myself, that where I am ye also may be. And where I290 go ye know the way” (verses 1-4).
A greater break with Jewish feeling could not be than such a hope, a shock assuredly as wholly changing all they had expected, but only as supplanting an earthly prospect, however blessed, by a heavenly one incomparably more blessed. If His going away by death, not yet understood, either in its depth of suffering or in its efficacy, but as departure from them on earth, might naturally disturb their heart, He begins to explain its all-importance as making way for faith. He was no longer to be, according to prophetic intimation, as the Messiah of Israel on earth, still less displayed there in indisputable glory and resistless power. He is about to go a man yet to heaven, and there to be an object of faith as no longer seen, even as God is. “Ye believe in God, believe also in Me.” This was a quite new thought about the Messiah, rejected here, glorified in heaven, believed on in earth: simple enough now, but then a strange sound, and an entirely new order of associations, which set aside for a time all that saints and prophets looked for. Not that these things were more than postponed, but that those, altogether unprecedented and unexpected, were to come in by the Lord’s going on high after redemption, with just enough in the Old Testament (as, for instance, in Ps. 110:1) to stop the mouth of a Jew who might pervert the law to deny the Gospel.
This, then, is the central fact for the Christian as for the Church-Christ not reigning over the earth, but glorified on high as the fruit of His rejection here below. But it is far from all, though all else be but consequences in Divine grace or righteousness. The next thing He proceeds to unfold is that there is room above where He is for the saints who follow their rejected Lord. “In My Father’s house are many mansions: if not so, I would have told you, because I go to prepare a place for you.” He would not have raised a hope incapable of realisation for these saints. If He discloses His own bright abode with the Father, there is ample room for them as for Him; and His love, which was giving Himself for them, would keep back nothing else. His love and the Father’s love-for indeed they were one in purposes as in nature-would have them near Himself there. There are many abodes in the Father’s house. It is no question of crowns, or cities, or place in the kingdom. There will be reward according to walk, though grace will secure its own sovereign rights. But here differences vanish before the infinite love that will have us with Himself before His Father. Were it too much, or not so, He would have told us, because He goes to prepare a place for us. Love never could, nor does, wittingly disappoint its object.
There is another thing of deep moment contingent on this, but plainly revealed, instead of being left for us to infer. He is coming to fetch His own to heaven.271 And this was meant to be ever acting on the heart, as we see by the subsequent teaching of the Holy Ghost throughout the rest of the New Testament. Our new place and home is where Christ is, and whither He is to translate us, we know not how soon. Times, dates, signs, circumstances, are purposely excluded. The Christian understands them by a sound intelligence of the word which takes cognisance of all things, but knows nothing of them for his own hope. He reads them about the Jew or the Gentile for the earth; but his are heavenly things, where such measures do not govern. He looks above sun, moon, and stars, where Christ sits at God’s right hand, and knows that Christ is coming again, as surely as He went, and this to prepare a place for us. And mark, He is not sending angels to gather us above. This were a great thing, but how immeasurably more the love as well as honour, since He, the Son of God, is coming again, and will receive us to Himself, that, where He is, we also may be! He came for us to die for our sins to God’s glory; He is coming again, to have us with Himself in the same home of Divine love and nearness to the Father where He is. He could not do more, He would not do less. There is no love like that of our Lord Jesus; nor is the predicted exaltation for Israel, still less for others, to be compared with it, any more than earth is with heaven.
“And where I go ye know the way.”372 His own Person, the Son of the Father, in grace and truth, presented to man, and revealing the Father, is the way which could not but lead to heaven He came from God, and was going to God. No earthly blessedness could adequately express His glory: He might, and would, take it, and glorify God in glory as in humiliation; but the saint constantly feels there is, and must be, more and higher. Heaven is His Who could communicate with His Father, and command its resources, though never whilst here abandoning the place of the lowliest of men and servant of all need. Yet, as He was the conscious Son, so the saints knew He must be going to the Father, as He was and is the way there.
The Lord had laid down the inward conscious knowledge of the disciples according to God, and the glory of His own Person Whom they confessed, soon by redemption and the gift of the Spirit to bloom in full intelligence. But in this they were as yet dull to apprehend His meaning; and He who was remarkable among them for his gloomy thoughts expresses this difficulty of his for all.
“Thomas saith to Him, Lord, we know not whither Thou goest; (and)291 how know we (or, can we know)292 the way? Jesus said to him, I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life: no one cometh unto the Father but by Me. If ye had known293 Me, ye would have known294 My Father also; and295 from henceforth ye know Him, and have seen Him296” (verses 5-7).
