Sapphire Sky

August 6, 2015

I Am Returning to the Father

Filed under: encouragement, theology — Tags: , — Steve Knaus @ 11:06 pm

john-14-2

It is late Thursday night, and Jesus has just finished the Passover dinner with his disciples. He showed them humility by washing their feet. He told them that there was a traitor among them. During their time of astonishment, the traitor, Judas, left.

The events are now in motion. By the next morning, Jesus will be taken away to die on a Roman cross.

But Jesus needs to prepare his struggling disciples. He is going to leave and they cannot come. Jesus was their entire life for the last three years, and now he will be gone! They are still struggling with the thought that one of the disciples would betray him, and this new news must have been too much to bear!

What follows is one of the most touching and heartfelt conversations between Jesus and his disciples:

 

“I am leaving and you cannot come”

These events will lead to God’s glory. Before anything else, God’s glory is most important!

He will crush the power of sin and death.

God will show his justice, faithfulness, mercy and love by letting his own son die for the entire world!

Jesus will have the ultimate glory when he rises from the dead and returns to Heaven.

But what about the ones left behind?

What about his followers here on earth?

They are not left alone. We are not left alone. We have each other.

Jesus’ final command is to love each other. Regardless of background. He will repeat this command throughout this final conversation (see here).

 

Peter: “Why can’t I follow you? I would die for you!”

Peter is ready to follow his Lord Jesus to death! But Peter does not know his own weakness. When the time comes to be brave, Peter will be hiding like a coward, denying that he ever knew him!

He will do this three times.

It is easy to fall upon our own bravado. We belittle others’ failures and vow that we would have never done that if it were us!

But notice that this follows closely on Jesus’ command. We are to be known by our love — even when we fail!

 

“You will be with me for all eternity!”

Jesus gives some of the deepest words of encouragement in all of Scripture. He will no longer be physically present. But they needed to put their trust in an invisible God, and believe in him in the same way.

“Just as you have believed in the unseen God through the years, I want you to put your faith in Me, the unseen Christ, after I have gone back to the Father.” [7]

“Stop agonizing in your hearts. I am completely trustworthy.” [5]

Like a husband who is preparing a place for his bride, so Jesus is returning to the Father’s house to prepare a place for us. He will bring us back to himself and we will be with him for eternity!

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”

 

Thomas: “How can we know the way?”

Thomas speaks for the rest of the group when he says, “I don’t get it”. How can we know the way?

Jesus’ reply is direct.

“I am the way”. He is the way, the only way to God. He is not just giving directions, he will take us there himself.

“I am the truth”. He is the truth, the only truth. They know the Father because they know the Son. With him is truth. Apart from him, there is no truth.

“I am the life”. He is the life, the only life. There cannot be death in his presence (see here). There cannot be life apart from him.

He is exclusive. No one else can get to the Father except through Jesus Christ.

“Religion is worthless because it provides no way to get to heaven.” – John MacArthur [9]

“While many religions will try to take bad people and make them better, only one is qualified to take dead people and make them alive.” – Stephen Davey [8]

 

Philip: “Just show us the Father.”

Philip’s request is, “Please just give us something tangible.”

But we already know the Father when we know Jesus Christ. He is given us not one, but two tangible things: his words that he said, and his works that he did.

How often do we look something more from God when we should be relying on what he has already given us!

 

“You will do greater things. Ask in my name and I will do it.”

Jesus showed the Father when he was on earth. Now that he is returning to the Father, he will enable us to do even greater things.

We reflect God the Father to our broken world.

We pray from the heart of Jesus Christ himself, asking to fill what he wants. We pray for God’s glory. We pray to love one another. We pray that our joy may be full. He promises to give us what we ask.

 

Previous post: It Was Night.


 

John 13:31 – 14:14
When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once. Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.” Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 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 authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.


 

When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once.

The word “glorify” is used five times here! This word means to give glory or praise to God. [1]

Judas had just left Jesus and the other disciples. Jesus knew that it the events, which would lead to his leaving the world, had begun. They would culminate in his crucifixion, in the Son of God dying for the sins of the world. But this was his glory and his motivation. Jesus will be glorified by suffering on a cross and dying like a criminal.

Jesus will be glorified when he crushes the power of sin and death. Satan’s hold on the world will be broken.

The cross also gives God glory because it puts his attributes on display. The cross shows God’s justice, in that one must die in order to pay the penalty for sin (Romans 3:23-25). The cross shows God’s faithfulness, in that He will keep every one of his promises about His son, and about his death (e.g. Psalm 22). The cross also shows God’s love, in that he will let his only son die so that we might have life (John 3:16). [2]

But God will glorify Him immediately. Jesus will not stay dead, but will be resurrected. He will then return to the Father in the glory of Heaven.

“He had said that He was to be buried and then raised again, and it was in this, His death and His resurrection, that God was to be glorified. For in His sacrificial death upon the cross, He was to settle the sin question in a way that would meet every claim of the holiness of God’s nature and the righteousness of His throne.” – H.A. Ironside [3]

 

Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Jesus spoke words of tenderness and comfort to his shattered disciples. For the only time in recorded scripture, he called them, “little children” as he shares the horrifying news. He is about to leave them and they cannot follow.

