John 14

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Know the Son, Know the Father (1-14)

This passage is a favorite of many people. It has an extremely high Christology, as this passage has Jesus equating himself with God in many different ways.


Verse 1: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. (NIV)

  • The phrase “hearts be troubled” carries the basic meaning of “don't allow yourself to be intimidated by the situation” (Borchert 103).
  • ”Not be troubled” is a present imperative, which indicates that Jesus is telling them to stop being troubled, not that they shouldn't start (Morris 636).
  • The word translated “trust” here is also the word normally translated as “believe.”
  • Both ”trusts” can be imperative or present indicative. This raises many interpretive possibilities. None of them stand out as definitive.


Verse 2: In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. (NIV)

  • The NIV translated the beginning of this verse correctly.
    • This is not many houses, but a singular house, with many rooms or apartments
    • The traditional rendering of “mansions” is based on the KJV, which badly translates from the Latin, which in turn comes from this Greek (Borchert 104).
    • This is a marriage statement, where a young man would add a room for him and his wife onto his father's house, preparing a place for them.
  • This account must be taken as metaphorical, as we do not believe that God is in a physical location.
  • ”Told you” is past tense, indicating that not only would Jesus tell his disciples if this wasn't true, but he already would have told them.


Verse 3: And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (NIV)

  • This verse continues the marriage language, with the bridegroom coming back to take his bride to be with him once the room was built. Then they would get officially married.
  • It is interesting that even though these verses would have been easily understood as marriage in that culture, between Jesus and them, there is not record of protest or any of the disciples (all men) feeling at all discomforted by this.
  • ”Go” and “prepare” are both subjunctives. We know Jesus leaves, but he is trying to underemphasize his leaving, and emphasis the reality of his coming back, as those are all indicative, ie it will happen.
  • ”May” or “might” is a subjunctive verb, one of possibility usually. Here it probably indicates Jesus' desire that they be with him. He wants this.


Verse 4: You know the way to the place where I am going.” (NIV)

  • It is perhaps important to note that Jesus does not say they know where he is going, but the way to follow him.
  • There is a certain amount of tongue in cheek here.
    • Jesus has to explain himself in the next few verses so this statement has with it the sense that he is encouraging the disciples to ask more.
    • By setting the stage with this very vague statement, Jesus paves the way for his stunning announcement that he is the way, and they know him.
  • ”The way” is a phrase that is used for both a literal road and a mode of living one's life.
    • Here there is a double meaning, as it is used metaphorically for a road, but functions quite practically as “you know how to live to get where I'm going.”
    • The OT law was seen at the time as a walk with God (Borchert 107), and so how to walk with God was “the way.”


Verse 5: Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” (NIV)

  • This is Thomas, best known as “doubting” Thomas, though here he is clearly just a more concrete thinker, but serious in his faith. He apparently takes “the way” as a literal road instead in its relational or religious senses. And so he does not understand it and wants clarification.
  • Logically, in order to know how to get somewhere you need to know where you are trying to get to in the first place.
    • If you're going to China, taking a flight to South Africa probably won't help you.
    • The disciples don't know the end destination, we never will until we get there in heaven, and so they naturally assume they don't know the road. Jesus' statement seemed backwards.


Verse 6: Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (NIV)

  • This is one of John's famous “I AM” statements from Jesus. Here we have the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew “I AM” name of God.
    • Jesus is equating himself with God here on several levels.
    • Everyone would agree that God is the way, truth, and life. But by calling himself by God's name and distinguishing himself from the father, Jesus is saying something astounding.
  • Way, truth, and life are not separate concepts, but interrelated. The Psalmists pray for God to lead them in “the way,” which results in “walking in truth” and “the path of life” (Borchert 109).
  • Jesus is basically presented as God's law incarnate. You walk in Jesus' “way” in his life, and you find the truth and life with the father.
  • There is a lot of faith in this, both in the hearers and in Jesus saying it. He says he is the life, when he is about to die, and that he is the way when he is about the be impotent, and the truth when liars are about to win for a bit (Morris 641).


Verse 7: If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” (NIV)

  • This is a rephrasing of the previous verse, but in positive language instead of negative.
  • These are plural instances of “you” here, not singular. This is not just to Thomas.
  • There are a lot of variant readings here.
    • the NIV takes it to mean that Jesus is saying that the disciples did not really know him yet, but should.
    • Other versions take other readings and translate this as saying that “because” the disciples know Jesus they know God.
    • It seems to be working on both levels. “Because” the disciples know Jesus they “should” know God too (Borchert 111), but they don't.


Verse 8: Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” (NIV)

  • Philip's response seems to be a polite way of saying “we have no idea what you're talking about.” They didn't get what Jesus was saying, but they still wanted God.
  • The term used here for “show” is different than that used in the previous verse for “seem.”
    • The word Jesus used is a simple term for seeing something.
    • This word has the connotations of pointing something out, or to show someone something (Liddell 176).
    • So Philip is believing Jesus when he says Philip has seen God. Philip is here asking to have God pointed out so he can recognize God because Philip hadn't picked God out yet.


Verse 9: Jesus answered: “Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? (NIV)

  • If Jesus' previous statement is questionable about whether it is depreciating or not, this one is clear. They should have gotten it by now in Jesus' mind. But until the resurrection, clear seeing is very rare in the disciples when it comes to Jesus' true nature.
  • This first phrase of Jesus is one of the cruel tricks on Jesus' life. His disciples never really did know him until he was ready to leave them for good.
  • It must have been frustrating for Jesus here. He is having to repeat himself almost word for word, and the people who should know him the best aren't understanding him and by what they're saying, they're also proving they don't really know him either.


Message Ideas/Scripts/Liturgy That Use This Chapter

 VerseDirectionTopicAudienceOccasionCategory
I AM... with you8-27God is with us, supporting usTrinity
Immanence
GeneralGeneralMessage Idea