It is the last night of Jesus’ life. He is in the upper room with his disciples and has told them that he has to go away. This information concerning his departure has caused the disciples to have troubled hearts. Jesus is erasing those fears by telling them about what will happen. For Jesus to leave the disciples is for their benefit as he will prepare a place in the Father’s house for them (14:1-4). Further, whoever believes in Jesus will do the works of Jesus and greater works than these (14:12-14). The work of Jesus was to save the world from their sins and point to the glory of Jesus. When Jesus left his disciples, their work was not over but only begin. Those who believe in Jesus will continue the mission of Jesus, saving the world from their sins by proclaiming the gospel message to the ends of the earth. But disciples do not do this by their own might or strength, but through the power of prayer for only God can open the hearts and convert the sinner. Only God can shine the light into darkened hearts so that they might be saved. Recall what Jesus taught in John 6:44, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” The Father must do the work in the hearts of the sinner. This work is accomplished through the gospel message, as the next verse says. “It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God'” (John 6:45). Do not be troubled about the departure of Jesus. There is still the great mission to fulfill as God wants the world to be saved. This leads Jesus to give a third reason why the disciples must not be troubled in their hearts (cf. 14:27).
Who Is The Audience?
Before we begin, it is very important as we move forward through these scriptures that we observe who Jesus is talking about. Sometimes Jesus will be very specific and something to the eleven disciples, like in verse 19, “Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me.” This was not a promise to all believers. Jesus is saying that only a select few were going to see the resurrected Jesus and his apostles were part of that number. The whole world did not see Jesus nor did all believers see the risen Jesus. But then there are times when Jesus is referring to all believers like in verse 21, “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who love me.” So we have to be very careful to observe who Jesus is talking about as he makes these declarations. To fail to carefully listen to Jesus will cause us to draw incorrect conclusions.
The Advocate (14:15-17)
We will bypass verse 15 and consider it in John 15 where Jesus spends a significant amount of time showing what it means to love him. The third reason Jesus’ leaving is for the good of the disciples is that he will leave and give them another Advocate to be with them forever. There are some different translations to explain who Jesus is going to send. “Helper” is the term used by the ESV, NASB, and NKJV. “Counselor” is the term used by the HCSB. “Advocate” is the term used by the NIV, NRSV, NLT, and NET. Some of the older translations like the ASV and KJV read “Comforter.” The problem is that there is not a single English word that carries the same range of meaning that the Greek word paraclete carries. “Comforter” does not really get at the meaning that Jesus is giving his disciples. “Helper” works so long as we understand that helper does not mean some kind of subordinate role. “Counselor” is fine but we must not think of a camp counselor or advisor. I think “advocate” is a pretty good word to use. When we have meetings for Grace at school so that she can have proper assistance and therapies that she needs for her disability, there have been times that we have had an advocate with us in those meetings. The advocate is there to support our position and support our efforts, not in a subordinate role, but works with us to accomplish the goal. This is the idea that Jesus is giving them. Notice that Jesus does not say that he will give an Advocate. Rather, Jesus will give “another Advocate,” meaning one who is like himself. This Advocate is one of the same kind as the Son. The Holy Spirit will be the Advocate to come along aside and support these disciples in their work even though Jesus is leaving. This Advocate that Jesus will send will not leave them but will be with them forever (14:16).
The Advocate is given further explanation in verse 17. The Advocate is the Spirit of truth. This helps the disciples understand what he is going to do. He is going to reveal the truth to the disciples. The Advocate is not going to be sent to the world. The world cannot receive the Spirit of truth because it does not see him or know him (14:17). Jesus will explain what the Advocate will do for them as we continue through this chapter and even more fully in chapter 16. But at this moment Jesus wants his disciples in that room to know that they will not be left alone. Jesus will go but he will send another Advocate them like himself who will remain with them forever. Jesus says that these eleven will have a relationship with the Spirit of truth like they presently have with Jesus. “You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” We saw this same concept in John 14:11. The Father in Jesus and Jesus in the Father is speaking about an intimate relationship that they have with each other. In the same way, the Spirit of truth and these eleven will have the same kind of relationship (14:17). Notice that Jesus says that the Spirit was already dwelling in these disciples (present tense). Jesus does not predict that they will be empowered by the Spirit as if referring to Acts 2. Rather, these disciples already know him.
Seeing Jesus (14:18-21)
Jesus explores this truth even further in verses 18-19. Jesus is not leaving them as orphans. He will come to them. The world will not see him any longer. But they will have an opportunity to see Jesus again. Remember, after the resurrection, Jesus spends 40 days with the apostles, teaching them about the kingdom of God (Acts 1:3). The point is that though he will be killed, it is not over. He will see them again. Further, his resurrection will bring life to them. What Jesus is doing is going to change everything. In verse 20 Jesus returns to the intimate relationship Jesus has with his apostles. What day is in view when Jesus says, “In that day?” The context has been the day when Jesus sends the Advocate to them. When the Advocate comes to them, then they will know the truth of this glorious relationship: “I am in the Father, and you in me, and I in you.” Jesus would be in them and they would be in Jesus. Again, this is the same language used of the Father and the Son in John 14:11.
