On the Gospel of John

J. N. Darby.

<33014E> 240 {file section d.}

John 13

In chapter 13 the instructions begin that relate to a heavenly Saviour. Although He was upon earth, He was the Light come from heaven, the eternal life that was from heaven; but, rejected upon earth, He now takes His place in heaven - not God manifested in human humiliation down here, but Man glorified in the glory of God above; and He exhibits and develops what He is for us in this position, before entering into it.

From this thirteenth chapter, then, the Saviour presents Himself as having finished His testimony upon earth, and going to the Father. This leads Him to speak of His position and of His service on high in heaven, of the position of the disciples, and of the other Comforter, that He - and the Father in His name - would send from on high. He was seated at supper with His disciples, their friend and companion at table down here, one of them, whatever might be His glory, and their servant in grace. But He must leave them and go to His Father; solemn moment for them: what would become of them, and what would be their relationship with Him? Their thoughts hardly went further than this with regard to Him; they thought that they had found the Messiah who was going to set up the kingdom of God in Israel, although the Holy Ghost had attached them to His Person by a divine power. They knew that He was the Son of the living God, He who had the words of eternal life. But He was going to leave them: He had been among them as one who serves; must His service of love come to an end? The Father had given all things into His hands, He knew it; He was come from God, and was going to God; could the link of His service of love with His own continue? If it should, it was necessary that they should be fit for the presence of God Himself, and for association with the One to whom all things were committed.

Now Jesus had loved His own that were in the world: it is the precious source of all His relations with us, and He does not change. He had loved His own, He loved them to the end; His heart did not give them up, but He knew that He must leave them. Would He cease to be their servant in love? No, He would be it for ever. Everything was ready for His departure, even the heart of Judas. But neither the iniquitous treachery of Judas below, nor the glory into which He was about to enter above, separated His heart from His disciples. He ceases to be their companion; He remains their Servant; it is what we read in Exodus 21:2-6.

241 Jesus rises from supper and lays aside His garments; He takes a napkin and girds Himself with it: then, pouring water into a basin, He begins to wash the feet of the disciples, and to wipe them with the napkin with which He was girded. He is ever a Servant, and does the service of a slave. Wonderful truth and infinite grace, that the Son of the Most High, humbling Himself even to us, is pleased in His love to make us fit to enjoy the presence and the glory of God. He took the place of a Servant to accomplish this work of love, and His love never gives it up. (See in the glory, Luke 12:37.) He is a Servant for ever, for love delights to serve.

Peter, who in giving way to his own feelings, though very natural, gives occasion so often to the words of the Lord that reveal to us the thoughts of God, objects strongly to the Lord's washing his feet. The answer of Jesus discloses the spiritual meaning of what He was doing, a meaning which Peter could not then understand, but which he should understand later on, for the Holy Ghost would make them understand all these things. One must be washed by the Lord in order to have part with Him: this is the key of all that was being done. Jesus could no longer have part with His disciples down here, and the disciples could not have part with Him, and before God Himself, to whom He was going, unless He washed them. There must be a cleanness such as could suit the presence and the house of God. Then, with his ardent spirit, Peter desires that the Lord should wash his hands and head, and Jesus explains to him the import of what He was doing.

We must remember that here it is a question of water, not of blood, however necessary the blood of the Saviour be. It is a question of purity, not of expiation. Note, in the next place, that the scripture uses two words here which must not be confounded; one means to wash the whole body, to bathe; the other to wash the hands, the feet, or anything small. The water itself, employed here or elsewhere as a figure, signifies purification by the word, applied according to the power of the Spirit. One is born "of water"; - then the whole body is washed: there is a purification of the thoughts and actions by means of an object which forms and governs the heart. These are the divine thoughts in Christ, the life and character of the new man, the reception of Christ by the word. Christ had the words of eternal life: this was expressed and communicated in His words, where grace acted, for they were spirit and life. The disciples had received these words, except the one who should betray Him; but although they were thus washed, converted, purified in reality, by the Lord's words, yet they were going to walk in a defiled world, where they could indeed defile their feet. Now this defilement does not suit God's house, and the love of the Lord does what is needed that the remedy should be soon applied, if they contracted defilement which shut them out. Ready to do everything that they might be blessed, Jesus washes their feet. This action was the service of a slave in those countries, where it was the first and constant expression of hospitality, and of the attentive care it claimed. (See Gen. 18:4; Luke 7:44.)

242 With this washing of the feet is connected the truth that conversion is not repeated. Once the word has been applied by the power of the Holy Ghost, this work is done, and it can never be undone, any more than the sprinkling of blood can be repeated or renewed. But if I sin, I defile my feet; my communion with God is interrupted. Then the Saviour occupies Himself with me, in His love.

It will be well to notice here the difference that there is between the Priest and the Advocate. In practice the difference is important. Both offices have to do with intercession; but the Advocate is for sins that have been committed; the Priest is there that we may not sin, and that goodness may be in exercise in respect of our weakness; I speak of the Priesthood in heaven. Upon the cross Jesus was Priest and Victim (the goat Hazazel); but there the priest represented all the people, confessing their sins on the goat's head. This was indeed the work of the priest, but not properly a priestly act; and, as I have just said, the priest acted there as the representative of all the people, these latter being looked upon as guilty. This work is accomplished by the offering of the body of Jesus Christ, made once for all: by His one offering He has perfected for ever those that are sanctified, so that we have no more conscience of sins. But Christ intercedes for us, in order that we may obtain mercy, and that we may find grace in time of need; so that, in our weakness, we may be the objects of the care of God's goodness, and that we may not sin. The Advocate intercedes, when we have sinned, to re-establish the interrupted communion, for it is a question of communion in 1 John 1. Righteousness and propitiation remain always perfect, and form the basis of that which is done for us when we have failed; 1 John 2:1-2. The effect of this grace in Christ is, that the Spirit applies the word (the water in figure), humbles us in convincing us of sin, and brings us near to God. The red heifer (Numbers 19) is a very instructive development of this renewing of communion. Notice here, that the Advocate does His work in order that we may be cleansed, not when we have been: also, we do not go to Him that He may do it; it is He who takes the initiative in grace, as He did for Peter, that His disciple's faith might not fail, when He should be obliged to leave him to himself for a moment, that he should make experience of his weakness.

243 The washing of the feet is therefore a service with which Christ is now occupied for us. When by our negligence (for there never is a necessity that we should do it) we have defiled our feet, and we have made ourselves unfit to enter spiritually into the presence of God, Christ purifies us by the word, so that communion may be re-established between our souls and God. It is a question of our walk down here essentially. When the priest amongst the Jews was consecrated, his body was washed, then he washed his feet and hands at the time of the accomplishment of each service. Here it is only the feet that had to be washed; it is no longer a service of work that is in question, but our walk down here.

The Lord gives what He had just been doing as an example of humility; but the spiritual intelligence of what He had done would only come when the Holy Ghost had been given. Still, we are called, in this sense also, to wash one another's feet, to apply the word in grace to the conscience of a brother who needs it, and in the humility, of which Christ has given the example. But the teaching refers to what Christ is doing for us on high, remaining ever our Servant in grace.

The Lord, in speaking here to His disciples, makes an exception of Judas, for He knew that Judas should betray Him, and He warns the disciples of it, that it might not be a stumbling-block. Still, in receiving one sent of the Lord, as sent of Him, they received Him; and in receiving Him, they received the Father Himself that sent Him. But although the Lord knew who should betray Him, the feeling that it was one of His own companions grieved Him; He even opens His heart before them: "One of you shall betray me." (v. 21). Sure at least of the truth of His words, of the certainty of them, they look at one another with the sincerity of innocence. Now John was near the Lord; Peter, always ardent, wishes to know who it is, and makes a sign to John to ask Jesus, for he was not himself near enough to Him to ask the question. Peter loved the Lord, a sincere faith attached him to Him, but he lacked that concentration of spirit that would have kept him near the Lord, as Mary, the sister of Martha, was kept there. John had not placed himself near Jesus to receive this communication; he received it because, according to the habit of his heart, he kept near Him, glorying in the title, "the disciple whom Jesus loved." Thus John was there where he could receive the Lord's communication. This is our secret, too, in order to have the intimate communications of the Lord. Blessed place, where the heart enjoys the affections of the Saviour, and where He communicates to us what His heart contains for those whom He loves.

244 But nearness to Jesus, without faith in Him, if the heart overcomes the influence of His presence, hardens in a terrible manner; the morsel which shewed that one was eating of the same dish, the morsel which Judas received, dipped by His hand, is but the sign of Satan's entering into his heart. Satan enters into this heart to harden it, even against every amiable sentiment of nature, against every remembrance of that which could act upon the conscience. There are many unconverted persons, who would not betray an intimate companion by covering him with kisses; many wicked people that would have remembered the miracles they had seen - perhaps done themselves. Covetousness had been there, it had never been repressed; then Satan suggests to Judas the means of satisfying it. For myself I have no doubt that Iscariot thought that the Lord would escape out of the hands of men, as He had done, when His hour was not yet come: his remorse, when he knew that Jesus was condemned, makes me think it - a remorse which only found other hearts as hard as his own, and indifferent to his misery; an appalling picture of man's heart under the influence of Satan. Then, almost the final phase of this influence, Satan hardens Judas against all feeling of humanity, and of man towards the man of his acquaintance, and finishes all by abandoning him, giving him up to despair in the presence of God.

245 Morally all was over when Judas had taken the morsel that had been dipped: and Jesus charges him to do quickly that which he was doing. The disciples did not know why the Lord said this; they thought of the feast, or of the use which might be made of what was in the purse; but in the heart of the Lord, all the import of this solemn moment is realised. As soon as Judas had gone out, He declares it: "Now is the Son of man glorified." It is no longer affection, wounded by the treachery of one of His own, that expresses itself in the anguish of His heart; His soul rises, when the fact is there, to the height of the thoughts of God in this solemn event, which stands alone in the history of eternity, and on which all blessing depends, from the beginning, to the new heavens and the new earth. It rises even above the blessings, to the nature of God, and to the relations of God and of Christ, founded on His glorious work. This passage is thus of great importance; the cross makes the glory of the Son of man. He will appear in glory, the Father will subject all things to Him; but it is not this glory that is here in view; it is the Saviour's moral and personal glory. He who is man, who (although in a miraculous way, so that He was without sin) was, on His mother's side, of the nature of Adam, has been in suffering, the means of establishing and bringing to light all that is found in God, His glory. God is righteous, holy, and hates sin; God is love: it is impossible to reconcile these characters in any other way, than by the cross. There, where the righteous judgment of God is in exercise against sin, infinite love is manifested towards the sinner. Without the cross, it is impossible to reconcile these two things, impossible to manifest God such as He is: in it, holiness, righteousness, love, are manifested as a whole; then obedience and love towards the Father were accomplished in man, in circumstances that put them to the test in an absolute manner. Nothing was wanting in this test, either on the part of man, of Satan, or of God Himself. It is in Christ, made sin, that obedience has been perfect; it is in Him, forsaken of God, that His love for God was at its height. The forsaking of man and his hatred, the power of Satan, had been fully realised, so that when He appealed to God, He found no answer, but that in the solitude of His sufferings, He had the occasion of shewing perfection in man, and of bringing out the glory of God Himself in all that God is, the foundation in righteousness, of the blessing of the new heavens and new earth, in which righteousness dwells - a righteousness that has already placed the Son of man, in the glory, divine righteousness that cannot but recognise the value of this work, by setting already at His right hand, the Man who has accomplished it, until all shall be manifested in the ages to come.

246 Thus the Son of man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in Him; and God, having been glorified in Him, has glorified Him in Himself, and has not waited for the display of all His glory in the future, but has glorified Him straightway at His right hand (v. 31, 32).

