Comfort for Those Who Believe, Pt. 2

 

(Greek words can be viewed using the Symbol font)

 Pastor Scott L. Harris

Grace Bible Church, NY

March 4, 2001

Comfort for Those Who Believe, Pt. 2
John 14:18-31
This morning we will be continuing our study from last week on John 14 and the comfort that Jesus was bringing to His disciples in preparation for the events that would occur later that night that would lead to His crucifixion the next day. The setting for this is the Passover meal which they have now finished. During this last Passover for Jesus, He has set the practical example of the humble service that should mark all Christians by washing the feet of the disciples. Judas has been revealed as the traitor, at least to John, and had already left to do his evil deed. Jesus had instituted what we often refer to as “the Lord’s Supper” or “Communion” by taking elements of the Passover meal, and having them represent His body and blood which would soon be given for them. It was in warning them again that He was about to be glorified and go away where they could not follow that left the disciples saddened and somewhat confused.

Though Jesus had been warning His disciples for quite sometime about what was soon to occur, it did not fit their expectations for the Messiah, and so they were having a hard time understanding it. That was why back in chapter 13 Peter wanted to know where Jesus was going and why they could not follow. It is in response to this that Jesus brought the comforting words of John 14:1-4.

“Let not 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 “And 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. 4 “And you know the way where I am going.”

Thomas did not understand, so he asked in verse 5, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” Jesus responded, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.

The comfort in these words are based on the fact that they could trust Him; that He would be preparing a place for them; and that He would return to for them. The disciples would be able to come to the Father, because they knew the way to God the Father, which is through and only through Jesus Himself.

Jesus continued on in the conversation bringing additional words of comfort and encouragement concerning both the immediate and distant future. In the process, Jesus also revealed some wonderful things about the relationship the disciples, and we, can have with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Last week we looked at the first part of these.

In brief, Jesus explained in verses 7-11 that knowing Jesus was knowing the Father. That claim could be believed because of both Jesus’ words and works. All that Jesus had taught them had come from the Father. To hear Jesus was to hear the communication of the Father. I pointed out last week, Jesus did not claim that in verse 10 alone, but had consistently claimed this throughout His ministry. In addition, I also pointed out that the claim was backed up by the fact that what Jesus did speak was always consistent with what the Father had already revealed. Remember, that just because a person claims something doesn’t make it true. There are many false teachers today, just as Peter warned us (2 Peter 2), that claim to speak for God, but what they say is inconsistent with and often in contradiction to what God has already said, therefore we can rightly conclude they are false and oppose them.

Jesus’ works also prove His claim. It is not just the fact that He did supernatural miracles, but the kind of miracles and what they accomplished. The range of miracles Jesus performed included having authority over nature, demons, sickness, disease, and death. Jesus also could forgive sins. All of His miracles were designed to bring glory to the Father through the Son.

In verses 12-15 Jesus also explained how the Father worked through the Son and God’s people. This is an important section of Scripture that gives us an understanding of prayer. The Father works through the Son and His people (vs. 12), and Jesus’ ministry includes intercession on our behalf to answer our prayers so that “The Father may be glorified in the Son.” All prayer answered affirmatively must be in keeping with that purpose. In addition, all prayer is to be “in Jesus’ name,” that is, it is in keeping with the character and will of Jesus. The “Word-Faith” movement and “Name it, claim it” theology are absolutely wrong in advocating that humans can somehow obligate God to answer their prayers. As I pointed out last week, James 4:3 is direct: You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend [it] on your pleasures. Praying in “Jesus’ name” is not some sort of magical incantation so that you can get what you want.

And then in verses 16-17 Jesus explained briefly the coming of the Holy Spirit who would be another comforter of the same type that Jesus is. He is the Spirit of Truth that is only available to those that know Jesus, who is the Truth, and will follow Him. What a precious promise it was to them and to us now that the Holy Spirit would abide with them forever. His ministry would be different than it was in the Old Testament where He would come upon a person for a time, but would also leave.

Jesus continues on in verse 18-31 to explain the believer’s relationship to Himself, and in doing so would bring additional comfort to them.

The Believer’s Relationship to the Son (18-31)

Jesus starts in verses 18-20 with His promises to them.

Jesus’ Promises (18-20)

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 “After a little while the world will behold Me no more; but you [will] behold Me; because I live, you shall live also. 20 “In that day you shall know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.

