Chapter 10 | Table
of Contents | Chapter 12
The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah
THE CROSS AND THE CROWN
THE LAST DISCOURSES OF CHRIST
THE PRAYER OF CONSECRATION.1
(St. John 14-17.)
[1. As this chapter is really in the nature of a
commentation on St. John 14, 15, 16, 17, the reader is
requested to peruse it with the Bible-text beside him. Without this
it could scarcely be intelligently followed.]
THE new Institution of the Lord's Supper did not finally close
what passed at that Paschal Table. According to the Jewish Ritual, the Cup is
filled a fourth time, and the remaining part of the Hallel2
repeated. Then follow, besides Ps. cxxxvi., a number of prayers and hymns, of
which the comparatively late origin is not doubtful. The same remark applies
even more strongly to what follows after the fourth Cup. But, so far as we can
judge, the Institution of the Holy Supper was followed by the Discourse
recorded in St. John xiv. Then the concluding Psalms of the Hallel were
which the Master left the 'Upper Chamber.' The Discourse of Christ recorded in
St. John xvi., and His prayer,4
were certainly uttered after they had risen from the Supper, and before they
crossed the brook Kidron.5
In all probability they were, however, spoken before the Savior left the house.
We can scarcely imagine such a Discourse, and still less such a Prayer, to have
been uttered while traversing the narrow streets of Jerusalem on the way to
Matt. xxvi. 30; St. Mark xiv. 26.
John xviii. 1.
1. In any case there cannot be doubt, that the first Discourse6
was spoken while still at the Supper-Table. It connects itself closely with
that statement which had caused them so much sorrow and perplexity, that,
whither He was going, they could not come.7
If so, the Discourse itself may be arranged under these four particulars: explanatory
and corrective;8explanatory and teaching;9hortatory and promissory;10promissory and consolatory.11
Thus there is constant and connected progress, the two great elements in the
Discourse being: teaching and comfort.
in St. John xiv.
John xiii. 33.
At the outset we ought, perhaps, to remember the very common
Jewish idea, that those in glory occupied different abodes, corresponding to
If the words of Christ, about the place whither they could not follow Him, had
awakened any such thoughts, the explanation which He now gave must effectually
have dispelled them. Let not their hearts, then, be troubled at the prospect.
As they believed in God, so let them also have trust in Him.13
It was His Father's House of which they were thinking, and although there were
'many mansions,' or rather 'stations,' in it - and the choice of this word may
teach us something - yet they were all in that one House. Could they not trust
Him in this? Surely, if it had been otherwise, He would have told them, and not
left them to be bitterly disappointed in the end. Indeed, the object of His
going was the opposite of what they feared: it was to prepare by His Death and
Resurrection a place for them. Nor let them think that His going away would
imply permanent separation, because He had said they could not follow Him
thither. Rather did His going, not away, but to prepare a place for them, imply
His Coming again, primarily as regarded individuals at death, and secondarily
as regarded the Church - that He might receive them unto Himself, there to be
with Him. Not final separation, then, but ultimate gathering to Himself, did
His present going away mean. 'And whither I go, ye know the way.'14
Mets. 83 b, line 13 from top, and other passages.
prefer retaining the rendering of the A.V., as more congruous to the whole
John xiv. 1-4.
Jesus had referred to His going to the Father's House, and
implied that they knew the way which would bring them thither also. But His
Words had only the more perplexed, at least some of them. If, when speaking of
their not being able to go whither He went, He had not referred to a separation
between them in that land far away, whither was He going? And, in their
ignorance of this, how could they find their way thither? If any Jewish ideas
of the disappearance and the final manifestation of the Messiah lurked beneath
the question of Thomas, the answer of the Lord placed the matter in the
clearest light. He had spoken of the Father's House of many 'stations,' but
only one road led thither. They must all know it: it was that of personal
apprehension of Christ in the life, the mind, and the heart. The way to the
Father was Christ; the full manifestation of all spiritual truth, and the
spring of the true inner life were equally in Him. Except through Him, no man
could consciously come to the Father. Thomas had put his twofold question thus:
What was the goal? and, what was the way to it?15
In His answer Christ significantly reversed this order, and told them first
what was the way - Himself; and then what was the goal. If they had spiritually
known Him as the way, they would also have known the goal, the Father, and now,
by having the way clearly pointed out, they must also know the goal, God; nay,
He was, so to speak, visibly before them - and, gazing on Him, they saw the
shining track up to heaven, the Jacob's ladder at the top of which was the
John xiv. 7.
But once more appeared in the words of Philip that carnal
literalising, which would take the words of Christ in only an external sense.17
Sayings like these help us to perceive the absolute need of another Teacher,
the Holy Spirit. Philip understood the words of Christ as if He held out the
possibility of an actual sight of the Father; and this, as they imagined, would
for ever have put an end to all their doubts and fears. We also, too often,
would fain have such solution of our doubts, if not by actual vision, yet by
direct communication from on high. In His reply Jesus once more and
emphatically returned to this truth, that the vision, which was that of faith
alone, was spiritual, and in no way external; and that this manifestation had
been, and was fully, though spiritually and to faith, in Him. Or did Philip not
believe that the Father was really manifested in Christ, because he did not
actually behold Him? Those words which had drawn them and made them feel that
heaven was so near, they were not His own. but the message which He had brought
them from the Father; those works which He had done, they were the
manifestation of the Father's 'dwelling' in Him. Let them then believe this
vital union between the Father and Him - and, if their faith could not
absolutely rise to that height, let it at least rest on the lower level of the
evidence of His works. And so would He still lead us upwards, from the
experience of what He does to the knowledge of what He is. Yea, and if they
were ever tempted to doubt His works, faith might have evidence of them in
personal experience. Primarily, no doubt, the words18
about the greater works which they who believed in Him would do, because He
went to the Father, refer to the Apostolic preaching and working in its greater
results after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. To this also must primarily
refer the promise of unlimited answer to prayer in His Name.19
But in a secondary, yet most true and blessed, sense, both these promises have,
ever since the Ascension of Christ, also applied both to the Church and to all
A twofold promise, so wide as this, required, it must be felt,
not indeed limitation, but qualification - let us say, definition - so far as
concerns the indication of its necessary conditions. Unlimited power of working
by faith and of praying in faith is qualified by obedience to His Commandments,
such as is the outcome of personal love to Him.20
And for such faith, which compasseth all things in the obedience of love to
Christ, and can obtain all by the prayer of faith in His Name, there will be a
need of Divine Presence ever with them.21
While He had been with them, they had had one Paraclete,22
or 'Advocate,' Who had pleaded with them the cause of God, explained and
advocated the truth, and guarded and guided them. Now that His outward Presence
was to be withdrawn from earth, and He was to be their Paraclete or Advocate in
Heaven with the Father,23
He would, as His first act of advocacy, pray the Father, Who would send them
another Paraclete, or Advocate, who would continue with them for ever. To the
guidance and pleadings of that Advocate they could implicitly trust themselves,
for He was 'the Spirit of Truth.' The world, indeed, would not listen to His
pleadings, nor accept Him as their Guide, for the only evidence by which they
judged was that of outward sight and material results. But theirs would be
other Empirics: and experience not outward, but inward and spiritual. They
would know the reality of His Existence and the truth of His pleadings by the
continual Presence with them as a body of this Paraclete, and by His dwelling
in them individually.
John xiv. 15.
entering on the discussion of what has engaged so much attention, I must
content myself here with indicating the result at which I have arrived. This is
simply to abide by the real and natural meaning of the word, alike in the Greek
and in Rabbinic usage. This is: not Comforter but Advocate, or, it may be,
according to circumstances, Defender, Representative, Counsellor, and Pleader.
John ii 1.
Here (as Bengel justly remarks) begins the essential
difference between believers and the world. The Son was sent into the world;
not so the Holy Spirit. Again, the world receives not the Holy Spirit, because
it knows Him not; the disciples know Him, because they possess Him. Hence 'to
have known' and 'to have' are so conjoined, that not to have known is the cause
of not having, and to have is the cause of knowing.24
In view of this promised Advent of the other Advocate, Christ could tell the
disciples that He would not leave them 'orphans' in this world. Nay, in this
Advocate Christ Himself came to them. True, the world, which only saw and knew
what fell within the range of its sensuous and outward vision (ver. 17), would
not behold Him, but they would behold Him, because He lived, and they
also would live - and hence there was fellowship of spiritual life between
them.25 On that
day of the Advent of His Holy Spirit would they have full knowledge, because
experience, of the Christ's Return to the Father, and of their own being in
Christ, and of His being in them. And, as regarded this threefold relationship,
this must be ever kept in view: to be in Christ meant to love Him, and this
was: to have and to keep His commandments; Christ's being in the Father
implied, that they who were in Christ or loved Him would be loved also of His
Father; and, lastly, Christ's being in them implied, that He would love them
and manifest Himself to them.26
19 should, I think, be rendered: 'But you behold Me, because [for] I live, and
ye shall live.'
John xiv. 20, 21.
One outstanding novel fact here arrested the attention of the
disciples. It was contrary to all their Jewish ideas about the future
manifestation of the Messiah, and it led to the question of one of their
number, Judas - not Iscariot: 'Lord, what has happened, that to us Thou wilt
manifest Thyself, and not to the world?' Again they thought of an outward,
while He spoke of a spiritual and inward manifestation. It was of this coming
of the Son and the Father for the purpose of making 'station' with them27
that He spoke, of which the condition was love to Christ, manifested in the
keeping of His Word, and which secured the love of the Father also. On the
other hand, not to keep His Word was not to love Him, with all that it
involved, not only as regarded the Son, but also the Father, since the Word
which they heard was the Father's.28
27. kai monhn par autw poihsomeqa. Of
course only 'a station,' as the reference is only to the state of believers
while on earth.
Thus far then for this inward manifestation, springing from
life-fellowship with Christ, rich in the unbounded spiritual power of faith,
and fragrant with the obedience of love. All this He could say to them now in
the Father's Name - as the first Representative, Pleader, and 'Advocate,' or
Paraclete. But what, when He was no longer present with them? For that He had
provided 'another Paraclete,' Advocate, or Pleader. This 'Paraclete, the Holy
Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My Name, that same will teach you all
things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.' It is
quite evident, that the interpretation of the term Paraclete as 'the Comforter'
will not meet the description here given of His twofold function as teaching
all, and recalling all, that Christ Himself had said. Nor will the other
interpretation of 'Advocate' meet the requirements, if we regard the Advocate
as one who pleads for us. But if we regard the Paraclete or Advocate as the
Representative of Christ, and pleading, as it were, for Him, the cause
of Christ, all seems harmonious. Christ came in the Name of the Father, as the
first Paraclete, as His Representative; the Holy Spirit comes in the Name of
Christ, as the second Paraclete, the Representative of Christ, Who is in the
Father. As such the second Paraclete is sent by the Father in Name of the first
Paraclete, and He would both complete in them, and recall to them, His Cause.