There is found the demonstration of God's righteousness; that is, in the exaltation of the Lord Jesus as man to the right hand of God, God having withdrawn Him from the world, so that the world should see Him no more, as the way of the tree of life was closed, when man forsook God for sin. But the second Man, the last Adam, having passed through death, having been made sin, having passed out of the power of the devil and the judgment of God, takes His place in heaven, in the divine glory in righteousness, when the first Adam had gone out of the garden of Eden in sin.

For the moment no one could follow Him. Who could pass through death, Satan's power, and the judgment of God, being made sin before God, and enter beyond it all into glory? It was thus for them as well as for the Jews. For the Jews, it was an outward thing, but looked upon in connection with God's glory and the power of evil; but a thing as impossible for the disciples as for them. The Lord shews His disciples that their strength would be in the love they would have to each other, loving one another as He loved them: this was the new commandment He gave them (v. 34). He was love; He had loved them; His love had been like a strong central stake, which held up all the poles that met around it. He had been the bond of their union; now, this same love in their hearts should bind them together, as poles that supported each other, when the central support should be taken away. In reality, this would be the power of the Holy Ghost who would fill their heart with this divine love of Christ Himself, and would thus make them all one. Their love for one another would be the characteristic proof that they were disciples of Jesus, for He had loved them, and He was shewn out by love in them.

247 Peter, always ardent, asks Jesus where He was going (v. 36). The Lord answers him that he could not follow Him now, but that he should afterwards, announcing to him his martyrdom. Peter insists: "I will go with thee to prison and to death," "I will lay down my life for thee"; but Jesus said: "The cock shall not crow till thou hast denied me thrice."

John 14

In chapter 14 the Lord presents to His disciples the consolations which were suited to make them accept the revelation He had made to them of His approaching departure.

The first thing that He declares to them, in His grace, is, that if He was going away, it is not to abandon them, but to prepare them a place elsewhere, that is, in His Father's house. There, there was not room for Him alone (perhaps He alluded to the temple?) but abodes for them also; and then He Himself would come for them, so as to have them with Him where He was Himself. He could not dwell with them down here, but they should be with Him; and He would not send to seek them, but He would come Himself to take them to Himself. Precious and tender love that associated His own with Himself, according to the place they had in His heart, and according to the eternal counsels of the love of God. Instead of the kingdom of an earthly Messiah, they would have the eternal and divine glory of the Son of man in heaven, to be like Him, and with Him. Man having entered there, consequent upon redemption, the place was prepared for them. It was not a question of preparing them for the place (that is the subject of chapter 13), but of preparing the place for them. The presence of their Forerunner, where He was going, accomplished it. The blood made peace according to divine righteousness, the water prepared them to enjoy it. The entrance of Christ left nothing to be done that they might enter; only the co-heirs must be gathered, and till then, the Lord remains seated on His Father's throne.

The return of the Saviour is therefore the first consolation given them, and it would introduce them, where Jesus was, into the Father's house, being themselves made like Him in glory, instead of His remaining with them down here - which, moreover, was not possible, since all was defiled, and unfit for the Lord's continuance with His own. Jesus will come again, and take us to Himself, that where He is, we may be also (v. 1-3).

248 But there was more. The Lord says, "And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know" (v. 4). Thomas objects that they did not know where He was going, how therefore could they know the way? In His answer, Jesus shews them that what they had possessed during His stay upon earth, would furnish an immense blessing when He should have left them. He was going to the Father, and the Father had been revealed in His Person down here. Thus, having seen the Father in Him, they had seen Him to whom He was going, and they knew the way, for in coming to Him, they had found the Father. He was the Way, and, at the same time, the Truth of the thing, and the Life in which it was enjoyed. No one came to the Father but by Him; if the disciples had known Him, they would have known the Father, and from henceforth said He, "Ye know him, and have seen him" (v. 7). Philip says, "Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us"; for the disciples, although they were attached to Jesus, always had in themselves a reserve of uncertainty. The Lord blames Philip for his want of spiritual perception, after His having been so long with them; for they had not really known Him in His true character of Son, come from the Father, and revealing the Father. The words that He spoke were not as coming from Himself as man; and the Father, who dwelt in Him, was He who did the works; that which He said, that which He did, revealed the Father. They ought to trust His word, if not, on account of His works; and not only so, but glorified on high He would be the source of greater works than those which He did Himself in His humiliation, for He was going to ascend to His Father. All that they should ask in His name, He would do it, that the Father might be glorified in the Son. He was the Son of the Father; His name should avail for all that they could desire in their service; and the Father, to whom He referred everything, would be glorified in the Son, who would do all that they should ask in His name. His power had no limit: "and whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, I will do it." In fact, the apostles gave proof of a greater power than the Lord when He was down here. Peter's shadow healed the sick; one single discourse of his was the means of converting three thousand men, and the napkins, carried to the sick from Paul's body, drove away the sickness from them, and cast out the evil spirits.

249 It is well to remark here, that the disciples never did any miracles to save themselves from suffering, or to heal their friends when they were ill. Paul left Trophimus sick at Miletus; it was only God's mercy that healed Epaphroditus. The miracles performed by the apostles were the confirmation of the testimony, of which Christ glorified with the Father was the object and source.

In the next place, obedience would be the proof of love when the Lord should be gone away. This introduces the second principal revelation of this chapter; that is, the effect for them of the presence of the Holy Ghost, the other Comforter.

Verses 4-11 had given the revelation of that which Jesus had been for the disciples during His stay upon earth; but the Holy Ghost would teach them more still, and would procure advantages for them that they could not have during the stay of Jesus down here; whilst, at the same time, that which they had possessed by this means, would remain always true, and be understood in quite another manner.

But there is a difference between these two Comforters. To begin with, there was no incarnation in connection with the second; the spiritual power of God was in Him, and the power of the truth, but not an object for the soul. He was characterised as the source of truth and revelation, there where He acted; but He was not presented to the world as an object to be received by it. The world cannot receive Him. The world would not receive the Lord, but He had been presented to it to be received, and He had manifested the Father; He could say of those amongst whom He came, "They have both seen and hated both me and my Father." As to the Holy Ghost, the world could not receive Him; it did not see Him, neither know Him; He presented the truth, and acted by this means. But He should be given to believers; they should know Him, for He would dwell with them, and not leave them, as He [Jesus] was doing, and He should be in them.

Here also we find the other Comforter, in contrast with the Lord. Jesus was going away at that moment, then He had been with them; but the other Comforter should be in them.

The presence of the Comforter is the grand present fact of Christianity: its basis is the revelation of the Father in the Son, then the accomplishment of the work of redemption by the Son; but the fact that man in His Person has entered into the divine glory, has given occasion to the descent of the Holy Ghost down here, given to believers to dwell with them and in them, that they may realise the fulness of this redemption, their relationship with the Father, the fact that they are in Christ, and Christ in them, and the heavenly glory where they will be like Him; and that He may lead them across the desert, with spiritual intelligence, and having their conversation in heaven, till they arrive there. The Spirit also gives us to realise the presence of Jesus with us here below. Jesus does not leave us orphans; He comes to us, and manifests Himself to us. Strengthened in our hearts by faith, the joy of His presence makes itself felt to our souls during our pilgrimage below.

250 Soon the world would see Him no more (ver. 19); His relations with the world were ended, save as Lord of all, but they were not with His own; they would see Him, not yet with their natural eyes, but by faith, and revealed by the Spirit - sight far clearer and more excellent than that which their natural eyes had given them. It was a sight that became identified with the possession of eternal life. Their eyes had seen Him bodily here, but they would have the sight of Jesus glorified, and who had accomplished the work of redemption, and that by the power of the Holy Ghost, that other Comforter. The sight of the life of faith identified itself with a real union with Him, so that if He lived, they should live also; He Himself would be their life. Rather than that they should die, it was necessary that He Himself, such as He is in the glory, should die, and they would have by the presence of the Comforter, the consciousness of being thus in Him. "In that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you." The disciples ought to have seen the Father in Him, and to have recognised that He was in the Father during His sojourn upon earth, however little intelligent they might have been. Now, in that day, when the Holy Spirit should have come, they would know Jesus as being in the Father (the Father in Him is omitted, because it was no longer a question of His manifestation in Him down here). Thus Jesus would be in the Father in His own deity; but, more, the disciples should know that they themselves were in Him, Jesus, and He in them.

After that, the Lord establishes, as in all this part of the Gospel, man's responsibility, here that of the Christian, "He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me" (v. 21). This supposes that we pay attention to what the Lord says: one listens to the voice of divine wisdom, as a child who seeks to please its parents, or a wife her husband, observing the words of the parents or the husband, without even their having the form of a commandment, and knowing what they wish. Thus the Christian attends to the words of Jesus; he is familiar with that which the Lord wills, and desires to do His will. This is the proof of true affection. Now, he who is thus attached in heart to Christ, and obeys Him, shall be loved of the Father, and Christ will come, and will manifest Himself to him. The manifestation of which He speaks here is a manifestation of Himself, and from Him, to the soul which He causes to realise His presence and makes him sensible of it. This is what Jude does not understand; he does not perceive how Jesus could be manifested to His own, without being manifested to the world (v. 22). Alas! it is just what too many Christians do not understand. Jude, too, was only thinking of some outward manifestation, of which the world could necessarily take knowledge; but the Lord was speaking of a manifestation such as we have just shewn, adding still something more permanent; that is, that if any one loved Jesus, he would keep, not only His commandments, but His words, so that the Father would love him, and that the Father and Son would come, and make their abode in him (v. 24).

251 We see everywhere here responsibility. It is not sovereign grace which first loves the poor sinner: here the Father loves the soul which shews its affection for the Saviour in keeping His words. It is fatherly government, the satisfaction of the Father's heart because the Son is honoured and obeyed. "If a man love me, he will keep my word," and then - precious words - "my Father will love him, and we will make our abode with him." The Father and the Son come to dwell in the loved person; and this does not take place merely by the Holy Ghost, as every divine activity; but by the Spirit we enjoy the presence of the Father, and of the Son, their dwelling with us; and the Spirit does not leave us, so that we enjoy constantly in our hearts the presence of the Father and the Son. The kind of communion, of the realisation of the presence of the Father and the Son, is of all-importance, and gives an ineffable repose and joy. We shall dwell in the Father's house, and we shall find there the Son in glory; but, till then, the Father and the Son come, and reveal themselves in us, and make their abode in us. All is done by the Spirit, but it is the presence of the Father and the Son that makes their presence felt in this character of Father and of Son; and the Son is Jesus, who loved us, and gave Himself for us. The Son had revealed the Father, for him who had eyes to see; and now the Holy Ghost makes us enjoy the presence of the Father and Son, but "in us," if we keep the Saviour's words.

252 We may remark that the scripture employs two different words here: "commandments" and "word." Both have their importance, in that the first speaks of authority and obedience, the second of attention to what the Lord says, each having thus a special bearing. To the soul that has the commandments and keeps them, the Lord manifests Himself, and it is the fruit of obedience; but the blessedness of the abiding of the Father and Son in the heart, is the fruit of the word of Jesus, exercising its rightful influence in the heart. Now he that does not love Him, he, whose heart is not governed by this personal affection, does not keep the words of Jesus; and the word that they heard was not their Master's word, as of a man, of a teacher who spoke on his own account, but the word of the Father who had sent Jesus. All the work of grace is indeed the Father's work, but the Son's work also, the Spirit having His place in it in immediate operation in the soul. Thus the miracles of Jesus were really His own works, but it was by the Spirit of God He cast out demons; the Father also, who dwelt in Him, did the works. Here the Spirit would teach the disciples and would call to their remembrance that which Jesus had said to them; but that which Jesus had said to them was from the Father; He spoke the words of God, for the Spirit was not given by measure. Here again we find the Father, the Son, and the Spirit.

