READING: John 14.
is important, for obtaining the full value of the content
of this chapter, that we recognize that the opening words
throw back to and link up with what has preceded. Really,
the narrative ought not to be broken into at this point.
The link should be with verses 33-35 of chapter 13. There
the Lord had said some most disturbing things, especially
disturbing to men who had such a different
"Messianic" mentality as to the
"Kingdom." He said: "Little children, I am
with you for only a little while longer. You will look
for Me and I shall be gone. Moreover, for the time being,
you will not be able to come where I am."
to Simon Peter's protestation, He spoke of the terrible
breakdown which would so soon overshadow all Peter's
self-confidence. Surely both of these things called for
some words of reassurance that this was not the end of
everything. How unstable and insecure everything seemed
to be! The ground beneath their feet was giving way like
quicksand. There was good reason for their hearts to be
troubled. And then - straight on without a break -
"Let not your heart be troubled," followed by
the statement that there are "abiding-places"
in the Father's House. The emphasis is upon
"abiding." These words of Christ are commonly
regarded as relating to the more or less distant future
when He shall "come again and receive us unto
Himself, that where He is, there we may be also."
That is undoubtedly true, and has in it the comfort which
He intended it to have. But is that the whole truth? Is
this not in keeping with the whole spiritual
teaching of John's Gospel? We have seen in every chapter
that Jesus was speaking and acting on spiritual
principles, and while we do not desire to spiritualize
practical or temporal values out of existence, it is
difficult to conclude that this section is essentially
different from all that precedes and follows. Hence, we
are bound to make room here for all that really did happen
afterward and that has obtained during the many centuries
since these words were spoken.
this Gospel of John is all of one piece, and what we call
chapter 14 is but the enlargement of the principle,
introduced with the feet-washing as a symbolic setting,
in the words: "...his hour was come that he
should depart out of this world unto the Father."
my Father's house are many abiding-places."
what is introduced here is
(1) Christ in Heaven
grand and all-governing feature of this dispensation is
that Christ is in Heaven.
the purposes and activities of God in this dispensation
are related to that fact.
government is vested in Christ in Heaven. The
headquarters of the Church are in Heaven - it has
none on earth; neither in Jerusalem, Rome, nor
anywhere else. There can be no center or centralizing of
God's work in any earthly place. Everything has to be
referred to Heaven, and derived from Heaven.
world is the place of man's glory; Heaven is the
place of Christ's glory. The earth is the place of
Christ's emptying; Heaven that of His filling. The earth
sees His humiliation; Heaven sees His exaltation. The
earth is the scene of His journeys with no place to lay
His head. Heaven sees Him entered into His rest: He
"sat down at the right hand of the
Majesty on high." The earth is the realm of Satan's
kingdom, Judas being the link (13:2): Heaven is the place
of Christ's throne, from which He overrules
so the comparisons and contrasts can go on, but the
inclusive truth is that in Christ in Heaven everything is
centered for the believer's and the Church's life, rest,
power, direction, government, confidence, and fullness.
is the explanation of everything in the Book of the Acts
from chapter 2 and onward.
it leads to the counterpart of that, namely
(2) The Church in Heaven
this chapter everything is future. "In that
day" is a phrase which stands over a long section of
several chapters. So we see that the Church (everything
now being corporate) is not at this point in Heaven, but
the day is seen when it will be. John, in the Revelation,
sees it there literally at last, but between the position
in his Gospel and that at the end of the Revelation all
of Paul's ministry has its place. Whatever may be either
literal or symbolical, it is all based upon what is
spiritual. For instance, "going to Heaven"
requires spiritual, heavenly birth, citizenship, life,
nature, walk, and conformity. Paul it is who brings in
this counterpart, but the Holy Spirit is one in both and
they are complementary.
explanation of John's recorded words of Christ about the
Father's House and the "abiding (or resting)
places" is found in Paul's words in his Ephesian
letter: "quickened... raised... seated us together
with him in the heavenly places." We are regarded as
being there now. The "that day" has
come. It is the "day" after the Cross.
