The opening words of this chapter are to comfort the disciples whose hearts were now troubled. Jesus had just revealed that one of the disciples would betray Him, that Peter would deny Him, and most troubling of all He was soon to depart them to a place they could not follow. Jesus conveyed to them that they were to trust in the goodness of God the Father and in His own purposes of love, “believe in God, believe also in Me.” These words are the best remedy for troubled hearts.
“In My Father’s house are many dwelling places.” Where Jesus is going there is welcome and room for all. In the last chapter Jesus told Peter that he would be joining Him later and now Jesus is saying that He is preparing a place for all of His followers. If there was not to be a reunion in His Father’s Kingdom, He would not have so often mentioned to His followers of a blessed eternity of fellowship: “if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.”
“If I go and prepare a place for you.” Jesus’ death, resurrection, ascension, and glorification were opening the way of access to the Father and the paradise of the heavenly home. “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.” The substance of this chapter and the following two is the spiritual coming was to result in a personal relationship with Jesus, the consummation of which would be His return to glory, and the endless reunion in the Father’s House.
Jesus had told His disciples that he was going to the Father by the way of His death and resurrection but they did not understand. The disciples did not know why He should die and knowing that He had the power of God they did not believe that He would die. Their lack of understanding was voiced by Thomas, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” For Jesus the way to the Father was in His death but He answered Thomas with a spiritual and profound interpretation of His words. “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.” Jesus is distressed by the request of Phillip for a direct vision of the Father and by the reply of Jesus that they have seen the Father, as Jesus is the true revelation of God. Jesus tells them that His oneness with the Father has been displayed both by His words and His works. How it is that people today believe in God but do not recognize Jesus Christ as God in the flesh? How can they explain away the power that Jesus had and the signs that He preformed other than He was God in the flesh? Has God become so universal that man no longer accepts His deity as the one and true God? Anyone who believes in the true God would also have to believe in His Son, Jesus Christ.
The complete communion and total unity between the Father and the Son was applied in two areas. The first area of application in that one believing in Jesus would do even greater works than even Jesus had done. This was possible because Jesus was going to the Father and would no longer be present on the earth to act in power. It is only hinted here and revealed latter that as Jesus went to the Father the Holy Spirit would come and empower the believer. The ministry of Jesus was only for the short time of three years but the believers in Jesus would be present for a much longer span of time. So ‘greater things’ refers to the quantity, not the quality, of the things that Christians would do. And the good news about Jesus would spread across the whole world. There would be more followers of Jesus doing that work of the Kingdom and producing more fruit. The fullness of His promise was carried out on the day of Pentecost, when on one day more believers were added to Christ than throughout His whole ministry here on earth.
The second area of application was given by Jesus in prayer. Jesus promises power through prayer to and through Him with an unlimited scope. Jesus promises that anything asked in His name will be given. “In His name is not a formula for prayer or a structure of prayer. What is asked for in the name of Jesus must be consistent with the character of Jesus. To ask for something in the name of Jesus is to request matters that conform to the character and the concepts of Jesus. The answered prayers through Jesus must bring glory to the Father through the Son. Believers would see that the Father and Son are one when those prayer request are offered in conformity with the character of the Son are done through the power of the Father. What Jesus did on earth glorified the Father, so would answered prayer bring glory and praise to the Father.
The main message of this chapter is found in the supreme promise of comfort. Many say that they love Jesus but the one who truly does is the one who obeys and keeps the commandment of Jesus. An example of this difficulty is His command to love and pray for our enemies. (Matthew 5:44) It is not always easy to do this but Jesus has given us the promise of a helper. “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever.” The word helper or comforter is translated from the word Paraclete or advocate and means one who is called to the side of another. The purpose of the helper is to give help, protection, and deliverance. The promised helper is the Holy Spirit.
Up to now Jesus had been a true comforter for His disciples, but now that His presence was to be withdrawn, His Spirit was to do for the disciples what Jesus had been doing. The Holy Spirit was to guide, inspire, strengthen, and sanctify them. The Holy Spirit had been on earth already and was present at the creation and is referenced many times in the Old Testament. After Jesus’ ascension the Holy Spirit was to manifest Himself in new power. As an instrument He would have the truth concerning a crucified, risen, Lord. The resulting work of the Holy Spirit was to be like a new coming, a new gift. His manifestation was conditioned upon a loving obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ. The presence of the Holy Spirit was to be continuous: “that He may be with you forever.”
The comforter is further called the Spirit of Truth. The world because of its lack of moral sympathy with Jesus will not be able to receive or recognize this Spirit. At the baptism of Jesus the Spirit indwelled Him and now was to dwell the followers of Jesus.
The Holy Spirit coming at the request of Jesus to the Father is as Christ Himself returning to the earth and residing with the disciples of Jesus and they will enjoy a larger and fuller knowledge of the Father and the Son.
Judas (not Iscariot) asks the question how it is that He, the true Messiah, is to be manifested only to the disciple and not to the world. Jesus answers that the manifestation that He is speaking of is spiritual and is conditional upon obedience to Jesus. That this abiding Spirit in the believer will include the Father and the Son. Jesus further tells them that the Holy Spirit will teach them all things and bring to their remembrance all that Jesus had taught them. Jesus then promises them an unsurpassable peace, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”
Jesus adds a word of comfort. In spite of promised return in the Spirit the disciples were to witness the anguish of seeing Him depart by way of death. Jesus assures them that His going away was necessary in order for His Spiritual return. That Jesus’ prediction of His death would strengthen their faith. Satan was to assault Him and He would gain no abiding victory. That He would only aid in manifesting to the world His loving obedience of the Son of God to the will of the Father. In these last sentences Jesus uses the phrase, “the Father is greater than I.” It is His truth that the Son, in the mystery of His relation to the Father, was as in the days of His flesh, or in His eternal Sonship, obedient to the Father. These words are a true witness to the conscious deity of the God-Man, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Mark 13:11, Luke 22:32, Mark 2:23-28, Matthew 5:44