by Leon Johnson
– Let’s consider John 14:1-11. In the TV game Jeopardy, you guess letters until you can guess the word or phrase, they give you a hint to get you started. One of those hints is “before and after.” Verse 1 of Chapter 14 is like that. It goes with what was said before and it goes with what is being said after it. Let’s look at 13:33:
33 “Little children, I am with you a little while longer. You shall seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, I now say to you also, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’
34 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
35 “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
36 Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, where are You going?” Jesus answered, “Where I go, you cannot follow Me now; but you shall follow later.”
37 Peter said to Him, “Lord, why can I not follow You right now? I will lay down my life for You.”
38 Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for Me? Truly, truly, I say to you, a cock shall not crow, until you deny Me three times. (Joh 13:33-38)
Jesus has been teaching his disciples and now brings up the subject of His leaving them, His death. You have to understand that for the last three years these 11 men had grown so close to Jesus. They not only loved Him more than anyone on planet earth, they had grown totally dependent upon Him for everything. At this point they would not be able to survive without Him (so they think).
He has fed them, protected them, taught them everything they knew about real life.
It is like a 20 year-old man still living at home with his parents being totally dependent upon them for everything as would a 5 year old child. This is not healthy. The man would be totally unready for life in the real world if something would happen to his parents.
It is like a spouse in a marriage relationship that is so totally dependent upon his or her spouse for meeting the needs of life. What will happen when that spouse dies? The first spouse is unready and unprepared for real life alone. This is also a very unhealthy dependent relationship.
The disciples had this kind of relationship with Jesus and they knew it. But it was not unhealthy. Still, if Jesus left them they didn’t know how they were to survive and continue on. Peter was even ready to die with Jesus instead of face life without Him. (Of course, Jesus told Peter that he would fail at this also).
Then Jesus says,
“Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.” (John 14:1 NAS)
But it is also the beginning and key verse in a new line of teaching and we must see that also. This one verse ties the next three chapters to the troubled heart at the end of chapter 13.
I also want to point out a major dividing point in John’s Gospel: In John 1-12 the audience has been unbelievers, and Israel as a nation. In John 13-21 the audience is believers, and disciples, specifically.
We have seen Jesus, chapters 1-12, teaching and preaching to the Jews. During every Feast He is in Jerusalem teaching. Over the three years He gains many followers and disciples, but He has encountered much rejection that will eventually lead to that final rejection. They will put Him to death, they will crucify Him. Although many believed, the focus of His ministry in John 1-12 was to unbelievers. He presented himself to them so that they might believe and receive eternal life
There is a change in audience starting in chapter 13. Now the focus is on His disciples – at first all twelve, but when Judas leaves, only eleven remain. Now He will present Himself to them so that they might believe and live that life.
Another difference is the area of relationships. In chapters 1-12 we hear about the relationship between the Father and the Son:
19 Jesus therefore answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.
20 “For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and greater works than these will He show Him, that you may marvel.
21 “For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes.”(John 5:19-21)
and in verse 30 he says:
30 “I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. (John 5:30 NAS)
In chap 6:38 Jesus says;
38 “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” (John 6:38 NAS)
Chapter 7:15 explains why Jesus’ teaching is so awesome. It is from the Father.
15 The Jews therefore were marveling, saying, “How has this man become learned, having never been educated?” 16 Jesus therefore answered them, and said, “My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me. 17 “If any man is willing to do His will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it is of God, or whether I speak from Myself.” (John 7:15-17 NAS)
29 “And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him.” (John 8:29 NAS)
In chap 10:24-30, we see the relationship between the Father and the works Jesus does.
25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these bear witness of Me.” (John 10:25 NAS)
30 “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30 NAS)
Again this message about the relationship between Jesus, his Father, and His works has been the same throughout John’s Gospel. But Now in chapter 14, we have Jesus, with His disciples, preparing them for life on earth after He goes to the Father. And for three chapters John records the importance of this message because now the disciples have to have the same relationship to Jesus as He had with His Father. It has been relationship of Father to Son and now Christ’s emphasis will be on the relationship between the Son and His disciples.
One more difference between these sections of John’s Gospel: in the first half of John, Jesus is the entrance point to eternal life. He says, “I am the door” (Luke 10:1-9). The message is believe and receive. Enter into eternal life. But now the message is, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” Now that we have entered eternal life, we must walk in it. Jesus presents it as a journey along the road.
“Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 “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. 4 “And you know the way where I am going.”
Here Jesus is talking to believers. This is not a salvation message. When He commands us to believe also in Him, this is not for receiving eternal life. We surely need to believe in Jesus to be saved but we also need to believe in Him to live.
Especially throughout chapters 14, 15, 16, it is important that we understand that Jesus is teaching believers. These chapters are for believers only, they have little to do with positional salvation.
