Jesus—His Life and Message: John 14: The Helper
June 15, 2021
by Peter Amsterdam
Jesus—His Life and Message: John 14: The Helper
John chapter 14, which we started going over in the previous article, continues with Jesus speaking to His disciples just prior to His arrest and trial. Earlier, He had spoken to them about believing in Him. He had also given the disciples a wonderful promise:
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.1
While Jesus continued instructing His disciples, He changed the topic in verse 15 as He began to speak to them about the Holy Spirit.
If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.2
Jesus began this short segment with an “If” clause: If you love me, you will keep my commandments.3 He reminded His disciples that if they truly loved Him, their love would be shown by their keeping His commandments. He makes this point again in verse 21. His language echoes the language of the Old Testament, where God speaks of showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.4
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever.…5
Soon, Jesus would no longer be physically with the disciples, but in His place, the Father was going to send another Helper who would remain with them permanently. In this translation (ESV, and also NAS and NAU), it says that the Father will send a Helper; other translations refer to a Comforter (KJV), Counselor (NIV, CSB), or Advocate (NLT, TNIV). The Helper will be with believers forever; the Holy Spirit will not be taken away.
…Even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.6
The Advocate is now referred to as the “Spirit of truth.” This is interesting, as Jesus had just described Himself as “the truth,” and earlier in this Gospel we read that “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”7 Truth is connected to the Trinity.
Jesus then contrasted the attitude of the world with that of the disciples when it comes to their attitude toward the Spirit. The world neither sees, meaning that they do not perceive, nor can they accept the Spirit. They are unaware of the Spirit’s activities, presence, or existence, and therefore they don’t enter into relationship with the Holy Spirit. However, believers do know the Holy Spirit because the Spirit dwells within them.
Jesus went on to speak of the way He would manifest Himself to His disciples.
I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.8
Three times in this Gospel Jesus has spoken about going away from His disciples.9 Earlier in this chapter, He stated that after going away He would return. 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.10 In that instance, His coming again is understood to be referring to His second coming. However, in this instance, when Jesus says the world will see me no more, but you will see me, He is speaking about His resurrection, His rising from the dead. Though He would die, He would also rise from the dead and once again physically be with His disciples.
In saying yet a little while, Jesus indicated that He was not referring to events in the far future, but rather was speaking about what was to happen soon. After His soon-coming crucifixion, the world would see Him no more. However, in that day, after His resurrection, His disciples would see Him. In the book of Acts we are told that after Jesus rose from the dead, He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.11
Jesus’ resurrection from the dead was the guarantee that His disciples (and all future believers) would not be overcome by death. Because I live, you also will live. Since Jesus rose from the dead, all believers will live forever—a point that Jesus made earlier in this Gospel. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me.12
When saying, In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you, Jesus was referring to the literal day of His resurrection. Once the disciples saw the risen Jesus, and had spent 40 days with Him, they would understand more fully about Christ’s indwelling in the Father and the mutual indwelling of Christ and believers. Jesus was in His Father and the disciples were in Jesus as He was in them.
Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.13
Those who make Jesus’ commands their own, who take them into their hearts and souls, are the ones who love Him. He speaks not only of “having” the commandments but also of “keeping” them. This points to the importance of obeying Jesus’ teachings and making them part of our daily lives. Those who do are those who love Him, and those who love Him are loved by the Father. It is to these that Jesus says He will manifest Himself. He doesn’t explain this further, but makes the point that in some way He will manifest Himself to those who love Him.
Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?”14
According to two lists of the disciples (Luke 6:14–17 and Acts 1:13), this Judas is referred to as the son of James. Some commentators say that he may be the same person as Thaddeus, who is mentioned in other lists of the apostles.15 This Judas asked a question that was probably on the minds of the others. He wanted to know what it meant that Jesus would manifest Himself to the disciples but not to the world. Judas likely had standard Jewish thinking in that he expected the Messiah to show his glory in the eyes of all the people, and it was sounding like something had changed.
Jesus answered 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 home with him.”16
Earlier Jesus made the point that real love is expressed in deeds.
If you love me, you will keep my commandments.17
Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me.18
Those who love Jesus will keep His word, meaning that they obey His word in their daily lives, rather than just having knowledge of His word. He also stated that those who love Him and keep His word will be loved by the Father, and that both the Father and the Son will make our home with him. Such a home is not a temporary place to lodge, but a permanent dwelling. Jesus was saying that believers will experience the presence of God in their lives.
Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.19
Jesus also pointed out the reverse or negative side. Those who don’t love Jesus will not keep His words, His teaching. This Gospel views love as something practical rather than as something emotional. Love involves obedience. Jesus stresses that His words, the things He teaches, are not His own but are the Father’s. He has said this several times throughout this Gospel.
My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me.20
I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me.21
I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak.22
The Son, who was sent by the Father, delivers the Father’s message.
(To be continued.)
Unless otherwise indicated, all scriptures are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Bailey, Kenneth E. Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2008.
Biven, David. New Light on the Difficult Words of Jesus. Holland: En-Gedi Resource Center, 2007.
Bock, Darrell L. Jesus According to Scripture. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2002.
Bock, Darrell L. Luke Volume 1: 1:1–9:50. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 1994.