Resurrection, Ascension, and the Spirit's descent. This
is the full result of what we have seen as to chapter 13.
Enlightenment as to the Way
said: "Ye know the way." They said: "We
know not the way." But Jesus had only just said:
"Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but
thou shalt follow afterwards" (13:36). This all
seems very confusing. Jesus must have been speaking
mysteriously, parabolically! He must have been laboring
under a definite handicap, some real disadvantage,
because of a basic deficiency in them. There are
therefore two things to note here.
and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of
heaven." "Thou canst not follow... now."
"Ye know" "Thou shalt...."
what did their knowing rest initially? It rested upon
their having come into touch with Him! "I am the
way." But this knowledge is shown to be twofold.
Personal association with Christ. Present.
The Holy Spirit's inward revelation of Christ.
whole Gospel is based upon, or composed of, personal and
actual contact with Christ, and an upshot from that. That
upshot is that He is acknowledged to be the Son of the
Living God. "Thou art the Christ...."
ministry is based upon: "It pleased God... to reveal
his Son in me." "Christ in you."
the experience and teaching of both John and Paul are
based upon a common foundation: the "cannot" of
the flesh, the "natural man"; the need to
become "spiritual" men, i.e. men of the Spirit;
and between these the experience of the Cross. On one
side the Cross says "No!" on the other side it
says "Yes!" "Thou canst not" -
"Thou shalt." How true that was proved to be of
the self-confident, self-assured, self-sufficient Simon
Peter of 13:37! - but, on the other side of the Cross,
how true was the "Thou shalt," the great
"afterward." That selfhood was Satan's ground,
and it had to be broken. Peter, the restless, feverish,
troubled, variable, fretful, questioning, disputing,
impulsive, and denying, was emptied out by the Cross.
Subsequently, as under the mastery of the Spirit, he
entered into heavenly rest, assurance, certainty,
persistence, and courage. He followed through, and
whatever the Father's House meant for him ultimately, he
came, in this life, to the place of
"abiding"; to the spiritual meaning of that
House. This is abundantly clear from his letters.
own abiding resulted from Christ coming to abide in him,
to go no more away: "with you for ever"
(14:16). This will be more fully considered in the next
is the ground and assurance of "peace" (27). If
we are entangled with ourselves, we have no peace. If we
are entangled with the world, we have no peace. Only the
disentangled can have peace; and death with Christ does
the disentangling, and resurrection with Christ leads to
a life above the world and above ourselves.
chapter, John 14, really gathers around one word - a
Greek word denoting: to stay, remain, abide, continue,
endure, be permanent. It occurs in verse 2 -
"abiding-places"; verse 10 - "the Father abiding
in me"; verse 17 - the Holy Spirit will abide
in them; verse 23 - the Godhead: "we will make
our abode with" believers.
stands over against -
treachery of Judas; the shadow of the Cross; the imminent
departure of Christ; the inability to follow Him; the
questions arising "How?"
is an amazing thing to realize that all this perplexity,
uncertainty, bafflement, apprehension, is the doorway to
the greatest rest: the rest of knowing, of certainty, of
finality. This is indicated as being all bound up with a spiritual
union with Christ in Heaven - stronger, deeper, and
more abiding than any earthly, temporal, physical,
sentient association could ever be. Those who know Him
after the Spirit know how superior this knowledge is to
any other kind of knowing, for by it their hearts have
become untroubled as to eventualities; they are at rest.
are heart troubles and heart cries here.
Jesus has undercut all self-confidence and assurance as
to man's ability to go through a severe test of
faithfulness. He has practically undercut men's
confidence in an earthly relationship with Himself. He
has raised the tremendous question and mystery of the
life beyond this: Where? How? What? What is the answer?
How can we come to absolute rest and assurance? The
inclusive answer is: "I am."
to know Him as He can be known after the Resurrection
answers all questions, settles all doubts, and silences
all troubles as to ourselves, our way and our end.