No! the thoughts of Thomas limited the Lord to that earthly horizon which formed the boundary of his own hopes of Israel clustering around their Messiah. He could not conceive, any more than the rest, whither the Lord was retiring, now that He had come to the people and the land which, he knew, He was pledged to bless richly and for ever. How then know the way? His mind was yet earthly. As he had no thought of heaven for the Lord Jesus, so he overlooked the way. But this furnished the opportunity for the Lord to announce in words as simple as profound, “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life.” Much conveyed in them might have been gleaned from testimonies to Him, most from His own previous discourses as given in this very Gospel, but nowhere so much combined with so brief an expression as here. It was worthy of Him, and at that moment above all.
A way is a great boon, especially through a wilderness which characteristically has no way. Neither had Eden, or unfallen creation, a way; but then it needed none. For all things everywhere were good, and as long as man ate not of the forbidden tree, there was no straying. All else it was for him to enjoy, giving thanks to God. But sin came in, and death, the harbinger of judgment; and all was changed into a wilderness, and men wandered in all directions, alas! all of them away from God and irreparably wrong: a wilderness-world truly, a void place, where there is no way. Not that promise did not, less or more, hold out the hope of better things; not that law did not in due time thunder and lighten; but God’s way was not known, as His grace alone could show it. Now it is; for Christ is the Way, the only sure Way, for the most erring of sinners, avowedly for the lost, whom He is come to seek and to save; and He is the Way to the Father, not to God displayed in power and glory on the earth, as the Jew should expect for the day that is coming, when the rejected Messiah returns as the glorious Son of man. But He is much more, and above all time or change, the deepest rejection only forcing out what was there always, His own personal glory as Son of God superior to every dispensation. And in the fullest consciousness of it He says to dimly-seeing Thomas, “I am the way.”
Why should one wait for the time when the wilderness shall be gladdened by His presence and power? Then doubtless “the mirage shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water”; “and a highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called, The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it, but it shall be for these: the wayfaring men, even fools, shall not err [therein]. (Isa. 35:8.) But He is this and more now to all that believe in Him; and faith delights to own, as God to make known, all He is, when unbelief disowns and slights and casts Him out. He is accordingly the one Divine Way; and as there is none other, so is He all-sufficing for him who has no strength of wisdom or worth in any sort. But Christ is the way now for the steps of such as know Him, the wisdom of God in an evil world-Himself the highest and perfect expression of that wisdom, and thus open to the babe in faith no less than to an Apostle.
Further, He is the Truth, the full expression of every one and of every thing as they are. He tells us in His own Person what God is; He shows us the Father, being Himself the Son. But He, not Adam, shows us man. Adam, no doubt, shows us falling or fallen man; Christ alone is man according to God, both morally, as once here below; and in counsel, as now risen and in heaven. Moreover, as He shows us holiness and righteousness, so also He brings out sin in its true colours; as He says Himself, “If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin, but now they have no cloak for their sin. He that hateth Me hateth My Father also. If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin; but now have they both seen and hated both Me and My Father.” Hence He, and He only, brings out His adversary the devil personally, the prince of this world, but the constant enemy of the Son.
Even the law, holy, just, and good as the commandment may be, is not the truth; for it is rather on God’s part the demand of what a man should do; but Christ tells out, not merely what he ought to be, but what he is. The law claims his duty; Christ declares that all is over, and he is lost. But Christ also shows us a Saviour in His own Person, and this from God and with God. Not that He is not the Judge, for He will judge living and dead, as surely as He will appear and set up His kingdom; but He is Saviour now and to the uttermost. Indeed, it would be impossible to say what of good and glorious He is not, nor from what evil He does not deliver. He is the truth, the exhibition of the true relation of all things with God, and consequently of the departure of any from God. He, and He only, to the challenge, Who art thou? could answer, “Absolutely that which I am also speaking to you.” He is what He also speaks; He is, as no other man was, the Truth; and this, as He intimates in the same chapter 8 of our Gospel, because He is not man alone, but God.
But He is more than the Way and the Truth; he is Life, and this because He is the Son. In communion with the Father, He quickens. It is not so in judgment; for the Father judges none, but has given every kind of judgment to the Son, and this because He is the Son of man; and as men dishonoured Him because He deigned in love to become man, so the Father will have Him honoured, not only as God, but as man in judgment. Believers honour Him in a very different and far more excellent way. They bow to Him now; willingly, gladly, they exalt Him while rejected by the world. They are thus by grace in communion with God, Who has set Him on high at His own right hand, and will by and by compel every creature to bow and own Him Lord to His own glory. But those that believe have now in Him life, which issues by the Spirit’s power in the practice of good; and hence they will enjoy life-resurrection at His coming, as those that have done evil must be raised to a resurrection of judgment in its day.
Thus the believer has Christ for all possible need, and all the blessing that our God and Father can bestow. One cannot have Him as the Way and the Truth without having Him as the Life also, for indeed He is the Resurrection and the Life; and this life, which we have in Him the Son, the Holy Spirit strengthens and exercises, as His word nourishes it, revealing Him ever afresh to our souls. The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord; and as the way in Christ is a path of love and liberty and holiness, so the end also is life everlasting.
