Study in John’s Gospel. Presentation 61. Four Promises Chap 14v19-24. Presentation 61. Introduction.
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If you’ve ever comforted a child who has cut her knee while playing, then you’ll understand Jesus’ motives in this passage. The injured child comes to you for comfort and by doing so indicates that your presence is important.
There are some practical things you can do. You can kiss
the child to show her that she’s loved. You can provide
information, saying, "There, now. It is not really too bad”.
Finally, you can promise things will be better saying,
"Let's put some ointment on it. Tomorrow it will be
as good as new." Anyone who has comforted a
child knows the importance of all three
responses. In many cases it is the promises
made that seem to be of the greatest help.
Jesus’ disciples had become downcast, troubled and afraid - he was going to leave them! So he began to comfort them - by reassuring them of his love, by providing information, and by making special promises, all of which have made this chapter such a favourite with Christian people.
These verses contain four more
promises which relate to Jesus’ future
relationship to his gathered disciples.
The first is the promise of resurrection. Indeed, it is resurrection on a number of levels. Obviously Jesus speaks of his own resurrection - the world will no longer see him -he is about to be put to death- but the disciples will continue to see him - after the resurrection. Jesus says, “Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.”v19.
Jesus clearly speaks of their resurrection too.
He is saying, not merely that they will be raised
from the dead physically at some future date
but that they will also enter into the experience
of resurrection life now! The promise is that they
are to "come alive" in a quite new sense following
“Death is not the end,” Jesus says, “not for me, not for you. And you do not need to wait until you die before entering into the reality of resurrection life. You will experience it even before you die.” Have you had the experience of which Christ is speaking? Do you know that you will live, even as he lives?
Do you know that you have been made alive spiritually even now?
Now it is because Jesus has been raised and because we have been given new life that we can know who he is. This is what is meant by the second promise, "On that day you will realise that I am in my Father" v. 20. He is saying, “You will be convinced of my divinity”.
All else flows from this. And the basis of this knowledge, without which we do not and cannot know, is this double resurrection.
On the one hand, it is based upon Christ's own resurrection. Without this there would have been no faith and no knowledge that he was indeed who he claimed to be. He claimed to be God.
Only when Christ was raised from the dead was his life seen to be fully extraordinary and his claims vindicated; "as to his human nature was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord." Rom. 1v3-4
On the other hand, apart from a related resurrection of spiritually dead men to spiritual life, even this great miracle would have been insufficient to persuade us of Jesus’ identity. It is only when God plants his own life within us that we are enabled to understand this truth and respond to Christ, only then can we truly know Christ and embrace him as Saviour.
The third promise is important because it concerns Christ's continuing revelation of himself to those who have believed on him.
He says, “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.” v 21.
What is in view is a knowledge that enables the disciple to experience the Lord in the fullest and most personal way. Jesus goes on to teach that in the future period of the Spirit's full activity the disciples would come to know Jesus even better than when he was physically with them.
What kind of disclosure does Jesus have in mind? Is Jesus speaking of supernatural visions? And if not how then would he be seen? He is speaking of our spiritual sight. It is through the revelation of himself in scripture and by the Holy Spirit's witness to that revelation within the hearts of his followers, that he is made vividly real. This sounds absurd to unbelievers. But to those who have been made alive by God's Spirit the presence of Christ is more real than anything they can see physically, more real even than their own hands or feet.
Have we met those conditions? Some think they can love Jesus without obeying him. This verse disabuses us of that notion. True love as well as true faith will inevitably express themselves in obedience. Only when these elements are fully present does Jesus fully reveal himself to his followers. Conversely, the backslidden Christian, who is not walking in the light of obedience, will feel that God is unreal to him.
Proof of our love for Jesus comes not through emotional displays but by obedient submission to his will. There is a vast difference between sentiment and practical reality. Indeed, some in the pursuit of ‘the wonder of God’s presence’will whip themselves up into some kind of emotional lather rather than take obedience to Christ’s commands seriously.
If we’re serious about knowing Jesus more intimately then one more point needs to be made which helps unlock our understanding.
In v23, which closely parallels v21, the reference to "commandments" is dropped and the term "words" occurs instead. In this gospel, such word changes are often very significant.
Let me illustrate a possible difference. Imagine a young girl called Shirin, who lives with her widowed mother. Both love one another very much, and want to help each other. Shirin has a heavy study load at school. So the mother does everything she can to help her. Nevertheless, she knows that her daughter’s development will benefit from being given some responsibilities around the house.
"You can look after your own room,"
she tells Shirin.
"You must hang up your clothes, make
your bed and then dust and vacuum
your floor once a week."
One day, before going to school, Shirin notices that her room is untidy. She is tempted to leave the room in that condition but thinks,
"Mother has told me that I am responsible for keeping
my room neat; I had better do it."
She cleans her room. Now when Shirin gets back from
school she races upstairs to change for a game of
tennis with some friends and she overhears her
mother talking on the telephone.
"I don't know what I’ll do," her mother is saying.
"I really do not feel well, and we have guests
coming for dinner tonight."
When Shirin hears that, she drops all thoughts of the tennis game and volunteers to help with dinner. "You mustn't do that," her mother says.
"You have done all your chores for today I know that you want to play tennis."
Shirin answers, "But I wouldn't be happy playing tennis knowing that you are not well and have all this work to do. Mother please,
I want to do this for you."
Do you see the difference in these two activities?
In the morning Shirin was keeping her mother's
command. In the afternoon she was doing more
than keeping a command. And, she discovered that
she was closer to her mother on the second of the
With the Christian it is not always a matter of responding to a definite command but of becoming increasingly sensitive to the kind of behaviour that would please Jesus. If you seek to obey Jesus and delight his heart then he will increasingly unveil his heart to you. You will come to know him and not just about him. Your relationship becomes closer
On the other hand, if you fail to obey, he will
cease to reveal himself to you, and your own
love for him will begin to grow cold.
Christ's final promise is found in v23. It is the promise of his own personal presence in the Christian through the Holy Spirit. He says, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” This was something entirely new at the time Christ promised it. The idea that the Spirit of God could be with God's people was not new. He was present with the O.T. believers e.g.
David prayed, “Take not your Holy Spirit
from me,” Ps.51v11. Again we read of
the Judges and priests being clothed
by the Spirit for service [Judges 6v34]
but we do not read of his permanent
But now Jesus says that the Spirit who’d been with them in the past would, in a quite different and better way, be in them in the future. Moreover, since he would be in them so too would the Father and Son be in them also.
The presence of the Lord indwelling his
people and making their heart his home, distinguishes N.T. believers from their
And so today, believers do not need to
ask God to give them his Spirit. He has
already been given to each of Christ's
followers as a coronation gift at Pentecost.
But we do need to recognise his indwelling and then allow him to have his way with our lives.
Here then are four great promises. The last one, of getting to know Jesus better, is dependent upon our obedience and growth in love. If we are Christians, will we accept the first three promises and neglect the one that is costly? Or, will we determine to pursue that promise too at all costs!
You may not yet be a Christian. Jesus, who
continues to create an appetite for himself
within our hearts, is only a prayer a way.
He longs to transform your life and make
it his dwelling place. And this he will do,
when you come to God grieve over,
confess and repent of your sin and
seek his forgiveness.