And so at the end of this Discourse the Lord returned again,
and now with fuller meaning, to its beginning. Then He had said: 'Let not your
heart be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in Me.' Now, after the
fuller communication of His purpose, and of their relation to Him, He could
convey to them the assurance of peace, even His Own peace, as His gift in the present,
and His legacy for the future.29
In their hearing, the fact of His going away, which had filled them with such
sorrow and fear, had now been conjoined with that of His Coming30
to them. Yes, as He had explained it, His departure to the Father was the
necessary antecedent and condition of His Coming to them in the permanent
Presence of the other Paraclete, the Holy Ghost. That Paraclete, however,
would, in the economy of grace, be sent by the Father alone. In the
dispensation of grace, the final source from whence all cometh, Who sendeth
both the Son and the Holy Ghost, is God the Father. The Son is sent by the
Father, and the Holy Ghost also, though proceeding from the Father and the Son,
is sent by the Father in Christ's Name. In the economy of grace, then, the
Father is greater than the Son. And the return of the Son to the Father marks
alike the completion of Christ's work, and its perfection, in the Mission of
the Holy Ghost, with all that His Advent implies. Therefore, if, discarding
thoughts of themselves, they had only given room to feelings of true love to
Him, instead of mourning they would have rejoiced because He went to the
Father, with all that this implied, not only of rest and triumph to Him, but of
the perfecting of His Work - since this was the condition of that Mission of
the Holy Ghost by the Father, Who sent both the Son and the Holy Spirit. And in
this sense also should they have rejoiced, because, through the presence of the
Holy Ghost in them, as sent by the Father in His 'greater' work, they would,
instead of the present selfish enjoyment of Christ's Personal Presence, have
the more power of showing their love to Him in apprehending His Truth, obeying
His Commandments, doing His Works, and participating in His Life.31
Not that Christ expected them to understand the full meaning of all these
words. But afterwards, when it had all come to pass, they would believe.32
John xiv. 27.
word 'again' before 'come unto you' is spurious, as also are the words 'I said'
before 'I go to the Father.'
great difficulty in understanding the last part of ver. 28 lies not in any one
of the clauses nor in the combination of two, but in that of three of them. We
could understand that if they loved Him, they would rejoice that He went to the
Father, as marking the completion of His work; and again, that they should
rejoice in His going to the Father, Who was greater, and would send the Holy
Ghost, as implying benefit to themselves. But the difficulty of combining all
these, so that love to Christ should induce a wish that He should go to the
Father, because He was greater, seems one, of which I can only see the natural
solution in the interpretation which I have ventured to suggest.
With the meaning and the issue of the great contest on which He
was about to enter thus clearly before Him, did He now go forth to meet the
last assault of the 'Prince of this World.'33
But why that fierce struggle, since in Christ 'he hath nothing?' To exhibit to
'the world' the perfect love which He had to the Father; how even to the utmost
of self-examination, obedience, submission, and suffering He was doing as the
Father had given Him commandment, when He sent Him for the redemption of the
world. In the execution of this Mission He would endure the last sifting
assault and contest on the part of the Enemy, and, enduring, conquer for us.
And so might the world be won from its Prince by the full manifestation of
Christ, in His infinite obedience and righteousness, doing the Will of the
Father and the Work which He had given Him, and in His infinite love doing the
work of our salvation.34
John xiv. 30.
2. The work of our salvation! To this aspect of the subject Christ
now addressed Himself, as He rose from the Supper-Table. If in the Discourse
recorded in the fourteenth chapter of St. John's Gospel the Godward aspect of
Christ's impending departure was explained, in that of the fifteenth chapter
the new relation is set forth which was to subsist between Him and His Church.
And this - although epigrammatic sayings are so often fallacious - may be
summarised in these three words: Union, Communion, Disunion. The Union
between Christ and His Church is corporate, vital, and effective,
alike as regards results and blessings.35
This Union issues in Communion - of Christ with His disciples, of His
disciples with Him, and of His disciples among themselves. The principle of all
these is love: the love of Christ to the disciples, the love of the disciples
to Christ, and the love in Christ of the disciples to one another.36
Lastly, this Union and Communion has for its necessary counterpart Disunion,
separation from the world. The world repudiates them for their union
with Christ and their communion. But, for all that, there is something that
must keep them from going out of the world. They have a Mission in it,
initiated by, and carried on in the power of, the Holy Ghost - that of
uplifting the testimony of Christ.37
As regards the relation of the Church to the Christ Who is
about to depart to the Father, and to come to them in the Holy Ghost as His
Representative, it is to be one of Union, corporate, vital,
and effective. In the nature of it, such a truth could only be set forth
by illustration. When Christ said: 'I am the Vine, the true one, and My
Father is the Husbandman;' or again, 'Ye are the branches' - bearing in mind
that, as He spake it in Aramaic, the copulas 'am,' 'is,' and 'are,' would be
omitted - He did not mean that He signified the Vine or was its sign,
nor the Father that of the Husbandman, nor yet the disciples that of the
branches. What He meant was, that He, the Father, and the disciples, stood in
exactly the same relationship as the Vine, the Husbandman, and the branches.
That relationship was of corporate union of the branches with the Vine for the
production of fruit to the Husbandman, Who for that purpose pruned the
branches. Nor can we forget in this connection, that, in the old Testament, and
partially in Jewish thought,38
the Vine was the symbol of Israel, not in their national but in their
Church-capacity. Christ, with His disciples as the branches, is 'the
Vine, the true One' - the reality of all types, the fulfilment of all promises.
