The fourteenth chapter of John’s Gospel is among some of the most popular verses of scripture which speak of how Jesus turns to comfort the disciples just hours before He was to be tortured and nailed to a cross. Anyone else would have been too preoccupied with what lay ahead to take the time to comfort others, especially those he knew were going to desert him!
But Jesus was fully man and fully God. He knew what He had to suffer. And during the last hours He was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood. (Lk. 22:44) Nevertheless, in the shadow of the cross and all the suffering He was facing His concern was for His disciples.
Jesus knew they were filled with incomprehension and grief. He had told them that He was going to go away and they didn’t understand where or why. They loved Him and wanted to go with Him. But Jesus said, “Where I go you cannot come.”
The chapter begins with Jesus telling them to trust in Him. “Ye believe in God, believe also in Me.” This statement is one of many that make Jesus equal with God. No serious student of the Bible would ever question the divinity of Jesus Christ. His attributes alone attest to His deity and reflect the Godhead to which He belongs.
Jesus said He was going to prepare a place for them in His Father’s house and that He would return to get them. We have to keep in mind that the disciples believed along with every other Jew that the Messiah would be a political leader who would liberate them from the oppression of Rome. They weren’t expecting a suffering Messiah.
“When everything is ready,” Jesus said, “I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. And you know the way to where I am going.” (vs.3)
Actually, Jesus had told them all along where He was going. He said many times that He came down from the Father and now He’s going back. But they still didn’t get it.
At this point the disciples began to voice their confusion. Thomas spoke up and said, “No, we don’t know, Lord. We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is.” Then He said something that must have sounded incredible to them at the time. “From now on, you do know him (the Father) and have seen him!” Jesus is saying here, “If you know Me you know God.”
It appears as though Philip was challenging the Lord when he said, “Show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” It sounds a lot like he’s saying, “I’ve had enough of this. Just show us the Father right now so we can get this all out in the open.”
In the next verse (9) Jesus makes a startling claim. “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don’t know who I am? Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father! So why are you asking me to show him to you?”
These statements are highly debated today yet they couldn’t be plainer. There’s nothing hidden here. The language is totally unambiguous. Jesus is plainly saying I am God. To know Me is to know God.
In the first chapter, John said regarding Jesus, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” Then in verse 13 it says, “And the word was made flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father.” Jesus Christ is God incarnate.
The disciples had been with Him for three years. They’d seen His miracles and heard His sermons. They believed He was the Son of God but when He said, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father,” they were totally silent.
These are incredible statements. Jesus said that He is not only the way to God, the truth about God and the life of God but that He IS God. He is not a manifestation of God. He is God manifest. Apparently, the disciples knew and believed that He was from God but the full reality of His deity hadn’t registered in their minds.
However, after the resurrection it all came together for them. Thomas was the doubter yet after the resurrection he said to Jesus, “My Lord and my God” and Jesus did not correct him.
They still believed with all their hearts that Jesus was from God and that He truly loved them. They were looking forward to reigning with Him but now it’s all falling apart. He’s talking about being handed over to the authorities and the disciples had no idea what He was talking about. None of it was making any sense to them. Jesus was well aware of this but He knew that once He rose from the grave, everything would fall into place.
“I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative- that is, the Holy Spirit- he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.” (vs.25-26)
Jesus was telling them that everything was going to be alright but all they could focus on was that He was going away. He wasn’t going to set up the Kingdom, which is what they expected the Messiah to do. They weren’t going to enter and rule in His kingdom which is what they thought was going to happen. He was going away and they didn’t really understand where or why.
The Lord felt their sorrow and confusion. In verses 27-29 He tried again to comfort and reassure them. “So don’t be troubled or afraid. Remember what I told you: I am going away, but I will come back to you again. If you really loved me, you would be happy that I am going to the Father, who is greater than I am. I have told you these things before they happen so that when they do happen, you will believe.”
He knew they were going to desert Him and be scattered. He knew also that Peter would deny Him. He knew that it was going to be one of the most difficult times in their entire lives. They had forsaken all to follow Him.
Following Jesus even today can be a very trying yet joyous experience filled with confusion yet learning. Jesus said that the road to life is narrow and that those who follow Him will suffer tribulation which has the power to direct our lives as Christ is being formed in us.
Near the end of the chapter Jesus tells them about the Holy Spirit Who would soon be in them and would bring to their remembrance all that he had said. Therefore, the words recorded in the Gospels were directed by the Holy Spirit as in all of the Holy Scriptures.
Jesus said that His words should abide in us and that we should abide in Him. Only in Christ can anyone enter the kingdom of God. The disciples listened to the words of Jesus and in the fullness of time they went from cowards to profoundly brave in their zeal for Jesus and His atoning work on the cross.
Lastly, the Bible is inspired by God. It is literally God-breathed and the importance of studying it cannot be understated. The Gospel of John is one of the most easy to read yet intensely complicated of all the other Gospels. The fourteenth chapter is truly moving but the whole Gospel is worthy of much study.