Last Will and Testament
Last Will & Testament
May 27, 2007
Normally, one’s last will and testament is read to the beneficiaries after one has died. In John 14, Jesus gives what amounts to his last will and testament to his disciples and to all Christians the night before his death and resurrection.
The chapter divides nicely into 3 sections. Each begins with a questioner: Thomas in verses 5-7; Philip in verses 8-21; and Judas (not Iscariot) in 22-27. This middle section is sandwiched between two sections concerning Jesus assurance to his disciples on the eve of his earthly departure.
Since the gospel of John covers only 3 weeks of Jesus life – or 21 chapters covering 21 days – John is obviously selective in the material he chooses. By the way, an advert for our fall Moore Course which will cover the gospel of John. We meet each Tuesday, last year, from 12.30-1.30 pm.
In this last will and testament, some of the promises which Jesus makes are for the future – as for instance John 14.1-4; but most are for the present – that is promises for all who come to God the Father through faith in Jesus Christ, his Son.
Further, some of the promises are given to the apostles and are limited to them; most are given to all Christians. For instance,
John 14:26 (ESV)
26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
Is given only the apostles, not us, because Jesus spoke to them initially, not to us; therefore the promise to bring to their remembrance all that Jesus said to them is a promises restricted to them.
Today, we will look at the second questioner; Philip. Each question is important. The first one concerns the far distant future – and Jesus reassures the apostles of their place in heavenly places when he returns, since the Lord has prepared a place for them.
But this question is different. Philip, hearing the first question from Thomas about his concern in the future, says in effect. I don’t know what you are saying: I want to see the Father straight away.
Point One: Why do we need Jesus Anyway?
Philip’s question seems to assume a situation very much a part of world today. Why do we need anyone between us and God? Aren’t there many roads to God – ours being one way, and others’ another? Why is Jesus so unique?
Philip could be asking for a kind of one-off glimpse of God – being transported to heaven for this exclusive showing.
Or, perhaps, exasperated, he simply said, Come on, Can’t you just show us right now? It reminds me a bit of the devil’s tactics in Jesus’ temptations – You can be the ruler of the world right now – I’ll give it to you – Just don’t bother with the cross and resurrection.
If Jesus granted Philip’s request in this way, Philip would have been left immeasurably poorer for the vision the only vision of God ever given to sinful human beings has been the merest glimpse of his back –
Exodus 33:23 (ESV)
23 Then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen."
John 1:18 (ESV)
18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known.
There are two parts to Jesus’ answer,
Point Two: Answer 1: 9-11
The First part of his answer has 3 parts:
Don’t you know me?
How can you ask that when you’ve seen me?
Don’t you believe me?
Jesus is very patient with Philip – but even the Son of God has limits. Certainly, Philip’s understanding of Jesus is limited.
Jesus urges Philip to remember all that he has seen over the past 3 years – Philip has questions about God because he has yet to put his faith in Jesus Christ. The only way to know God is through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Jesus says that the Father’s glory is revealed in Jesus’ words, and his works.
If Philip has trouble with Jesus’ words – that he is in the Father, and that the Father is in him – then he says in verse 11, believe in the works themselves.
Notice here the connection between Jesus’ words & his works. In fact, look again at verse 10-11
John 14:10-11 (ESV)
10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.
As you read verse 11, you would expect Jesus to say, believe on account of my words but he doesn’t say that. He says works.
So what are works of Jesus Christ?
The primary work of Jesus Christ is stated in
John 17:4-5 (ESV)
4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.
In other words, what Jesus says is the work of the Father. For what he says about himself, if we believe in him, brings us everlasting life – the great work of God.
If a person will only come to Jesus and listens to Him, then they will see the Father. Jesus continues with a command to believe His words, or at least believe on the evidence of the works – and here he means the totality of Jesus’ signs, explanations and actions – including his miracles.
The great ‘signs’ of John’s gospel, such as the turning of water into wine, the healings of the officials Son; of an invalid man; of the blind man; feeding of the 5,000; walking on water; and the raising of Lazarus – to name 7.
These ‘signs’ authenticated the words of Jesus. Nicodemus said:
John 3:2 (ESV)
2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him."
Yet, there was a limit to the signs – John 4:48 (ESV)
48 So Jesus said to him, "Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe."
All of these ‘signs’ pointed, as Nicodemus said to the very nature of Jesus – the Son of God whose primary ‘work’ was to die on the cross, be raised from the dead so that you and I can come into the very presence of the Father through Jesus the Son.
The Second Part of Jesus answer is in verses 12-14
Just as the glory of the Father is revealed in the words and work of Jesus; so too will the Father’s glory be manifested by the church’s work after the ascension.
First, notice that Jesus is clearly speaking to the church- see 12.12 - whoever believes in me….
Then he says that whoever believes in Jesus will do even greater things. How is this possible?
First, the ‘greater works.’ As long as understand that the difference between Jesus’ work of salvation, then we see what ‘greater works’ we will do.
In John, chapter 5, the works of Jesus are giving life to the dead and judgment
John 5:21-22 (ESV)
21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. 22 The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son,
The greater works that he has given us to do concern life and judgment – which the Son does, but which he does through our witness to the Father and the son.
He doesn’t mean greater miracles; he means greater works of life from the dead and the judgment to come. As people hear the gospel, they turn to the son in faith to receive life; however, if they refuse the son, as John earlier says, the wrath or judgment of God rests on them.
It isn’t anything we do; but the Son through the Father does; therefore notice verses
John 14:13-14 (ESV)
13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.
We are to ask the Father in the name of Jesus Christ to do these works through us. In other words, the secret of our witness is our asking the Father – that is our prayer.
In my name indicates that the request must be according to the character and teaching of Jesus and for the father’s glory means that it is the Son’s intention to answer prayer in order that his Father may be glorified – thus Jesus’ guarantee of answered prayers is limited to prayers which will achieve that aim.
Jesus does not promise to answer all prayers for happy, wealthy, trouble-free living. He does promise to answer prayers for the giving of glory to God.
This is Pentecost Sunday and so we end this section with verses 15-17
John 14:15-17 (ESV)
15 "If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.
The work of God the Father through the Son is made possible by the work of the Holy Spirit – notice – the Spirit of truth, our advocate, whom the world cannot receive – until the world puts its faith and trust in Jesus Christ our risen, ascended and reigning Lord.
The way to the Father is through the Son.
For the father’s works are to be seen in Jesus words which bring eternal life
And this work is now accomplished through Christ’s disciples in the power of the Holy Spirit – in answer to prayer which will be answered since Jesus is going to the Father and continues to want to glorify him.
I hope you notice how the fullness of the Trinity is interwoven into every part of this section of John’s gospel.
Let us pray: