The next stop on our worldwide tour needs no introduction—welcome to Disneyland! This embodiment of hope-filled wonder is the stuff of childhood dreams; sheer anticipation of a trip is enough to keep a kid awake for a month. In the fourteenth chapter of John, Jesus lays out massive promises for those who love Him. The peace of Christ Himself? Dwelling with Him forever in heaven? The Holy Spirit to help them individually? Father and Son making a home with them right here, right now? Answered prayers all over the place? These aren’t castles in the air, friends; as unbelievable as they sound, such pledges are the reality of our present and future state as Christ-followers. If you’re ready to witness some magic, let’s head on in and explore!
Scripture writing: Verses 25-27 were my favorites to copy out using The Message:
“I’m telling you these things while I’m still living with you. The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at My request, will make everything plain to you. He will remind you of all the things I have told you. I’m leaving you well and whole. That’s My parting gift to you. Peace. I don’t leave you the way you’re used to being left—feeling abandoned, bereft. So don’t be upset. Don’t be distraught.
Jesus is so kind and tender with His friends here. He’s trusting them with a hard truth but doing it with gentleness—the same gentleness He pours into my own heart.
Studying: A note over verse 27 in the ESV Study Bible points out that
The expression ‘peace’ (Hebrew shalom) had a much richer connotation than the English word does since it conveyed not merely the absence of conflict and turmoil but also the notion of positive blessing, especially in terms of a right relationship with God … and also, as a result, the idea that ‘all is well’ in one’s life.
Pause for a minute to consider what that last phrase might actually feel like: “the idea that ‘all is well’ in one’s life.” In an age of unprecedented discontent, such deep satisfaction with the way things are feels elusive, almost imaginary. But Jesus gifts it to each of His disciples, promising that we could survey every aspect of our lives and not wish for one. single. thing. to be different. Only the power of Christ could accomplish such a feat.
On a different note, Angie Smith once again defends Thomas in Chasing God. She ponders the conversation from verses 5-7 in which the confused disciple argues with Jesus. She writes,
In fairness, Thomas really didn’t know where Christ was going. None of us do. We know where He says He is, and we believe Him, but we don’t know the place. And if it’s up to us to find Him there, we need a better set of directions. But it isn’t. Which is why the Lord explains that He is the way, because our eyes shouldn’t be on the ground, looking for bread crumbs that lead to Him. Because if they are, they aren’t beholding that for which they were created to see: Him.
Reading maps is vastly different from following the Mapmaker. One allows you control; the other allows you relationship.
Commentaries: Matthew Henry’s insight about Jesus’ command in verse 1 to “let not your hearts be troubled” would prove a shot in the arm for our modern stressful climate:
Keep possession of your own souls when you can keep possession of nothing else. The heart is the main fort; whatever you do, keep trouble from this.
Cultivating a vibrant inner world is crucial in light of eternity (and in the face of Instagram, for that matter). If we’d put half the effort into “keeping possession of our own souls” that we do in keeping possession of our own image, the Church would be in much better shape.
Christ makes a somewhat puzzling statement in verse 28: “You heard Me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.” D.A. Carson explains,
If Jesus’ disciples truly loved Him, they would be glad that He is returning to His Father, for He is returning to the sphere where He belongs, to the glory He had with the Father before the world began, to the place where the Father is undiminished in glory, unquestionably greater than the Son in His incarnate state. To this point the disciples have responded emotionally entirely according to their perception of their own gain or loss. If they had loved Jesus, they would have perceived that His departure to His own ‘home’ was His gain and rejoiced with Him at the prospect. As it is, their grief is an index of their self-centeredness … The failure of these first disciples, sad to say, has often been repeated in the history of the church, where Christians have been far more alert to their own griefs and sorrows than to the things that bring their Master joy.
Dang, Carson, you’re stepping on some toes here! My feelings in hard moments are all I fix on. Lifting my gaze to Jesus and what He’s after in the middle of those hard moments would point to a much more mature love than my toddler-heart can drum up.
Sermons: Pastor Mark makes a beautiful point in A Personal Relationship with the Holy Spirit:
You cannot wear the Holy Spirit out—unlike those who love us most in this world, He is an inexhaustible source of energy for life.
What relief this brings! I can release others from shouldering the weight of my need and cast it all on the Spirit (who approaches my mountainous lack with delight rather than disappointment or despair).
The best John MacArthur moment from this chapter occurs when he starts musing over the Christian’s eternal destination:
Sometimes heaven is called a country because of its vastness. Sometimes heaven is called a city because of its inhabitants. Sometimes it’s called a kingdom because of its ruler and order. Sometimes it’s called a paradise because of its beauties. Sometimes it’s called a house because of its family.
I’m fully convinced that the more consistently and excellently and deeply we think about heaven, the more effective our time here on earth will be.
Journaling: In total honesty, the journaling portion got all up in my business. The Holy Spirit, as promised throughout this amazing chapter, was definitely at work. He showed me that
Living like an orphan is a slap in the face to a God who paid the price of the cross for my adoption. Refusing to embrace my new identity isn’t the sad wounding of a victim; it’s crushing defiance and unbelief, a declaration that His work isn’t enough to cover, recover, or change me.
I’ve found it easy to excuse a scarcity mentality as a byproduct of my backstory. But I’m recognizing that I can’t cling to both it and the cross at the same time. Something’s got to give—and choosing a tomorrow that looks like my yesterday would be pure insanity.
Meditation: Verse 18 (“I will not leave/abandon you as orphans; I will come to you”) carries so much emotional weight, and it struck me:
‘Leave’ and ‘abandon’ are trigger words to many people. They mark moments of deep loss, inspiring fresh fear for the future. But with Jesus, we do the leaving in a redeemed way: we abandon our loneliness, our idolatry, our poisoned past, our despair. We leave it all behind to become something new, and in the leaving we find Someone who goes with us.
The park is closing, so we’d better pile back onto our bus. In the words of Jesus in verse 31, “Come now; let us leave.” Only a few hours remain before the best and worst event in the history of mankind unfolds.
*Following the study schedule right along, my binder is thickening up with doodles, prayers, and tons of background information on the text. This summary is just the condensed version, the highlights of each approach—you can find my full binder notes for John 14 here.