This chapter is a continuation of Christ's discourse with his disciples after supper. When he had convicted and discarded Judas, he set himself to comfort the rest, who were full of sorrow upon what he had said of leaving them, and a great many good words and comfortable words he here speaks to them. The discourse in interlocutory; as Peter in the foregoing chapter, so Thomas, and Philip, and Jude, in this interposed their thoughts upon what he said, according to the liberty he was pleased to allow them. Free conferences are as instructive as solemn speeches, and more so. The general scope of this chapter is in the first verse; it is designed to keep trouble from their hearts; now in order to this they must believe: and let them consider, I. Heaven as their everlasting rest, ver. 2, 3. II. Christ himself as their way, ver. 4-11. III. The great power they shall be clothed with by the prevalency of their prayers, ver. 12-14. IV. The coming of another comforter, ver. 15-17. V. The fellowship and communion that should be between him and them after his departure, ver. 18-24. VI. The instructions which the Holy Ghost should give them, ver. 25, 26. VII. The peace Christ bequeathed to them, ver. 27. VIII. Christ's own cheerfulness in his departure, ver. 28-31. And this which he said to them is designed for the comfort of all his faithful followers.
Christ's Consolatory Discourse.
1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. 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 unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
In these verses we have,
I. A general caution which Christ gives to his disciples against trouble of heart (v. 1): Let not your heart be troubled. They now began to be troubled, were entering into this temptation. Now here see,
1. How Christ took notice of it. Perhaps it was apparent in their looks; it was said (ch. xiii. 22), They looked one upon another with anxiety and concern, and Christ looked upon them all, and observed it; at least, it was intelligible to the Lord Jesus, who is acquainted with all our secret undiscovered sorrows, with the wound that bleeds inwardly; he knows not only how we are afflicted, but how we stand affected under our afflictions, and how near they lie to our hearts; he takes cognizance of all the trouble which his people are at any time in danger of being overwhelmed with; he knows our souls in adversity. Many things concurred to trouble the disciples now.
(1.) Christ had just told them of the unkindness he should receive from some of them, and this troubled them all. Peter, no doubt, looked very sorrowful upon what Christ said to him, and all the rest were sorry for him and for themselves too, not knowing whose turn it should be to be told next of some ill thing or other they should do. As to this, Christ comforts them; though a godly jealousy over ourselves is of great use to keep us humble and watchful, yet it must not prevail to the disquieting of our spirits and the damping of our holy joy.
(2.) He had just told them of his own departure from them, that he should not only go away, but go away in a cloud of sufferings. They must shortly hear him loaded with reproaches, and these will be as a sword in their bones; they must see him barbarously abused and put to death, and this also will be a sword piercing through their own souls, for they had loved him, and chosen him, and left all to follow him. When we now look upon Christ pierced, we cannot but mourn and be in bitterness, though we see the glorious issue and fruit of it; much more grievous must the sight be to them, who could then look no further. If Christ depart from them [1.] They will think themselves shamefully disappointed; for they looked that this had been he that should have delivered Israel, and should have set upon his kingdom in secular power and glory, and, in expectation of this, had lost all to follow him. Now, if he leave the world in the same circumstances of meanness and poverty in which he had lived, and worse, they are quite defeated. [2.] They will think themselves sadly deserted and exposed. They knew by experience what little presence of mind they had in difficult emergencies, that they could count upon nothing but being ruined and run down if they part with their Master. Now, in reference to all these, Let not your heart be troubled. Here are three words, upon any of which the emphasis may significantly be laid. First, Upon the word troubled, me tarassestho. Be not so troubled as to be put into a hurry and confusion, like the troubled sea when it cannot rest. He does not say, "Let not your hearts be sensible of the griefs, or sad because of them" but, "Be not ruffled and discomposed, be not cast down and disquieted," Ps. xlii. 5. Secondly, Upon the word heart: "Though the nation and city be troubled, though your little family and flock be troubled, yet let not your heart be troubled. 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, keep this with all diligence. The spirit must sustain the infirmity, therefore, see that this be not wounded. Thirdly, Upon the word your: "You that are my disciples and followers, my redeemed, chosen, sanctified ones, however others are overwhelmed with the sorrows of this present time, be not you so, for you know better; let the sinners in Zion tremble, but let the sons of Zion be joyful in their king." Herein Christ's disciples should do more than others, should keep their minds quiet, when every thing else is unquiet.