They are many branches, yet a grand unity in that Vine; there is one Church of
which He is the Head, the Root, the Sustenance, the Life. And in that Vine will
the object of its planting of old be realised: to bring forth fruit unto God.
the two could with difficulty be separated. Hence the vine the symbol of
Israel, the sages being the ripe grapes, Chull. 92 a.
Yet, though it be one Vine, the Church must bear fruit not only
in her corporate capacity, but individually in each of the branches. It seems
remarkable that we read of branches in Him that bear not fruit. This must
apparently refer to those who have by Baptism been inserted into the Vine, but
remain fruitless, since a merely outward profession of Christ could scarcely be
described as 'a branch in' Him. On the other hand, every fruit-bearing branch
the Husbandman 'cleanseth'39
- not necessarily nor exclusively by pruning, but in whatever manner may be
requisite - so that it may produce the largest possible amount of fruit. As for
them, the process of cleansing had 'already' been accomplished through, or
because of [the meaning is much the same], the Word which He had spoken unto
them. If that condition of fruit-bearing now existed in them in consequence of
the impression of His Word, it followed as a cognate condition that they must
abide in Him, and He would abide in them. Nay, this was a vital condition of
fruit-bearing, arising from the fundamental fact that He was the Vine and they
the branches. The proper, normal condition of every branch in that Vine was to
bear much fruit, of course, in proportion to its size and vigour. But, both
figuratively and really, the condition of this was to abide in Him, since
'apart' from Him they could do nothing. It was not like a force once set in
motion that would afterwards continue of itself. It was a life, and the
condition of its permanence was continued union with Christ, from Whom alone it
39. airei - kaqairei: Suavis rhythmus (Bengel).
And now as regarded the two alternatives: he that abode not in
Him was the branch 'cast outside' and withering, which, when ready for it, men
would cast into the fire - with all of symbolic meaning as regards the gatherers
and the burning that the illustration implies. On the other hand, if the
corporate and vital union was effective, if they abode in Him, and in
consequence, His Words abode in them, then: 'Whatsoever ye will ye shall ask, and
it shall be done to you.' It is very noteworthy that the unlimitedness of
prayer is limited, or, rather, conditioned, by our abiding in Christ and His
Words in us,40
just as in St. John xiv. 12-14 it is conditioned by fellowship with Him, and in
St. John xv. 16 by permanent fruitfulness.41
For, it were the most dangerous fanaticism, and entirely opposed to the
teaching of Christ, to imagine that the promise of Christ implies such absolute
power - as if prayer were magic - that a person might ask for anything, no
matter what it was, in the assurance of obtaining his request.42
In all moral relations, duties and privileges are correlative ideas, and in our
relation to Christ conscious immanence in Him and of His Word in us, union and
communion with Him, and the obedience of love, are the indispensable conditions
of our privileges. The believer may, indeed, ask for anything, because he may
always and absolutely go to God; but the certainty of special answers to prayer
is proportionate to the degree of union and communion with Christ. And such
unlimited liberty of prayer is connected with our bearing much fruit, because
thereby the Father is glorified and our discipleship evidenced.4344
Westcott beautifully observes: 'Their prayer is only some fragment of
His teaching transformed into a supplication, and so it will necessarily be
unprejudiced reader will feel that St. Matt. xviii. 19, 20, so far as it
does not belong to an entirely different sphere, is subject to similar
to me at least, horrible instances of this supposed absolute licence of prayer
have appeared in a certain class of American religious literature which of late
has found too wide circulation among us.
John xv. 7, 8.
ipsæ sunt fructus, et fructum augent (Bengel).
This union, being inward and moral, necessarily unfolds into communion,
of which the principle is love. 'Like as the Father loved Me, even so
loved I you. Abide in My love. If ye keep My commandments, ye shall abide in
the love that is Mine (en th
agaph th emh).' We mark the continuity in the scale of love: the
Father towards the Son, and the Son towards us; and its kindredness of
forthgoing. And now all that the disciples had to do was to abide in it.
This is connected, not with sentiment nor even with faith, but with obedience.45
Fresh supplies are drawn by faith, but continuance in the love of Christ is the
manifestation and the result of obedience. It was so even with the Master
Himself in His relation to the Father. And the Lord immediately explained46
what His object was in saying this. In this, also, were they to have communion
with Him: communion in that joy which was His in consequence of His perfect
obedience. 'These things have I spoken to you, in order that the joy that is
Mine (h cara h emh) may be47
in you, and your joy may be fulfilled [completed].'
would fain here correct another modern religious extravagance.
John xv. 11.
according to the better reading.
But what of those commandments to which such importance
attached? Clean as they now were through the Words which He had spoken, one
great commandment stood forth as specially His Own, consecrated by His Example
and to be measured by His observance of it. From whatever point we view it,
whether as specially demanded by the pressing necessities of the Church; or as,
from its contrast to what Heathenism exhibited, affording such striking
evidence of the power of Christianity;48
or, on the other hand, as so congruous to all the fundamental thoughts of the
Kingdom: the love of the Father in sending His Son for man, the work of the Son
in seeking and saving the lost at the price of His Own Life, and the new bond
which in Christ bound them all in the fellowship of a common calling, common
mission, and common interests and hopes - love of the brethren was the one
outstanding Farewell-Command of Christ.49
And to keep His commandments was to be His friend. And they were His friends.