Bock, Darrell L. Luke Volume 2: 9:51–24:53. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 1996.
Brown, Raymond E. The Birth of the Messiah. New York: Doubleday, 1993.
Brown, Raymond E. The Death of the Messiah. 2 vols. New York: Doubleday, 1994.
Carson, D. A. Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and His Confrontation with the World. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1987.
Charlesworth, James H., ed. Jesus’ Jewishness, Exploring the Place of Jesus Within Early Judaism. New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997.
Chilton, Bruce, and Craig A. Evans, eds. Authenticating the Activities of Jesus. Boston: Brill Academic, 1999.
Edersheim, Alfred. The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. Updated Edition. Hendrickson Publishers, 1993.
Elwell, Walter A., ed. Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1988.
Elwell, Walter A., and Robert W. Yarbrough. Encountering the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2005.
Evans, Craig A. World Biblical Commentary: Mark 8:27–16:20. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2000.
Evans, Craig A., and N. T. Wright. Jesus, the Final Days: What Really Happened. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2009.
Flusser, David. Jesus. Jerusalem: The Magnes Press, 1998.
Flusser, David, and R. Steven Notely. The Sage from Galilee: Rediscovering Jesus’ Genius. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2007.
France, R. T. The Gospel of Matthew. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2007.
Gnilka, Joachim. Jesus of Nazareth: Message and History. Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1997.
Green, Joel B. The Gospel of Luke. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1997.
Green, Joel B., and Scot McKnight, eds. Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1992.
Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology, An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Grand Rapids: InterVarsity Press, 2000.
Guelich, Robert A. World Biblical Commentary: Mark 1–8:26. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1989.
Jeremias, Joachim. The Eucharistic Words of Jesus. Philadelphia: Trinity Press International, 1990.
Jeremias, Joachim. Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1996.
Jeremias, Joachim. Jesus and the Message of the New Testament. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2002.
Jeremias, Joachim. New Testament Theology. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1971.
Jeremias, Joachim. The Prayers of Jesus. Norwich: SCM Press, 1977.
Keener, Craig S. The Gospel of John: A Commentary, Volume 1. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2003.
Keener, Craig S. The Gospel of John: A Commentary, Volume 2. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2003.
Keener, Craig S. The Gospel of Matthew: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2009.
Lewis, Gordon R., and Bruce A. Demarest. Integrative Theology. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996.
Lloyd-Jones, D. Martyn. Studies in the Sermon on the Mount. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1976.
Manson, T. W. The Sayings of Jesus. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1957.
Manson, T. W. The Teaching of Jesus. Cambridge: University Press, 1967.
McKnight, Scot. Sermon on the Mount. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2013.
Michaels, J. Ramsey. The Gospel of John. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2010.
Milne, Bruce. The Message of John. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1993.
Morris, Leon. The Gospel According to John. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1995.
Morris, Leon. The Gospel According to Matthew. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1992.
Morris, Leon. Luke. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1988.
Ott, Ludwig. Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma. Rockford: Tan Books and Publishers, Inc., 1960.
Pentecost, J. Dwight. The Words & Works of Jesus Christ. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1981.
Sanders, E. P. Jesus and Judaism. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1985.
Sheen, Fulton J. Life of Christ. New York: Doubleday, 1958.
Spangler, Ann, and Lois Tverberg. Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009.
Stassen, Glen H., and David P. Gushee. Kingdom Ethics: Following Jesus in Contemporary Context. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2003.
Stein, Robert H. Jesus the Messiah. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1996.
Stein, Robert H. Mark. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2008.
Stein, Robert H. The Method and Message of Jesus’ Teachings. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1994.
Stein, Robert H. The New American Commentary: Luke. Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 1992.
Stott, John R. W. The Message of the Sermon on the Mount. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1978.
Talbert, Charles H. Reading the Sermon on the Mount. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2004.
Williams, J. Rodman. Renewal Theology: Systematic Theology from a Charismatic Perspective. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996.
Witherington, Ben, III. The Christology of Jesus. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1990.
Witherington, Ben, III. The Gospel of Mark: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2001.
Wood, D. R. W., I. H. Marshall, A. R. Millard, J. I. Packer, and D. J. Wiseman, eds. New Bible Dictionary. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1996.
Wright, N. T. After You Believe. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 2010.
Wright, N. T. Jesus and the Victory of God. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1996.
Wright, N. T. Matthew for Everyone, Part 1. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2004.
Wright, N. T. The Resurrection of the Son of God. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2003.
Yancey, Philip. The Jesus I Never Knew. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995.
Young, Brad H. Jesus the Jewish Theologian. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 1995.
1 John 14:13–14.
2 John 14:15–17.
3 John 14:15.
4 Exodus 20:6.
5 John 14:16.
6 John 14:17.
7 John 4:23–24.
8 John 14:18–20.
9 John 13:33, 36; 14:2–4.
10 John 14:3.
11 Acts 1:3.
12 John 6:57.
13 John 14:21.
14 John 14:22.
15 Matthew 10:3, Mark 3:18.
16 John 14:23.
17 John 14:15.
18 John 14:21.
19 John 14:24.
20 John 7:16.
21 John 8:28.
22 John 12:49.