Study Series in John's Gospel

The Farewell Discourse (Part One)

Study Series: The Gospel of John

Larger Context: The Farewell Discourse (14:1-16:33) (Part One)

This Study:
Jesus Predicts Peter’s Denial (13:36-38)
The Way, the Truth, and the Life (14:1-6)
The Father Revealed (14:7-11)

Seeing is Believing (John 13:36-14:11)

Murray McLellan

Jesus Predicts Peter’s Denial (13:36-38)

V. 36 Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, where are You going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow Me now, but you shall follow Me afterward.”

Only Jesus, the Lamb of God, can offer the sacrifice that deals with sin. Peter can only follow later – not as a second lamb of God, but in the sense that he will follow Jesus in death and join Him in glory.

V. 37 Peter said to Him, “Lord, why can I not follow You now? I will lay down my life for Your sake.”

Peter’s unwillingness to wait reveals his lack of understanding of Jesus’ sacrifice. His boast also displays gross ignorance of human weakness. This spirit of independence is the seed of the denial to come (see 1 Kings 20:11).

V. 38 Jesus answered him, “Will you lay down your life for My sake? Most assuredly, I say to you, the rooster shall not crow till you have denied Me three times.

Who will lay down his life for whom? Peter has it backwards. Yet, there is a rightness to it in that 3 decades later, Peter would indeed lay down his life for the sake of Jesus’ name – as foretold by Jesus – and in so doing glorify God (John 21:18-19)!

The Farewell Discourse (14:1-16:33)

In a very short time, the whole world of the disciples was going to collapse – as their beloved Lord would be betrayed, abused, tortured, and ultimately crucified. Thus, Jesus anticipates their sorrow, anxiety, and confusion, and gives them comfort. Here He continues to “wash their feet.” Here is Jesus, anticipating the curse of God and bearing in the sin of the world, and He is absorbed in the needs of His friends (John 13:1). Though they couldn’t feel His pain, He could feel theirs (Isa. 50:4ff).

May these words not just be viewed as words of comfort for the eleven, but also for us who have come after them.

The disciples had seen Jesus cast out demons, heal people, and even raise them from the dead. He had demonstrated His power over every adversary in every situation. He had successfully countered every argument; answered every question; resisted every temptation; and confounded every enemy; and now He was predicting His own death at the hands of wicked men. This certainly did not fit their concept of what His mission would be. I think they were becoming increasingly aware that Jesus was the incarnation of God. So how could He die? Why would He die? Who could defeat Him? Was Jesus not who they thought He was?

Jesus continues to comfort their troubled hearts in reaffirming His deity and the plan and purposes of God.

The Way, the Truth, and the Life (14:1-6)

V. 1 “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.

Literally this says, “Stop letting your heart be troubled.” First off we can be assured that if Jesus says this, He must have good reasons.

Their whole concept of Messiah was an illustrious conqueror. I can well imagine that their hopes had been riding high following the triumphal entry where everyone was waving and tossing palm branches. They just could not reconcile all Jesus’ talk about dying. Jesus, in washing their feet, had grabbed their attention. He had come to humbly die in loving service of those His Father had given Him.

They had forsaken all to follow Him and now He was about to “forsake” them and leave them in the midst of enemies. What good was a Messiah – a Deliverer – who was going to die? To His disciples, nothing would seem to fit. In addition, the Lord had informed them that one of their own intimate group would be the instrument of betrayal. Even Peter, their strongest companion, would deny Him three times that very night. Everything seemed to be unraveling for those looking at the things which are seen.

In v. 1b Jesus again puts Himself on equal plane with God. He reminds them that they believe in God without seeing Him. In like manner, Jesus tells them, “Keep believing in Me, though I will leave you physically and not be visible. (Peter did grasp this later. See 1 Peter 1:8).

Jesus presents Himself as an object of trust (and the object is the key, not your faith!).

V. 2-3 In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.

Jesus had many misconceptions to correct. However, their hope of a glorious eternity was not mistaken, and His going was to open the way to this glorious kingdom – that would far surpass their thoughts and expectations. He was going away from them, not because He was abandoning the plan. He was fulfilling the plan.

The original language does not talk about mansions. More literally, in His Father’s house are many rooms or abodes or dwelling places. The only other use of this particular word in the Scriptures occurs in John 14:23. I think “mansions” really gives the wrong idea. It will be home; a dwelling place for the complete family of God. We will dwell with God, not down the street from Him. Eternity will have God with His people in unbroken, unhindered fellowship (Rev. 21:2-3).