Nor is there any other means of blessing: “No one cometh unto the Father but by Me,” says the Lord. There is the surest guarantee, the amplest and the highest good, but it is absolutely exclusive. By none but the Son can one come to the Father; by Him can come any, the proudest Jew, the most debased Gentile. Through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father, as the Apostle says expressly, (Eph. 2:18.) when showing the nature of that Church which now takes the place of the ancient people of God. And be it observed that it is not to God only in sovereign grace above sin, saving the most guilty and wretched, but to the Father as such; in it is that relationship of grace which the Son knew eternally in His own right and title, and none the less, but the more, to His Father’s honour, when He glorified Him on earth as the perfectly dependent and obedient man. How wondrous that we should come to the Father, His Father and ours, His God and ours! All glory to Him and His work of redemption, through which alone it could be to us who believe!
Next the Saviour lets them know that the knowledge of the Father is inseparable from that of the Son. “If ye knew Me, ye would know My Father also; and henceforth ye know Him, and have seen Him.” He is the image of the invisible God; in the Son is the Father known; and this the disciples are given to learn now objectively.
But there is no capacity in the bright and active-minded disciple to enter into Divine things, any more than in the most reserved or sombre one. “Philip saith to Him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us” (verse 8): an excellent wish, it might seem, to many who read his words, for one who had both seen Jesus and helped others in their desires to see Jesus. But it was sad unbelief in Philip, especially after the patient gracious words just uttered to lead them on.
“Jesus saith to him, Am I so long a time with you, and hast thou not known Me, Philip? He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father; (and)297 how sayest thou, Show us the Father? Believest thou not298 that I (am) in the Father, and the Father is in Me?273 The words which I say299 to you, I do not speak from Myself; but the Father that abideth in Me, He doeth the works.300 Believe Me that I (am) in the Father, and the Father in Me; but, if not, believe Me301 for the very works’ sake.274 Verily, verily, I say to you, He that believeth on Me, the works which I do shall he do also; and greater things than these shall he do; because I go unto the Father”302 (verses 9-12).275
The Lord thus poured a flood of light on the perplexity of the disciples. The Messiah Himself was not a mere man, however endowed and honoured of God. He was true man, and the lowliest of men; but who was He that was pleased to be born of the Virgin? He was the Son-He was God, no less than the Father, and in Him the Father was displaying Himself as such. It was God in grace, forming and fashioning His children by the manifestation of His affections and thoughts and ways in Christ the Son, a man on earth. This they had known, and yet had not known. They were familiar with Him, and the facts of His everyday works and words, little feeling as yet that they were words and works for eternity of the Creator displaying Himself in incomparably deeper fashion than in the wonders of His creation or of His government in Israel.
“No one hath seen God at any time: the Only-begotten Son, Who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him. “It was for this He came, not only to annul sin by the sacrifice of Himself, but to manifest the eternal life which was with the Father, and this as the Son revealing the Father. How new the order of being, how strange the range of thought, to the disciples! Yet this had Jesus been ever doing here below, occupied with His Father’s business long before the beginning of His ministry.
“Believest thou not that I (am) in the Father, and the Father is in Me?” All turned on the glory of His Person; and the very unity of the Godhead, the cardinal truth Israel had to testify, made a difficulty to the reasoning mind of man, unable to rise above its own experience. Not only had law and prophets prepared the way, and John the Baptist’s witness, but the words that Jesus said were not as any other man spoke. They were no mere human things, nor independently of His Father. He had been made flesh, but never ceased to be the Word, the Son; and the works He did bore the unmistakable imprint of the same gracious One-the Father. It was He that did the works (or His works). The disciples were therefore called to believe that He was in the Father, and the Father in Him; a state of being only possible in the Divine nature, to which the works themselves gave a witness that left the incredulous without excuse.
And this the Lord follows up with His formula of special solemnity in verse 12, wherein He intimates the testimony that would be rendered to the glory of His Person when, and because, He was going to the Father; the power which should invest the believer, and enable him to do not only what they had seen Jesus do, but things greater still in honour of His name. And this was to the letter fulfilled. For never do we hear of the Lord’s shadow healing the sick, nor were napkins taken from His body (save in lying legends) to cure disease, or expel demons, not to speak of the multitudes which were brought in far and wide by apostolic preaching. What greater proof of Divine power than to work as He Himself did, and yet more by His servants! and more, again, when He went on high, than when He sent them out from His presence on earth! But if the power displayed-if the works were to be greater, who could compare himself with the Lord in self-renouncing love, dependence, and obedience? Certainly none that believed on Him, none that through Him wrought so mightily.