2. The remedy he prescribes against this trouble of mind, which he saw ready to prevail over them; in general, believe—pisteuete. (1.) Some read it in both parts imperatively, "Believe in God, and his perfections and providence, believe also in me, and my mediation. Build with confidence upon the great acknowledged principles of natural religion: that there is a God, that he is most holy, wise, powerful, and good; that he is the governor of the world, and has the sovereign disposal of all events; and comfort yourselves likewise with the peculiar doctrines of that holy religion which I have taught you." But, (2.) We read the former as an acknowledgment that they did believe in God, for which he commends them: "But, if you would effectually provide against a stormy day, believe also in me." Through Christ we are brought into covenant with God, and become interested in his favour and promise, which otherwise as sinners we must despair of, and the remembrance of God would have been our trouble; but, by believing in Christ as the Mediator between God and man, our belief in God becomes comfortable; and this is the will of God, that all men should honour the Son as they honour the Father, by believing in the Son as they believe in the Father. Those that rightly believe in God will believe in Jesus Christ, whom he has made known to them; and believing in God through Jesus Christ is an excellent means of keeping trouble from the heart. The joy of faith is the best remedy against the griefs of sense; it is a remedy with a promise annexed to it; the just shall live by faith; a remedy with a probatum est annexed to it. I had fainted unless I had believed.
II. Here is a particular direction to act faith upon the promise of eternal life, v. 2, 3. He had directed them to trust to God, and to trust in him; but what must they trust God and Christ for? Trust them for a happiness to come when this body and this world shall be no more, and for a happiness to last as long as the immortal soul and the eternal world shall last. Now this is proposed as a sovereign cordial under all the troubles of this present time, to which there is that in the happiness of heaven which is admirably adapted and accommodated. The saints have encouraged themselves with this in their greatest extremities, That heaven would make amends for all. Let us see how this is suggested here.
1. Believe and consider that really there is such a happiness: In my Father's house there are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you, v. 2.
(1.) See under what notion the happiness of heaven is here represented: as mansions, many mansions in Christ's Father's house. [1.] Heaven is a house, not a tent or tabernacle; it is a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. [2.] It is a Father's house: my Father's house; and his Father is our Father, to whom he was now ascending; so that in right of their elder brother all true believers shall be welcome to that happiness as to their home. It is his house who is King of kings and Lord of lords, dwells in light, and inhabits eternity. [3.] There are mansions there; that is, First, Distinct dwellings, an apartment for each. Perhaps there is an allusion to the priests' chambers that were about the temple. In heaven there are accommodations for particular saints; though all shall be swallowed up in God, yet our individuality shall not be lost there; every Israelite had his lot in Canaan, and every elder a seat, Rev. iv. 4. Secondly, Durable dwellings. Monai, from mneio, maneo, abiding places. The house itself is lasting; our estate in it is not for a term of years, but a perpetuity. Here we are as in an inn; in heaven we shall gain a settlement. The disciples had quitted their houses to attend Christ, who had not where to lay his head, but the mansions in heaven will make them amends. [4.] There are many mansions, for there are many sons to be brought to glory, and Christ exactly knows their number, nor will be straitened for room by the coming of more company than he expects. He had told Peter that he should follow him (ch. xiii. 36), but let not the rest be discouraged, in heaven there are mansions for them all. Rehoboth, Gen. xxvi. 22.