He had already told the unbelieving Jews that they could not come where he was going (John 7:33-34; John 8:21-22). But his enemies could never follow him. Now, Jesus was telling his own disciples that they will be separated from him. Unlike the unbelieving Jews, Jesus will reunite his disciples with him (see John 14:3).

But Jesus was not leaving them alone. They have each other! [1] He had set the example of how to love, now they are to love each other in the same way. This is a new commandment, and Jesus’ final commandment to his disciples.

The command to love was not new. The Jews were already commanded to love God (Deuteronomy 6:5) and to love their neighbor (Leviticus 19:18). But Jesus was setting a new standard. They were to love each other with the same sacrificial care as Jesus had loved them. This same new commandment to love one another is repeated in 1 John 2:7-10.

“If you and I have the mind of Christ, this divine love will be manifested in us. If it is not, then all our talk about being fundamentalists, all our talk about standing for the truth goes for very little indeed. … And if [behind] our contention for the faith there is no sincere love for our brethren, yes, love for all men, then we dishonor the One who Himself is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” – H.A. Ironside [3]

 

Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.” Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.

As the most vocal of the disciples, Peter declared his unending loyalty for Jesus. He would follow him anywhere, even to death!

Peter honestly believed that he would do anything for his Lord. But he also did not know his own weakness, and how quickly his own heart would fail him.

Jesus showed Peter just how weak his declarations were. Before morning, Peter would deny him three times! [4]

 

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”

Jesus speaks with tenderness to his devastated followers, including Peter, “Stop letting your hearts be troubled.” Jesus was their world for the last three years and now things were going to change.

He would no longer be physically present. But they needed to put their trust in an invisible God, and believe in him in the same way.

“Just as you have believed in the unseen God through the years, I want you to put your faith in Me, the unseen Christ, after I have gone back to the Father.” [7]

“Stop agonizing in your hearts. I am completely trustworthy.” [5]

There will be a place for them in his Father’s house and he is going to prepare a place for them. The imagery is of a bridegroom who is preparing a place for his bride. He will add on a room to the family dwelling and when the time is right, he will come for her. [6]

It is a misconception that this means that Heaven is under construction. Hebrews 1:3 says that Jesus sat down at the right hand of the Father. The work was finished. Also, John saw a completed heaven in Revelation 21. [5]

He promised to come again and take them to himself. This is not the time of judgement on the wicked (Matthew 13:36-50) but a time when he will come back for his own. This event is described in more detail in 1 Corinthians 15:51–57 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18.

 

“And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

Thomas asks, “How do we get there to the Father’s house?” There is only one way! The word “the” is exclusive: I am the only way, I am the only truth, I am the only life! [8]

Instead of giving us directions to the Father’s house, Jesus promised to take us there. He is the way.

And how do they know the Father? They know him because they knew Jesus. Jesus is the exact representation of the Father (Colossians 1:15-20; Hebrews 1:3). They will now begin to know him.

“Religion is worthless because it provides no way to get to heaven.” – John MacArthur [9]

“While many religions will try to take bad people and make them better, only one is qualified to take dead people and make them alive.” – Stephen Davey [8]

This is the sixth statement in John’s gospel account where Jesus declares himself with the name of God, “I AM”. In this case, he was reminding his own disciples who he is. See here for the complete list of times where Jesus declares himself with the name of God.

 

Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 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 authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.

Philip asks, “Show us the Father”. Just give us something tangible! Jesus responds that they see the Father whenever they see him. The union is an indissoluble one.

But Jesus gives two tangible things to Philip. The first tangible thing is His words and the second tangible thing is His works. [10]

Philip understood the words of Christ as if He held out the possibility of an actual sight of the Father; and this, as they imagined, would for ever have put an end to all their doubts and fears. We also, too often, would fain have such solution of our doubts, if not by actual vision, yet by direct communication from on high.” -Alfred Edersheim [11]

 

“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.

This promise is given to “whoever believes in me”, therefore, this promise is given to all believers. All believers will do the works that Jesus did. Furthermore, each believer is promised to do greater works than Jesus did, because he has returned to the father.

“His chief work was not performing miracles but revealing the Father, bringing knowledge of the Father. It is that of which He was speaking.” [12]

The greatest work that Jesus did when he was on earth was to show the Father. As believers in Jesus Christ, we show the Father to this fallen world. Furthermore, we show the Father to a much greater extent than Jesus was able to do on earth, because he has returned to the Father and has sent the Holy Spirit. [13]

 

John 14:13-14
Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.

John 15:16
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.

John 16:23-24
In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

All three of these verses promise that “whatever you ask in my name, I will do it”. The audience is primarily to his disciples, but John 17:20 extends the promises here to all believers. What is the context of these three passages?