Thus had the Lord guaranteed the solemn and withal cheering promise, that His proceeding to the Father was in no way to stem and dry up the mighty stream of gracious power in which He had wrought here below. The believer on Him was to do what He did, and yet greater things. This He now follows up and explains by the place given to that exercise of faith which issues in prayer, henceforth to have its fullest character in His name Who had glorified the Father to the uttermost.
“And whatsoever ye shall ask (or beg,
αἰτ.) in My name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask303 anything in My name, I will do it” (verses 13, 14). The disciples were thus to count on power that could not fail, if sought in His name; for Jesus was no mere man, whose departure must terminate what He used to do when present. Absent He would prove Himself Divine, and none the less interested in their petitions because He was risen from the dead. Whatever they might ask He would do, that the Father might be glorified in the Son. And not content with a broad assurance in verse 13, no matter what the difficulty, He repeats it in verse 14 as to any particular petition on their part with a yet more emphatic pledge of His personal action.
But the Lord adds a great deal more, and of the deepest moment. “If ye love Me, keep (or ye will keep)304 My commandments276; and I will request305 the Father, and He will give you another Paraclete, that He may be with you for ever, the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it beholdeth Him not, nor knoweth Him; but ye know Him, because He abideth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you orphans, I am coming unto you. Yet a little, and the world beholdeth Me no more; but ye behold Me: because I live, ye also shall live “ (verses 15-19). The way to show their affection and devotedness to their Master would be by obedience; for, whatever His grace, He does not disguise from them His authority. To obey His commandments, then, would prove their love far better than zeal in work or in sorrow for His absence; for His absence, however serious in itself, is turned by God’s goodness and wisdom to better blessings and deeper ways for the saints, even as it furnishes the occasion for bringing out the hidden counsels of God to His own infinite glory in Christ. Their place was to obey His commandments, as they loved Him; whilst He would pray the Father, Who would send them another,277a Paraclete or Advocate, as He Himself had been, One who would undertake and carry through their cause, as a Roman patron of old did for his clients or a modern solicitor does now in his little measure. “Comforter”306 seems too narrow a word, and separates the Spirit unduly from our Lord, Who could hardly be so styled in John 2:1, where Paraclete is applied to His action on high, as here to the Holy Ghost’s on earth.
Further, this other Paraclete, given by the Father in answer to Christ, was not to be for a brief season, like the Saviour here below. “He will give you another Paraclete, that He may be with you for ever.” This is a truth of the deepest consolation, but most solemn for Christendom. Who believes it? Certainly not those who boast of evangelical views, yet proclaim their unconscious unbelief by regular prayers at the beginning of every year that God would pour out afresh His Holy Spirit on His children in their low estate. Is it meant that the self-complacent mass in Christendom (which utters no such special petitions, but assumes that the Holy Ghost acts, necessarily and infallibly, through popes, or patriarchs, or kindred officials) are more really believing? Far from it. They are inflated with pride, as if God sustains and sanctions their position; and utter blindness holds the* eyes, so that they cannot see their state to be one of departure from God’s will and truth and grace. But the opposite pole of an error may be also an error; and the assumption that the Holy Spirit directs Babylon, in her confusion of the world and the Church, is not remedied by the practical denial of the abiding presence of the Spirit in the periodical petitions for a fresh outpouring on us.
It were well to ask for a single eye and a spirit of humiliation, that we might cease to do evil, and learn to do well, and this with a truly contrite heart, and a deep sense of whence we have fallen, and of Christ’s speedy coming. It were well to judge ourselves by the Word of God, not only in our individual walk, but in our corporate ways and worship, to see to it that we neither grieve nor quench the Spirit, to desire earnestly that we “be strengthened with power by the Spirit in the inner man,” if, indeed, we do not also need first to be “enlightened of Him,” so that we should “ know what is the hope of God’s calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe” (Eph. 3:16; Eph. 1:18 f.). These are the true wants, even where peace with God is enjoyed individually; for there is nothing in general so little known to the Christian or the Church, as what the Christian and the Church really are; and how can the functions or duties be discharged where the relationship is ignored or mistaken?
Now, all this turns on the great truths before us in these chapters of our Gospel, the absence of Christ from the world to take His place as the risen Man in heaven on the footing of redemption, and the presence of the Holy Ghost sent down to be with the saints for ever. Faith, then, shows itself, not, surely, in imputing to Him failure in abiding spite of our failure, and praying for a fresh outpouring, as if He had fled in disgust, and needed to be sent down again, but in separating from every evil condemned by the word, and doing the will of God as far as we learn it, counting on the assured presence of the Spirit according to the Saviour’s promise. Blessing and power follow obedience, even as the Lord puts it here. Nothing can be conceived more false morally than to abide in what we know to be wrong, waiting for power, and then obeying. Not so; more especially, too, as even this hollow excuse denies the distinctive privilege of the Christian, that he has the Spirit already in being a Christian. And so has the Church of God: if not, it is some other Church, not His; for only by the presence of the Spirit is the Church really such, always and in all things responsible to be guided of Him, even “the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it beholdeth Him not, nor knoweth Him; but ye know Him, because He abideth with you, and shall be in you.”