The first promise is that Jesus will not be abandoning them. They will not be left as orphans. Jesus has just explained that another Helper will be with them, but here He also restates the promise He made to them back in verse 3 that He would return for them in the future. Jesus was going away and the world would no longer be able to behold Him, but there was comfort in the short term because He would return for them. There was also comfort for the distant future.

Jesus said, “because I live, you shall live also” (vs. 19). Jesus has been telling them that He was going to die. This statement is hope for the future that Jesus would live again and therefore they would not need to fear death either. They would live with Him. In 2 Cor. 5:8 Paul expressed the comfort of this promise saying we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. Death is still an enemy, but Jesus would conquer it for Himself and for us. He will live, therefore we will also.

In verse 20 Jesus adds that in that day they would have a relationship with Jesus that would be similar to Jesus’ relationship to the Father. They would know Jesus and He would know them. But there is a condition to being able to know Jesus in this way.

John 14:21 “He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me; and he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him, and will disclose Myself to him.”

This is a statement that specifies the conditions that must be met before Jesus will disclose Himself in this manner. You must love Jesus and that love is to be demonstrated by keeping Jesus’ commandments. The response will be being loved by Jesus and the Father. This is actually not a response of God because we love Him, but rather a confirmation of our response to Him. It is God that initiates the relationship, for man does not seek God on his own (Romans 3:11). It is God that first loves us and we love in response to Him (1 John 4:19). God’s love is demonstrated in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8). When we respond to His love and turn to Christ and begin to love Him, then God’s love is poured out on us to an even greater measure. That greater love is seen here in Jesus’ promise to disclosing Himself to those who love Him.

Disclosure Explained

This was also confusing to the disciples. Verse 22 says that Judas (not Isacariot) questioned Jesus about it. This Judas is distinguished from Judas Isacariot in Luke 6:16 and is listed as “Judas of James” or “son of James.” He is also known as Thaddeus. He asks Jesus, “Lord, what then has happened that You are going to disclose Yourself to us, and not to the world?” Remember that the disciples were still thinking in terms of Jesus majestically manifesting Himself publicly as the promised Messiah. This Judas could not understand how Jesus was going to display Himself in that manner to them and yet not to the world. Jesus had actually already done that in the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem only four days earlier. The people had even understood to some degree as they shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David.” Messiah had come. But confusion quickly arose because Jesus did not seize the throne of power or even make political speeches. Could He then really be the Messiah? Thaddeus wanted to know what had happened and how Jesus would make such a disclosure to them and not to everyone else.

Jesus’ answer in verses 23,24 points out again the personal nature of the manifestation of God to the individual. Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make Our abode with him. 24 “He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.

The condition is brought up again that this disclosure is given only to those who love Jesus and prove it by keeping His word. This would be private with the individual and not public to the masses. In essence, this is the same as verse 21 though stated in a slightly different manner. The premise and conclusion are just reversed. Those who have Jesus commandments and keep them show they love Jesus. The reverse, those who live Jesus show it by keeping His word. Either way it is stated, it is only to those that love Jesus in this manner that the Father and the Son will then abide or dwell with them.

Jesus also states the negative corollary here. A person that does not love Jesus will not keep His words. The person that refuses to do what Jesus says proves they do not love Him. They reject Him and His claims. And this is not just a matter of rejecting Jesus, but of God the Father as well since what Jesus has spoken is from His Father who sent Him.

It is tragic that even something as straightforward as Jesus statements here are twisted or denied by some because they refuse to acknowledge that there are consequences to belief. They insist that salvation is an intellectual belief that does not have to have any consequence in action. They accuse those, like myself, who insist that true salvation will bring about a changed life, of adding works to God’s grace in salvation. While there are those that wrongly claim that meritorious good works must be done to secure salvation, such error does not justify going to the opposite heresy which is equally as damning to the soul.

The Scriptures are clear that salvation from sin is all the work of God. We were dead in our trespasses and sin and could do absolutely nothing to save ourselves (Eph. 2:1). Being dead even eliminates the possibility of responding. It is God, through the work of the Holy Spirit, that quickens or makes us alive so that we can respond to His convicting work that we might then turn from our sin to Jesus’ righteousness purchased for us on the cross of Calvary. Ephesians 2:5 is very clear on this point saying “even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).” Eph. 2:8,9 adds to the clarity of the source of our salvation saying, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, [it is] the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, that no one should boast.”