The Epistle to the Hebrews shows us that the heavenly places had to be purified by the better sacrifices which He was to offer, in which all the sacrifices of the law would find their fulfillment. “I go to prepare a place for you.” We also understand this to mean that the Lord Jesus has procured the right—by His death on the Cross—for every believing

sinner to enter Heaven. He has “prepared” for us a place there by entering Heaven as our Representative and taking possession of it on behalf of His people. As our Forerunner He marched in, leading captivity captive, and there planted His banner in the land of glory. He has “prepared” for us a place there by entering the “holy of holies” on High as our great High Priest, carrying our names in with Him. Christ would do all that was necessary to secure for His people a welcome and a permanent place in Heaven.

And Jesus will return to gather them in personally.

V. 4-6 And where I go you know, and the way you know.” Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

We don’t need a map or have to know how to get there, for Jesus is coming to get us. He will take us there. Christ is everything a man or woman needs.

Jesus Himself is the way to acceptance with God. Jesus is the truth. Christ is the full and final revelation of God. Jesus is the life. He is the One who is. The one who is out of Christ exists, but he has no spiritual life.

Jesus mediates God’s truth and God’s life so that He is the very way to God.

This is an exclusive claim. “The” carries the idea of “the only.” Many think that Christians are narrow minded, and we are; as narrow as the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no salvation apart from Jesus (Acts 4:12; 1 Tim. 2:5).

Some will say, “But this way is so narrow. Isn’t there a wider way?” Yes, but consider where it leads. Seeking a way other than Jesus is foolish, will lead to despair, and is perverse (an insult to God – calling Jesus a liar). Do you think that God would be impressed or admire a person who seeks another way. After all, He gave His own beloved Son to die.

The Father Revealed (14:7-11)

V. 7 “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.”

Jesus continues to comfort their troubled hearts in reaffirming His deity, and the plan and purposes of God.

“Jesus is one with God, with respect to man, in creation, revelation, and authority; yet he is one with man, with respect to God, in submission, dependence, and obedience” (Carson, Farewell Discourse, 34).

“A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on level with a man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice.

Either this man was and is the Son of God; or else a madman or something worse.” (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity)

Jesus’ words were meant to comfort His disciples. They knew He loved them. He wanted them to know that God cared for them the same way because He and the Father are one. To have a relationship with one is to have a relationship with the other (1 John 2:23). “from now on” – This may indicate that starting from now they will begin to understand (i.e. see John 20:28).

V. 8-11 Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.

It is as if Jesus’ response was, “Open your eyes. You’ve been looking at Me for three years – the visible manifestation of God (John 1:14; Isa. 40:5; Heb. 1:3; Col. 1:15, 2:9). The King of heaven had left the company of worshipping angels to company with them – the King of glory dwelt with worms and companied with them as an elder brother.

There are different words translated “see” in the New Testament Scriptures. John 20 uses three different words. The first is “blepo.” It is used of John in v. 5 where, after outrunning Peter to the tomb, he looks in and “saw” the linen cloths lying there. This is the simplest word for “see.” It merely means that the image of the graveclothes had impressed itself upon the retina of John’s eyes. In a few moments Peter arrives and pushes past John into the tomb. Peter sees the cloths and it uses a different word; “theoreo” (v. 6). It means to scrutinize; to consider; to behold. At this point John enter in and in v. 8 we are told he “saw” and believed. Now the word is “orao” which means to see with understanding. John “saw” that the only thing that would account for the arrangement of the graveclothes was a resurrection. This is the word John uses here in saying that he who has “seen” Me has “seen” the Father. He means the one who perceives who He is perceives God.

Even being with Jesus such a long time does not guarantee insight into truth. The miracles were signs. It is not that they convince everyone, but rather, thoughtful meditation upon them would reveal that the kingdom of heaven has come upon them in the Person of Christ.

It has been said that seeing is believing, but Jesus seems to say that believing is seeing! Believing in Jesus is seeing God. Belief is meaningless unless it rests on the words and works of Jesus, the Rock of Ages.

~ Murray

About Murray McLellan
Murray is the lead church planter and Bible teacher at Grace Fellowship Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. He and his wife Cheryl have labored in the Gospel for many years despite the many discouragements along the way. Our brother is associated with “InDepth Studies”, the Acts 29 network of church planters, and more recently the uniquely Canadian C2C church planting network. In new covenant circles Murray is a long time contributor to new covenant thought and discussion.