We have seen that the Father and Son make their abode in those who keep Christ's word; but also it is by the Holy Ghost that this abiding is realised, not that we should not feel the presence of the Father and Son, but to make us feel it. It is a lasting thing, not that our thoughts are always there, that cannot be, but the consciousness and influence of their presence are always there. I think of working at something which my father, according to the flesh, wishes; but if he is there, in thinking of the thing, the consciousness and influence of his presence will always make themselves felt.

253 To the things which He had just said to them, and which terminate this part of His discourse, the Lord adds the precious revelation, that the Comforter, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father would send in His name, should teach the disciples all things, and should bring to their remembrance that which He had said to them. We enjoy every day the effect of this precious promise.

There are here other points of great value which is it important to notice.

The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are not separated in this work of blessing. The Holy Ghost comes to communicate all, but it is the Father that in His love, sends Him: but He sends Him in the Son's name, for His glory, and as Mediator in grace, in virtue of the redemption He has accomplished. The Holy Ghost should make the disciples realise according to the thoughts of the Father, all that had happened, all that manifested God's ways in grace during the Son's stay here below. This is what we find in the Gospels, which give us, not a human recital of things that come to the mind, but the communication (according to divine intelligence, and according to God's intention in the facts) of that which happened in the life of Jesus; for there is a divine intention in the Gospel recitals.

Finally, if the Lord leaves His own, He leaves them peace, which He could not have done had He remained with them, for peace would not have been made; but He defines this peace in a way that gives it a perfection which the fact of the purifying of the conscience would not have procured for them. That indeed took place by His blood: the disciples would be perfect as to the conscience. His conscience was always perfect; ours is made perfect by His blood. But, with the exception of the cross, and the anticipation of the cross, the heart of Jesus was ever with God. Feeling everything in love, nothing distracted Him, nor weakened His communion with His Father. Perfect obedience and confidence maintained in Him a peace which flowed from a walk with God, and from communion with His Father that never belied itself. The current of the life that He lived on the part of the Father was uninterrupted: there were no breakers in the life of Jesus. The difficulties He met with were but the occasion of the shewing forth of divine life in the heart of a man, of the peace which the consciousness of being always with God gave Him. Thus His words and actions were words and actions that came directly from God, in the circumstances in which He found Himself as man. A perfect sensibility, a perfect measure and characterising in His mind of all that acted upon Him, gave occasion to the answer, to that which the presence of God and the divine impulse produced in man. What could trouble the peace of Jesus? When it was a question of being made sin, and of bearing our sins before God, it was another thing; because that was taking place, the answer of God in His soul was not the effect of His perfect and blessed presence, but the being forsaken, according to the perfect opposition of His nature to sin. But here we approach sufferings that no one can fathom.

254 The Lord does not give as we give anything which consequently we do not possess any longer; He brings us into the enjoyment of all that He Himself enjoys: the glory, the Father's love, His joy. He keeps back nothing for Himself, which is reserved to Himself, and in which we have not part.

The verses that close the chapter contain a touching expression of the manner in which the heart of Jesus expects the affection of His own. "If ye had loved me, ye would have rejoiced that I go to the Father" (v. 28). If you think of yourselves, it is quite natural that you should be troubled; but if you could think of Me, it would have been your joy to think that I leave this world of sorrow and suffering to go to the Father, in taking again My glory and entering again into the land of holiness and peace, where all My rights are recognised. Thus the Lord places Himself near us, and desires that we should think of His happiness. What Christian is there that does not rejoice at the thought of His glory?

Jesus can still speak, while making His way towards Gethsemane, of what His own had had in Him, and of the gift of the Holy Ghost, but in reality, His communications in their midst were at an end. The prince of this world was coming: it is this character that Jesus now gives to Satan. The disciples were fled in fear; all the rest of the world united together cheerfully to drive out of it the Son of God, come in grace; they had seen and hated both Him and His Father.

It is not all that man has sinned. After the sin, God came in; God worked in a world too evil to be any longer borne with. The promise had been given to Abraham, called from the midst of the idolatry which overran all; the law was given; the prophets were sent; last of all the Son came, healing all those who were under the yoke of Satan (the strong man having been bound, his victims were delivered) - the Son, God's last resource for putting man's heart to the proof, to see if that even could produce in him any return towards God, and discover any good that might have remained there hidden in the midst of the evil. But God was manifested there; and if the effects of sin disappeared by His means, the presence of Jesus awakened the enmity of the flesh, and Satan's power took possession of the world, or rather shewed that Satan was its prince. Up to that time - that is, until all the means that God could employ to reclaim men had been exhausted, this title of "Prince of the world" had not been given him; but when He of whom God had said, I have yet My Son, had been rejected, Satan was called by this terrible title. There was One, One only, in the world who was not under this power of Satan, One only in whom the prince of this world had nothing, One only who was not of the world, One only, who though truly a man in the world, and who passed through all its temptations, sin apart, had nothing whatever in Him, either before or after, that gave Satan a right over Him, even in death which now He was going to meet. Neither in His walk, nor in His Person was there anything whatever that exposed Him to the enemy. Satan had tried, he had used the power of death to hinder Jesus from obeying unto the end, but his efforts had been vain. The death of Jesus was the effect of obedience, and of His love for the Father. "The prince of this world cometh: and hath nothing in me: but that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do" (v. 30, 31). That which brought death for Him, was not sin in Him, or by Him, but it was His perfect obedience and His love for His Father. Jesus warns His own of it beforehand, so that, knowing it, their faith should not be shaken by it.

255 John 15

The Lord had then spoken to His disciples of His Person, above all dispensations, and of their place in Him when the Holy Ghost should have come down, and He had told them how He would make Himself known to them when afar, adding that He left them peace, even the peace He Himself possessed. Now, in chapter 15, He comes to the truth of His position down here in contrast with Judaism, of their position in relation to His, of their service following upon this position; then of the testimony rendered by the Holy Spirit of promise to the glory into which He was entering on high; and of their testimony as eye witnesses of that which He had been down here.

256 Judaism is thus entirely set aside, and its place taken by Christ Himself. This is what has happened with regard to all that God had established: the first man himself has been replaced before God by the second; the priesthood of Aaron by that of Christ; the king, son of David; Israel the servant (Isaiah 49:1), by the Christ (v. 5); even the earthly tabernacle by the true heavenly tabernacle, as well as all its service. Thus here, Israel was not the true vine, although it had been transplanted as God's vine out of Egypt into Canaan; Psa. 80:8-16. Christ was upon earth the true vine of God, the disciples were the branches. They still thought that Israel was God's vine, and Christ the long-expected Messiah, the principal branch. But it was not so; Jesus was the vine, they were the branches; His Father, the husbandman. And they were already clean through the word He had spoken to them. The passage has occasioned difficulties to many souls, because they have applied these words to the church,* but the union of the church with Christ takes place when He is glorified on high, and then we are complete in Him. There it is no question of bearing fruit, nor of being pruned, but as it is said in 1 John 4:17: "As he is, so are we in this world." In our chapter, Jesus is the true vine upon earth; and there, although Christ could declare them to be clean, their responsibility is developed, in order that they may bear fruit. They were already clean by the word He had spoken to them.

{*John does not speak of the church, either in his gospel or in his epistles; but that which is said in the text is as true of our individual place in Christ, as of the church.}

The union which is in question here is association with Him as disciples. He no doubt knew them, but they are looked at as being in a position of responsibility. It is a question of fruit-bearing; if a branch did not bear any, the Father removed it entirely; if it bore fruit, He purified it, that it should bear more. Not that it was Judaism, far from that; it is Christ, on the contrary, who takes its place. We see this more than once in the word. Thus in Isaiah 49, Christ is the true servant in place of Israel. He is the Son called out of Egypt, a position that Israel occupied: "Let my son go"; Jehovah said by Moses. In the same way, He is the true vine. Consequently, the Father is introduced: He is the husbandman. Thus we find the true moral position that the disciples occupy, as well as the important principles upon which it is founded, but which are connected with that which we have already found as characterising this Gospel. That which had cleansed the disciples was the word that Jesus had spoken to them; but this cleansing is the same as the Father's. The Father can use the pruning knife. He does so evidently as to the branches that do not bear fruit; He does so as to those that bear it.

257 Now, all this is in connection with the revelation of the Father by the Son. The word that He had spoken to His disciples, was not the revelation of the Son glorified, by the Holy Ghost, but of the Father by the Son. It was this entirely new things; not what man ought to be according to the law, but what Christ was: grace and truth come by Jesus Christ. It was the communication of that which was divine, the words of God realised in the life of a man. The words of Christ were Himself (chap. 8:25); but they were the words of God (chap. 3:34), although of a man, by the Spirit without measure; they were of God, revealing the Father in sovereign grace by the Son, sent according to that grace. (Compare chap. 14:11.) It was in the name of holy Father that the Lord kept them during His stay down here: now the Father Himself becomes the husbandman.

Now this chapter (except the last verses) does not speak of the testimony of the Holy Ghost, but of that of the disciples (with the help of the Holy Ghost, chap. 14:25); and it is a testimony, not to His glory on high and the consequences which follow from it, but to that which He had been, and to what He had revealed being down here, to the subjective state of the divine life in a man in this world. This is what the Gospels essentially present to us; the epistles, in general, have the glory as a starting-point.

Thus the first three verses give the position as to detail: then come the exhortations founded upon this. The first, is to abide in Him. Let us remark; here that it is always the side of man's responsibility that comes first. It is not: "I will abide in you, and you will be able thus to abide in me"; but "Abide in me, and I in you." The second thing is the effect of the first: there is no verb in the second part of the phrase; it is not that which He would do, but the consequence, the effect stated. If a soul dwells in Christ, Christ dwells in that soul. Now a soul dwells in Christ, when it lives in uninterrupted dependence upon Him, and assiduously seeks to realise that which is in Him, that which His presence gives to us, for He is the truth of all that is come to us from the Father, and one lives in it in dwelling in Him. That which is in Him is communicated to us, as the sap flows from the vine into the branches. All comes from Him, but there is activity in the soul to cleave to Him, and it is thus that fruit is produced in the branch. Now we do not dwell in Christ that there may be fruit, but fruit is produced because we dwell in Christ. We dwell in Christ in the consciousness that we can do nothing without Him, but it is for the love of Christ. This is the first exhortation, and the first statement of that which we have to do.

258 In the sixth verse, He says no longer "you"; but "If a man," for He knew them, although this be not the subject treated in the passage, yet once one is really in Christ, one is there for ever. Here, also, it is as in chapter 13, "Ye are clean"; then He adds: "but not all"; for Judas was still there. If a man did not cleave to Christ, even though associated with Him by profession, he was cut off as a branch to wither and be thrown into the fire. There is another very important principle found in verse 7. If the disciples dwelt in Him, and His words dwelt in them, they should have at command the power of the Lord without limit. Always in the spirit of dependence, it is true, they should ask what they would. This is the true limit of answers to prayer. The request is produced in a heart formed by the Saviour's words, and according to the desires created by these words, that is to say, of God Himself who should dwell in the heart. We never find that the apostles healed, or prayed for the healing of persons who were dear to them, although it be perfectly lawful in such a case to present our requests to God. But Paul says: "I have left Trophimus sick at Miletus." And again: "Epaphroditus was sick, very near to death, but God had mercy on him." The works of power they accomplished, had the confirmation of the word as their aim; but it was an immense privilege, in their work of faith, to be assured of the intervention of God when they should ask for it, and that, when the wisdom of God had formed their thoughts, His power should add [to it] His efficacious working. Christ is the wisdom of God, and the power of God.

