From the House of The Nazarene. This will be a very in-depth deep-dive study of the Book of John.
Let’s begin with a prayer. Father, we thank You for this time and we ask that You would guide us and help us to clearly learn some things from John’s Gospel that will enable us to see You better as we look at the life of Jesus and these parting words that He offered to His disciples.
We pray in Christ’s name. Amen.
We are looking at John chapter 14, and we started last week looking at the Upper Room discourse and that discourse goes from John 13 to John 17 and in looking at this particular chapter, we have to go back a little bit. We have to go back to verses 36 through 38 of chapter 13, where we see “Simon Peter said to Him, ‘ Lord, where are you going’ because Jesus has just told them He is going to a place where they can not follow. In fact, look at verse 33, “Little children, I am with you a little while longer. You will seek Me, and as I said to the Jews, now I also say to you, Where I am going you can not come.”
That would be a very disturbing concept to them because they had totally cast their lot in with Him for the last three and half years. They still did not grasp what He meant when He said the Son of Man is going to go up to Jerusalem, where He will be betrayed and where He will be executed and where He will suffer and where on the third day He will rise again. They didn’t want to hear this and basically tuned it out. Whenever He talked about the Kingdom, they enjoyed that.
But, whenever He talked about His sufferings, that was another story. So, they are not really fully grasping this. Then He gave them this new commandment, “That you love one another, even as I have loved you,” and remember that new commandment is actually based on the fact the old commandment says, Love one another as you love yourself,” although it doesn’t say it quite that way. Why is this new a commandment? Because it was a higher standard than the original.
Now, we are to love one another as He loved us. I want to tell you that God loves you more than you love yourself. He chooses better for you than you would choose for yourself. How many times have we shot ourselves in the foot and made stupid decisions and so forth? God’s love for us is His steady intention for our highest good. We sometimes, out of selfishness or pigheadedness or pride or revenge do dumb things. His love for us, then, is actually a better love than we have for ourselves. Now Jesus says, “I want you to love one another as I have loved you.” That is an impossible love, it is the love of ‘agape’, the love of choice, or of the will. And that love cannot be attained by human endeavor. That is a love that requires divine enablement. There is the issue of true love, and He is the exemplar.
So, Jesus tells them, “By this all men will know you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” And so, Peter asked Him where He was going. Jesus answered, ‘“Where I am going you can not follow Me now, but you will follow later’. Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, why can not I follow You right 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, a rooster will not crow until you deny Me three times’.” Those were very troubling words, not only for Peter but also for all the disciples. Can’t you just imagine the scene here? Something is ominous. Something is terribly wrong and they don’t fully grasp it, but they know something is about to happen and it is not on their agenda.
So, their hearts are painful. They are troubled. He is telling them He is going to leave them, and that they can not follow Him now. So, it is not surprising, then, that the next verse would say, “Do not let your heart be troubled.” Here is one of those places where we would have preferred the chapter division to be at verse 35. As you know, the chapter divisions and the verse divisions were not inspired, they were put in many centuries later.
But, I want to connect these together, because we see their hearts were troubled and Jesus knows this as well. So, He announces to them the good news that He is about to communicate, but they can not grasp it now but will understand it later. This passage kind of opens and ends with these words. “Do not let your heart be troubled,” in verse one, and then look at verse 27, “Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” They are troubled for several reasons. As we said, Jesus had announced that one of them was a traitor. They still did not get the idea that it was Judas, even though he went out of the room. He warned Peter that he would deny Him three times. If brave Peter denies Him, what hope is there for the rest of them? You see the idea? Peter did have tremendous courage.
But, more than any of this was the realization that Jesus was going to leave them. That was really the thing they could not get out of their minds. As I said before, Peter wanted to know where his Lord was going, and Jesus said, “One day you will follow Me.” What He means by that is to follow Him to the Cross. Look ahead with me to John 21, and we will see Jesus’ prediction of what will come to pass in Peter’s life. When Jesus speaks to Peter in John 21, verse 18, He says, ‘“Truly, truly I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go’. Now, this He said, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God.