(2.) See what assurance we have of the reality of the happiness itself, and the sincerity of the proposal of it to us: "If it were not so, I would have told you. If you had deceived yourselves, when you quitted your livelihoods, and ventured your lives for me, in prospect of a happiness future and unseen, I would soon have undeceived you." The assurance is built, [1.] Upon the veracity of his word. It is implied, "If there were not such a happiness, valuable and attainable, I would not have told you that there was." [2.] Upon the sincerity of his affection to them. As he is true, and would not impose upon them himself, so he is kind, and would not suffer them to be imposed upon. If either there were no such mansions, or none designed for them, who had left all to follow him, he would have given them timely notice of the mistake, that they might have made an honourable retreat to the world again, and have made the best they could of it. Note, Christ's good-will to us is a great encouragement to our hope in him. He loves us too well, and means us too well, to disappoint the expectations of his own raising, or to leave those to be of all men most miserable who have been of him most observant.
2. Believe and consider that the design of Christ's going away was to prepare a place in heaven for his disciples. "You are grieved to think of my going away, whereas I go on your errand, as the forerunner; I am to enter for you." He went to prepare a place for us; that is, (1.) To take possession for us, as our advocate or attorney, and so to secure our title as indefeasible. Livery of seisin was given to Christ, for the use and behoof of all that should believe on him. (2.) To make provision for us as our friend and father. The happiness of heaven, though prepared before the foundation of the world, yet must be further fitted up for man in his fallen state. It consisting much in the presence of Christ there, it was therefore necessary that he should go before, to enter into that glory which his disciples were to share in. Heaven would be an unready place for a Christian if Christ were not there. He went to prepare a table for them, to prepare thrones for them, Luke xxii. 30. Thus Christ declares the fitness of heaven's happiness for the saints, for whom it is prepared.
3. Believe and consider that therefore he would certainly come again in due time, to fetch them to that blessed place which he was now going to possess for himself and prepare for them (v. 3): "If I go and prepare a place for you, if this be the errand of my journey, you may be sure, when every thing is ready, I will come again, and receive you to myself, so that you shall follow me hereafter, that where I am there you may be also." Now these are comfortable words indeed. (1.) That Jesus Christ will come again; erchomai—I do come, intimating the certainty of it, that he will come and that he is daily coming. We say, We are coming, when we are busy in preparing for our coming, and so he is; all he does has a reference and tendency to his second coming. Note, The belief of Christ's second coming, of which he has given us the assurance, is an excellent preservative against trouble of heart, Phil. iv. 5; James v. 8. (2.) That he will come again to receive all his faithful followers to himself. He sends for them privately at death, and gathers them one by one; but they are to make their public entry in solemn state all together at the last day, and then Christ himself will come to receive them, to conduct them in the abundance of his grace, and to welcome them in the abundance of his love. He will hereby testify the utmost respect and endearment imaginable. The coming of Christ is in order to our gathering together unto him, 2 Thess. ii. 1. (3.) That where he is there they shall be also. This intimates, what many other scriptures declare, that the quintessence of heaven's happiness is being with Christ there, ch. xvii. 24; Phil. i. 23; 1 Thess. iv. 17. Christ speaks of his being there as now present, that where I am; where I am to be shortly, where I am to be eternally; there you shall be shortly, there you shall be eternally: not only there, in the same place; but here, in the same state: not only spectators of his glory, as the three disciples on the mount, but sharers in it. (4.) That this may be inferred from his going to prepare a place for us, for his preparations shall not be in vain. He will not build and furnish lodgings, and let them stand empty. He will be the finisher of that of which he is the author. If he has prepared the place for us, he will prepare us for it, and in due time put us in possession of it. As the resurrection of Christ is the assurance of our resurrection, so his ascension, victory, and glory, are an assurance of ours.
Christ's Consolatory Discourse.
4 And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. 5 Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? 6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. 7 If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. 8 Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us. 9 Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father? 10 Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake.