It will be asked how far we can apply this now. I do not expect miracles, I do not think that we ought to have them, except lying miracles from Satan; but I believe that if we dwell in Christ, and His words form the heart, if we live by every word that comes from the mouth of God, then when we find ourselves in the conflicts of faith, God gives faith for the circumstances of the service. He will answer to the faith given, and will hear us, He who disposes of all by means unknown to us, of all hearts - of the unrighteous as well as of those of the righteous. But it is important for us (first, so as not to make mistakes; and secondly, to seize the thoughts of God in all their import) to understand the true limits of this promise. God will never fail of His promise. The fulfilment of the promise is sure for faith, but the words of the Saviour form the thought of faith to which the promise answers. It is thus the Father should be glorified, in that they should bear much fruit - fruit of souls saved by their means, by the revelation of the Father in the Son, that the words of Jesus, words of God in grace, should communicate to them.

259 Then there comes another precious side of these exhortations: "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love." This is in connection with obedience. but the declaration is one of infinite grace. The Father had loved the Son, Jesus, in His course down here; He had loved Him according to the perfection of divine love, but as man in this world. So Christ had loved them: it was the love of a divine Person, for a man who perfectly accomplished all His will with an absolute devotedness, but it was also a love of communion, and that when He was in antagonism with evil. In the same manner Christ had loved them also. They were to dwell in this love. It is constancy in their relations with Christ that is the great point in all the chapter. They were to continue in the realisation of this love, truly divine but which yet adapted itself to their human state, and thus it should be if they walked in the path where Christ had walked. "If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love."

It is not here a question of the Father's eternal love for the Son, nor of the unchangeable love that God bears to His children, but of the path in which these should enjoy divine love. Jesus, as man here below, never got out of the enjoyment of that love of the Father. His obedience had been absolute and perfect, and no cloud had ever found place between His soul and His Father. His life was a life of perfect obedience and of communion. They should keep His commandments, and thus they should dwell in His love, even as He dwelt in the Father's love. He told it them in order that His joy, the joy He had possessed down here, might abide in them, and that their joy should be full. Here it is Christ's love in a direct way; we are in contact with the Vine, not with the Mediator; with Him in whom we are, not with the Father. It is a human love, although divine, a love consequently full of sympathy, which comes in in all the details of human life, and of the service of ministry. This is what took place at the time of His sojourn here below. It was impossible for the Father to forget Christ one moment in His service down here. He took knowledge of it; He was there. It is the same thing with Christ towards us, as far as we keep His commandments.

260 But His first commandment is that this kind of love should be realised amongst themselves also. Perfect communion of love with one another; but superior (in that this love was divine) to all the infirmities that might weaken it, so that they were but the occasion for the exercise of this love; still that which should characterise it was the bond which made them all one by its means; the love was mutual, in that Christ was all for each, and that, each one living in dependence and obedience, self-love disappeared. As being the branches, each one drew everything from the vine; Christ's words were the source of all the thoughts of the heart, in the consciousness of His perfect love.

Now if His life had been the continual expression of this love, His death was still more so. He could not have greater love than to die for them. We must notice here that it is not the love of God to poor sinners, a love purely divine and sovereign, but the love of Christ for His friends. Neither is it Christ, who is here the Friend, but the disciples who are His friends, those in whom He has confidence: "Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you." We communicate to a friend all that we have upon the heart, because we count upon the interest he bears to us. Christ had communicated to the disciples all that He had heard from the Father. There is the action of the human mediator, the vine with the branches. It is important to remark that He does not here place His disciples in His own relationship with the Father - that will be developed later on - but He communicated to them as from Himself all that He enjoyed. The relationship was with Himself, as He personally had been in it with the Father down here. It is in this relationship of intimacy in which He was with them, faithful in keeping His words, that He looks upon them when He lays down His life for them.

261 Their relationship with Christ was that of those sent by Him, as He had been by His Father. Jesus had chosen and sent them, in order that they might bear fruit in their work, and that this fruit might be lasting - of which we are the blessed result today; but being sent thus by Christ, the Father, so to speak, was pledged to give all that was necessary for the work, so that all that they should ask the Father in the Saviour's name, the Father would give them. This places the twelve in their position as apostles, sent by the Lord, the Mediator, in the great work of salvation - the vine from which the branches drew all their strength - under the faithful care of the Sovereign Husbandman. Such is the moral position in which the Lord places them; it is union in love. They form a body of workmen apart, united to Him as to the vine, in order to bear fruit; but now the fruit is borne by the branches, and not by the vine.

The bond between them should be love; but what should characterise the relationship in which they should find themselves with the world? The world would hate them. The world had hated their Master; they had seen and known Him. Christ was not of the world, but He had been in the world, bearing witness, in His life and by His words, to that which the world was as seen in the light of God. If the disciples had been of the world, the world would have loved them, but because they were not of it, although they were in it, the world would hate them. All their ways, their walk, their motives were different from those of the world. It was a company of men apart: the world is very susceptible; its happiness is not real i its glory is false and transitory: all there is hollow, and will not bear a little reflection. The world will allow you to say this in maxims and proverbs, but that there should be men whose lives tell constantly the truth with regard to the state of the world that surrounds us, that is what is insupportable. The relationship and connections of the disciples with the world were to be the same as those of the Saviour; the branches would be treated as the vine had been. But it is on account of the name of Christ that these things would happen, fruit of this hatred, because they had not known Him who had sent Him It was always the manifestation of God in Christ, of the Father in grace, in Jesus, that had awakened this hatred and had given it its true character.

262 This is the grave and terrible question that has been raised. God the Father presented in grace to men, and especially to Israel, where all His promises and oracles had been deposited, but God presented to men in Jesus, the word of God in grace; otherwise their state would not have been manifested as being a state of sin, and nothing else, a state of hatred against God, come into their midst full of goodness. If there had been any good in man that the presence of Jesus could have awakened, faults and grave sins might have been committed, but there would have been also remedy and forgiveness, for the bottom once reached would have been good. But now there was no longer any cloak for their sin. Their state was that of absolute sin in the will. In hating Jesus they had hated the Father, for Jesus manifested Him. His words were the words of God, of the Father; and more than this, He had given the clearest proofs of the revelation of the Father in Him. There never had been any like them; for not only was divine power shewn even in raising the dead, and in giving power to others to perform the same works, but His miracles were acts of goodness Divine love was displayed in them, and united itself with the power whilst directing it. Thus they had seen and hated both the Father and the Son.

But terrible as that was, and it was fatal and final for man (save sovereign grace that created him anew), it was but that which was written in their law: "They hated me without a cause"; terrible judgment given upon man, such as he is. But it is sweet and beautiful to see that the sin of man does not stop the current of the grace of God. The Lord continues thus: "But when the Comforter shall come whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth that proceedeth from the Father, he shall bear witness of me. And ye also shall bear witness; because ye are with me from the beginning."Another order of things was necessary; man dead and risen, man in heaven even, redemption accomplished, the Holy Ghost come. This hatred of man would only accomplish that. Then the Holy Ghost would communicate to them the heavenly glory of the Son of man, the result of His rejection. Proceeding from the Father, sent by the glorified Son of man, the Spirit of truth, the Comforter come down here, would bear witness to this Son of man, to Him who had been rejected, perfect here below, but now in heavenly glory. They also should bear witness, having been with Him from the beginning of His public ministry down here. The same Comforter should be their power, to make them competent for this (chap. 14:26), but they would bear testimony as eye-witnesses of His life of suffering.

263 John 16

Now the Lord goes on to speak with them, not of the position they had enjoyed with Him upon earth, adding promises with regard to the Holy Ghost, but of what was about to take place, of the presence of the Comforter, and of the testimony He would bear. He had spoken of Him indeed in connection with the relations in which they should be with the Father: there this Comforter replaces Him, and it is the Father that sends Him.

Although the Lord comes spiritually to reveal Himself to them, and, with the Father, to comfort and strengthen them in making their abode with them in chapter 14, the Holy Ghost rather takes the place of the Lord. In chapter 15 the Saviour speaks of the testimony that the Comforter would bear. The apostles, with His help, should bear testimony to what Jesus had been down here. They could not be eye-witnesses of what He is above. The testimony they would have to bear to His life down here, should be of a much more living character, more rich than a pure revelation from on high would have been, on account of the relations they had found themselves in with Him, all unintelligent as they had been. But it was a part of His life down here not to be understood by any one.

The testimony they have given to us is indeed that of the Holy Ghost (chap. 14:26), who has chosen the incidents suitable to communicate the true character of the Saviour, the divine life in Him. But the grace which manifested itself in Him was exercised every day towards them, or at least in the midst of them. Always Himself, in a life that He lived on account of the Father, He adapted Himself nevertheless (and could do it because His life was inseparable from the Father) to all the weakness of the disciples, to all that grace required from Him. It was not purely and simply a divine testimony, but as His own Person, never losing its divine perfection. His unalterable purity took all the colours that the circumstances which surrounded Him gave to this life in His grace. The account is a wholly divine account, but which, in that which it relates, expresses itself, by human hearts who have passed through it. That which Christ is on high would not be expressed thus. There all is perfect, His personal glory is accomplished. Patient gentleness, unshaken firmness, divine wisdom in the midst of evil, and of adversaries, are no longer in place; it is the glory that is revealed. And who shall reveal it, if not He who came from it, and who is ill it?

264 In chapter 14 the Father sends the Holy Ghost in the name of Jesus, and gives us the consciousness of our place before Himself, as sons with the Son. Here, it is Christ, the Son of man, who sends Him from the Father, from whom the Holy Ghost proceeds, and He bears witness to Christ Himself. He is the "Spirit of truth," a purely divine testimony of the things that are above; the Spirit that is of God, that we may know the things that are freely given to us of God. The testimony borne to the life of Christ down here, is a testimony fully divine, but that is borne through the circumstances through which Jesus passed, and by persons who were themselves in them, so that we may know what God was in the midst of fallen humanity; immense grace that awakens all the affections of a heart taught by the Holy Ghost, and engrosses it.*

{*If we examine with spiritual intelligence the different accounts of the gospels, we perceive at once a purpose that is not expressed in so many words, but by means of the circumstances themselves, although in relation with men. For instance, John does not speak of the agony of Jesus in Gethsemane, although he was nearer to Him, and of the number of those that Jesus awakened from their sleep. It is, that in John, the Holy Ghost gives the divine side of this touching history. Thus here also the band of men is spoken of, who, coming to take Jesus, were thrown down at His presence. Matthew, who, nevertheless, saw it, does not speak of it. For him, Christ is the Victim, suffering and put to death; for John, He is the One who offers Himself without spot to God. It is the same everywhere.}

But whatever might be the privileges of which they were going to partake by the Holy Ghost's presence, they would have to undergo at the same time the consequences of their Master's rejection, a rejection which was not merely that of an enlightened reformer who was not liked, but the expression of the enmity of man's heart against God, and against God manifested in goodness. He was going on high, and was going to make them partakers of the Spirit; they remained down here, furnished no doubt, with that spiritual power up to the point of doing miracles, which would bear testimony to the source whence they came; but the continuance of the testimony and of the power, would bring against them the same hostility which had been manifested against Jesus. If they had called the Master of the house Beelzebub, much more would they treat those of the household in the same way.

265 And more, it was a religious hatred. If a religion adapts itself to the world, and costs the selfish principle nothing, it is held to; one prides oneself upon it still more if, by the truth that is recognised, one can raise oneself above others. Now this hatred, whilst recognising indeed its object - that is, the revelation of God in this world - was an ignorant hatred, especially for the multitudes. The hatred of the leaders was more moral, more positively diabolical, as the Lord had said to them. (chap. 8). The masses were jealous for their religion, as Paul acknowledged (Acts 22:3); the leaders detested that which was manifested, because it was the light. Terrible state! But what can a state be that opposes itself with a resolute will, with animosity, to such a Saviour? The Lord says that he who should kill His disciples would think to do God service. It is what Saul of Tarsus was doing. But the leaders, the Lord said, "had both seen and hated both me and my Father."