'No longer' did He call them servants, for the servant knew not what his lord
did. He had now given them a new name, and with good reason: 'You have I called
friends, because all things which I heard of My Father I made known to you.'
And yet deeper did He descend, in pointing them to the example and measure of
His love as the standard of theirs towards one another. And with this teaching
He combined what He had said before, of bearing fruit and of the privilege of
fellowship with Himself. They were His friends; He had proved it by treating
them as such in now opening up before them the whole counsel of God. And that
friendship: 'Not you did choose Me, but I did choose you' - the object of His
'choosing' [that to which they were 'appointed'] being, that, as they went
forth into the world, they should bear fruit, that their fruit should be
permanent, and that they should possess the full privilege of that unlimited
power to pray of which He had previously spoken.50
All these things were bound up with obedience to His commands, of which the
outstanding one was to 'love one another.'51
heathen are wont to exclaim with wonder, See how these Christians love one
another!' (Tertullian, apud Westcott.)
John xv. 16.
But this very choice on His part, and their union of love in
Him and to one another, also implied not only separation from, but
repudiation by, the world.52
For this they must be prepared. It had come to Him, and it would be evidence of
their choice to discipleship. The hatred of the world showed the essential
difference and antagonism between the life-principle of the world and theirs.
For evil or for good, they must expect the same treatment as their Master. Nay,
was it not their privilege to realise, that all this came upon them for His
sake? and should they not also remember, that the ultimate ground of the
world's hatred was ignorance of Him Who had sent Christ?53
And yet, though this should banish all thoughts of personal resentment, their
guilt who rejected Him was truly terrible. Speaking to, and in, Israel, there
was no excuse for their sin - the most awful that could be conceived; since,
most truly: 'He that hateth Me, hateth My Father also.' For, Christ was the
Sent of God, and God manifest. It was a terrible charge this to bring against
God's ancient people Israel. And yet there was, besides the evidence of His
Words, that of His Works.54
If they could not apprehend the former, yet, in regard to the latter, they
could see by comparison with the works of other men that they were unique.55
They saw it, but only hated Him and His Father, ascribing it all to the power
and agency of Beelzebul. And so the ancient prophecy had now been fulfilled:
'They hated Me gratuitously.'56
But all was not yet at an end: neither His Work through the other Advocate, nor
yet theirs in the world. 'When the Advocate is come, Whom I will send to you
from the Father - the Spirit of the Truth - Who proceedeth from the Father
[goeth forth on His Mission as sent by the Father],57
this Same will bear witness about Me. And ye also bear witness,58
because ye are with Me from the beginning.'
Westcott writes: 'The works are characterised (which none other did);
the words are undefined (come and spoken). The works of Christ might be
compared with other works: His words had an absolute power.'
xxxv. 19; 1xix. 4.
this meaning of the words see the Note of Canon Westcott.
the fulfilment of this predicted twofold testimony, see Acts v. 32.
3. The last of the parting Discourses of Christ, in the sixteenth
chapter of St. John, was, indeed, interrupted by questions from the disciples.
But these, being germane to the subject, carry it only forward. In general, the
subjects treated in it are: the new relations arising from the departure of
Christ and the coming of the other Advocate. Thus the last point needed would
be supplied - chap. xiv. giving the comfort and teaching in view of His
departure; chap. xv. describing the personal relations of the disciples towards
Christ, one another, and the world; and chap. xvi. fixing the new relations to
The chapter appropriately opens by reflecting on the predicted
enmity of the world.59
Christ had so clearly foretold it, lest this should prove a stumbling-block to
them. Best, to know distinctly that they would not only be put out of the
Synagogue, but that everyone who killed them would deem it 'to offer a
religious service to God.' So, no doubt, Saul of Tarsus once felt, and so did
many others who, alas! never became Christians. Indeed, according to Jewish
Law, 'a zealot' might have slain without formal trial those caught in flagrant
rebellion against God - or in what might be regarded as such, and the Synagogue
would have deemed the deed as meritorious as that of Phinehas.60
It was a sorrow, and yet also a comfort, to know that this spirit of enmity
arose from ignorance of the Father and Christ. Although they had in a general
way been prepared for it before, yet He had not told it all so definitely and
connectedly from the beginning, because He was still there.61
But now that He was going away, it was absolutely necessary to do so. For even
the mention of it had thrown them into such confusion of personal sorrow, that
the main point, whither Christ was going, had not even emerged into their
Personal feelings had quite engrossed them, to the forgetfulness of their own
higher interests. He was going to the Father, and this was the condition, as
well as the antecedent of His sending the Paraclete.
81 b; Bemid. R. 21.
John xvi. 1-4.
question of Thomas (St. John xiv. 5) bore as to the way, rather than the goal;
that of Peter (xiii. 36) seemed founded either on the Jewish idea that the
Messiah was to disappear, or else referred to Christ's going among enemies and
into danger, whither Peter thought he would follow Him. But none of the
questions contemplated the Messianic Return of the Son to the Father with a view
to the Mission of the Holy Ghost.
But the Advent of the 'Advocate' would mark a new era, as
regarded the Church64
and the world. It was their Mission to go forth into the world and to preach
Christ. That other Advocate, as the Representative of Christ, would go into the
world and convict on the three cardinal points on which their preaching turned.
These three points on which all Missioning proceeds, are - Sin, Righteousness,
and Judgment. And on these would the New Advocate convict the world. Bearing in
mind that the term 'convict' is uniformly used in the Gospels65
for clearly establishing or carrying home guilt,66
we have here three separate facts presented to us. As the Representative of
Christ, the Holy Ghost will carry home to the world, establish the fact of its
guilt in regard to sin - on the ground that the world believes not in
Christ. Again, as the Representative of Christ, He will carry home to the world
the fact of its guilt in regard to righteousness - on the ground that
Christ has ascended to the Father, and hence is removed from the sight of man.
