By Daniel Downs
In the fourteenth chapter of John’s gospel, three questions are raised and answered. The subject matter concerning Jesus’ statements about is leaving them to a place where he will be glorified. (13:31-35) His disciples did not know what the heck he was talking about. They were not sure they understood where he was going. As all good Jews, they began asking questions.
Peter respectfully raised the first question that is recorded in the previous chapter and it was reiterated by Thomas here. The question is this: What do you mean? Where are you going, and why can I not follow you right now? (13:36, 37) Jesus responding by saying, “Don’t worry about it. You will follow later. I’m going to my Father’s house where I will prepare a place for you. I will come again to take you to where I am now going. Come on guys, don’t act dumb, you know the way to where I’m going. Don’t you?” (13:36-14:4)
Expressing his usual point of view, Thomas, the proverbial skeptic, pipes up and says, “What! We neither know where you are going nor how to get there” (v. 5).
Jesus’ infamous retort is “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but though me. If you really knew me you would have known my Father also. So look here guys. You now know Him, and have seen Him. Get it?” (vv. 6-7)
While listening Philip is going hmm. He says, “No Lord, I still don’t think we get it. I do not remember having seen God. How about showing us the Father. Yeh, show us God. That should do the trick” (v. 8).
Jesus seemed very surprised. No doubt he was thinking these guys are bunch of numb skulls. It shows by his question that follows. “Have I been so long with you, and you have not come to know me, Phillip?” Let me make it real simple and plain for you. “He who has seen me has seen the Father.” So, “how can you say, ‘Show us the Father?” (v. 9)
From verses 10 through 21, Jesus explains how he reveals the Father and how they will also. In essence, it is because of their intimate spiritual relationship and works that the unseen God is manifested to the world. Their relationship to Jesus and Jesus’ relationship to the Father lived out in daily life is the way God is made known. Of course, God is seen through their lives lived according to the commandments of God and ministry of the Messiah.
At the end of his explanation, Jesus says, “He who has my commandments and keeps them is the one who loves me and will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and will disclose myself to him” (v. 21). To which Judas responds, “Why only disclose yourself to us and not to the world?” (v. 22)
In order to understand Judas’ question, one need to know a little more about him. Judas was a member of the Zealot party. Zealots wanted to overthrow Rome’s control over Jerusalem and do away with Jewish traitors who helped them. The Messiah was and still viewed as a political and military leader who will lead Israel to defeat all oppressors and enemies. To Judas, Jesus’ Messiahship was naturally one that would be evident to Rome and all the world. Christians believe that is soon to be revealed.
Jesus seems to ignore Judas’ actual question. Instead, he picks up were he left off. Jesus continues to explain that he is going to where the Father is (v. 28). However, they (God and Jesus) will come back to make their abode with those who love him. How? Through the promised helper. Jesus describes this helper as the Spirit of Truth (v. 17) and the Holy Spirit (v. 26). The disclosure questioned by Judas will happen by means of the Helper. He will teach them what Jesus reveals (v. 26; 15:26;16:13-15). He will remind them of the things Jesus has already disclosed to them (v. 26;.15:27; 16:4). He will administer the peace of Jesus, which why the Holy Spirit is called Helper, Comforter and Advocate (v. 27). These adjectives derive from the Koine Greek word parakletos and is descriptive of a relationship in which one comes to the side of another in order to aid him or her. It connotes the martial relationship explained in Genesis 2:18-24. In ancient society, it also was used to describe legal counsel or social advocacy for others. And, in the context of John 14-17, Jesus also is speaking of comfort. For example, Jesus begins and ends by saying, “Do not let your hearts be troubled” (14:1, 27). In chapter 15, Jesus deals with others hating them for carrying on the message and work of Jesus, but the Holy Spirit will testify to them of Jesus. And in chapter 16, the same Spirit will himself convict the world concerning sin, righteousness, the judgment while at the same time leading the disciples, teaching them, and manifesting God’s love to and through them.
When people see and hear God, they either attracted or repulsed. The blessed saps who are the medium of the message or “the showing” often get the brunt of human guilt or hate toward God. Jesus was crucified. All of the disciples except John were killed for their testimony to Jesus’ resurrection. People around the globe still get kicked by states, other religions and their followers, and even by those who claim to be of Christ. But, as present as He was with Moses, the prophets and Jesus, God is still a present witness.