Our good works have nothing to do with our gaining salvation, but they do have a lot to do with giving evidence of that salvation. Our good works are to be the result of our salvation. Why? First, Eph. 2:10 states, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” In other words, they are a purpose of our salvation for in doing them we glorify God (Matt. 5:16). Second, as the verses here in John 14 state, they are the evidence of our love for Christ. It is our love for Christ as a response to His love to us that is our motivation and that should be our only motivation.

When we are little, we learn to obey our parents because there is a certain amount of fear. We want to avoid the negative consequences. As we get older, we obey because we desire to please our parents out of our love for them. At least that is the way it is supposed to be in a godly home. Tragically, too many parents do not really love their children nor do they train their children properly. The result is kids who just become more self-centered and disobedient because they do not love their parents. That is the negative example that Jesus uses in verse 24, “He who does not love Me does not keep My word.” Children who love their parents strive to obey them. Children who do not love their parents disobey them. God’s children will obey Christ because they love Him. Those who claim to be children of God but refuse to obey Jesus’ commands only prove they do not love Him. They are not therefore true children of God.

The truth about a person’s relationship with Jesus, and hence their salvation, is demonstrated in their willingness and effort to obey Him. Don’t be like those in Matthew 7 who deceived themselves and thought they were serving Jesus only to hear Him say in the end, “I never knew you. Depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.”

Do you want to know God in a personal intimate relationship? Then love His Son! Do you want God to dwell with you? Then love His Son! How do you love His Son? Keep Jesus’ word. Learn His commandments and obey them. Jesus’ love for you was proven on the cross of Calvary. How are you proving your love for Him?

The Spirit’s Assistance (25,26)

In verses 25,26 Jesus reinforces what He said earlier about the Spirit, “These things I have spoken to you, while abiding with you. 26 “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” Jesus had taught them while living with them. The Holy Spirit, the Helper, would take over that ministry when Jesus departed. He would bring to their minds what Jesus had said and teach them what it meant, its importance and how to live it out. 1 John 2:27 tells us that the Holy Spirit still has that ministry with believers. I am used of God to present His word, but it is the Holy Spirit that actually teaches you by impressing on your minds and hearts the truth and its application in your own life. It is the Holy Spirit that brings to your minds just the right verses when you are talking to others – provided you have been in the Scriptures enough for Him to bring it to mind.

Jesus’ Peace (27-31)

Jesus was going away, but the disciples could be comforted in the midst of it and have peace. Jesus explained this in verses 27-29. “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. 28 “You heard that I said to you, ‘I go away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced, because I go to the Father; for the Father is greater than I. 29 “And now I have told you before it comes to pass, that when it comes to pass, you may believe.

Jesus told them all these things so that their faith would not be shaken when it all came to pass. Their belief in Jesus could continue because He, by this display of His omniscience, was proving that He was the Messiah, the Son of God.

The peace that Jesus was going to leave them with would keep them from falling away in the midst of the turmoil that was about to come. Jesus’ peace is very different from the peace of the world because its basis is so different. The peace of the world is based completely on circumstances. The world’s peace cannot exist unless the situation is one of safety and security. There would have to be an absence of any physical or emotional threat real or imagined. Any conflict or agitation will destroy the peace that is based on circumstances. A person can be in a serene environment and have their sense of peace destroyed simply by the thought of an enemy.

The peace of Christ is based in a relationship with Him and therefore not dependent upon circumstances. That is why Paul can write in Phil. 4:6,7, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” I do not need to worry or be anxious. I can leave all my burdens and trials in God’s hands knowing He will take care of them. I am safe and secure in His love. Because of my relationship with Jesus, I do not need to let my heart be troubled or fearful. In fact, Jesus states this in the command voice. I should not let my heart be disturbed. I can calm it by actively putting my trust in God.

This was important to the disciples, because as Jesus pointed out again in verse 28, He was going away. The immediate future was tenuous at best. Yet, in the midst of that was the promise that He would return.

Jesus also points out that if they had thought about what going back to the Father would mean to Him, they would have rejoiced for Him. When we truly love someone, we want what is best for them even if it is not to our particular desires. Their love for Jesus should have caused them to rejoice that He would be with His Father again. Jesus would be returning to the glory that He had not only before becoming a man, but before the world was (John 17:5). Jesus’ promise of a return would be the comfort for their own situation.