Christ, having set the happiness of heaven before them as the end, here shows them himself as the way to it, and tells them that they were better acquainted both with the end they were to aim at and with the way they were to walk in than they thought they were: You know, that is, 1. "You may know; it is none of the secret things which belong not to you, but one of the things revealed; you need not ascend into heaven, nor go down into the deep, for the word is nigh you (Rom. x. 6-8), level to you." 2. "You do know; you know that which is the home and which is the way, though perhaps not as the home and as the way. You have been told it, and cannot but know, if you would recollect and consider it." Note, Jesus Christ is willing to make the best of his people's knowledge, though they are weak and defective in it. He knows the good that is in them better than they do themselves, and is certain that they have that knowledge, and faith, and love, of which they themselves are not sensible, or not certain.
This word of Christ gave occasion to two of his disciples to address themselves to him, and he answers them both.
I. Thomas enquired concerning the way (v. 5), without any apology for contradicting his Master.
1. He said, "Lord, we know not whither thou goest, to what place or what state, and how can we know the way in which we must follow thee? We can neither guess at it, nor enquire it out, but must still be at a loss." Christ's testimony concerning their knowledge made them more sensible of their ignorance, and more inquisitive after further light. Thomas here shows more modesty than Peter, who thought he could follow Christ now. Peter was the more solicitous to know whither Christ went. Thomas here, though he complains that he did not know this, yet seems more solicitous to know the way. Now, (1.) His confession of his ignorance was commendable enough. If good men be in the dark, and know but in part, yet they are willing to own their defects. But, (2.) The cause of his ignorance was culpable. They knew not whither Christ went, because they dreamed of a temporal kingdom in external pomp and power, and doted upon this, notwithstanding what he had said again and again to the contrary. Hence it was that, when Christ spoke of going away and their following him, their fancy ran upon his going to some remarkable city or other, Bethlehem, or Nazareth, or Capernaum, or some of the cities of the Gentiles, as David to Hebron, there to be anointed king, and to restore the kingdom to Israel; and which way this place lay, where these castles in the air were to be built, east, west, north, or south, they could not tell, and therefore knew not the way. Thus still we think ourselves more in the dark than we need be concerning the future state of the church, because we expect its worldly prosperity, whereas it is spiritual advancement that the promise points at. Had Thomas understood, as he might have done, that Christ was going to the invisible world, the world of spirits, to which spiritual things only have a reference, he would not have said, Lord, we do not know the way.
II. Now to this complaint of their ignorance, which included a desire to be taught, Christ gives a full answer, v. 6, 7. Thomas had enquired both whither he went and what was the way, and Christ answers both these enquiries and makes good what he had said, that they would have needed no answer if they had understood themselves aright; for they knew him, and he was the way; they knew the Father, and he was the end; and therefore, whither I go you know, and the way you know. Believe in God as the end, and in me as the way (v. 1), and you do all you should do.
(1.) He speaks of himself as the way, v. 6. Dost thou not know the way? I am the way, and I only, for no man comes to the Father but by me. Great things Christ here saith of himself, showing us,
[1.] The nature of his mediation: He is the way, the truth, and the life.
First, Let us consider these first distinctly. 1. Christ is the way, the highway spoken of, Isa. xxxv. 8. Christ was his own way, for by his own blood he entered into the holy place (Heb. ix. 12), and he is our way, for we enter by him. By his doctrine and example he teaches us our duty, by his merit and intercession he procures our happiness, and so he is the way. In him God and man meet, and are brought together. We could not get to the tree of life in the way of innocency; but Christ is another way to it. By Christ, as the way an intercourse is settled and kept up between heaven and earth; the angels of God ascend and descend; our prayers go to God, and his blessings come to us by him; this is the way that leads to rest, the good old way. The disciples followed him, and Christ tells them that they followed the road, and, while they continued following him, they would never be out of their way. 2. He is the truth. (1.) As truth is opposed to figure and shadow. Christ is the substance of all the Old-Testament types, which are therefore said to be figures of the true, Heb. ix. 24. Christ is the true manna (ch. vi. 32), the true tabernacle, Heb. viii. 2. (2.) As truth is opposed to falsehood and error; the doctrine of Christ is true doctrine. When we enquire for truth, we need learn no more than the truth as it is in Jesus. (3.) As truth is opposed to fallacy and deceit; he is true to all that trust in him, as true as truth itself, 2 Cor. i. 20. 3. He is the life; for we are alive unto God only in and through Jesus Christ, Rom. vi. 11. Christ formed in us is that to our souls which our souls are to our bodies. Christ is the resurrection and the life.