Lastly, as the Representative of Christ, He will establish the fact of the
world's guilt, because of this: that its Prince, Satan, has already been judged
by Christ - a judgment established in His sitting at the Right Hand of God, and
which will be vindicated at His Second Coming. Taking, then, the three great
facts in the History of the Christ: His First Coming to salvation, His
Resurrection and Ascension, and His Sitting at the Right Hand of God, of which
His Second Coming to Judgment is the final issue, this Advocate of Christ will
in each case convict the world of guilt; in regard to the first - concerning
sin, because it believes not on Him Whom God has sent; in regard to the second
- concerning righteousness, because Christ is at the Father's Right Hand; and,
in regard to the third - concerning judgment, because that Prince whom the
world still owns has already been judged by Christ's Session at the Right Hand
of God, and by His Reign, which is to be completed in His Second Coming to
John xvi. 7.
occurs besides this place in St. Matt. xviii. 15; St. Luke iii. 19; St. John
iii. 20; viii. (9) 46.
similar to the above is the use of the verb elegcw
in St. James ii. 9, and in Rev. iii. 19. This may be called the Hebraic usus
of the word. In the Epistles of St. Paul it is more general; in that to the
Hebrews (xii. 5) it seems to stand for punishing.
Such was the cause of Christ which the Holy Spirit as the
Advocate would plead to the world, working conviction as in a hostile guilty
party. Quite other was that cause of Christ which, as His Advocate, He would
plead with the disciples, and quite other in their case the effect of His
advocacy. We have, even on the present occasion, marked how often the Lord was
hindered, as well as grieved, by the misunderstanding and unbelief of man. Now
it was the self-imposed law of His Mission, the outcome of His Victory in the
Temptation in the Wilderness, that He would not achieve His Mission in the
exercise of Divine Power, but by treading the ordinary path of humanity. This
was the limitation which He set to Himself - one aspect of His Self-examination. But from this His constant sorrow must also have flowed, in
view of the unbelief of even those nearest to Him. It was, therefore, not only
expedient, but even necessary for them, since at present they could not bear
more, that Christ's Presence should be withdrawn, and His Representative take
His place, and open up His Cause to them. And this was to be His special work
to the Church. As Advocate, not speaking from67
Himself, but speaking whatsoever He shall hear - as it were, according to His
heavenly 'brief' - He would guide them into all truth. And here His first
'declaration' would be of 'the things that are coming.' A whole new order of
things was before the Apostles - the abolition of the Jewish, the establishment
of the Christian Dispensation, and the relation of the New to the Old, together
with many kindred questions. As Christ's Representative, and speaking not from
Himself, the Holy Spirit would be with them, not suffer them to go astray into
error or wrong, but be their 'wayleader' into all truth. Further, as the Son
glorified the Father, so would the Spirit glorify the Son, and in analogous
manner - because He shall take of His and 'declare' it unto them. This would be
the second line, as it were, in the 'declarations' of the Advocate,
Representative of Christ. And this work of the Holy Spirit, sent by the Father,
in His declaration about Christ, was explained by the circumstance of the union
and communication between the Father and Christ.68
And so - to sum up, in one brief Farewell, all that He had said to them - there
would be 'a little while' in which they would not 'behold' Him (ouketi qewreite me), and again a
little while and they would 'see' Him (oyesqe
me), though in quite different manner, as even the wording shows.6970
meaning of the word is not only most important but well marked. Canon Westcott
calls attention to its use also in the following passages: v. 19; vii. 18; xi.
51; xv. 4.
John xvi. 8-15.
words, 'because I go to the Father,' are spurious in ver. 16.
If we had entertained any doubt of the truth of the Lord's previous
words, that in their absorbedness in the present the disciples had not thought
of the 'whither' to which Christ was going, and that it was needful for
them that He should depart and the other Advocate come,71
this conviction would be forced upon us by their perplexed questioning among
themselves as to the meaning of the twofold 'little while,' and of all that He
had said about, and connected with, His going to the Father. They would fain
have asked, yet dared not. But He knew their thoughts, and answered them. That
first 'little while' comprised those terrible days of His Death and Entombment,
when they would weep and lament, but the world rejoice. Yet their brief sorrow
would be turned into joy. It was like the short sorrow of childbearing - afterwards
no more remembered in the joy that a human being had been born into the world.
Thus would it be when their present sorrow would be changed into the
Resurrection-joy - a joy which no man could ever afterwards take from them. On
that day of joy would He have them dwell in thought during their present night
of sorrow. That would be, indeed, a day of brightness, in which there would be
no need of their making further inquiry of Him (eme
All would then be clear in the new light of the Resurrection. A day this, when
the promise would become true, and whatsoever they asked the Father (aithshte), He would give it them in
Hitherto they had not yet asked in His Name; let them ask: they would receive, and
so their joy be completed. Ah! that day of brightness. Hitherto He
had only been able to speak to them, as it were, in parables and allegory, but
then would He 'declare' to them in all plainness about the Father. And, as He
would be able to speak to them directly and plainly about the Father, so would
they then be able to speak directly to the Father - as the Epistle to the
Hebrews expresses it, come with 'plainness'74
or 'directness' to the throne of grace. They would ask directly in the Name of
Christ; and no longer would it be needful, as at present, first to come to Him
that He may 'inquire' of the Father 'about' them (erwthsw peri umwn). For, God loved them as lovers of
Christ, and as recognising that He had come forth from God. And so it was - He
had come forth from out the Father75
when He came into the world, and, now that He was leaving it, He was going to
John xvi. 23 comp. ver 19.
to the better reading of ver. 23: 'He will give it you in My Name.'
same word (parrhsia) is used of
Christ's 'plainly' declaring the Father (ver. 25), and of our liberty in prayer
in Heb. iv. 16; comp. also x. 19. For the Johannine use of the word, comp. St.