The Lord herein looked onward to the presence of the Holy Ghost with the saints, not only assuring them that it should be perpetual, but explaining why the world could have no portion in Him; whereas men might behold and know the Messiah objectively, though externally and in vain for eternal life. But with the Spirit as now given, what could the world have in common? He could but, by His presence with the saints outside the world, prove sin, righteousness, and judgment. But He is no object of sight or knowledge, and the world has no faith, or it would not be the world; whereas the saints, the Christians henceforth would be characterised by knowing Him, invisible as He is, “because He abideth with you, and shall be in you.” Not that one thinks with Euthymius Zigabenus, followed by many a believer from his day to ours, that His abiding in Jesus Who was among them is the meaning; but that when given, He was to abide with them, instead of making a brief sojourn like the Lord’s; yea, that He should not only abide, but be in them, which Messiah, as such, could not be, however companying with them. It was to be a new, special, intimate presence of God in and with the saints, in contrast with the world which had rejected Christ. And there is no surer sign of, or preparation for, the final apostasy, in its complete form, than that unbelieving departure from God which binds together the saints and the world: whether in a popish assumption of the Spirit’s sanction, or in a Protestant unbelief of His presence. One can understand this last, because of their experience of a name to live with death around and within; which prompts them to cry for the Spirit as if He were gone, instead of quitting all that grieves Him, and hinders the manifestation of His gracious action.
But, said the Lord, “I will not leave you orphans: I am coming to you.” It is not here by His future advent, but by the gift of the Spirit.278 Thus would He comfort them in His own absence. “Yet a little, and the world beholdeth Me no more, but ye behold Me: because I live, ye also shall live.” Nothing could be more opposed to their thoughts of, and expectations from, the Messiah of Israel seen by every eye, though in special nearness to His own people on earth. Now they were by the Holy Ghost to see Him Whom the world had rejected and lost, and should see no more save in judgment. And the saints should not behold Him only, but live of the selfsame life, having Christ living in them, as says the Apostle Paul (Eph. 3:17), or, as the Lord here, “Because I live, ye also shall live.” Christ is their life, and this in resurrection-power, to which the future tense may point.
But there is more than life, blessed as it is, living because Christ lives, Himself their life, not as Son simply, but as risen and gone to heaven. The Spirit is power to see and know, in contrast with flesh and world. And here He is supposed to be given, known, abiding with them and in them. A most solemn thing is His power, where Christ is not the life: unspeakably blessed, where we live of His life.
“In that day ye shall know that I (am) in My Father, and ye in Me, and I in you” (verse 20). It is not here simply the glory of His Person, as in verses 10, 11. This was true, and an object of faith then. “Believest thou not,” said the Lord to Philip, “that I (am) in the Father and the Father is in Me?” Words and works both attested it. “Believe Me,” He said to all, “that I (am) in the Father and the Father307 in Me.” His being man in no way hindered or lowered His dignity, nor His essential oneness with the Father; and it was and is of all moment to believers unwaveringly to hold it and adoringly. The Son is God, even as the Father. But now more was to be, and to be known; impossible without His personal glory, but dependent on His work and the gift of the Spirit. This we have now, for that day is come. It is not the future glory, but present grace putting us in the closest vital association with Him Who has gone into heavenly glory, and yet is one with us here, as we with Him there, by the Spirit given that we might know it all.
In this knowledge saints-true saints of God-are painfully dull, not merely to their privation in countless ways of the utmost moment, but to His dishonour Who cannot be duly served or worshipped now but in Spirit and in truth. The day of forms and shadows is closed; the true light now shines in Christ only, of Whom His saints are the responsible light-bearers as they hold forth the word of life. But there is more here, though all is bound up with Him. It is not Christ present in the world, and reigning over the land, or even all the earth. He is here the despised and rejected of men, but glorified on high. “In that day ye shall know that I (am) in My Father”-a relationship and sphere incomparably more glorious than the throne of His father David. It is not only heavenly, but also expressive of infinite nearness to the Father; and this gives its character to Christianity. All its blessedness turns on Who and what and where Christ is. Unbelief in saints, walking with the world and numbed by tradition, treats all as lifeless fact, not as truth which by the Spirit forms and guides the soul; unbelief in men learns fast to deny and deride even the fact. So much the more urgent call is there on those who believe by grace to walk on in the heavenly light; and the more so, as we know not only that He is in the Father, but that we are in Him and He in us, as the Lord proceeded to say in the words already cited.
