Exactly why were the disciples’ hearts troubled? Jesus had just told them He was leaving them (Jn. 13:33), He’d just revealed that one of them was a traitor (Jn. 13:21), and He even predicted that Peter would personally fail Him. (Jn. 13:36-38) In fact, Jesus had even revealed to them His own personal burden even though it in no way troubled Him the way these things troubled His disciples’ hearts. (Jn. 13:21) What they were lacking He would now provide: the proper context for why all these things were about to happen which, in fact, are the proper context of why the Messiah had to first accomplish all that would come about through His death and resurrection soon to come. The reasons provided why Jesus had to leave and go to the Father are not exclusive to the disciples present at that time, but for all believers at all times.
Read verses 1-6
Q: How do Christ’s words reflect the marriage process of those times?
A: After the bride and bridegroom are engaged by mutual agreement upon a marriage contract between them (similar to our covenant relationship with Christ), before the actual consummation of the marriage the groom went away to his father’s house to build a new addition to house his bride and family.
Point: The groom’s exact date of return was unknown to the bride, but when his work was completed and approved by his father, he returned and the wedding ceremony/feast took place. This is a teaching of the Messiah’s First and Second Comings and His relationship to the Church as His bride.
Q: Is Jesus speaking symbolically? Is he using allegory or parables of any kind here? Why is that important?
A: No, Jesus is speaking literally about heaven as a real place. There’s nothing symbolic or allegorical in His references to it. (Note: This should also teach us something about the nature of hell as well.)
Q: So how would you characterize the first reason Christ had to leave?
A: He had to prepare a place in heaven for us. It’s the assurance of eternal life.
Q: How might the famous words of v.6 reflect how a sinner can ever hope to get to heaven?
A: It’s a succinct application of the story about the Prodigal Son in Luke 15.
Though he is lost (Lk. 15:24), Christ is the Way to the Father.
Though he is ignorant (Lk. 15.77), Christ is the Truth.
Though he is dead spiritually (Lk. 15:24), Christ is the Life.
Ultimately the son arrives at the Father’s house upon returning in repentance.
Application: The answer to Thomas’ question is our own answer, that we’re expected to put Christ into practice in the mean time until He returns to permanently take us home.
Read verses 7-11
Q: Why might we be able to make a case that Philip has a history of “seeing” problems?
Nearly the first words recorded out of Philip’s mouth were, “Come and see” (Jn. 1:46)
He couldn’t “see” anyway to possibly feed the great crowd. (Jn. 6:7)
When the Greeks approached Philip the request was, “We wish to see Jesus”. (Jn. 12:21)
Point: Philip is a repeated example of what Jesus makes clear, that it is by faith that we see the Father as we come to know Christ better.
Q: How would you characterize the second reason Christ had to leave?
A: In order to reveal the Father to us by faith.
Application: The answer to Philip’s question is a response to our own situation that the greater issue where God is concerned is faith in Christ.
Read verses 12-14
Q: Did the disciples ever experience a time when their needs weren’t met?
A: During the course of Christ’s earthly ministry Christ supplied all of their needs.
Point: Every physical act of Christ has a dual, spiritual meaning. Taking care of their physical needs laid the foundation of promise to fulfill all their spiritual needs as well.
Q: So what does Christ provide in His absence?
A: He grants them the privilege of prayer.
Q: Given the context of these verses, what does it mean to “pray in Christ’s name”?
A: It means to pray for His glory, asking for whatever Jesus Himself would desire.
Q: Why are we able to make the case that the works He does through us today are “greater works”?
A: The works Christ does through us today are “greater” in the sense that we are mere human vessels, while those witnessed by the disciples were performed while He was God incarnate ministering on the earth.
Application: If you always want a positive answer to prayer, always pray that the outcome glorify Christ regardless of whether or not it conforms to one’s personal desires. It’s always about doing HIS work, not ours.
Read verses 15-26
Q: What is the first name used by Jesus to refer to the Holy Spirit?
A: “Helper”. (v.16 & 26). It could be literally translated, “the One standing alongside to help you”.
Q: Why does Jesus state “He will give you ANOTHER Helper”?
A: “Another” actually means “another of the same kind”. It not only refers to the fact that the Spirit is God just as Christ is God, but that while God in the form of Christ was originally with them on earth, when Christ goes away God in the form of the Spirit will continue to be with us.
Point: The Spirit living within the disciples would take the place of the Savior living beside the disciples.
Q: What is the second name by which Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit?
A: “The Spirit of truth”. (v.17)
Q: How is this role as the Spirit of truth further described here?
“He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves me”. (v.21)
“If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word”. (v.23)
“He who does not love Me does not keep My words”. (v.24)
“…the word which you hear is not mine, but the Father’s who sent Me”. (v.24)
“He [the Holy Spirit] will teach you all things”. (v.26)
“Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.
— John 17:17
Q: What term does Christ use which speaks of a deeper relationship with Christ?
A: “Orphans”. (v.18) In that era and culture a father wasn’t just a biological parent but a teacher, guide, and guardian.
Point: Jesus’ leaving not only enabled the sending of the Holy Spirit, but made possible a deeper relationship with Christ in the process.
Q: According to v.21-26, how will a deeper relationship come about?
It will come about by obedience to the Word. (v.21)
It will come about by love for the Word. (v.24)
It will come about by the teaching of the Word by the Holy Spirit. (v.26)
Application: A loving relationship with Christ is not based on shallow emotions or talk, but by loving and obeying His Word through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Q: How does this section contrast with the very opening section of this chapter?
A: In v.1-3 Jesus talks about believers going to heaven to live with the Father and Son, but here He talks about the Father and Son coming to abide in the believer on earth through the Holy Spirit.
Q: Why might it be significant that although Jesus is leaving He promises in v.18, “I will come to you”?
A: It refers to several things: His coming to the disciples after His resurrection, His coming to the disciples and all believers through the Person of the Holy Spirit, and His future coming to take all believers to heaven. These things were only possible by His “going away”.
Read verses 27-31
Q: What is the kind of peace one gets from the world?
A: The world’s peace is shallow, unsatisfying, temporary at best, and almost always consisting of some kind of appeasement.
Q: How does this differ from the kind of peace provided in Christ?
A: It’s a peace that transcends the conditions of the world, not compromising the truth so as to produce a greater assurance of life both in the present and the one to come. It can only be realized through a personal relationship with Him.
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
— Romans 5:1
The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
— Philippians 4:9
Application: Psychologists often refer to obtaining “peace of mind”; Christ, through His death and resurrection, provides “peace with God”.
Q: What does Jesus mean when stating, “the Father is greater than I”?
A: While in earthly form, Jesus the Son of Man in a human body was obedient to the Father who provided Christ with His words and works. By going away He would once again become the Son of God, equal with the Father.
Q: What is a greater benefit of Christ’s “going away” where Satan is concerned?
A: Christ’s death and resurrection will defeat Satan, the author of confusion and unrest. (The opposite of biblical “peace”.)
Point: By putting into practice in His own life the very things Christ is requiring of all believers, to “do exactly as the Father commanded”, He is providing the ultimate example of how we should live until Christ’s return.
Application: The final benefit of Christ “going away” is to grant His peace.
Actually, you could summarize the benefits of each section above into a single word:
How are these qualities reflected in your own life?
How do they speak of areas of your personal relationship with Christ warranting improvement?
What measurements have you used that aren’t in this list? What might that speak of?
To what degree do you agree or disagree with the statement, “None of these qualities are possible without an obedient and loving commitment to God’s Word”?