Secondly, Let us consider these jointly, and with reference to each other. Christ is the way, the truth, and the life; that is, 1. He is the beginning, the middle, and the end. In him we must set out, go on, and finish. As the truth, he is the guide of our way; as the life, he is the end of it. 2. He is the true and living way (Heb. x. 20); there are truth and life in the way, as well as at the end of it. 3. He is the true way to life, the only true way; other ways may seem right, but the end of them is the way of death.
[2.] The necessity of his mediation: No man cometh to the Father but by me. Fallen man must come to God as a Judge, but cannot come to him as a Father, otherwise than by Christ as Mediator. We cannot perform the duty of coming to God, by repentance and the acts of worship, without the Spirit and grace of Christ, nor obtain the happiness of coming to God as our Father without his merit and righteousness; he is the high priest of our profession, our advocate.
(2.) He speaks of his Father as the end (v. 7): "If you had known me aright, you would have known my Father also; and henceforth, by the glory you have seen in me and the doctrine you have heard from me, you know him and have seen him." Here is, [1.] A tacit rebuke to them for their dulness and carelessness in not acquainting themselves with Jesus Christ, though they had been his constant followers and associates: If you had known me—. They knew him, and yet did not know him so well as they might and should have known him. They knew him to be the Christ, but did not follow on to know God in him. Christ had said to the Jews (ch. viii. 19): If you had known me, you would have known my Father also; and here the same to his disciples; for it is hard to say which is more strange, the wilful ignorance of those that are enemies to the light, or the defects and mistakes of the children of light, that have had such opportunities of knowledge. If they had known Christ aright, they would have known that his kingdom is spiritual, and not of this world; that he came down from heaven, and therefore must return to heaven; and then they would have known his Father also, would have known whither he designed to go, when he said, I go to the Father, to a glory in the other world, not in this. If we knew Christianity better, we should better know natural religion. [2.] A favourable intimation that he was well satisfied concerning their sincerity, notwithstanding the weakness of their understanding: "And henceforth, from my giving you this hint, which will serve as a key to all the instructions I have given you hitherto, let me tell you, you know him, and have seen him, inasmuch as you know me, and have seen me;" for in the face of Christ we see the glory of God, as we see a father in his son that resembles him. Christ tells his disciples that they were not so ignorant as they seemed to be; for, though little children, yet they had known the Father, 1 John ii. 13. Note, Many of the disciples of Christ have more knowledge and more grace than they think they have, and Christ takes notice of, and is well pleased with, that good in them which they themselves are not aware of; for those that know God do not all at once know that they know him, 1 John ii. 3.