But in verse 21 Jesus broadens out about who he is talking about. Jesus does not say, “If you….” Rather, “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them.” This is a promise concerning all believers. The one who loves Jesus is the one who has and keeps his commandments. We will explore the meaning of this more in John 15. Only those who obey his commandments will enter into union with Christ. Then feel the weight of these glorious words. When you love Jesus, you “will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him.” You are loved by the Father and the Son when you love Jesus. We know that God loves the whole world for that is why he sent Jesus as a sacrifice for sins. So when it says that if we love Jesus we will be loved by the Father speaks of a far deeper relationship of love. There is a depth of love available to those who love Jesus. The Father loves you. Further, Jesus will be revealed to you. You will get to know and understand Jesus in a way that the rest of the world does not and cannot. This also has been a common message in John’s gospel (cf. John 8:47). It is the sheep who truly know the good shepherd and follow him wherever he goes. The true sheep see the shepherd, know the shepherd, and follow the shepherd. You understand this as disciples of Jesus. You see Jesus in a way that the world does not and cannot. It is a precious, glorious relationship that the disciples of Jesus experiences.
How To See Jesus (14:22-24)
Judas (not the betrayer) wants to know how this is going to happen, just as we want to know with greater detail. “Lord, how is it that you will reveal yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus’ answer is another cure for troubled hearts. If you love Jesus, then you will keep his words and the Father will love that person (which is what Jesus said in verse 21). But now Jesus gives more comfort. “And we will come to him and make our home with him.” The “we” must refer to the Father and the Son since they are the subjects in verse 23. The Father and the Son will come to the person who loves Jesus and make their home with that person.
This is a big deal that we must appreciate. God with his people has been the continuing promises of God in the Old Testament. God has taught ever since the Garden of Eden that he cannot be in an intimate relationship with his people because of sin. God will tell Moses that he could not go with them through the desert because of their rebellion and stubbornness to which Moses pleaded with God to go with them (cf. Exodus 33-34). The tabernacle and temple were special pictures of God’s presence with the people, yet the people could not come near. They needed the high priest to go before them on their behalf into the tabernacle. Jesus going to the cross makes is possible for God to make his home with his people. This is why God telling us that we are the temple of the living God in whom the Spirit dwells is so amazing (1 Corinthians 6:19; 2 Corinthians 6:16-18; 1 Peter 2:5). God is walking with us in this life each day, made possible through the cross. Sin blocked access and intimacy with God which has been solved by Jesus. God has come to us and we have an unparalleled relationship with the Father and the Son. “I will be your God and you will be my people.” Here are a few places among many in the scriptures where God makes this promise:
And they shall know that I am the LORD their God with them, and that they, the house of Israel, are my people, declares the Lord GOD. And you are my sheep, human sheep of my pasture, and I am your God, declares the Lord GOD.” (Ezekiel 34:30–31 ESV)
My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (Ezekiel 37:27 ESV)
Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion, for behold, I come and I will dwell in your midst, declares the LORD. (Zechariah 2:10 ESV)
Jesus is the way that God is now with us and can be in relationship with him. He makes his home with us. What hopeful, powerful words!
Peace I Leave You (14:25-31)
Jesus has told his disciples these things at this moment on the final night of Jesus’ life. But he will send the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, who will teach these disciples all things and cause them to remember all things (John 14:25-26). It is this promise to the apostles that puts our hope in the words you hold in your hands. The words written down were not based on sketchy history. Jesus promised to give the apostles perfect remembrance of all of Jesus’ teachings.
These verses also help us see the role of the Holy Spirit. He is the revealer of God’s truths. This is why the Holy Spirit is called “the Spirit of truth” (14:17). The Holy Spirit is going to teach the apostles all things and cause them to remember Jesus’ teachings. Therefore, the apostles had no reason to have troubled hearts (14:27). Jesus has told them ahead of time what will happen so that they will have faith (14:29). The ruler of this world is coming (14:30). Satan is going to try to be victorious by killing Jesus (cf. Revelation 12:4-5). But listen to Jesus’ powerful words: “He has no claim on me.” Because of Jesus’ sinlessness (14:31) Satan has no legal claim or hold on Jesus. Jesus is going to destroy the power of Satan by his sinless life and sacrificial death, making it possible for God to make his home with us. Jesus will not capitulate to the ruler of this world. Jesus is Lord and Ruler over all. Not only are we comforted with the knowledge that Jesus has prepared a place for us in the house of the Father, but while we wait for the day the Father and the Son have made their home with us so that we can have intimate fellowship and joy with them now.