But here some practical truths come out of what is said. It is by the revelation of a new truth that the heart is exercised and tested; I say new, at least for the heart that finds it. One gains credit by an old truth; the Jews believed in one only true God, and they were quite right. It was a privilege, a moral advantage of immense bearing. In truth, there was but that God; as far as there was reality in Paganism, the gods of the pagans were demons. But, although the pious Jew acknowledged this true God, obeyed Him and trusted in Him, it was the glory of the nation to have this God for God, and the Jew without piety boasted also in Him. But alas! he saw the power that bore witness to God's presence, elsewhere than in the temple, its earthly abode. The house, fine as it was, was empty; and a double hatred broke out against that which was the proof of it. God had brought in quite a new thing; the Father had sent the Son in grace, and had manifested Himself in Him, and this grace could not be limited to a Jew alone. It penetrated as light to the bottom of the heart of man, whether Jew or Gentile. The one and the other were sinners. The Jew had manifested it in the rejection of this Son, and sovereign grace extended itself to the Gentiles. The Jewish sinner had just as much need of it; the partition wall had fallen down at the cross. It was God and man now, not Jew and Gentile. In vain God had recognised the privileges of the Jews; in vain had He sent His Son, according to the promises, to the lost sheep of the house of Israel; Israel would have none of it; they desired their own glory. From this comes that for them, the Jews, he who would destroy such a testimony, the testimony of an infinite grace, of the Father sending the Son into the world, of grace exercised in salvation towards sinners, Jews or Gentiles - he who would destroy it, I say, would do God service. He would think to render service to God, to his own God, the God who made his glory. As to the Father and Son, he did not know them; this was the new truth that put to the proof the state of his heart. A good Protestant can boast in rejecting the deification of the host, and in believing in justification by faith as a dogma: that is his glory as a Protestant. But where is his soul as to the presence of the Holy Ghost, and the expectation of the Saviour? New truths always confirm the old, judging at the same time superstitions; but faith in the old, which make our own glory, is not a touchstone for the state of soul, although we are to maintain them carefully.

266 There is another remark of the Saviour which merits our particular attention. It is simple, but exposes the state of our souls. "Now," He says, "I go unto him that hath sent me, and none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou?" Sorrow had filled their heart. It was very natural, and in a certain sense very right. They felt the present and actual effect of the departure of Jesus. This touched them very closely, but they judged of the circumstances entirely in connection with themselves. They had given up all for the Lord, and they were going to lose Him; and not only that, but they must give up all, that for them was connected with His presence down here; all their Jewish hopes were fading away. They felt the effect of the circumstances upon themselves, but did not think of the purposes of God which were being accomplished in those circumstances, for the Son of God was not going out of this world by an accident. It is the same thing in our most minute circumstances: not a sparrow falls to the ground without our Father. That which troubled them was in reality the work of redemption. Moreover, that which constitutes our cross in this world answers to glory and happiness in the other. Preoccupation with the circumstances, hid from them heavenly things, and the glory into which the Lamb was entering.

267 But this remark introduces, not the heavenly glory of the Lord - though what He says depends on it - but the consequence for them down here, which is what should occupy us now. It is the coming down here of the Comforter, of the Paraclete. His presence in this world should have for its object to convince of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. It is not the question here of demonstrating to a man's conscience the sins of which he is guilty, but of a testimony as to the state of the world, and that by the very presence of the Holy Spirit, though He bore it also to men. Sin had been manifested for a long time in the world; the law had been transgressed; but now God Himself was come in grace. All His perfections, His goodness, and His power, which were in exercise to deliver from the effects of sin, had been manifested in this world, and all in grace towards men, with a patience which remained perfect to the end; and man would not have God. God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them; but man would none of it. This is sin: not the conviction of disorderly lusts, nor of transgressions against God's law, but the final and formal rejection of God Himself. The Holy Ghost would not have been there if that had not taken place. Moreover, we have the solemn spectacle of the only righteous One, who had glorified God in everything, and had been obedient to Him in every trial, abandoned by God, when, persecuted by men, He appealed to Him, and all is over for the world. No righteousness is seen, except in the judgment of sin in the Person of Him who had not known sin, but who had been made sin before God, having offered Himself to God for that, that God might be glorified in it.

Where can we seek for righteousness down here? Not in the rejection of God by man, not in the forsaking of the righteous One by God. Where then look for it? On high. The Man Christ, in suffering thus, had perfectly glorified God in all that He is - righteousness against sin, love, majesty, truth. He gave Himself up for that. And righteousness is found in that He who gave Himself to glorify God is upon the Father's throne, seated at the right hand of God;* of which the presence of the Holy Ghost was the witness, with this terrible consequence, that as Saviour in goodness and in grace, the world would see Him no more. Thus He said: "Henceforth ye shall see the Son of man seated at the right hand of God, and coming in the clouds of heaven": but this will be in judgment. Supreme and terrible moment for this world truly, although grace gathers many out of it for the heavenly glory, and though a remnant of the Jews should enjoy, by the same grace and in virtue of the same sacrifice, the effect of the promises to which the nation has lost all right, in rejecting the Person of Him in whom the promises are accomplished.

{*See John 13:31-32; ch. 17:4-5.}

268 But although the will and lusts of men, their hatred against the light, and enmity against God, made them responsible for this crime, who was it that directed them, and concentrated their animosity on one single point? Who was it that induced the haughty indifference and the cruelty of a Pilate, warned and alarmed as he was, to connect himself, for the rejection of the Son of God, with the inconceivable hatred of the leaders of the people filled with jealousy, and the empty prejudices of the multitude? Who was it that united them to be co-partners in this crime? It was the devil. He is the prince of this world, shewn and declared to be such in the death of the Saviour by the hand of man, but judged by that very fact. He who ruled the world, its prince, shewed himself such in the death of Him who was the Son of God come in grace. Before and after, he could excite passions, entice men's lusts, produce wars, stir up the wrongs of one against another, provide for the corrupt desires of the heart; but all this was selfish and partial. But when the Son was there, he could join all together, those who hated and despised each other, against this one object - God manifested in goodness.

The prince of this world is the adversary of God. The moment had not yet come for the judgment of this world, but its judgment was certain, for its prince, he who ruled it entirely, was Satan, the adversary of God, as the cross of Jesus shewed it. Now the presence of the Holy Ghost was the proof, not only that this Jesus was recognised of God as His Son, but that, as Son of man, He was glorified at God's right hand. In fact this is the testimony of Peter, that is, of the Spirit, in Acts 2. The Holy Ghost would not have been in the world, if that had not been the case. The rupture between the world and God was complete and final: a solemn truth not sufficiently considered. The question that God puts to the world is: "Where is My Son; what hast thou done with Him?"

269 But is not this presence of the Spirit an advantage, a better thing for the world? Is it not a more blessed relationship than all that has preceded? Blessed be God! sovereign grace is in exercise toward the world in virtue of the death of Christ; but, except His sovereign rights, God has no relationship with the world. The Holy Ghost is amongst the saints and in the saints, but as we have read, the world cannot receive Him: He is given to believers. Between the rejection and the return of Christ, He bears witness to the grace manifested in the death of Jesus, and to the glory in which Christ is, to bring those who believe in Him into a heavenly association with the last Adam, delivering them from this present evil world. And it remains ever true, that "if any one love the world, the love of the Father is not in him"; and that "the friendship of the world is enmity against God." Now these new relationships are maintained by the Spirit in these earthen vessels; later on, those who possess this Spirit shall be glorified with the Lord Himself. Later still, when the judgment shall have been executed, this same grace towards man will establish the Lord, according to what is due to Him, and according to the eternal counsels of God, over a blessed world, where the enemy's power will not be exercised. But this is not our subject here.

Now it is with the last Adam who is from heaven, with the glorified Son of man, we have to do. That which exists is a complete rupture between the world and God, and a heavenly Christ who has accomplished redemption. But the testimony that the Holy Ghost bears, the truth of which He is the proof, is twofold, and divides itself here. What we have gone through is the testimony that His presence down here bears with regard to the world; that which follows is what He should do for the disciples amongst whom He was found.

What a solemn judgment is that that has just been before us, coming from the mouth of the Lord Himself! The whole world lying in sin by its refusal to receive the Saviour come in grace; righteousness according to God not to be found save on the throne on high, where it had placed Him whom the world had rejected, and in that the world would see Him no more as such; finally, if the execution of judgment was still deferred, this last was not the less certain, for he who was in possession of the world, had shewn that he was the adversary of God, in leading on the world that he had subjected to himself, to crucify the Lord.

270 But with regard to the disciples, the Spirit would reveal the truth fully to them, and lead their minds into the knowledge of all the truth. The truth is the manner in which God regards all things, and what He reveals of Himself, of His own thoughts, and of His own counsels. Now Christ is the expression of it on the positive side, as being God manifested to man, and Man perfect before God. Being the light, He manifests all that is not according to God's thoughts. The veil too, being rent, and Christ having entered into heaven as Man, and seated at God's right hand, that which was not within the province of human knowledge, "that which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard," the Spirit reveals, and He reveals even the deepest things of God. All, from God's eternal throne down to hades, and from hades up to the throne of God, and redemption which is connected with it, all is disclosed. And it is in Christ that all this revelation is made to us; but also, all that is revealed on God's part belongs to Him. "All that the Father hath is mine," He says; and it is not only that which is of God, as God, as creation for example, but all that which, in the counsels of grace, forms the new creation in relationship with the Father; that belongs to Him.

Thus the Holy Spirit would take of what was of Christ and shew it to the disciples, and this was all that the Father possessed. Grace and truth were come in Christ into the midst of the old creation. Man refused this grace, and rejected this truth, but now God would communicate to those who should believe in Christ the new things that were in His counsels, of which Christ was the centre and the fulness.

Into what a glorious scene we are here introduced, a scene which replaces that which the disciples were losing by the death of the Messiah! All the glory which belongs to the Person of the Son, whether as the One in whom all the counsels of God are concentrated, or as to what He is in Himself, is fully revealed. If, in that which we have first gone through, we have found the terrible but just judgment of the world, what a glorious scene, I repeat, opens itself here in the revelations which the Holy Ghost communicates relative to this new creation, of which the second Man is the centre, He, the Son of God who reveals the Father - another world, where all that is in the Father and of the Father is revealed.

271 But this involved the death and resurrection of Christ, the end of all connection with the old creation, and a new state of man for the new. Now the glory of this new creation was not yet revealed, nor even established objectively; but the state of man subjectively, a state immortal, pure, spiritual even as to the body, was realised in the resurrection, even while the external glory was still wanting. The new and eternal thing existed in the Person of Christ, and as to Him personally, it was realised in that He was going to His Father, the source of all, "the Father of glory" - as it is said.

Now this new state of man was familiarly manifested to the disciples, during the forty days that the Lord passed upon earth after His resurrection, before He ascended to heaven. The return of the Saviour, when He shall come back in His glory, will be the moment when His dominion will be established over all things, when God will put them all under His feet, with an authority and power that He will make use of to subject them to Himself. Now that of which we speak, whether with regard to the state of man, or relative to the glory, is evidently something more than the presence of the Holy Ghost, precious as that is, and it is that which now occupies the Lord. The Holy Ghost was to be given to the disciples, but more than this, He should see them again. No doubt they would see Him, when He will return in glory, but then it will be no longer a question of a testimony to render. Before that time they should see Him for a little while, for He would then go to His Father. This was the introduction of the disciples into the realisation of that new state which Christ inaugurated by His resurrection, Son of God in power. They should see the second Man beyond death, and be in living communication with Him. It was not the revelation of the glorious things of the new creation by the Holy Ghost; this revelation was going to be given to them: it was Christ Himself, the Christ they had known during the days of His flesh. "Handle me," He said, "and see that it is I myself." Touching and precious word! It was He whom they had known and accompanied every day and all day, who had borne with their infirmities, sustained their faith and encouraged their hearts; it was the same Jesus who shewed Himself as familiarly with them as before, though in quite another state. He shewed Himself, said Peter, "not to all the people, but to us, who did eat and drink with him, after that he was raised from the dead." It was the same Christ, but what is of all importance, the basis of all for us, it was Christ beyond death, the power of Satan, the judgment of God, and sin; He who had been made sin for us, by whom our sins had been borne and put away, that God might remember them no more. We see here the link between Jesus, known in His humiliation in our midst in grace, and man in his new state, according to the counsels of God, a state in which He could no more be subjected to death, nor put to the proof.