Jesus’ statement that “the Father is greater than I,” is in no way a negation of Jesus’ own deity as some cults have claimed based on this verse. One verse of questioned interpretation does not negate the truth of the many, many verses that are clear statements of Jesus’ deity. In the gospel of John alone we find the following: Jesus is the Word that was in the beginning with God and was God and then became flesh to dwell among men (John 1:1, 14). Jesus is the Son of God who does the Father’s work and who has the authority to give life to whom He wishes and to whom all judgement has been given (Jn 5:17-23). The Jews understood Jesus’ claim in this that He was making Himself equal with God and were seeking to kill Him for it (Jn 5:18). They tried to stone Jesus again in John 8:59 because Jesus said, “Truly, truly I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.” Jesus claims to have existed before Abraham and calls Himself the name God used for Himself when He spoke to Moses (Ex. 3:14). They tried to stone Jesus again in John 10:31 because in the midst of explaining that He was the good shepherd, Jesus said, “I and the Father are one.” In John 20:28, when Thomas saw the resurrected Jesus he exclaimed, “My Lord and My God,” and Jesus accepted his worship. In Colossians 1:15-17 Jesus is presented as the Creator of all things. In Titus 2:13 He is declared to be “our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.” He is called the same in 2 Peter 1:1. In Heb.1:2-4, Jesus is the one through whom God made the world and who “is the radiance of His glory and exact representation of His nature, and who upholds all things by the word of His power.” In 1 John 5:20, Jesus is “the true God and eternal life.” In Rev. 1:8, Jesus is “Lord God,” “the Alpha and Omega,” and “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty” (Cf. 22:12-16).

The Father is greater than Jesus in the sense that Jesus became a man and fully submitted Himself to the Father’s headship. Jesus set aside aspects of His glory in becoming the mediator between man and the Father. Jesus’ return to His Father would also return Him to His glory. (See Philippians 2:6-11). It would be for that reason the disciples should have rejoiced for Him.

Jesus still had some things to teach them, but the time was getting short. Jesus says in verse 30,31, “I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me; 31 but that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go from here. The “ruler of the world” is a reference to Satan and the activity that was about to occur, but none of this would deter Jesus from the course the Father had set for Him. He would prove to the world His love for the Father though His obedience to His commandment including death on the cross the next day.

Jesus does not say here that he would not speak further, but that He would not speak much more. He still had some things to say to them. At the end of verse 31, He calls them to rise and prepare to leave. They will not actually leave until after Jesus finishes His discourse in chapters 15 & 16 and prayer in 17.

Do you have the relationship with Jesus explained in this chapter? You can. He has already proven His love for you. Will you respond to it? If you do have it, whom will you tell about it this week?

 

Sermon Study Sheets

KIDS CORNER

Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Count how many times the word “comfort” is said. 2) Talk with your parents about what your relationship with Jesus is like.

THINK ABOUT IT!

Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. What the major purpose of Jesus’ discourse in John 14? How was this helpful to His disciples? What proof is there that seeing Jesus is seeing the Father? What does it mean to pray ‘”in Jesus’ name?” What does loving Jesus and obeying Him have to do with prayer? What promises does Jesus make to the disciples? Who will Jesus disclose Himself to? What conditions must be met for that to happen? What is the proper relationship between salvation and good works/obedience to Christ? What is the conclusion about someone who refuses to obey Jesus? What does your obedience or lack of it demonstrate about your own relationship with Christ? Do you need to change? If so, how? What is the role of the Holy Spirit in living the Christian life? How is the peace that Jesus gives different from that of the world? Have you experienced this peace in your own life? Give an example. Why should the disciples rejoice that Jesus is going to the Father? What are Jesus’ claims about His deity? What Biblical proof is there that Jesus is deity? What then does Jesus mean that the “Father is greater than I?”

Sermon Notes – 3/4/2001 A.M.

Comfort for Those Who Believe, Pt. 2John 14:18-31

 

Introduction & Review

The Believer’s Relationship to the Son (18-31)

Jesus’ Promises (18-20)

Disclosure Explained

Individual disclosure only to those who love Him

Salvation & Works

Eph. 2:1-10

Matt. 5:16; 7:21-23)

The Spirit’s Assistance (25,26)

Jesus’ Peace (27-31)

It’s Origin & Nature

Phil 4:6,7

“The Father is Greater than I”

Deity of Jesus

John 1:1;14; 5:17-23; 8:58; 10:31; 20:28; Colossians 1:15-17; Titus 2:13; 2 Peter 1:1;

Heb. 1:2-4, 8; 1 John 5:20; Revelation 1:8

The Father’s Greatness

Conclusion
 


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