Vs 1: “Let not your heart be troubled” This is an imperative-command. we are never to let our hearts to continue to be troubled. If we find our hearts to be troubled we need to do something about that right away. Are we stressed out? Are we depressed? Jesus says STOP IT. It also is a passive verb. Our heart doesn’t trouble itself, something else causes the troubling. The heart does not cause the trouble, the trouble happens to the heart.
But how do we stop it? What do we do when our hearts are troubled? “Believe in God, believe also in Me.”
The verb form for both of these phrases (believe in God, believe also in Me) are the same and can be an indicative present active or an imperative present active. One must use the context to determine whether to interpret it as an imperative or not. The NASB translates them both as imperatives and the KJ and NKJ translate the first as an indicative and the second as an imperative. “You believe in God, (a statement of fact) and believe also in me (a command).”
The context makes certain that at least the second is a command, believe also in Me. Believe in God is not so easily determined by the context to be an imperative or indicative. Since Jesus is teaching believers, the KJV translators use the present indicative to recognize the disciples as believers in God and then commands them to believe also in Him. There is no conflict either way with the rest of Jesus’ teaching in the next few chapters.
πιστεύετε can be translated to mean believe or have faith.
Remember the difference between the first half of John’s gospel and the second half. In the first half belief was required for receiving eternal life. This is a one-point-in-time work. Once one believes, he becomes a believing one, and has eternal life. However now that the disciples are already believers what does it mean when Jesus commands them to believe in him?
Our believing needs to be a continues active believing in Him, a continuous trusting, and a continuous keeping our faith in Him. Minute by minute, day by day believing. And this is what Jesus is commanding His disciples to do (again, not for positional salvation – they already have that!).
Those who are saved already believe in God, but we still need to believe in Jesus for more than just our salvation. We have a relationship with Him that is maintained by faith. John has penned the next few chapters to teach us how this works. I believe the key words are relationship and experience.
“In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 “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. 4 “And you know the way where I am going.”
Doesn’t this speak of a very close relationship and the practice of taking care of His own, the ones that He loves? Verse 2 and 3 have middle case verbs in them that show emphasis we don’t see in the English. I, Myself go to prepare a place, He doesn’t hire someone else to do it. He does it himself. He is emphatic about this. This is how much He cares for and loves us. He makes it personal. And then I, myself will come again and I, myself will receive you to myself. He is not going to send for us, He, Himself will come and get us. And where I, I am, (εἰμὶ ἐγὼ) you may be also. Again emphatic.
Taking another look at verses 2-4. Doesn’t this sound like the relationship of an engaged couple (of Biblical times)? A man gets engaged to a woman and he leaves her to go and prepare a place for them to live. When he is finished he comes back to get her and he takes her to her new home where they will live together. This is all about relationship. Relationship is not simply a point-in-time experience, but a journey of experiencing each other.
If He cares for and loves us this much and wants us to be with him this much why can’t we be found trusting Him when life throws us a curve?
An additional note on the word mansion: We are not expecting a very large house on a hilltop, we are expecting a room in the Father’s house. Both the American Heritage Dictionary and Noah Webster’s Dictionary have two definitions for this word mansion. The archaic meaning (circa 1500 when the King James version was being translated) was a dwelling place, an abode, and when used as a plural it meant a room in a larger structure. Webster even quotes John 14:2 in his dictionary as an example. The modern definition is a large stately house, a manor house. The house where a rich governor might live.
Jesus is preparing a room, in His Father’s house for us. We will be living with Him in His house. Isn’t that more awesome then living by ourselves in a large house. To be living in His house with Him not as a guest, but as family. WOW.
Verse 4: “And you know the way where I am going.”
Jesus is saying that we know the way. This is a statement of fact. We do know the way. So why should our hearts be troubled? But don’t worry, Thomas is going to ask the question so that we don’t have to.
But before we get to Thomas, note that there is a variant in this verse. The majority text appears in the NKJV and the critical text appears in the NASB:
NKJ John 14:4 “And where I go you know, and the way you know.” (John 14:4)
NAS John 14:4 “And you know the way where I am going.” (John 14:4 NAS)
The critical text records that you know the way and the majority text adds that you not only know the way but you also the where. There is no problem with this variance because if one knows the way he also knows where he is going. If you don’t know where you are going you can’t know the way.
5 Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me. 7 “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.”
Good old Thomas, he asks the question for us. Lord we do not know where you are going, how do we know the way? I believe Thomas might have this question because he is thinking in terms of Jesus’ previous teachings to the unbelieving Jews. He had heard Jesus teach in John 10:1-9, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber.” 9 “I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture” (John 10:8-9 NAS).
