By Sam E. Stone
Some Bible students have pointed out that while John 13 contains a narrative and a dialogue, chapters 14, 15, 16, and 17 each have a central theme. The predominant note in John 14 is conflict. The setting for this week’s lesson text is the night Jesus was betrayed. After instituting the Lord’s Supper in the upper room, Jesus and his disciples (except Judas) set out for the Garden of Gethsemane.
Do not let your hearts be troubled. It is easy to understand why the apostles would be troubled. They had learned that one of them would betray Jesus and one would deny him. Moreover, their Lord had said that he would be going away. Trust in God; trust also in me. These two sentences could be read either as indicative or imperative, or one of each. Whichever interpretation is right, Jesus’ basic message is clear: “Keep on trusting God and me, no matter what happens” (see also Mark 11:22).
Jesus next told them what they had to look forward to. In my Father’s house are many rooms. Jesus was going there to prepare for a reunion. Heaven will be roomy—like a building containing beautiful luxury condominiums, all perfectly decorated and equipped. I am going there to prepare a place for you. On earth the disciples had been homeless at times—not there!
His going away would not mean a permanent separation from them. Jesus promised to return in the same way in which he would depart (Acts 1:9-11). If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. This verse evidently refers to his second coming. Jesus will take all of his faithful followers, not just to a place, but to himself!
You know the way to the place where I am going. “My way of life leads to the Father’s house and you have observed it over these past years.” In the early years, Christianity was sometimes referred to as “the Way” (see Acts 9:2; 19:9, 23).
Questions and Answers
Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Thomas may have been voicing a concern shared by the other disciples. Earlier he had declared his readiness to follow Christ anywhere, even to death (John 11:16). “I am the way and the truth and the life.”
Instead of merely showing the way, Christ is the way. Think of Jesus as a guide who knows the difficult route through a forest. Those who stay close to him are sure to reach their destination safely. Hendriksen says, “He is the way from God to man and from man to God.” As the one dependable source of redemptive revelation, he is also the truth. Christ energizes all life, both now and eternally (John 11:25). He alone can show us what God is like (John 1:18). Philip picked up on this, asking Jesus, “Show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” Some suggest Philip might have been hoping for a theophany (a visible manifestation of God) as in Exodus 33:18-20. Jesus reminded him of the unparalleled opportunities he and the other disciples had enjoyed over his three years of ministry with them. All that he did perfectly represents his Father, God, to all he meets. Any who are hesitant to believe should at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. His miraculous signs demonstrate his relation to the Father (John 10:38).
Anyone who has faith in me will do
. . . . even greater things . . . because I am going to the Father. Greater in quantity, not quality. After three years of ministry, Jesus had perhaps 500 followers (1 Corinthians 15:6). But on just one day—Pentecost—when Peter and the others first preached the gospel, more than 3,000 responded! I will do whatever you ask in my name. This is not a “blank check,” of course. Scripture establishes other conditions for answered prayer (see James 4:3; Hebrews 11:6; Psalm 66:18). To ask “in his name” is to ask in harmony with all that the person who wears that name is and represents. The ultimate purpose of a request that Jesus honors must be the same as his—to bring glory to the Father (John 14:13).
Sam E. Stone is the former editor of Christian Standard. He continues his writing and speaking ministry from his home in Cincinnati, Ohio.