John vii. 4, 13, 26; x. 24; xi. 14, 54; xvi. 25, 29; xviii. 20; 1 John ii. 28;
iii. 21; iv. 17; v. 14.
to the better reading: ek tou patroV.
Surely, if words have any meaning, these teach the unity of Essence of the Son
and the Father.
The disciples imagined that they understood this at least.
Christ had read their thoughts, and there was no need for anyone to put express
questions.76 He knew
all things, and by this they believed - it afforded them evidence - that He
came forth from77
God. But how little did they know their own hearts! The hour had even come when
they would be scattered, every man to his own home, and leave Him alone - yet,
truly, He would not be alone, because the Father would be with Him.78
Yet, even so, His latest as His first thought79
was of them; and through the night of scattering and of sorrow did He bid them
look to the morning of joy. For, the battle was not theirs, nor yet the victory
doubtful: 'I [emphatically] have overcome [it is accomplished] the world.'80
John xvi. 30.
significantly, however, they use neither para,
nor ek, but ap_o.
John xvi. 32.
We now enter most reverently what may be called the innermost
Sanctuary.81 For the
first time we are allowed to listen to what was really 'the Lord's Prayer,'82
and, as we hear, we humbly worship. That Prayer was the great preparation for
His Agony, Cross, and Passion; and, also, the outlook on the Crown beyond. In
its three parts83
it seems almost to look back on the teaching of the three previous chapters,84
and convert them into prayer.85
We see the great High-Priest first solemnly offering up Himself, and then
consecrating and interceding for His Church and for her work.
in St. Matt. xi. 25-27 is a brief thanksgiving.
1-5; 6-19; 20-26.
each chapter with the corresponding section of verses in ch. xvii.
cannot agree with Canon Westcott that these last Discourses and this
Prayer were spoken in the Temple. It is, indeed, true, that on that night the
Temple was thrown open at midnight, and speedily thronged. But if our Lord had
come before that time, He would have found its gates closed; if after that
time, He could not have found a place of retirement and quiet, where it is
conceivable that could have been said and prayed which is recorded in St. John
xiv., xv., xvi., xvii.
The first part of that Prayer86
is the consecration of Himself by the Great High-Priest. The final hour had
come. In praying that the Father would glorify the Son, He was really not
asking anything for Himself, but that 'the Son' might87
'glorify' the Father. For, the glorifying of the Son - His support, and then
His Resurrection, was really the completion of the work which the Father had
given Him to do, as well as its evidence. It was really in accordance ('even
as') with the power or authority which the Father gave Him over 'all flesh,'88
when He put all things under His Feet as the Messiah - the object of this
Messianic Rule being, 'that the totality' (the all, pan) 'that Thou hast given Him, He should give to them
eternal life.' The climax in His Messianic appointment, the object of His Rule
over all flesh, was the Father's gift to Christ of the Church as a totality and
a unity; and in that Church Christ gives to each individually eternal life.
seems an intercalated sentence, as shown even by the use of the particle 'and,'
with which the all-important definition of what is 'eternal life' is introduced,
and by the last words in the verse. But although embodying, so to speak, as
regards the form, the record which St. John had made of Christ's Words, we must
remember that, as regards the substance, we have here Christ's own Prayer for
that eternal life to each of His own people. And what constitutes 'the eternal
life?' Not what we so often think, who confound with the thing its effects or
else its results. It refers not to the future, but to the present. It is the
realisation of what Christ had told them in these words: 'Ye believe in God,
believe also in Me.' It is the pure sunlight on the soul, resulting in, or
reflecting the knowledge of Jehovah; the Personal, Living, True God, and of Him
Whom He did send, Jesus Christ. These two branches of knowledge must not so
much be considered as co-ordinate, but rather as inseparable. Returning from
this explanation of 'the eternal life' which they who are bathed in the Light
possess even now and here, the Great High-Priest first offered up to the Father
that part of His work which was on earth and which He had completed. And then,
both as the consummation and the sequel of it, He claimed what was at the end
of His Mission: His return to that fellowship of essential glory, which He
possessed together with the Father before the world was.90
word 'also' should be struck out.
mark this Hebraism in the Fourth Gospel.
St. John xvii. 3.
The gift of His consecration could not have been laid on more
glorious Altar. Such Cross must have been followed by such Crown.91
And now again His first thought was of them for whose sake He had consecrated
Himself. These He now solemnly presented to the Father.92
He introduced them as those (the individuals) whom the Father had specially
given to him out of the world. As such they were really the Father's, and given
over the Christ - and He now presented them as having kept the Word of the
Father. Now they knew that all things whatsoever the Father had given the Son
were of the Father. This was the outcome, then, of all His teaching, and the
sum of all their learning - perfect confidence in the Person of Christ, as in
His Life, Teaching, and Work sent not only of God, but of the Father. Neither
less nor yet more did their 'knowledge' represent. All else that sprang out of
it they had yet to learn. But it was enough, for it implied everything; chiefly
these three things - that they received the words which He gave them as
from the Father; that they knew truly that Christ had come out from the
Father; and that they believed that the Father had sent Him. And,
indeed, reception of Christ's Word, knowledge of His Essential Nature, and faith
in His Mission: such seem the three essential characteristics of those who are
ii. 8, 11.