And when He had spoken this He said to him, ‘Follow Me’.” This is His word to Peter. If you go with me to 2nd Peter, to hear Peter’s own testimony, in chapter one, verses 12 through 15, Peter says, “Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you. I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder.” What is this ‘earthly dwelling’? Of course, it is his body. “Knowing,” he says, “that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me.”
He is actually recalling what Jesus said in John 21. As I have mentioned, Peter did not see himself as worthy of being executed in the same way as his Lord. When he was going to be crucified, he requested that he be crucified upside-down. Tradition indicates that is exactly what took place. In addition, He says, “You will follow Me in My death, but you will also follow Me to My Father’s Kingdom.” In other words, he will also be in the place I am going to describe to you now.
So, I want to give you six assurances that surface in this marvelous chapter. It is one of those chapters you can read and meditate on with tremendous profit, because it is so rich. There are six assurances that He gives His disciples. The first of those is the assurance of heaven. This assurance of heaven is really reminding his disciples that heaven is a real place. It is not just a figment of His imagination.
Here is how He puts it: “Believe in God, believe also in Me.” Right there is a very radical claim, if you think about it, because He is saying as you believe in the Father, so you believe in Me; attribute the same trust as you have in the Father to Me. “In My Father’s house,” He says, “are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you, for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, you may be also.” Jesus, right now, is seated at the right hand of the Father, to use the imagery of Revelation, and heaven is an eternal kingdom, according to 2nd Peter 1:11. It is also an “inheritance,” in 1st Peter 1:4. Heaven is also a country. In fact, it is called “A better country,” in Hebrews 11:16. And it is also called “A city,” in Hebrews 11:16, a home they are looking for. It is a “Home,” here in John 14:12.
So, it is a kingdom, and inheritance, a country, a city, and a home. When we look at this understanding, then, it reminds me of something that Robert Frost said. He said, “A home is a place, that when you arrive there, they have to take you in.” You see, we are not home yet. You need to understand that you are not home yet. If you become too comfortable in this world, you fail to grasp that you are an alien. If you are in Christ, you are no longer a citizen of this world. You are a citizen of the next. “Our citizenship is in heaven,” Paul says in Philippians three, “from which, also, we eagerly await for a Savior.” A Savior who will transform this mortal body into a body of His own resurrected power.
So, you are not home yet, and instead, according to the Scriptures, you are an “Alien,” an “Exile,” a “sojourner,” a “wayfarer,” a “pilgrim,” and a “stranger.” In other words, you are not at home. There are many, many, pleasant Inns in this life, but don’t mistake them for home. And so, if we understand that, we walk in anticipation and realize there should only be two days on our calendar, as I often like to tell you. The day we will see Him and today. Every today ought to be lived in light of that day.
So, instead of saying that we are so heavenly-minded that we are of no earthly good, actually, the more heavenly-minded we are, the more we relish and cherish the opportunities of this present time. You then see that every day is filled with ‘kairos’ moments. I have told the idea of a ‘kairos’ moment versus a ‘chronos’ moment. ‘Kairos’, you recall, is opportunity time and ‘chronos’ is clock time. There is a huge difference. ‘Chronos’ you put in your planner or PDA. However, you can never plan ‘kairos’. Those are opportunities that God provides and you never know what it will look like. It may be any number of things that might surface. Those become opportunity times.
So, we make the most of the ‘kairos’ opportunities because the days are short. Understanding that, then, heaven is a place of love, it is a place of tremendous joy, and, may I stress, it is a place of relationship. Ultimately, in my assessment of this world, the most joyful thing on the planet is a quality relationship, the only context in which you have an ontological basis for quality relationships. By ontological, I mean that which exists in reality. It is the doctrine of what is real. You see the idea? When I say, then, there is an absolute, ontological basis for relationships, it the unchanging Triune God, because there you have relationships in the One God, the tri-personal God. Because of that, because God is a relational being, when he created us in His image, male and female, and there is unity in diversity.
So, that unity and diversity is a reflection of God’s own character. Thus, in the body of Christ we have a tremendous diversity, but also there is a unity. In that context, then, we see the image of marriage, we see the image of friendship, we see the image of the Church, all those things are pointing beyond themselves to a context in which the two are greater than the sum of the parts. There is a synergism that takes place and it reveals a divine truth.