II. Philip enquired concerning the Father (v. 8), and Christ answered him, v. 9-11, where observe,
1. Philip's request for some extraordinary discovery of the Father. He was not so forward to speak as some others of them were, and yet, from an earnest desire of further light, he cries out, Show us the Father. Philip listened to what Christ said to Thomas, and fastened upon the last words, You have seen him. "Nay," says Philip, "that is what we want, that is what we would have: Show us the Father and it sufficeth us." (1.) This supposes an earnest desire of acquaintance with God as a Father. The petition is, "Show us the Father; give us to know him in that relation to us;" and this he begs, not for himself only, but for the rest of the disciples. The plea is, It sufficeth us. He not only professes it himself, but will pass his word for his fellow-disciples. Grant us but one sight of the Father, and we have enough. Jansenius saith, "Though Philip did not mean it, yet the Holy Ghost, by his mouth, designed here to teach us that the satisfaction and happiness of a soul consist in the vision and fruition of God," Ps. xvi. 11; xvii. 15. In the knowledge of God the understanding rests, and is at the summit of its ambition; in the knowledge of God as our Father the soul is satisfied; a sight of the Father is a heaven upon earth, fills us with joy unspeakable. (2.) As Philip speaks it here, it intimates that he was not satisfied with such a discovery of the Father as Christ thought fit to give them, but he would prescribe to him, and press upon him, something further and no less than some visible appearance of the glory of God, like that to Moses (Exod. xxxiii. 22), and to the elders of Israel, Exod. xxiv. 9-11. "Let us see the Father with our bodily eyes, as we see thee, and it sufficeth us; we will trouble thee with no more questions, Whither goest thou?" And so it manifests not only the weakness of his faith, but his ignorance of the gospel way of manifesting the Father, which is spiritual, and not sensible. Such a sight of God, he thinks, would suffice them, and yet those who did thus see him were not sufficed, but soon corrupted themselves, and made a graven image. Christ's institutions have provided better for the confirmation of our faith than our own inventions would.
2. Christ's reply, referring him to the discoveries already made of the Father, v. 9-11.
(1.) He refers him to what he had seen, v. 9. He upbraids him with his ignorance and inadvertency: "Have I been so long time with you, now above three years intimately conversant with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? Now, he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father? Wilt thou ask for that which thou hast already?" Now here,
[1.] He reproves him for two things: First, For not improving his acquaintance with Christ, as he might have done, to a clear and distinct knowledge of him: "Hast thou not known me, Philip, whom thou hast followed so long, and conversed with so much?" Philip, the first day he came to him, declared that he knew him to be the Messiah (ch. i. 45), and yet to this day did not know the Father in him. Many that have good knowledge in the scripture and divine things fall short of the attainments justly expected from them, for want of compounding the ideas they have, and going on to perfection. Many know Christ, who yet do not know what they might know of him, nor see what they should see in him. That which aggravated Philip's dulness was that he had so long an opportunity of improvement: I have been so long time with thee. Note, The longer we enjoy the means of knowledge and grace, the more inexcusable we are if we be found defective in grace and knowledge. Christ expects that our proficiency should be in some measure according to our standing, that we should not be always babes. Let us thus reason with ourselves: "Have I been so long a hearer of sermons, a student in the scripture, a scholar in the school of Christ, and yet so weak in the knowledge of Christ, and so unskilful in the word of righteousness?" Secondly, He reproves him for his infirmity in the prayer made, Show us the Father. Note, Herein appears much of the weakness of Christ's disciples that they know not what to pray for as they ought (Rom. viii. 26), but often ask amiss (Jam. iv. 3), for that which either is not promised or is already bestowed in the sense of the promise, as here.
[2.] He instructs him, and gives him a maxim which not only in general magnifies Christ and leads us to the knowledge of God in him, but justifies what Christ had said (v. 7): You know the Father, and have seen him; and answered what Philip had asked, Show us the Father. Why, saith Christ, the difficulty is soon over, for he that hath seen me hath seen the Father. First, All that saw Christ in the flesh might have seen the Father in him, if Satan had not blinded their minds, and kept them from a sight of Christ, as the image of God, 2 Cor. iv. 4. Secondly, All that saw Christ by faith did see the Father in him, though they were not suddenly aware that they did so. In the light of Christ's doctrine they saw God as the father of lights; in the miracles they saw God as the God of power, the finger of God. The holiness of God shone in the spotless purity of Christ's life, and his grace in all the acts of grace he did.
(2.) He refers him to what he had reason to believe (v. 10, 11): "Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me, and therefore that in seeing me thou hast seen the Father? Hast thou not believed this? If not, take my word for it, and believe it now."
[1.] See here what it is which we are to believe: That I am in the Father, and the Father in me; that is, as he had said (ch. x. 30), I and my Father are one. He speaks of the Father and himself as two persons, and yet so one as never any two were or can be. In knowing Christ as God of God, light of light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, and as being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made, we know the Father; and in seeing him thus we see the Father. In Christ we behold more of the glory of God than Moses did at Mount Horeb.
