Jesus—His Life and Message: John 14: The Way, the Truth, and the Life
June 8, 2021
by Peter Amsterdam
Jesus—His Life and Message: John 14: The Way, the Truth, and the Life
John chapter 14 continues in the same setting as chapter 13, where Jesus was eating a meal with His disciples. Once Judas, the betrayer, had departed and after Jesus had told the apostle Peter that he was going to deny Him three times, He began to speak with the eleven about His soon-coming departure to a place where they could not follow Him. The news that Jesus was going to leave them must have been unexpected and shocking. Therefore, Jesus spoke words of comfort.
Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.1
Jesus instructed the disciples to face what was to come with faith and trust. He urged them to continue to believe the Father, and also to believe in Him. As Jewish men, the disciples naturally had faith in God, the One who had miraculously worked on behalf of His people throughout their history. However, Jesus’ call to also believe in Him would be tested. He was presently being betrayed by one of His followers, was about to be denied three times by another of His disciples, abandoned by the rest of them, and crucified by the religious leadership.
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?2
The Father’s house refers to heaven. In His house, there are many rooms. The King James translation conveys this as many mansions, other translations as many dwelling places,3 while others speak of many rooms.4 Whether it is rooms, mansions, or dwelling places, the point is made that in the Father’s house there is room enough for all of the redeemed people of all time. Jesus was going to prepare a place for believers; exactly what this means is beyond our comprehension.
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.5
Jesus goes to prepare a place, and He will eventually return, which likely refers to His Second Coming. While not many specifics are given about the place that He was going to prepare, the key point is that as believers we will be with Him.
And you know the way to where I am going.6
Jesus could state that the disciples knew the way because they had spent time with Him and had been the recipients of His teaching. They had been faithful followers, and if they continued to follow, they would come to where He was going.
Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”7
At this point, Jesus had not yet said, “I am the way.” He had only said that His disciples knew the way to where He was going. Thomas seemed to think of the way as a road or a map, rather than an inner commitment or a way of life. In saying “we do not know where you are going,” he likely spoke for all of the disciples, not just for himself.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”8
Jesus had been speaking about leaving His disciples, but then He changed the topic somewhat. He said that He shows the way, by revealing it, but He also is the way, in that He is the One who redeems us. He is the means, the link, between God and sinners. He is the only way for sinful humanity to get to the Father.
If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.9
At this point, Jesus stopped speaking to Thomas and began addressing all of the disciples, as the “you” in the original Greek is plural. The sentence structure implies that the disciples had not fully known Jesus and therefore had not fully known the Father. Of course, they knew Jesus well enough to leave their families, homes, jobs, and friends in order to follow Him. However, they hadn’t yet come to the full knowledge of His significance. From this point forward, that was going to change; they would soon come to know the significance of Jesus and His mission. They would come to understand that in knowing Jesus they knew God, a point made earlier in this Gospel. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.10
Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.”11
Philip’s request opened the door for Jesus to speak of the deep and intimate relationship between Him and His Father. It may be that Philip was looking for a theophany, an appearance of God, such as when Moses asked God to “please show me your glory.”12
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’?”13
His response to Philip was a gentle rebuke. In speaking to Philip, Jesus was again addressing all of the disciples, as the “you” in the original text is plural. Jesus then made a profound statement, that to see Him is to see the Father. He had made similar statements earlier in this Gospel: Whoever sees me sees him who sent me;14 whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.15 However, this time He was more specific as He named the Father as the One who sent Him.
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.16
This verse touches on the inner workings of the Father and the Son. Each is “in” the other. Throughout this Gospel, the deeds Jesus performed along with the words He spoke revealed the nature of the Father. From a human point of view, Jesus did these things; however, we are told that His words and works were from the Father who dwelled within Jesus.
Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.17
Jesus called on Philip and the others to believe Him, not only to believe in Him. He drew attention to the miracles He had performed, which are called “works” in this Gospel. If they were unable to believe in the oneness of the Father and Jesus, they could at least believe in Him because of the works—the miracles—that He had performed.
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.18
The phrase, Truly, truly, I say to you, stresses that what is about to be said is important. Whoever believes in me addresses those who have made a personal commitment. Jesus isn’t speaking about those who are simply formal believers, but rather those who are active in their faith. Those who are active in faith will do the works that Jesus did, and even greater works. The likely reason they will do greater things is that after Jesus “goes” to the Father—meaning after His death, resurrection, and ascension are complete—the Holy Spirit will come to them. The Spirit can’t come before that. I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.19 Once the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles at Pentecost, they began their ministry of preaching and teaching about Jesus. It was through their ministry that the gospel took root, was preached throughout Israel, and in time spread beyond its borders and into all the world.
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.20
Jesus told His disciples that they should pray in His name. This indicates that their prayers would align with all that Jesus’ name stands for. Such prayer comes from one’s faith in Jesus and seeks to glorify the Father. Prayer may be addressed to Jesus, and of course it can also be addressed to the Father. One author writes:
The two are inseparable … that is why prayer may be addressed to either. It is characteristic Johannine thought that the Father and the Son are so intimately related that what one does, the other does also.21
(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.
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1 John 14:1.
2 John 14:2.
3 NAS, NAU.
4 ESV, NIV.
5 John 14:3.
6 John 14:4.
7 John 14:5.
8 John 14:6.
9 John 14:7.
10 John 1:18.
11 John 14:8.
12 Exodus 33:18–23; see also Exodus 24:9–11, Isaiah 6:1.
13 John 14:9.
14 John 12:45.
15 John 13:20.
16 John 14:10.
17 John 14:11.
18 John 14:12.
19 John 16:7.
20 John 14:13–14.
21 Morris, The Gospel According to John, 573.