272 The Holy Ghost is the blessed source of our right affections, but He cannot, like Jesus, be the object of them. As God, we love Him; but, we know, He was not made flesh for us, He did not die for us, we cannot be united to Him. We cannot say of Him as of the precious Saviour: "He that sanctifieth and they that are sanctified are all of one; wherefore He is not ashamed to call them brethren." It is no question of preference or of comparison; it would be folly to speak thus of the divine Persons; but the Holy Ghost, as to His Person, has not placed Himself in the intimacy into which Jesus has entered with us; a Man who calls His own His "friends," who is indeed the Son of God and with power, but who is a Man and a Man for ever; the same who has been in our midst as He who served.

These words then (ver. 16, etc.), although their full and entire accomplishment should only take place when Christ returns, refer to events of all importance, which, in His death and resurrection, shewed, in a characteristic way, what He was doing and who He was. First of all, He was going to leave His own, and to put an end by His death, to all the relations of God with Israel and with man: "A little while and ye shall not see me" - He was going to die. "And again a little while and ye shall see me." He was not going to stay like other men in the dust of the tomb; He would be with them again. But once more they should not see Him, for He came not to be a Messiah upon earth, but He was going to His Father who ruled over death, and who, after having raised Him, according to His glory, would take Him to Himself in the glory that was His. It was a series of events, which, while they constituted the disciples eye-witnesses of the fact of His resurrection, belonged to His personal glory and to redemption, to the setting aside of all that is connected with the first man, to the glory that He, the Son of God, had had with the Father before the foundation of the world, and into which He was about to enter again as Man to order all things at the suitable time, according to the glory of God and His counsels with regard to the Man in whom He would glorify Himself.

273 The Lord answers the hidden desire of the heart of His disciples, who sought in vain to solve the enigma lying in His words, and who feared to ask Him anything; but it is by shewing them first of all, the feelings that would possess their hearts, and then the true character of His coming and of His departure. Their hearts would be deeply afflicted; they were going to lose Him for whom they had left everything: hope founded upon Him was fading away. The world, on the contrary, would be quite happy to be rid of Him who troubled it by the testimony of the truth. But Jesus tells His own that He would see them again, and that their sorrow should be turned into joy, as when a woman brings forth. And in fact it was the child-birth of the new creation. Thus the joy with which they should be filled in seeing Him again would be an eternal joy - a joy that nothing could take from them.

Thus far for the human details; but the ground of the truth is that the Son had come forth from the Father and come into the world, and that He left the world and went to the Father. This was a declaration of incalculable importance, and before which both the disciples' sorrow at the loss of their Messiah, Son of David, and their joy at seeing Him risen again, faded entirely, real and important as they were. Indeed, it was the revelation of God Himself in grace, and in the accomplishment of all His ways; Man in Christ was the object of them, and the heavenly glory into which He was now entering was the result, the real fact that was taking place. The Son, Man in this world; the Father, perfectly and fully revealed; those who had received Him set in the place of sons with the Father, co-heirs with the Son; and the Father's house the place of their dwelling and blessing: this is what the presence and departure of Jesus meant. It was laying the foundation of the whole of eternity; the full revelation of the Father and of the Son.

Indeed, it was not speaking in proverbs; but the disciples did not understand it. They fully admitted that He had spoken to them plainly, but their mind did not enter into the force of His words. "By this," they said, "we believe that thou art come from God." He had known what was passing in their minds, and that had produced its effect; besides, His words were simple. But to come from God, true as that was, was not saying that He had come from the Father, and was going back to Him. "Do ye now believe?" said the Lord; "all ye shall be offended because of me this night," "and shall leave me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me."

274 We may remark here that which characterises this Gospel all through, that is, that though the Lord must pass through death, He does not speak of it. He was come from the Father, and proceeded thither again. We see this at the beginning of chapter 13, and elsewhere.

This terminates the Lord's discourses addressed to His disciples. He, in presence of that which His soul experienced, could think of them and tell them that which was suited to comfort them and to strengthen them in the time of His absence; it was the spiritual knowledge of Himself; the seeing Him after His resurrection, which would strengthen their faith powerfully; the presence of the Holy Ghost; and finally, that in going to the Father, it was not to abandon them, but that He was going there to prepare for them a dwelling-place on high. Spiritually He would be with them. If they confessed His name, this would bring upon them persecutions. In this world they should have tribulation, but in Him they had peace. Blessed thought! In the circumstances and in the things that were passing, they would have testing, painful no doubt, but which would detach them from the world, and make them feel the contrast between what was such and their position. Inwardly they should have peace, divine peace in Him who appeared to them spiritually, yea, who should dwell in them.

Besides, He had overcome the world. This, indeed, gives courage, to think that what we have to overcome is an enemy already overcome; it is a blessed word for our souls. He went before us in the battle, and He has gained the victory. Thus, as I have said, the Lord's discourses to His disciples terminate here; but this brings us into a still more blessed position. It is given to us not only to hear the divine words of Jesus, who was thinking of us with a love that knew no bounds, with a devotedness which makes us know what love is (1 John 3:16); words of grace, words of truth, words of God Himself, but which were adapted to man (John 3); words whence we derive the knowledge of what God is for us - it is given to us, I say, not only to hear and to meditate on these words, but we are admitted now to hear Jesus pour out His heart into the Father's bosom, and to understand that we are an object of common interest to the Father and the Son: this is the subject of chapter 17.

275 John 17

The key to this chapter is the word "Father." At the commencement, the Lord lays the great foundations of the position that He was taking at that moment, and then those of the position of the disciples. After that, He states what is their relationship with the Father, and their place before the world, and He closes by making known their place with Him in heaven, and the power of the Father's love during their stay here below.

The Lord, here, as in the whole of John's Gospel, is regarded from the point of view of His divine nature, the Son of the Father, but at the same time never leaving the place of service. He receives everything, and appropriates nothing to Himself. Once only, in contrast with an empty temple, He presents Himself to the Jews - at least He presents His body - as the true temple which, as God, He would rebuild in three days. But in His teaching, in the personal expression of relationship with the Father, He never leaves the subordinate place that He had taken in His service. Satan, in the desert, had tried, but in vain, to make Him leave it. He would obey, and He was obedient unto death. Here also, He does not appropriate to Himself the glory, but the hour being come, He asks His Father to glorify Him. It is the Son of the Father who is glorified, it is His personal glory; it is not the Son of man glorified according to the counsels of God. It is the Father who does it. In chapter 13, Jesus speaks of Himself as the Son of man who has glorified God, and that in His work on the cross. Then God, as God, having been glorified, the Son of man enters, according to the value of His work, into the glory of God, which He has established on earth where sin reigned. There, man made sin, and the power of Satan, the judgment and love of God met together, and God has been fully glorified; what He is has been manifested and made good In the obedience of man. Here, it is the Son, who, having perfectly manifested the Father and glorified Him, re-enters, being Man, into the glory that He had had with Him before the world was, in order to glorify Him in this new position also.

276 His position as Son, and what belongs to Him being Man, is then stated. His rights are twofold: He has power over all flesh, but with the object of giving eternal life to those whom the Father has given Him. His title to power with regard to man is universal.* If the first man should have power according to nature, the Son, become man, has it in a supernatural manner. But here, in the words of the Saviour, one of the most precious truths for us comes to light. There are those whom the Father has given to the Son. It is the thought and settled purpose of the Father. They are given to the Son; the Father has committed them to His hands, in order that He may bring them into the glory, in order that He may fit them for the presence, the nature, and the glory of God, for all that was in this settled purpose; and that He may place them, according to God's infinite love, in a position which should satisfy this love, and which is that of the Son, become Man to this effect. We can add that it is a position that answers to the value and efficacy of the work of the Son to place them there, not only externally (which, however, would be impossible), but in endowing them with a nature fit for such a position. Marvellous grace, of which we are the objects! This position is eternal life, a word of which we must examine a little the meaning. It is spiritual and divine life - a life capable of knowing God and of enjoying Him, as answering morally to His nature, "holy and without blame before him in love." Eternal life, that is to say, a life not merely immortal, but which belongs to a world that is outside the senses; for "the things that are not seen are eternal."

{*It is universal, that is, it extends to everything; but here man only is in question.}

But there is something more precise than that. In 1 John 1 we see definitely what eternal life is: it is Christ. That which they had seen, contemplated, and handled from the beginning, it was Christ, the eternal life which was with the Father and had been manifested to them. Thus again, in chapter 5:11-12: "This is the testimony, that God has given unto us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son, hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God, hath not life." Paul, in the Epistle to the Ephesians (chap. 1:3-4) presents to us this life in its double character. In the first place, that which answers to His nature, that which Christ was and is personally; and secondly, our relationship with the Father; that is to say, sons, and that in His presence. We participate in the divine nature, and we are in the position of Christ: sons according to the good pleasure of the Father's will. That is the nature of this life.

277 Here it is presented objectively. In fact, in our relations with God, that which is the object of faith is the power of life in us. Thus Paul says: "When it pleased God to reveal his Son in me"; but in receiving, by grace, by faith, the Saviour that he was to preach to others, he received life, for Christ is our life. But, as I have already said, it is the name of the Father that is the key to this chapter. God is always the same; but neither the name of Almighty, nor that of Jehovah, nor that of Most High, carries life in itself. We must have it to know God thus, but the Father sent the Son that we might live through Him, and he that has the Son, has life, and he only. But the Son has fully manifested the Father; so that the Son being received, the Father was also; and the life displayed itself in this knowledge, faith in the mission of the Son, and by Him, faith in the Father in sending the Son, in love, as Saviour. The glory of Christ Himself will be the full manifestation of this life, and we shall participate in it, we shall be like Him. Still it is an inward life, real and divine, by which we live, although we possess it in these poor earthen vessels. It is no longer we that live, but Christ that lives in us. Infinite and eternal blessedness which belongs to us already as life, according to these words: "he that hath the Son, hath life." But this places us also in the position of sons now, and brings us, later on, to bear the image of Christ.

Note also that all the fulness of the Godhead dwells in Christ bodily. However, this is not what is presented to us here, but the ways of God as Father in grace, and source of all in blessing; it is the Father who sends the Son. (Compare 1 John 4:14.) No doubt, it is the Holy Ghost that makes us to know the Father thus, and who renders us capable of having communion with Him, and with His Son Jesus Christ. In this development of grace, He is the power that works in us. The Father, who had in His grace the thought of sending, and who in fact has sent, His Son into the world; then the Son thus sent, in whom this grace is known; such are the effects that we know. The Father, in His divine and eternal thoughts, is the source of all this infinite grace, and the Son is the One in whom these thoughts are realised, who gave Himself to accomplish all, and that we might have part in all. He gave Himself, in order to accomplish all that was needed to bring us to the Father according to these thoughts; fit for God's presence, like unto Him who has brought us there. "A body hast thou prepared me; lo, I come to do thy will, O God!"