[2.] See here what inducements we have to believe this; and they are two:—We must believe it, First, For his word's sake: The words that I speak to you, I speak not of myself. See ch. vii. 16, My doctrine is not mine. What he said seemed to them careless as the word of man, speaking his own thought at his own pleasure; but really it was the wisdom of God that indited it and the will of God that enforced it. He spoke not of himself only, but the mind of God according to the eternal counsels. Secondly, For his works' sake: The Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth them; and therefore believe me for their sake. Observe, 1. The Father is said to dwell in him ho en emoi menon—he abideth in me, by the inseparable union of the divine and human nature: never had God such a temple to dwell in on earth as the body of the Lord Jesus, ch. ii. 21. Here was the true Shechinah, of which that in the tabernacle was but a type. The fulness of the Godhead dwelt in him bodily, Col. ii. 9. The Father so dwells in Christ that in him he may be found, as a man where he dwells. Seek ye the Lord, seek him in Christ, and he will be found, for in him he dwells. 2. He doeth the works. Many words of power, and works of mercy, Christ did, and the Father did them in him; and the work of redemption in general was God's own work. 3. We are bound to believe this, for the very works' sake. As we are to believe the being and perfections of God for the sake of the works of creation, which declare his glory; so we are to believe the revelation of God to man in Jesus Christ for the sake of the works of the Redeemer, those mighty works which, by showing forth themselves (Matt. xiv. 2), Show forth him, and God in him. Note, Christ's miracles are proofs of his divine mission, not only for the conviction of infidels, but for the confirmation of the faith of his own disciples, ch. ii. 11; v. 36; x. 37.
Christ's Consolatory Discourse.
12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. 13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.
The disciples, as they were full of grief to think of parting with their Master, so they were full of care what would become of themselves when he was gone; while he was with them, he was a support to them, kept them in countenance, kept them in heart; but, if he leave them, they will be as sheep having no shepherd, an easy prey to those who seek to run them down. Now, to silence these fears, Christ here assures them that they should be clothed with powers sufficient to bear them out. As Christ has all power, they, in his name, should have great power, both in heaven and in earth.
I. Great power on earth (v. 12): He that believeth on me (as I know you do), the works that I do shall he do also. This does not weaken the argument Christ had taken from his works, to prove himself one with the Father (that others should do as great works), but rather strengthens it; for the miracles which the apostles wrought were wrought in his name, and by faith in him; and this magnifies his power more than any thing, that he not only wrought miracles himself, but gave power to others to do so too.
1. Two things he assures them of:—
(1.) That they should be enabled to do such works as he had done, and that they should have a more ample power for the doing of them than they had had when he first sent them forth, Matt. x. 8. Did Christ heal the sick, cleanse the leper, raise the dead? So should they. Did he convince and convert sinners, and draw multitudes to him? So should they. Though he should depart, the work should not cease, nor fall to the ground, but should be carried on as vigorously and successfully as ever; and it is still in the doing.
(2.) That they should do greater works than these. [1.] In the kingdom of nature they should work greater miracles. No miracle is little, but some to our apprehension seem greater than others. Christ had healed with the hem of his garment, but Peter with his shadow (Acts v. 15), Paul by the handkerchief that had touched him, Acts xix. 12. Christ wrought miracles for two or three years in one country, but his followers wrought miracles in his name for many ages in divers countries. You shall do greater works, if there be occasion, for the glory of God. The prayer of faith, if at any time it had been necessary, would have removed mountains. [2.] In the kingdom of grace. They should obtain greater victories by the gospel than had been obtained while Christ was upon earth. The truth is, the captivating of so great a part of the world to Christ, under such outward disadvantages, was the miracle of all. I think this refers especially to the gift of tongues; this was the immediate effect of the pouring out of the Spirit, which was a constant miracle upon the mind, in which words are framed, and which was made to serve so glorious an intention as that of spreading the gospel to all nations in their own language. This was a greater sign to them that believed not (1 Cor. xiv. 22), and more powerful for their conviction, than any other miracle whatever.
