Skip to main content

Believing for understanding: John 14

The Passage:

John 14 contains Jesus teaching during His last night before the Crucifixion. Throughout this chapter, He’s wrapping up the last items the disciples need to hear before they have a very, very bad weekend. Well, until Sunday.

Jesus is even upfront with this idea in John 14:29. He teaches through the coming of the Comforter and the idea of His return so that the disciples will believe when it happens. He further instructs them to be aware of the coming of the Holy Spirit.

The teaching on the coming of the Spirit strains my belief in the adequacy of Scripture. I want to know more, but this is what we’ve got: The Holy Spirit is coming with a primary role of reminding of God’s Truth.

We have to keep that in its context. The bulk of the chapter is dedicated to either encouraging the disciples with the hope of His return, or reminding them to obey His commandments. We find other works of the Holy Spirit in different parts of the New Testament, but here we find just those two. I suggest that the primary action of the Spirit expected by the disciples would have been remembering what Jesus said and hope about His return. That is not to exclude other work of the Spirit—I think Scripture is certainly clear that no one comes to saving faith without the work of the Spirit.

The Passage for Us:

Much of what Jesus teaches here is not abundantly clear, and a decent amount of it is nearly illogical from our perspective. It gets harder to fit into a nice, neat box when we consider that the Holy Spirit, the Comforter in this passage, is as much God as Jesus is. Who is as much God as God the Father is, and that both of them are equal in eternality and deity right there with the Holy Spirit.

It took a couple hundred years to reach the conclusion that going ahead and making the word Trinity to describe this reality was okay, even though the word wasn’t present in Scripture. Even to this day, the great challenge for a theology student is to learn to explain the Trinity. Most of us don’t even fully understand the idea, so it’s a bit of a challenge to explain.

This is where we get into things we believe more than we understand. Anselm of Canterbury (11th century) put it this way: credo ut intelligam, which is “I believe so that I understand.” At least, I believe that’s what the Latin says, so I understand it.

This is part of the message of John 14: some things, we believe to be true even though we do not understand them.

A further example in this passage are Jesus’ words that equate love for Him and keeping His commandments. I believe heartily that we are saved by grace, through faith, and not by works. Yet works are an inescapable part of the evidence of our salvation and relationship with Jesus. We believe it, and slowly our understanding matures.

I think this reveals a danger in our youth-addicted culture. We let people teach who have no maturity, just facts, and the end-result is a lack of understanding based in belief. That might not be quite accurate, but I see the possibility.

What else do we see here?

That Jesus will not leave us alone, and that He will not leave us abandoned. This is the greatest hope: that He is coming back, and that we are not left unattended in the meanwhile.

That’s really, really good news. And we should be thankful for it more and more.

Today’s Nerd Note: As if credo ut intelligam wasn’t nerdy enough? Seriously?

Here are some nerd thoughts: catch who wants to know where Jesus is going: it’s Thomas. Pick on “Doubting Thomas” all you want, but he asks questions that are worth having recorded in inspired Scripture, and he asks the same questions many of us do.

Also note the “Get up, let us go from here” that finishes the chapter. The night is full of motion and action—not set-piece teaching, but progress toward the goal. Which is the Cross and our redemption.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Book Review: The Heart Mender by @andyandrews (Andy Andrews)

The Heart Mender: A Story of Second ChancesEver read a book that you just kind of wish is true?  That's my take on The Heart Mender by Andy Andrews.  It's a charming story of love and forgiveness, and it's woven into the historical setting of World War II America.  For the narrative alone, the book is worth the read, but the message it contains is well worth absorbing as well.However, let's drop back a minute.  This book was originally published under the title Island of Saints.  I read Island of Saints and enjoyed it greatly.  Now, Andrews has released it under a new title, with a few minor changes.  All of this is explained in the Author's Note at the beginning, but should be noted for purchaser's sake.  If you read Island of Saints, you're rereading when you read The Heart Mender.  Now, go ahead and reread it.  It will not hurt you one bit.Overall, the story is well-paced.  There are points where I'd like more detail, both in the history and the geog…

Abraham Lincoln Quoted by Jesus! Mark 3

Mark records a curious event in his third chapter (link). If you look at Mark 3:25, you'll see that Jesus quotes the sixteenth President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. After all, one of the highlights of the Lincoln years is his famous speech regarding slavery in the United States where he used the phrase that "a house divided against itself cannot stand." This speech was given in 1858 when he accepted the nomination to run against Stephen A. Douglas for Senate, but is still remembered as the defining speech regarding slaveholding in the United States. I recall being taught in school how brilliant and groundbreaking the speech was, how Lincoln had used such wise words to convey his thought. Yet the idea was not original to Lincoln. Rather, it was embedded in Lincoln from his time reading the Bible. Now, I have read varying reports about Lincoln's personal religious beliefs: some place him as a nearly completely committed Christian while others have him somewh…

Book: Vindicating the Vixens

Well, if Vindicating the Vixens doesn’t catch your attention as a book title, I’m not sure what would. This volume, edited by Sandra L. Glahn (PhD), provides a look at some of the women of the Bible who are “Sexualized, Vilified, and Marginalized.” As is frequently the case, I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for my review.Let’s take this a stage at a time. First stage: book setup. This is primarily an academic Biblical Studies book. Be prepared to see discussions of Greek and Hebrew words, as appropriate. You’ll also need a handle on the general flow of Biblical narrative, a willingness to look around at history, and the other tools of someone who is truly studying the text. This is no one-day read. It’s a serious study of women in the Bible, specifically those who either faced sexual violence or who have been considered sexually ‘wrong’ across years of study.A quick note: this book is timely, not opportunistic. The length of time to plan, assign, develop, and publish a multi…