  • The context of John 14 is that Jesus was teaching them of the benefits of him going back to the Father. Because he is going back to the Father, they will glorify the father by asking in his name.
  • The context of John 15 is that Jesus has reiterated his command to love one another. In loving one another, it is not an option (but a command) for us to bear fruit. We need to ask the father so that we can bear fruit so that we can love one another as he commanded because he chose us and ordained us.
  • The context of John 16 is similar to John 14. In this case it is specifically about the joy that will come when we are reunited with Jesus Christ, who is in the Father. We will ask the Father because Christ is in the father and we ask in Christ’s name.

The one and only qualifier in all of this is that we are asking in Jesus’ name. When we ask in Jesus’ name we are asking for his authority, and asking what he himself would ask. We are praying from the very heart of Jesus Christ. These verse show three of the things that Jesus would ask of the Father:

  • In John 14, the request was that God would be glorified.
  • In John 15, the request was that we would bear fruit in loving one another.
  • In John 16, the request was that our joy might be full.

 


 

[1] Stephen Davey, Living on the Fourth Level, John 13:31-35

 

[2] John MacArthur, Traits of a True Believer, Part 1, John 13:31-38

 

[3] H.A. Ironside, Address 44, THE ELEVENTH COMMANDMENT, John 13:31-38

 

[4] Luke and John both predict Peter’s denial during the upper room (Luke 22:31-34; John 13:36-38), while Matthew and Mark both record Jesus’ prediction on the Mount of Olives (Matthew 26:30-35, Mark 14:26-31). The best understanding is that Jesus made two predictions of Peter’s denial.

Source: Robert L. Thomas & Stanley N Gundry, A Harmony of the Gospels, Sections 216-218, pages 211-214

 

[5] Stephen Davey, Heaven Guaranteed, John 13:36-14:4

 

[6] The KJV translated John 14:2 as, “In my father’s house are many mansions“. This has given rise to the speculation that believers will each have our own mansion estate in Heaven. However, this translation is incorrect. The better translation is “room”, or “dwelling place”. In the Jewish culture, the extended family would all live within the same house, each with their own dwelling. The joy of this promise is not that we would each get a palatial estate, but rather that we will be close to God the Father! [5]

 

[7] H.A. Ironside, Address 45, THE FATHER’S HOUSE AND THE LORD’S RETURN, John 14:1-6

 

[8] Stephen Davey, Is Christianity the Only Way to Heaven?, John 14:4-6

 

[9] John MacArthur, Heavenly Promises, John 14:1-6

 

[10] Stephen Davey, Troublesome Questions . . . Timeless Answers, John 14:3-15, John 16:23-28

 

[11] Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Book V, CHAPTER XI. THE LAST DISCOURSES OF CHRIST – THE PRAYER OF CONSECRATION

 

[12] H.A. Ironside, Address 46, THE FATHER MANIFESTED IN THE SON, John 14:7-14

 

[13] There have been several different understandings of John 14:12:

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.  (John 14:12).

The problem with most of these understandings is that they do not take into account that this promise is given for all believers. The most common interpretations of this passage include:

  • One view is that this is talking about Jesus’ miracles. Believers would be able to work even greater miracles than Jesus performed while on earth. The problem with this interpretation is that not every believer has performed miracles.Even for any believers who have been able to work miracles, none have been as great as what Jesus did. No one else has risen from the dead, nor created bread for almost 20,000 people out of almost nothing.
  • Another view is that this is talking about the ability of the believers to preach the gospel in a much greater scope than Jesus did on earth. This is a wonderful goal to be saving souls and we want to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth. But the problem with this interpretation is that this is not about collective achievements, it is about each individual. Not every believer has done all of these things.
  • The most consistent view is showing that Jesus works here were not his miracles, but that he revealed the Father. This entire passage is about Jesus’ return to the Father, and he will now enable his disciples, and all believers, to reveal the Father to this world. [12]

 

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5 Comments »

  1. […] Previous Post: I Am Returning to the Father […]

    Pingback by The Holy Spirit | Sapphire Sky — August 24, 2015 @ 10:32 pm

  2. […] He answers our prayers when we abide in Him. God never promises to answer our prayers when we are avoiding Him (Psalm 66:18). But when we abide in Him, we are able to pray from the very heart of Jesus Christ, asking what he himself would ask (see here). […]

    Pingback by The Vine and the Branches | Sapphire Sky — September 8, 2015 @ 12:06 am

  3. […] He will be glorified (magnified) and God the Father will be glorified in him (John 13:31-32, see here). […]

    Pingback by Just a little while longer | Sapphire Sky — September 16, 2015 @ 10:44 pm

  4. […] Peter was with his teacher on that fateful Thursday night when, over dinner, his teacher announced that there was a traitor in their midst. This was not a time for celebration nor excitement. Their teacher was going to leave them (see here). […]

    Pingback by The Stranger on the Shore | Sapphire Sky — February 7, 2016 @ 5:46 pm

  5. […] “I am returning to the Father” (John 13:31-14:14) […]

    Pingback by Events of the Passion Week | Sapphire Sky — March 26, 2016 @ 1:49 am


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