278 Observe also, that it is not the essence of His nature that is presented here, but the development of grace. Although He had had, with the Father, before the world was, the glory into which He was going to enter again, nevertheless, as we have seen everywhere, He is the sent One of the Father; He receives all from Him, and takes the initiative in nothing of His own will, except in undertaking the work that He should accomplish; but comes to do the Father's will. He empties Himself of this part of the divine rights, free then to undertake all, having the same will with the Father. But the work that He undertook was, from one end to the other, a work of pure obedience. It was at His expense that the work was done, but according to the thoughts and will of the Father. He never left this position. He could say "I am" John 8:58); but He lived by every word that came out of the mouth of God. The perfection of the work was obedience in love. Adonai (the Lord) whom we see in Isaiah 6:1, this Jehovah whose glory fills the earth, it is Christ; John 12:39-41. He is Adonai, at Jehovah's right hand, Adonai who smites the kings in the day of wrath; Psalm 110:5.

Such then are the relationships in which we know God now. It is not simply a supreme God, the Most High; it is not only He "who is, who was, and who is to come," He who, always the same, accomplishes His promises; nor any more the mighty God, the all-powerful who keeps His own. All this is true; but these titles are connected with God governing the world, accomplishing His promises, and keeping His own down here. Here it is God Himself who reveals Himself, as the Father who has sent the Son, to bring us to Him according to the full manifestation of what He is in Himself, partaking morally of His nature, His own sons, and destined to be like Christ.

Now the Son had fully glorified the Father down here; He had finished the work that the Father had entrusted to Him, and He asks to be re-admitted into the glory that He had had with the Father before the world was. The Father had sent Him, He had glorified the Father and finished the work He had to do, and now He was going to return into His former glory, the glory of the Son, but He re-entered it as man.

279 Up to this the foundations are laid; Christ ever seeking to glorify the Father, even when He should have re-entered into the glory that belonged to Him. All was accomplished with regard to His mission. Sent on the part of God, and from Him, become man to glorify Him down here, He had done it; for he who had seen the Son had seen the Father. Then He receives the glory from the Father, and sits on His throne, a glorified Man, but Son, in the eternal glory He had had. But the object of His mission was also to give eternal life to those whom the Father had given Him. Now, those who knew God thus, the Father, and Jesus, the Christ whom He had sent, possessed this life.

The basis of the whole position of His own being thus laid in Jesus, the Son of the Father, and in His work, Jesus continues, still addressing the Father. He shews how He had revealed Him to His own,* and created thus in their hearts the consciousness of the ineffably blessed position in which, in virtue of His manifestation and of His work, they were now placed; and first of all in relationship with the Father. The Father's love was the source of it: "those," says the Saviour, "whom thou hast given me." The Father had confided them to the Son's faithfulness; first of all, faithfulness towards the Father, to bring His beloved ones to Him, according to His thoughts of blessing and of glory, as sons, that is to say, as Christ Himself; then consequently, according to His own heart of love, unfailing faithfulness towards us - blessed be His name! Without it, we never should have been in the enjoyment which has been destined for us; it is exercised through all the sufferings that sin, in which we were, rendered necessary; it is exercised as to the burden of care that our weakness, the presence of the flesh in us, and the wiles of Satan required, and require from Him.

{*"I have manifested thy name to the men whom thou hast given me out of the world."}

In order to place us in the consciousness of the position which the Father's grace had given us, and that His faithfulness assured to us, He has revealed the Father's name. The only Son who enjoyed ineffably the Father's affection (John 1:18), which was visible as a fact in this world,* if the world had eyes to see it (John 1:5, 10, 11); He, the Son, who knew the Father as such, has revealed Him to the disciples. He was ever a revelation of the Father before their eyes (John 14:9), but, more, He had spoken to them of Him: this is one of the things that characterise His communications. It is true that before having received the Holy Ghost, they scarcely profited by them, but that by which they might have profited was there before them. Alas! never once did they understand what the Lord said to them. But He does not speak here of their want of intelligence, He speaks of the revelation itself that had been made to them, attributing to them the possession of all its value. Moreover, it is what He always did, even when they declared that they did not understand it (John 14:4-5), for they had a true faith in Him, in whom all was found.

{*For indeed, the world has both seen, and hated both Him and His Father.}

280 He says also: "They have kept thy word"; and, in fact, whatever their ignorance might have been, they had, by grace, walked faithfully with Jesus. "To whom should we go?" said Peter; "Thou hast the words of eternal life." They had also recognised Him as Son of God; He had communicated to them therefore the relationship in which He was with the Father in this world, and whatever their degree of intelligence, He placed them in the same relationship.

But He did more; He communicated to them all the privileges, which on the part of the Father, belonged to Himself on earth; the privileges inherent to His position of Son down here. It was no longer the glory and royal honour that the Messiah should receive from Jehovah; they had understood that what He had, belonged to the Son, to the Son who had emptied Himself, and come down to a state of abasement and humiliation here below, to shew forth all the glory of the power of God in goodness, taking away not yet the sin, but all the miseries that were the fruit of it. They had understood that that which Jesus had received from the Father was all that belonged to the Son of God, as Son of man on earth.

But this privilege that had been accorded to them, depended upon another, or was realised in another, which was still greater. He had shared with them all the intimate communications that the Father had made to Him as Son down here. It was all that belonged to this position which occupies us here - that of the Son upon earth. "I have given them the words that thou hast given me." Immense grace! It was in effect placing them in the same position as Himself with the Father. He had revealed to them the name of Father. It was placing them, in title and in fact, in His own relationship of Son with the Father. But Christ, having been Son here upon earth, and having come to accomplish the work the Father had given Him to do, had of right received intimate communications from Him, in order that all might be done in a perfect and unfailing unity with the Father. This was, for the Saviour, the blessed side of His life. Now, having placed the disciples (for He speaks here of the eleven) in the same relationship with the Father, as that in which He was by nature and by right, their position was not to be barren and dry, but furnished with all the communications which belonged to Him, and which Jesus enjoyed. And this is the grace which has been made theirs. It would be well, before going further, to make one or two remarks here.

281 This part of the Saviour's words (verses 6-10, and even up to verse 19, although this last portion treats of the disciples from another point of view) applies to the eleven, as companions of Christ upon earth. He had revealed the Father's name to them; He was placing them in the relationship in which He was Himself with the Father, as Son, but dwelling upon earth. The communications which He received were made to Him as being there, and were those that He communicated to them. I have no doubt whatever that Jesus spoke of what He knew, and bore witness to what He had seen; nor that the fact that He could say of Himself, "the Son of man that is in heaven" (John 3:13), bad an essential influence upon His ministry. But He was the manifestation of grace and truth down here, and up to the time that He was speaking, it was not a question of giving the disciples the consciousness that they were in Him in heaven; that was about to take place. In verse 24, this thought, not yet of union, but at least of association with Him in heaven, begins to dawn. His object assuredly was not to maintain Judaism, but to present that which manifested the Father, grace and truth come in Him, the character of God in a Man down here shewn out fully. It was not, either, to develop the counsels of God and the mysteries of grace, as Paul teaches them to us; that is a fruit of Jesus being glorified. The sun had shone behind the clouds in the previous dispensations; even now it is faith that lays hold of it; at the end, its manifestation will have an earthly character; but here the clouds disperse, and the sun itself appears. The Father in the fulness of grace, sends the Son; the Son manifests the Father perfectly, and glorifies Him, and the disciples understand that all that the Father had given to Jesus was the gift of the Father to the Son down here (not, as I have said, of Jehovah to the Messiah), that the Father had sent Him in sovereign grace, and that He had come from the Father.

282 Such is the basis of the prayer of Jesus. It was for them that He prayed, not for the world. The world was judged, but the Father had given Him His disciples; most precious truth, source of all our blessings and that which characterises them. Now the Lord, in leaving His disciples, prays for them, and with infinitely touching motives, which open also to our view the sphere into which we are introduced. All belongs to this revelation of the Father in the Son - the Object, and at the same time the Revealer, of His most tender love, and to the introduction of the disciples into the same relationship.

The first motive is found in these words: "I pray for them, because they are thine." For the beloved Son, the Father was everything; He lived to glorify Him, and He prays that the Father may be for those who are His, such a Father as He Himself knew Him.

The second motive is the Son. The Father cared for the Son's glory; because of this, He was to take care of His disciples, for now that Jesus was going back to the Father, it is in them that He was to be glorified. The Father would keep them because they belonged to Him, and that in them the Son should be glorified. It was necessary that they should be kept if the Father cared for the glory of the Son. Now there was no separation between the interests and glory of the Father and the interests and glory of the Son. All that belonged to the Father belonged to the Son, and all that belonged to the Son belonged to the Father. What a bond between the Father, the Son, and the disciples? They belonged to the Father, the Father had given them to the Son, and it was in them that the Son was to be glorified. Their present position, which gave occasion to the request, was that Jesus was going away from the world to the Father, and that He was leaving His disciples down here.

283 Then Jesus indicates the name according to which the Father was to keep them: "Holy Father," to keep them with the affection of a Father, and according to the holiness of His nature. He had kept them Himself in this name during His sojourn here below, and now He gives them over to the immediate care of the Father, according to the love towards them common to the Father and to the Son, and always under the name of "Holy Father." "Holy Father, keep them in thy name that thou hast given me."* Christ was down here the Son of the Father, and as such He answered also to the Father's holiness in all His ways and His thoughts. The Father's will was exemplified in His life; He manifested in Himself the Holy Father. Now He prayed that the disciples might be kept by what the Father was in this relationship with Jesus. The Lord was in it, lived in it; he who had seen Him had seen the Father. As with Israel, He could have said: "Obey his voice, provoke him not; for my name is in him," Exod. 23:21. Thus the Father and He were one, not only in nature, but in thoughts, acts, motions of the will. Christ, in His life, was one with the Holy Father.

{*This is the best reading: the Received Text has, "those whom thou hast given me."}

Christ prayed for His own, that they might be kept by the Father in that name. He was there by nature; it was His place upon earth; they needed to be kept there. He had kept them thus as long as He had been in this world; now He gave them over to the Father, that He should keep them thus, that there might be the same thought, the same purpose, and that all their words and actions might answer to it; that the expression of the life of each of them and of all together, might be that of the Lord in His relationship with the Father, according to the import and value of this name. Presently the Lord will speak of the mediatorial means; here, it is the fact that He presents. The disciples were to be one - a single vessel of the life, of the thoughts, of the revelation of the Father Himself, as Christ had been. "Father," the name of grace, of God sending the Son, the Son revealing Him as such; and "holiness" according to that which the Father is - this is what was to characterise them, and by the power of the Holy Ghost,* all, as a single existence, were to be only this in the midst of the world; they should represent Christ in this relationship with the Father. It is evident that if there were amongst them different thoughts or purposes, they would fail as to this position. The Father and the Son were thus one when the Son was down here; this is what they were to be amongst themselves according to the relationship in which Christ had been. It is the name of "Father" that had been given to Him, in order that He might manifest it in this world; and, according to His holiness, there was nothing of this world in Him to obscure the revelation of what the Father was.

{*The Holy Ghost is not the subject here, but He is nevertheless the power that was to produce this life in the disciples.}

Such was their position; it was not yet their mission. Being such, it was to have the joy of Christ fulfilled in them. Indeed, it was the joy of the Saviour, man here below. Infinite grace for them, and in a certain sense for us all. (Compare 1 John 1:1-4.) The sum of all is, that the relationship of the Son down here with the Holy Father, the name in which He had kept His disciples when He was here below, was to be their safeguard directly on the Father's part.

284 He sends them into this world, having confided to them the Father's word - this revelation, not of the dispensations of God in His government of the world, but the revelation of the Father in grace - a revelation, not of the counsels of God for the future in Christ, but a revelation which made known the Father Himself, as having sent the Son, and putting in relationship with God according to His nature, that which will be the eternal blessing when there will no longer be any dispensation.