The key verse here is verse 9. “I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” The only way into the sheepfold was trough the door, through Jesus. He loved His sheep and He protected and provided for them. I think that Thomas understood Jesus to be the way or the door or the point of entry into heaven or the Father’s realm. Where is the door. Where is the entry point. Or he might have been thinking in terms of a way, road, or route. Where is that route? Where is the Father’s house and how far is it from here? How far is heaven from here and in what direction? I believe Thomas was thinking in terms of a route he needs to follow. Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me. Jesus claims that He is the way.
Going back to verse 4: “And you know the way where I am going.” (Joh 14:4 NAS)
The word for know is the Greek οἶδα to know about. as opposed to γινώσκω to know experientially.
Another reason this is hard to understand is that this is one aspect of Jesus we do not experience (or sense). We don’t sense receiving eternal life, it happens at the moment we believe, in a split second. If you sense anything about your salvation it is the new life that has been poured out into you with new emotions etc. But we don’t sense the actual process or entering into life. There is nothing we do and no way we participate in the receiving of eternal life, Jesus does it all. We know we are saved because God’s word tells us we are saved; that knowledge is οἶδα knowledge.
2 “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 “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” (John 14:2-3 NAS).
In what way do we participate in Jesus’ coming for us and taking us home with Him? No participation at all. If Jesus comes halfway in the air and we rise up to meet Him, how do we make that jump from ground zero to half way to heaven? It is not our concern because Jesus just snatches us up. We don’t know the time or place. And according to Paul, this also happens in a split second. We apparently don’t sense this trip.
We sense many aspects of Jesus in our lives but we don’t sense Him as the way. No wonder this is hard to comprehend. We know about the way but we do not sense the way. But verse 1 still applies: “Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.”
We must continually be trusting and believing in Jesus as the way. Jesus presents this truth to His disciples here to comfort and encourage them. Paul uses this truth for the same reason when he writes to encourage the Thessalonians. When our hearts are troubled believe in Jesus. Trust him, He is taking care of us.
6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.” He is the truth. We will see this taught in the next passage.
He is the life – our life, eternal life. This is again all about relationship, and experiencing the relationship. Jesus will teach more about this beginning in vs 12; but especially in chapter 15, when He discusses the relationship of the abiding life of the believer, in Him.
For now let’s look at Jesus as the truth.
7 “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.” 8 Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how do you say, ‘Show us the Father ‘ 10 “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 initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works” (John 14:7-10 NAS).
How does this relate to truth?
Recall Pillar #2 from Dr. Cone’s book, Prolegomena: God’s authoritative Self-Revelation to Man.We have learned that there are three ways God has revealed Himself to man: General revelation, in His creation. Special revelation, in His Word, and Personal revelation, in Jesus Christ. God is truth and He has revealed Himself to us through His Son Jesus Christ.
Remember that Jesus never did anything on His own but He only said what the Father gave Him to say, He only did the works His Father gave Him to do. He was sent to us by the Father with the Father’s message for us. In as much as Jesus’ words were the Father’s words the disciples heard the Father speak. In as much as Jesus’ works were the Father’s works the disciples saw the Father work.
7 “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.” 8 Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how do you say, ‘Show us the Father ‘?
In all uses in verses 7-9, the Greek word used for know and known is γινώσκω – experiential knowledge. Jesus did not use the Greek οἶδα – which means to know about. He was saying to the disciples that they knew Him experientially they also knew the Father experientially. When the disciples see or experience Jesus they also see or experience the Father. This is all about relationship.
10 “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 initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. 11 “Believe Me that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me; otherwise believe on account of the works themselves” (John 14:11 NAS).
The relationship of the Father in the Son and the Son in the Father. Jesus has taught this over and over again in the first half of John’s gospel. Even some of the Pharisees got it when Jesus healed the man born blind. But others were saying, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?” (John 9:16 NAS). The works of Christ were proof enough of who He was.
12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go to the Father (John 14:12 NAS).
Because He goes to the Father, we will learn in later verses that He is sending His Spirit to indwell us, giving us a similar relationship with Him as He has with the Father. Then not only will we be doing the works that Jesus is doing but people may begin to see Jesus in us.
We will never be perfect reflections of Jesus on planet-earth, but there will be times through the works that He has prepared for us to walk in, people will see His works and intern see Him in us.
Once upon a time, Barbara and I were on a tour bus at Niagara Falls for a day. We didn’t talk about Jesus or faith at all, but at the end of the day the bus driver approached us and said he believed we were Christians and wanted to verify that. He said he had been watching how we were relating to others and serving them and it made him think of Jesus. I can’t brag about this because I have to admit this doesn’t happen very often. Shame on me. But it should be the norm. What would make it the norm? Believing in Him, continually.
Ephesians 2:10 says,
10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
As we walk in the works that God prepared for us to walk in someone should be able to recognize our works as being from Him. “Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.” Please do not forget this verse, it is the crux of what Jesus is explaining through chapter 16. The disciples have nothing to be troubled about because of His going to the Father. And neither do we.