There can scarce be conceived a more striking contrast in position and relationship than of Christ and His own as here described with the Messiah and His people, which those then present had gathered, not from the tradition of the elders, but from the ancient oracles of God. But God is sovereign, though ever wise and never arbitrary. All His ways are good and glorious, as they all turn on Christ His image and their centre, the prime object before Him for heaven and earth. On earth government was and will be the aim; for heaven grace reigns, first, however, suffering to His glory, yet morally and infinitely superior to evil, by-and-by supreme when evil is dealt with and disappears by Divine judgment. Between the humiliation of the cross and the coming again is the place of the Son as now known in the Father, as of us in Him and of Him in us.
No Old Testament saint knew or could speak thus; nor did an expectation of it ever dawn on a single heart of old. No millennial saint will ever know such a relationship of Christ or of those then on earth. It is wholly and necessarily a part of what God is now intermediately working for the glory of the Lord; and as faith beholds Him in such a height of Divine intimacy, so it owns the incomparable grace which has put us in Christ, and gives us to feel the grave responsibility of Christ in us. What can tell out our nearness more than such an identification of new life and nature, and this in power by the Spirit? Truly, “he that is joined to the Lord is one spirit”; (1 Cor. 6:17.) and the union is just so much more real and permanent than natural oneness, as the Spirit is mightier and closer and more abiding than the flesh. But if thus one with Him and in Him by the Spirit, He is in us by the same Spirit. There is thus alike the highest privilege and the strongest obligation; and we must beware of sundering what the Lord here joins together. If we have life in the Son, we need to remind our souls that Christ lives in us, and that we are to show out Him, not ourselves. Doubtless this demands true and deep and constant self-judgment, and the faith that always bears about in the body the dying of Jesus; and God helps us by trials of all sorts, that the life also of Jesus may be manifest in our mortal flesh. Thus only does Christian practice flow from Christian principle and privilege; and all is of Christ by the Holy Ghost in us. How comforting that our duty as Christians supposes our blessedness! How humbling that the gift of the Spirit makes our failure inexcusable!278a
But there is meanwhile, and especially connected with Christ being in us, not yet government of the earth by Christ reigning righteously and in power, but moral government of our souls in obedience, which assumes a twofold shape. “He that hath My commandments end keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me; but he that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him and will manifest myself to him” (verse 21). To the superficial mind of man it may seem strange that our Lord should speak of having His commandments, not only keeping them, as a proof of loving Him; but it is profoundly true. The wicked, the disobedient, the careless, do not understand, but the wise, even those whose wisdom ends not, though it begins, with the fear of the Lord. The single eye is full of light. The desire to do His will finds and knows what it is. Thus the loving heart has and keeps His commandments; and, loving Him, draws down His Father’s love, Who honours the Son and will not be exalted at His expense. Obedience springing from love is thus the condition of the disciples, which ensures the love of Jesus and the manifestation of Himself to us here below.
Such a manifestation took the disciples by surprise; and one of them, Judas, carefully distinguished from the betrayer, could not but ask for explanation. “Judas, not the Iscariot, saith to Him, Lord, (and)308 how is it that Thou wilt manifest Thyself to us, and not to the world? Jesus answered and said to him, If anyone love Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and makes our abode with him. He that loveth Me not keepeth not My words; and the word which ye hear is not Mine, but the Father’s that sent Me” (verses 22-24). When Messiah manifests Himself to the world as He will when the world-kingdom of our Lord and of His Anointed is come, there will be a feigned obedience rendered by many kept in check by the display of His power and glory. Obedience now that He is absent must be more put to the proof, and is precious to Him as being real; and it should grow as being of life in the Spirit, as the knowledge of His will becomes better known. Compare Colossians 1:9, 10. Hence it deepens from His commandments to His word. his commandments were not grievous; His word is treasured because He Himself is loved. So it is the Lord counts it; and fuller manifestation is enjoyed of the Father and the Son, and more abidingly.
Π2, some cursives, and many fathers [W. and H., Blass]; instead of the Text. Rec.
ποιήσομεν (or -
ωμεν), as in most uncials and cursives and many fathers [Weiss]. D. [Syrsin], etc., strangely read
ποιήσομαι, “I will make.” The middle voice gives the force of “our” in the strongest way, which the Text. Rec. loses.
