John 14: Jesus Reassures the Disciples
John 14 takes place just after the upper room discourse where Jesus calls out Judas Iscariot as the betrayer (13:21; 13:26-27). Jesus also spends this time explaining – albeit cryptically – to His disciples that He is going to soon face death (13:33-38). Jesus describes His death by telling the disciples that He will be going somewhere that they cannot come. Peter immediately tells Jesus that he – that is, Peter – will follow Jesus wherever He goes, even exclaiming that he will lay his life down for Jesus. That is where John 14 begins.
1-3 REASSURANCE FOR AN ANXIOUS HEART
“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.
v. 1 Jesus reassures the disciples that even though He is going away – that He is going to die – they do not need to be worried, but simply to trust in Him and the will of God (“… believe in God, believe also in Me…”)
v. 2 This is a key verse to understanding the cryptic upper room discourse in John 13; Jesus flatly tells the disciples that He is going home to be with God. During this time, those familiar with rabbinical teaching – the disciples – would have known exactly what Jesus meant when He said, “…in My Father’s house… I go to prepare a place for you…” They now knew that Jesus was going to die. But, to validate His claims in v. 1 that the disciples did not need to be anxious or afraid, Jesus reassures them that He is going to prepare a place for them so that they will be with Him there. This is a stunning remark for the disciples. Peter’s exclamation in 13:37 shows the anxiety the disciples were experiencing from knowing that Jesus was going away.
v. 3 Jesus makes it even clearer that what He says is true by telling the disciples that though He is going away – they now know He will die – He will come again to them. Again, Jesus’ words to “… not let your heart be troubled…” are validated.
4-6 HOW TO BE WHERE JESUS IS GOING
4 And you know the way where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
v. 4 This particular statement by Jesus jolts the disciples. Jesus has been saying over and over again that He is going somewhere that the disciples cannot come right now. Not only that, Jesus has also made known that eventually they will be there (“…I go to prepare a place for you… where I am, there you may be also…”). Now Jesus is saying, “… you know how to get there…”
v. 5 Thomas – doubting Thomas – replies as any sane human being would. “How do we know such a thing, Jesus!??! We don’t even know where you are going!” What is striking about this is that Jesus just made clear to them where He was going: His Father’s house (ie. heaven; the dwelling place of God; etc.). What is going on here? The shock that Jesus would die has consumed them. Thomas shows the willful rejection of the definite: Jesus is going to die.
v. 6 This is the culmination of everything Jesus wanted to teach the disciples throughout His 3 year ministry. Let’s look at v. 6 in light of v. 1 – 5
v. 2- 3
Jesus: I am going to my Father’s house to prepare a place for you
Disciples: How do we get there?
Jesus: I am the way (v.6a)
v. 1, 2b, 3b
Disciples: Jesus, you can’t go away. No!
Jesus: Do not be troubled, trust in God’s will and believe me when I say I am going so that I can prepare a place for you, and that I will come back to you
Jesus: I am the truth (v. 6b)
v. 4 – 5 (13:33-38)
Jesus: You know the way I am going. I am going to my Father’s house because I am going to die.
Disciples: No, Jesus! You will not die! We do not know how to get there, we do not believe you are going to die!
Jesus: Though I am going to die, I will live again…
Jesus: I am the life (v. 6c)
What Jesus says is the truth; He went to prepare a place for us in His Father’s house and He will come again to be with us. Though He was crucified, He rose again and conquered death thereby giving Him power over death. To those that place their active trust in Jesus, the life eternal that defeated death is given to them. Believing in Jesus is the way to the Father’s house.
7-11 JESUS: THE WAY THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE BECAUSE HE IS GOD
7 If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.” 8 Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. 11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves.
v. 8 (we will come back to v. 7) Philip this time asks a rash question. As you probably noticed, most of what is written above mentions “the disciples” and not a particular disciple. The reason for this is because even though the text notes that a particular disciple asks a particular question or makes a particular statement, we can infer that all of the disciples were similarly anxious just by the sheer number of names mentioned asking questions or making statements (Peter, Thomas, now Philip, etc.). We have to keep this in mind: anxiety is plaguing the disciples at this moment; their questions are colored by anxious thoughts of Jesus going away.
v. 7-11 Jesus here says plainly something that many believe He never said: “I am God.” v. 7 is particular, Jesus says, “Look, here it is plainly, from now on you will know this: I am the Father.” He explains His case for being God in v. 9-11. He says:
1) What the Father does, I also do (actions) (v. 10)
2) Who the Father is, I also am (character/properties) (v. 9)
Let’s step back for a minute and see if there is any philosophical explanation for the proposition Jesus is God. Dr. William Lane Craig, professor of philosophy at Biola University, Talbot School of Theology, says,
God is, by definition, the greatest conceivable being. If there is a being greater than God, then that being is God. God is, by definition, all-powerful, all-knowing, all-good, all-present, and personal. [Under which conditions are singular terms (like proper names) referring to the same thing?]
Dr. Francis Beckwith, professor of philosophy at Baylor University writes,
What does it mean for two terms to refer to the same thing? Take, for example, the names ‘Muhammed Ali’ and ‘Cassius Clay.’ Although they are different terms, they refer to the same thing, for each has identical properties.
Dr. Craig continues,
If the referents (the things/persons being referred to) of two terms have identical properties, then the terms refer to the same thing.
Let’s examine the table below and see what attributes the Bible says God, the Father, and Jesus, the Son have:
The referent “Jesus, the Son” and the referent “God, the Father” are one in substance, because they share identical properties. Is it philosophically sound to say that Jesus is God? Yes.
**NOTE: No explanation of the triune nature of God will sufficiently cover every detail. That knowledge resides within God Himself. However, we do have sufficient reason to believe that God is trinity (we could add another column to the table above that says “Holy Spirit” and find the same descriptions throughout the Bible, but that is for another time) and that the trinity is not a philosophically absurd concept.**
“Jesus said to [the disciples], ‘… if you have seen Me, you have seen the Father [God]…'”
Because God is: all powerful, all knowing, timeless, space-less, ever-present, infinitely eternal, necessarily existent, unconditionally loving, supremely just, and intensely personal…
He became a man named Jesus the Christ so that we might see with our own eyes what it looks like to be and live out those properties and character traits in the spacio-temporal-physical world that we find ourselves in.
Jesus mirrors God, the Father, who is Spirit. For God is a person of maximally great (perfect) character traits and properties.
Because Jesus lived those character traits out perfectly, He is both the image of the God who is Spirit, and God Himself.
And He did it all for us; that we might personally know Him and experience His wonder.