Unit: John (Part 2)
Theme: I AM
Lesson Text: John 14:1-21, 27
Supplemental Texts: John 10:9; Acts 4:12; Romans 5:1-2; Ephesians 2:14-18; 1 Timothy 2:5-6
Aim: Believe in Jesus and do great things in his name; have peace in your heart.
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Download a PDF of this week’s lesson material (the study by Mark Scott, the Application by David Faust, and Discovery Questions): LOOKOUT_Jan21_2024.
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By Mark Scott
The exclusivity of Jesus is a problem in a pluralistic country like the United States. There is immediate pushback when anyone says, “This is the only way.” Some people think such exclusivity is narrow-minded. They contend Christian believers are pushing them into an uncomfortable corner. They charge Christians with making a reductive fallacy (i.e., a logical fallacy where many options are reduced to just one).
But what else are Christians to believe and say when Jesus said that he is the gate (John 10:9), and when Peter said that salvation is found in no one else (Acts 4:12), and when Paul said that there is one mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5)?
John 14–16 contains the Upper Room Discourse of Jesus on the night of his betrayal. It is possible that only chapter 14 was actually spoken in the upper room, for the chapter ends with these spoken words, “Come now; let us leave” (14:31). But did they actually leave right then? Jesus could have spoken the words of John 15–16 as they journeyed to Gethsemane, but he just as easily could have said these things while still in that upper room. The discourse contains warnings, promises, teaching, dialogue, metaphors, object lessons, and claims. Jesus’ most stunning claim is that he is the only way to God (14:6).
He Is the Way to the Father’s House
After Jesus washed the disciples’ feet, predicted Judas’s betrayal and Peter’s denial, and taught about the new mandate (love commandment), he sought to calm the disciples’ fears by saying, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” He repeated those words in verse 27. He acknowledged that the disciples believed in God (Father), and he challenged them to put their faith in him.
Where is God’s house? Is it the universe? The tabernacle? The temple? The heart of believers? It seems likely that Jesus was speaking of heaven. This house has many rooms. Heaven is big. Heaven is being prepared. Once Jesus returns, heaven will return with him, and heaven and earth will be rejoined in perfect harmony (Revelation 21:1-5). The best thing about heaven is Jesus. He will be there.
Jesus’ words confused at least two of the disciples (Thomas and Philip). Thomas expressed what the others were thinking, “How do we get there?” Jesus made his exclusive claim. He is the only way because he is the truth and the life. The only way to God (the Father) is through Jesus. Philip wanted to see the Father. Jesus reminded him that in seeing Jesus they had in fact seen the Father. Jesus is the way to the Father’s house.
He Is the Way to the Father’s Works
Since the triune God is united and in perfect agreement, one member can lead people to another member’s work. The Father is at work in the world to bring it back under his control. Jesus came to accomplish the Father’s work by taming fallen creation, healing people, and saving the planet. The disciples would soon embark on participating in that same mission.
Father and Son are so united that to believe in one is to believe in the other. To be in one is to be in the other. To do the work of one is to participate in the work of the other. Jesus’ works (miracles) were evidence of how the Father was destroying the works of the devil (1 John 3:8). Jesus invited the disciples into those works (the miracles recorded in Acts). Jesus said people who believe in him and his works will do even greater things. What will these be? Greater than miracles? He perhaps means preaching the gospel. These works must include prayer, and they must be in accordance with Jesus’ commands, or otherwise one is doing ministry by the power of the flesh.
He Is the Way to the Father’s Helper
John 14:15-21, 27
In each chapter of the discourse, Jesus made promises to the disciples about the Holy Spirit. He is the Advocate (i.e., the one who came alongside another, thus The Helping Spirit by Carl Ketcherside). This Spirit of truth had been living alongside of the disciples for three years. Now he would be living in them. They would not be orphans.
Jesus would be taken from the disciples within hours, but they would see him again after his resurrection. Following his ascension, the disciples would realize the great unity of the Godhead and experience both love and peace.
In AD 1054, there was a great split between the Eastern and Western churches over filioque (a Latin word meaning “and the Son”). Did the Father give the Spirit or did the Son give the Spirit? Yes! Because God is the way to God.