It will be noticed that in verse 23 it is “My word,” not, as in the Authorised Version, “My words.” He that loves the Lord will keep His word as one whole, because it is His; as He adds in verse 24, that he who loves Him not does not keep His words or sayings. It is not his habit or way to keep any of them in detail. Disobedience betrays absence of love for Jesus; and this is the more serious, because it is not simply the Son Who is in question, but the Father that sent Him, Whose word is slighted. There is nothing so characteristic of a saint now as obedience. It was so perfectly with our Lord Himself. He came to do the will of God; He did and suffered it to the uttermost. Thus only is God known growingly by His children, and most intimately, as the Lord here declares. We must know Him to do His will, which can only be through knowing Jesus Christ Whom He sent; but keeping His word (as the expression, not of His authority alone, though this is dear to us from the first, but of His will), we grow by the knowledge of God, and this indefinitely while here below, though ever in unsparing judgment of ourselves and in confiding dependence on Him. And how cheering to the heart the abiding sense of the presence of the Father and the Son with us as thus walking! Would that we knew it better! A manifestation is much, an abode is more.278b
The value of what directs the life, of which it was also the revealing means, cannot be exaggerated; and this we have seen in the commands and words of our Lord Jesus, by which He exercises the life He has given to the believer, as, indeed, He is their life. But now He adds fresh consolation and blessing in the relation borne by the Advocate or Paraclete (for so now the Spirit is not only characterised but called). “These things I have spoken to you, while abiding with you; but the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things which I said to you” (verses 25, 26).279 How blessed that the same Holy Spirit Who anointed and abode in Him, while ministering here below, was to teach the disciples all things, and to give them back all the words of Jesus! And so it was fulfilled, and more, as became a Divine Person Who deigned to serve in love, sent by the Father in the name of the Son. It is not here the Son requesting the Father and the Father giving, as in verse 16, but the Father sending in the name of the Son the One Who could and would teach all things, besides recalling all that Jesus said to them. Room is thus left, not only for His reviving in their memory all the injunctions of Christ, but also for His own unlimited teaching.
But there is more than doctrine. “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you, not as the world giveth give I to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (verse 27). Throughout the Lord supposes His death. This was necessary to peace; His own peace goes farther still. It was the peace He enjoyed while here-a peace unruffled by circumstances, and in unbroken communion with His Father; a peace as far as possible from man’s heart, in such a world as this, ignorant of the Father, and on all points at issue with Him. But it characterised the second Man Who gives it to us. In the faith of Him Who loves us perfectly and to the end, Who has accomplished all to God’s glory and for us, we are entitled to it; and the Holy Ghost would have us enjoy it according to His word. He Who gives it gave it not away, and had it not the less because we were to receive it. Like all else that He gives, it is enjoyed unimpaired in its own Divine fulness, every one that shares rather adding to it than taking from it. The question is not merely of reality, but of its course and character. “Not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” Why, indeed, with His peace, should the heart be confounded or fearful?
But the Lord looks now for hearts purified by faith to delight in His glory. “Ye heard that I said to you, I go away, and come unto you; if ye loved Me, ye would have rejoiced that309 I go unto the Father, because the310 Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it come to pass, that when it is come to pass ye may believe” (verses 28, 29). Thus, whatever His essential and personal glory, He never forgets that He is man on earth. As such He goes away, and comes back to the disciples. As such He calls upon them to rejoice in His proceeding to the Father.280 It was no small thing that man in His Person should thus enter into glory; and there is almost as much unbelief in Christendom’s taking it as a matter of course, utterly indifferent to its value, as in Jewish rejection of it as incredible, if not impossible. The Jew, as such, looked for man-that is, for himself-to be blessed in the highest degree by God on the earth; and so, doubtless, beyond his thought, it will be in the kingdom by-and-by. But the Lord would have the Christian rejoice in the second Man, gone up even now into the paradise of God, the sure pledge of our own following Him there when He comes back again for us. And therefore does He the more impressively call attention not to the fact only, but to His mention of it then before it came to pass, that when it did, they should believe. Himself in glory is the living object of faith, full of weighty and fruitful consequence for us. It is well to give His death the deepest value. Never can we lose sight of His profound humiliation in self-sacrificing love to glorify God and to bear our burden of sins and judgment, without incalculable loss to our souls; but we do well to have our eye fixed on Him “received up in glory,” and ever to wait for Him as about to come and have us there with Himself in the Father’s house.
“No longer shall I talk much with you, for the prince of the311 world cometh, and hath nothing in Me. But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father commanded312 Me, so I do. Arise, let us go hence” (verses 30, 31). The Lord thus intimates that He has not much more to talk with them. He had another task on hand; for the enemy was coming, characterised now as the prince of the world which had rejected the Son of God, proving thereby its opposition to the Father and its subjection to Satan; but, come when he might, he had no more in Christ at the end than at the beginning.281 Then he would gladly have enticed the Saviour out of the path of obedience by offering gratification; now he strives to fill Him in that path with fear and horror of the death which was before Him. It was in vain: “The cup which My Father giveth Me, shall I not drink it?” In us, naturally, there is everything which can afford a handle to Satan; in Christ he had nothing. So it could not but be because of the glory and unsullied perfectness of His Person, true God and unblemished Man; and so it must be for us, if we were to have eternal life in Him, and He to take away our sins, and all this in obedience and to the glory of God His Father. Therefore does He add, “but that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father commanded me, even so I do.” It was indeed the Son’s love to the uttermost; it was also unqualified obedience.