John xvii. 6-10.
And now He brought them in prayer before the Father.93
He was interceding, not for the 'world' that was His by right of His
Messiahship, but for them whom the Father had specially given Him. They were
the Father's in the special sense of covenant-mercy, and all that in that sense
was the Father's was the Son's, and all that was the Son's was the Father's.
Therefore, although all the world was the Son's, He prayed not now for it; and
although all in earth and heaven were in the Father's Hand, He sought not now
His blessing on them, but on those whom, while He was in the world, He had
shielded and guided. They were to be left behind in a world of sin, evil,
temptation, and sorrow, and He was going to the Father. And this was His
prayer: 'Holy Father, keep them in Thy Name which Thou hast given Me, that so
(in order that) they may be one (a unity, en),
as We are.' The peculiar address, 'Holy Father,' shows that the Saviour
once more referred to the keeping in holiness, and what is of equal importance,
that 'the unity' of the Church sought for was to be primarily one of spiritual
character, and not a merely outward combination. Unity in holiness and of
nature, as was that of the Father and Son, such was the great object sought,
although such union would, if properly carried out, also issue in outward
unity. But while moral union rather than outward unity was in His view, our
present 'unhappy divisions,' arising so often from wilfulness and unreadiness
to bear slight differences among ourselves - each other's burdens - are so
entirely contrary not only to the Christian, but even to the Jewish, spirit,
that we can only trace them to the heathen element in the Church.
John xvii. 9-12.
While He was 'with them,' He 'kept' them in the Father's Name.
Them whom the Father had given Him, by the effective drawing of His grace
within them, He guarded (efulaxa)
and none from among them was lost, except the son of perdition - and this,
according to prophecy. But ere He went to the Father, He prayed thus for them,
that in this realised unity of holiness the joy that was His94
(thn caran thn emhn), might be 'completed'
in them.95 And there
was the more need of this, since they were left behind with nought but His Word
in a world that hated them, because, as Christ, so they also were not of it
['from' it, ek]. Nor yet did
Christ ask with a view to their being taken out of the world, but with this
'that' [in order that] the Father should 'keep them [preserve, thrhshV] from the Evil One.'96
And this the more emphatically, because, even as He was not, so were they not
'out of the world,' which lay in the Evil One. And the preservative which He
sought for them was not outward but inward, the same in kind as while He had
been with them,97
only coming now directly from the Father. It was sanctification 'in the truth,'98
with this significant addition: 'The word that is Thine (o logoV o soV) is truth.'99
here St. John xv.11.
meaning is ruled by a reference to 1 John v. 18, 19, and, if so, it seems in
turn to rule the meaning of the petition: 'Deliver us from the Evil One.'
John xvii. 12.
'by Thy truth.'
In its last part this intercessory Prayer of the Great
High-Priest bore on the work of the disciples and its fruits. As the Father had
sent the Son, so did the Son send the disciples into the world, in the same
manner, and on the same Mission. And for their sakes He now solemnly offered
Himself, 'consecrated' or 'sanctified' Himself, that they might 'in truth'100
- truly - be consecrated. And in view of this their work, to which they were
consecrated, did Christ pray not for them alone, but also for those who,
through their word, would believe in Him, 'in order,' or 'that so,' 'all may be
one' - form a unity. Christ, as sent by the Father, gathered out the original
'unity;' they, as sent by Him, and consecrated by His consecration, were to
gather others, but all were to form one great unity, through the common
spiritual communication. 'As Thou in Me, and I also in Thee, so that [in order
that] they also may be in Us, so that [in order that] the world may believe
that Thou didst send Me.' 'And the glory that Thou hast given Me' - referring
to His Mission in the world, and His setting apart and authorisation for it -
'I have given to them, so that [in order that] [in this respect also] they may
be one, even as We are One [a unity]. 101
I in them, and Thou in Me, so that they may be perfected into One' - the ideal
unity and real character of the Church, this - 'so that the world may know that
Thou didst send Me, and lovedst them as Thou lovedst Me.'
as in the A.V. (ver. 19), 'through the truth' (en
need scarcely be said that by the term 'unity' we refer not to unity of Person,
but of Nature, Character, and Work.
After this unspeakably sublime consecration of His Church, and
communication to her of His glory as well as of His Work, we cannot marvel at
what follows and concludes 'the Lord's Prayer.'102
We remember the unity of the Church - a unity in Him, and as that between the
Father and the Son - as we listen to this: 'That which Thou hast given Me, I
will that, where I am, they also may be with Me - so that they may gaze
[behold] on the glory that is Mine, which Thou hast given Me [be sharers in the
Messianic glory]: because Thou lovedst Me before the foundation of the world.'
And we all would fain place ourselves in the shadow of this
final consecration of Himself and of His Church by the Great High-Priest, which
is alike final appeal, claim, and prayer: 'O Righteous Father, the world knew
Thee not, but I know Thee, and these know that Thou sentest Me. And I made
known unto them Thy Name, and will make it known, so that [in order that] the
love wherewith Thou lovedst Me may be in them, and I in them.' This is the
charter of the Church: her possession and her joy; her faith, her hope also,
and love; and in this she standeth, prayeth, and worketh.
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