Now this is what drew upon them the hatred of the world. Their presence, representing the Father in testimony, told the world that everything did not belong to it; that that which was of God did not. There were men who were in relationship with the Father; but the consequence of this was that they were not of the world. Judgment was not executed, but the separation was made.

Christ did not pray that they might be taken out of the world, although they did not belong to it, as He Himself did not belong to it, but that they might be kept from the evil, negatively from the influence of the world that surrounded them. Not only so, but that they might be sanctified, set apart in heart and in fact by the Father's word; it was not prophecy, nor the government of the world, but the revelation of the Father in His grace in Christ: the eternal joy of His communion. It was the immutable, eternal truth: Christ had been and always is it, but they were to be witnesses of it, being sent by the Son into the world, as the Son had been sent into it by the Father.

285 Now for the accomplishment of this sanctification in them, an object is introduced in the Person of Christ Himself - Christ, I believe, glorified; however, His Person remains the same. One might have supposed that the Son, eternally One with the Father in His divine nature, and who had been Son down here, introducing this relationship into human nature, but always able to say: "I and my Father are one"; one might have supposed, I say, that He would have laid aside this human garb in leaving this world, in order to enter again into His simply divine position. But no! He keeps it in the glory. He sets Himself apart in the glory as Man; always Son, but in the glory that He had with the Father before the world was, in order that this relationship with the Father, in which man is placed in His Person, might be effectively revealed in its perfection and in its fulness to the hearts of the disciples, that these hearts filled with what He was, might be at the same time sanctified according to this perfection, and thus made fit to be the vessels of it in their testimony. Thus the truth of what the Father is - the truth that sanctified them - was not, so to speak, a dry doctrine, applied to their souls to form them, judging evil and communicating that which was suitable, but a living reality which placed them in this position, with all the affections which were connected with a Person, in whom they were and who was in them, a Saviour known and beloved, who had been bound up with them in grace. All the fulness of the result of this relationship, established in its perfection in heaven, formed their heart according to this perfection.

This is what completes that which Jesus asks for the disciples before the Father, and in testimony before the world: the revelation of the name of the Father known in the Person of the Son, Man in this world and in the glory. But His prayer does not stop there; blessed be His name for ever!

Jesus prays also for those who were to believe through their means; but the request is not the same as that which He made for the disciples, although it depends upon it. For them He asked a unity analogous to that which existed between the Father and the Son in the work of redemption; the same thoughts, the same counsels, the same truth. The Son accomplished the Father's thoughts in the unity of the same nature. They were, by the absorbing power of the Holy Ghost, to act in the work of testimony, as being absolutely and entirely one. No divergence existed between the thoughts, the counsels, the will of the Father, and the testimony and obedience of the Son; and, by grace, the disciples became the depositary, one and all together, of the testimony of the revelation of the Father in the Son. Also, the Father's word having been confided to them, their function was to communicate it to others. They were communicators of these truths; the others, for whom the Saviour now prays, received this testimony, and thus entered into communion with those who were in the unity of this grace. (Compare 1 John 1:1-4.) They enjoyed all that of which the disciples were the depositaries. The Lord prays that they may be one with them, the Father and the Son. It is always the Father revealed in the Son that is the basis of their union. Now this revelation gave them a heavenly object, one only and the same object that absorbed the heart's affections, and thus destroyed the influence of the earthly objects that would have tended to divide them, such as their social or national position, and even what was still more difficult, their religious position. They were Christians, sons of the Father, associated with Christ; their fatherland was heaven. Pilgrims and strangers down here, they declared plainly that they sought their native country. Now, in this, they were necessarily one; one in their origin, one in their object, and that with Christ Himself, the Son of the Father. He that sanctified and they who were sanctified were all of one. (See Heb. 2:11.) They formed part of the company of those to whom the Saviour had said: "I ascend unto my Father and your Father, unto my God and your God." In this spiritual position, they were one in the Father and in the Son, who were one in themselves, and all together lived in this communion. Thus in 1 John 1, we read: "that ye may have fellowship with us: and our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ," and then we have fellowship "one with another."

286 Thus, inasmuch as Christians, brought to the knowledge of the Father in the Son, the motives that animate and govern the world, had disappeared: "As is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly." In this case John never speaks of the inconsistencies that may be shewn in the walk, nor the Saviour either, but He speaks of the thing in itself. Now the world was to see this unity (compare Acts 2 and 4), and the disappearance of all the motives that govern this world, a clear testimony to the revelation of the Father in the Son. It was the testimony that the Father had sent the Son into the world; for there is seen a people there formed by a power that was not at all of the world, and which, in overturning all human barriers, would give them but one heart and one soul, so that they were irrefragable witnesses of the reality of that which governed them. Such are Christians, led by the word of the Father, subject to the influence of this word, and living by it.

287 Note, that the subject here is not of the unity of the church - John never speaks of it - but of the family of God. It is not the counsels of God, but the effect and realisation of the revelation of the Father in the Son sent from Him; but in everything they are identified with Christ.

The third unity is in glory. The first was expressed by these words, "as we" (ver. 11); the second, by "one in us" (ver. 21); and this one, by "as we are one" (ver. 22), and by "I in them, and thou in me"; thus accomplished, brought to perfection in one. It is here the result in glory.

We have seen that the doctrine of the chapter, even eternal life, is the knowledge of the Father, and Christ sent by Him. Now this is accomplished in the glory. First of all, Christ a man, Son of God, in glory, is the source of the sanctification of His own according to that knowledge, the disciples and those that believed, being introduced by their means in spirit into the position where Christ was. In the second place, this relationship of association with Christ is transferred into the glory before the Father; not as now, realised by faith, but they themselves are transformed in this glory. It is union, perfect in nature, thoughts, and state - "as we are one"; Christ in them, so that their position was fully realised, and the Father in Christ, so that the spiritual connection that we have seen all through the chapter - the Father revealed in the Son, and Christ revealed in the disciples and believers - was now not only spiritually known, but gloriously realised.

But let us here notice what is striking and important. The three unities relate to the world. First, the word of God had been confided to the disciples, conjointly depositaries of the truth, so that the world hated them (vers. 11-14); then, secondly, we have the unity of communion, that the world might believe (ver. 24) in seeing the effect and the power of the present testimony; then, thirdly, the disciples and believers are made partakers of the glory given to the Son as Man; He in them, and the Father in Him, so that the whole of these thoughts, of grace so infinite which unites the Father, the Son as Man, and believers, being manifested in glory, the world will know (and not believe) that the Son had been sent from the Father, and that believers were loved by the Father as the Son Himself. The proof of it will be there: the Son manifested in glory, and believers in the same glory as He. This will be the visible accomplishment of the doctrine, of the marvellous truth with which the chapter is taken up: the Father in the Son as Man, and believers glorified with Him. But whether it be a scene of testimony or of glory, it is the world that is before our eyes.

288 In what follows, this is not the case, and it is this that gives quite another character to these last verses. "Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me, for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world." We see here, as we have seen throughout, that Christ speaks of Himself as man, though also as Son of the Father; as man, divested outwardly of the divine glory in which He had been - "the form of God" as we read in Philippians 2 - and having taken "the form of a servant" in humanity. The Father has given the glory on high to the Man Christ. He had had, He says in this same chapter, this glory with the Father before the foundation of the world, but He was going back into it as man, for as man it is clear that He had never had it. He was not yet glorified. Never, down here, though He said and shewed that He was one with the Father, and "I am" (John 8:59), and said to the Jews: "Destroy this temple [His body where God was], and in three days I will raise it up"; never would He go outside this position of servant: He took a body in order to be obedient to His Father; Psalm 40. Moreover, a man who had not been so, would have been by the very fact, in evil: it was this that Satan sought to lead Him into; Matt. 4. The Father had proclaimed: "This is my beloved Son"; and in the first temptation, Satan says to Him: "If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones become bread"; but the Lord withstood his wiles, refusing to leave the place of obedience: "Man," He says, "shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." Thus, in speaking as Man in the midst of His own, He speaks of the glory into which He was going to enter, as being given Him of God. Nevertheless He presents it here objectively as His personal glory.

289 He had been loved before the foundation of the world. We have learned, at the beginning of the chapter, that He had had with the Father, before the foundation of the world, the glory into which He was going to enter as Man. It is not that there are two glories; but I do not believe that human eyes down here can bear the glory as it is seen in heaven. The glory seen upon earth will be like that in which Moses and Elijah appeared upon the mountain - the glory of the kingdom. But we read in Luke 9 that the disciples entered into the cloud, the shekinah. Moses had spoken to God, when God came down in the cloud, but he did not enter into it. But we shall see Him such as He is there, in the Father's house. The disciples had suffered upon earth, and had seen Him suffer. He was going to be crucified, and He asked therefore that they should see His glory on high, with the Father. It was the answer to the ignominy to which He had been exposed for His love for us, and for the glory of His Father.

But this request relates also to another solemn truth. He was going to suffer; the history of His sufferings begins with the nest chapter. The world had rejected Him; the Father must decide between Him and the world. He had fully revealed the Father, and the world had not known Him who had manifested Himself in Christ. It was moral blindness that only saw the carpenter's son there, where the Father had been manifested in all His grace and all His goodness. But Jesus, as man in the world, had known the Father, and the disciples had known that it was the Father, who had sent Him. Now the end had come, the close of His earthly career; the result was to declare itself. The Father's righteousness was about to place Him in His house, and the world was left without God, who had been there in grace, and without the Saviour.

Notice that when He prays for His own, Jesus says, "Holy Father." He desired that they should be kept according to this name - sons with Him, and sanctified according to this revelation of the Father that Christ enjoyed, and of which He was the vessel for the others. Now He says "Righteous Father." The Father was to decide between Him and those who had received Him on the one hand, and the world that had rejected Him on the other. A solemn moment for the world, when He who had come in pure grace (2 Cor. 5:19) prayed, after having faithfully manifested and glorified the Father, that the Father Himself should decide in righteousness between Him and the world. The answer very soon followed, when Jesus sat down on the Father's throne.

290 But we have something else to remark here. First the union of the divine Person of the Son, and of the humanity of the Saviour. The Father had loved Him before the foundation of the world; Himself, Son of the Father, before there had been a world. But in contrast with the world, He had known the Father, that is to say, as Man down here, and He associates the disciples with Himself, demanding that they should be there where He was going to be, at the same time owning His personal glory. He demanded that they should see His glory, the glory that He had as loved of the Father before the world existed. It is the precious truth, which is like a thread uniting all the chapter; but here, that which is put more forward, is His Person as Son of the Father, and Man, and the association of the disciples with Him. But what grace is presented to us here! We shall be with Christ, like Christ; we shall see His glory, the glory of Him who has been humbled for us; a glory that He had with the Father before the foundation of the world - but Man for ever and ever.

This is not yet all. There is our relationship with the Father, the same as that of Christ: "I go to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God"; that is to say, where Christ is still as Son, and as Man. We enjoy this relationship already. When Christ shall come again, the world will know that we have been loved, as Christ has been loved; but we have the enjoyment of it already, down here. The Father's name has been already declared to us when Christ was upon earth, although little understood by the disciples. But from the descent of the Holy Ghost, come down in virtue of the presence of the Man Christ in heaven, this name is declared again, and the Spirit is the Spirit of adoption.

What immense, perfect, and intimate grace! Love, which is the love with which God loves, infinite, perfect, in its nature shutting out all that is not itself; intimate, it is the Father's love for the Son Himself, and Christ in us to draw it into our hearts, and make us capable of enjoying it, and that in its perfect intimacy, for it is Christ in us, to give it its proper character in us.

291 The world will know objectively the love wherewith we have been loved, when we shall appear in the same glory as Christ; we ourselves know it, as being the conscious objects of it; knowing this love in the Father, in the Son as being its worthy and infinite object, and we - He being in us - participating in it in the manner in which He enjoys it as Man. God alone could have such thoughts.