Here the Lord ends this part of His communications, and marks it by the closing words, “Arise, let us go hence.”282
287 [Cf. “ Introductory Lectures,” pp. 511-518.]
ὅτι, ABCpm DKLX
Π, twenty cursives, and most ancient versions [as Syrsin], etc.; but Text. Rec. [as Blass] omits, with some ten or eleven uncials, most cursives, the Gothic, Aeth., etc.
289 DM, with more than sixty cursives, read
ἑτοιμάσαὶ others, like AEGK
ΓΔ, and forty cursives, with the Gothic and Pesch. Syr., simply
καὶ [as Blass], but BCLNSUX
ΔΠ, and versions [Syrsin],
290 Some authorities omit
ἐγὼ, and most [as A CcorrD, Syrsin pesch hier], with Text. Rec., add
καὶ . . . οἴδατε, “and . . . ye know.”
291 BCpmL, etc., omit
καὶ; whilst BCpmD, Lat. MSS., Aeth., etc., read
οἴδαμεν, “know we.” Text. Rec., with sixteen uncials, perhaps all the cursives and the versions generally, has
δυνάμεθα τ. ὁδ. εἰδέναι, “can we know,” etc.
ἐγνώκατε . . . γνώσεσθε, Dpm, instead of
ἐγνώκειτε . . . ἐγν ἂν, as in all the other uncials, save that BCpm, etc., give for the last
ἂν ἤδειτε. Some of these uncials, etc., omit
ἀπ [as Blass], and reads after it
γνώσεσθε, not without some support from Latin, BCpm omitting
αὐτὸν at the end. [Blass read
ἐγνώκατε . . . γνώσεσθε, but with
μὴ before the one,
οὐ before the other.]
297 Most MSS. read
καὶ π., but the copulative is omitted by BQ, etc.
298 Bpm strangely reads
οὐ πιστεύσεις, “wilt thou not believe?”
λέγω Bcorr (pm om.) LNX, etc., instead of the first
λαλῶ, as in most [so Blass], as BL, etc., omit
ὁ after the second
πατήρ [which Blass retains]. BD read
αὐτοῦ (“his works”) at the end, instead of
αὐτὸς either there or before as ordinarily.
301 DL, etc., omit [as Edd.] final
μοι, read by the mass of authorities.
302 The weight of authority (ABDLQX
Π, many cursives, almost all the ancient versions, and the fathers) is against the addition of
303 [Edd. here adds
με (“Me”) after a B, etc., 33, etc. Blass omits the whole verse, as Syrcu sin, Nonnus, and Chrysostom.]
304 BL, etc. ( , 33, 69pm,
τηρήσητε) τηρήσετε, “ye will keep.” So W. and H. [Weiss and Blass] edit. [Syrsin has “ keep.”]
305 It is of interest, and even of importance, to mark the distinctness of
ἐρωτάω, as used of Christ with the Father, and
αἰτέω of the disciples. Scripture nowhere predicates of Him the last or supplicatory expression, save in Martha’s mouth [11:22], whose faith, though real, was low. Christ uses
ἐπ. in speaking to the Father, as the disciples use
αἰτ. to Him, and both words to Christ. The word
ἐπ. is also employed in the sense of “interrogating,” or “questioning.”277
306 Philologically it is hard, not to say impossible, to conceive the Greek term meaning “Comforter.” Its structure and usage alike point to one “called to aid,” as a cognate but different form signifies a comforter. This a Paraclete may well be; but He is far more, and summoned for every difficulty and need. So is the Paraclete, and in an infinite way, as a Divine Person. To comfort is but a small part of His functions. “Advocate” might do, as in 1 John 2:1. [See, further, “Exposition of the Epistles,” p. 56 ff.]
307 In the Elz. of 1624 and 1633,
ἐστὶν, with the slenderest support; Steph. rejects it in his edd. of 1546, 1549, and 1550, as Beza in all his.
ΓΑΠ, and many cursives; but ABDELX, etc., with almost all the other versions, omit.
309 Text. Rec., following the later uncials and most cursives, adds
εἶπον, “I said”; but the best give the text preferred. There is rather better authority for adding
ὁ Π. (=“My F.”).
Γ, and seven more uncials, 150 Cursives, the Syriac, etc. omit
τούτου, which appears in the Text. Rec. supported by a few cursives and the versions in general, etc.
ἐνετείλατό μοι ADG, with ten other uncials and most cursives and versions [Weiss]; Lachmann, Treg., with W. and H. [and Blass], edit
ἐντολὴν ἔδ (or
μοι. after BLX, etc., with the It. and Vulg.