2. The reason Christ gives for this is, Because I go unto my Father, (1.) "Because I go, it will be requisite that you should have such a power, lest the work suffer damage by my absence." (2.) "Because I go to the Father, I shall be in a capacity to furnish you with such a power, for I go to the Father, to send the Comforter, from whom you shall receive power," Acts i. 8. The wonderful works which they did in Christ's name were part of the glories of his exalted state, when he ascended on high, Eph. iv. 8.
II. Great power in heaven: "Whatsoever you shall ask, that will I do (v. 13, 14), as Israel, who was a prince with God. Therefore you shall do such mighty works, because you have such an interest in me, and I in my Father." Observe,
1. In what way they were to keep up communion with him, and derive power from him, when he was gone to the Father—by prayer. When dear friends are to be removed to a distance from each other, they provide for the settling of a correspondence; thus, when Christ was going to his Father, he tells his disciples how they might write to him upon every occasion, and send their epistles by a safe and ready way of conveyance, without danger of miscarrying, or lying by the way: "Let me hear from you by prayer, the prayer of faith, and you shall hear from me by the Spirit." This was the old way of intercourse with Heaven, ever since men began to call upon the name of the Lord; but Christ by his death has laid it more open, and it is still open to us. Here is, (1.) Humility prescribed: You shall ask. Though they had quitted all for Christ, they could demand nothing of him as a debt, but must be humble supplicants, beg or starve, beg or perish. (2.) Liberty allowed: "Ask any thing, any thing that is good and proper for you; any thing, provided you know what you ask, you may ask; you may ask for assistance in your work, for a mouth and wisdom, for preservation out of the hands of your enemies, for power to work miracles when there is occasion, for the success of the ministry in the conversion of souls; ask to be informed, directed, vindicated." Occasions vary, but they shall be welcome to the throne of grace upon every occasion.
2. In what name they were to present their petitions: Ask in my name. To ask in Christ's name is, (1.) To plead his merit and intercession, and to depend upon that plea. The Old-Testament saints had an eye to this when they prayed for the Lord's sake (Dan. ix. 17), and for the sake of the anointed (Ps. lxxxiv. 9), but Christ's mediation is brought to a clearer light by the gospel, and so we are enabled more expressly to ask in his name. When Christ dictated the Lord's prayer, this was not inserted, because they did not then so fully understand this matter as they did afterwards, when the Spirit was poured out. If we ask in our own name, we cannot expect to speed, for, being strangers, we have no name in heaven; being sinners, we have an ill name there; but Christ's is a good name, well known in heaven, and very precious. (2.) It is to aim at his glory and to seek this as our highest end in all our prayers.
3. What success they should have in their prayers: "What you ask, that will I do," v. 13. And again (v. 14), "I will do it. You may be sure I will: not only it shall be done, I will see it done, or give orders for the doing of it, but I will do it;" for he has not only the interest of an intercessor, but the power of a sovereign prince, who sits at the right hand of God, the hand of action, and has the doing of all in the kingdom of God. By faith in his name we may have what we will for the asking.
4. For what reason their prayers should speed so well: That the Father may be glorified in the Son. That is, (1.) This they ought to aim at, and have their eye upon, in asking. In this all our desires and prayers should meet as in their centre; to this they must all be directed, that God in Christ may be honoured by our services, and in our salvation. Hallowed be thy name is an answered prayer, and is put first, because, if the heart be sincere in this, it does in a manner consecrate all the other petitions. (2.) This Christ will aim at in granting, and for the sake of this will do what they ask, that hereby the glory of the Father in the Son may be manifested. The wisdom, power, and goodness of God were magnified in the Redeemer when by a power derived from him, and exerted in his name and for his service, his apostles and ministers were enabled to do such great things, both in the proofs of their doctrine and in the successes of it.