J. N. Darby.
This chapter presents an object before our souls so as to give us our portion in Christ - a portion in the Father's house; and secondly how we get into this place. It wonderfully brings before us our place now that He is absent from us (though in one sense He is never absent), what the comfort of the Christian is, and the place into which God has brought him. This is no fresh truth, but showing where the heart of the Christian is when he really has Christ before him and the Holy Ghost working in him.
Christ was going away and it was natural that they should be troubled. At the end of the chapter He says to them in a touching way, "If you thought of me you would be glad that I am going back to my Father, and out of this scene of sin and sorrow." Still, it seemed to them that they were going to lose Him, and it was natural they should grieve; and so He gives them what is to be their comfort when He is gone.
Besides this, there is His coming again brought in. "I cannot stay with you here," He says, "but I will take you where I am going." The whole state of the world was unfit for Him to remain on the earth. He could not rest here. He could stay for a time and serve, but could not rest. Even long before, in the Old Testament, it is said "This is not your rest, for it is polluted"; but this only led to the blessed truth that He was going to give us a rest where He could rest, with the Father, and that His work was so perfect and so effectual that He could give us a place there. We have got a portion where He has all His glory, all His rest, the fruit of the travail of His soul.
44 "In my Father's house are many mansions … I go to prepare a place for you." Mark this, it was in His Father's house, the place that He had as Son where He was at home, there He was going to prepare my place. That is unspeakable blessing! It was a comfort, a joy to have Christ with them in the world, but that was by the way. He was going to prepare a place where He was at home. Think what the home of such a heart as His must be! Where all His divine affections would flow out, the divine Son, and yet a Man, and to think that this is the place where He is going to take us. What a wonderful thing! What a home must that be!
"I will come again and receive you unto myself." Not call you up, that would not do: not send for you, that would not do: but "I will come." How touching! Though gone into glory and sitting on His Father's throne, He would leave it to come and fetch us into His Father's house. His affections are so set on us that He is not satisfied without coming Himself for us; He would not send. It is not only the blessedness to us of His coming Himself for us, but it is the expression of Christ's heart. He wants it, wants to have us. It is His own interest in us, His love to us. When we know that, then the heart is drawn out to Himself. No doubt it is an unspeakable blessing to us, but it is the revelation of Christ Himself. The one only blessed hope of the Church is that He would come again and fetch us. Confidence is sure that when we are unclothed we shall be with the Lord, "Absent from the body, present with the Lord." Yet that is not the hope; the hope is that He will come and fetch us. It is on His heart and should be on ours. They went out to meet the bridegroom; that was the condition of the Church at the first. Converted to wait for His Son from heaven, they all went to sleep, wise as well as foolish, and had to be waked by the midnight cry. It was "My Lord delayeth His coming," that brought deadness into the Church, that led to the eating and drinking and drunkenness, beating the men-servants and maid-servants.
45 This is no truth that may or may not be held. It is essential to the daily life of the Christian. If I am daily expecting Christ I shall not like to be in any place where I would not like Him to find me, and whatever would not please Him I should put off, whatever it is. We are looking for One who loves us. His heart wants us, and He is going to satisfy His heart. It is not prophecy; prophecy has to do with God's government of this world, and it is very interesting in its place, but it has nothing to do with our hope.
Now comes in another thing. If I am sending my son, or orphan, if you please - though in one sense we are not left orphans - to a strange place, the grand point would be for him to know what sort of person it was that I was going to send him to live with. Heaven is a very vague place if I have not got a Person in it. If there were no one there - if we were to dwell in a holy place by ourselves - it would not do. We should have no object there before our souls. There would be an immense gap. Of course, it is not possible that it should be so. And so He tells us that we have known the Father if we have known Him, that it is the Father's house He is going to, and going to take us to. So the grand point for us is how we can know the Father and perfect satisfaction. It is not like this poor empty world, which, our hearts being made for God, is too small ever to fill them. This object is too big for our hearts. I press this, how close the Father has been brought to us. They had seen Him and so had seen the Father; and when they ask the way, He says, "I am the way."
46 "Philip saith unto Him, Lord, shew us the Father." They had got the full blessedness, but their poor hearts did not know it. Could He say to us, "Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known Me?" Or can we say that our souls have so seen the Father in the Person of the Son, that we can say, "I have found it all, I have got it." It is that that forms the heart as to its affections. If we have followed Christ in His path down here - followed Him in the Gospels - have we learnt the Father's ways in the Son? He passed all on that He enjoys of the Father to the disciples that they might enjoy it with Him. How much have we learnt of this favour and blessedness which He reveals? I cannot learn anything of it that is not mine, "that the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in them, and I in them." All things are mine.
The Lord presses this upon them, that "no man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him." It is a wrong thought that He left the Father's bosom. He never did; He left the Father's house. You get in Christ the full revelation of what the Father is. The only begotten Son, all the Father's delight centres in Him, in the bosom of the Father, that is in the full enjoyment of it, He declares the Father. I see He is infinite, and I adore Him, but I see He is the revelation of the Father's love to me, as I go over His life down here.
47 It is not merely saying, I am a lost sinner and have been saved, but it is the Holy Ghost dwelling in me, occupying me with Christ, having fellowship with the Father and the Son, that is my portion. When I say I have fellowship with any one down here, I mean I have the same thoughts, the same joys, the same ways. Is that true of us with the Father and the Son? It gives holiness of thoughts of course, and it gives piety of thoughts; that is you get affections according to the relationship you are in, suitable to that which is before your soul.
Supposing my soul is dwelling on the blessed obedience of Christ - His obedience unto death - and I am adoringly sitting and contemplating Christ so, does not the Father contemplate it too? Do not I know the Father's delight in it too? "Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life," and that is why I love Him because He has laid down His Life, in my poor feeble measure, of course, but it is having the same object.
Do not rest satisfied if you do not know what it is to enjoy the Father's favour in the Son, and to know the Father revealed in all the ways of Christ, that the Son of God is come into the world to reveal the Father. How much have your hearts learnt what He came down to let you know, the love of the Father and the Son?
Now He goes on to the other Comforter. The world ought to have recognised Christ, for He did among them the works that none other man did, but the world has nothing to do with the Holy Ghost. When the Holy Ghost comes there is no personal manifestation of Him to the world. "Whom the world cannot receive because it seeth Him not neither knoweth Him." They ought to see His fruits in the disciples of course, but they cannot see Him. "But ye know Him for He dwelleth with you and shall be in you." Christ could not abide. It was necessary that He should put Man in heaven and send the Holy Ghost down. It is now not merely the revelation of the Father and the Son, but it is the Holy Ghost dwelling in us. Christ dwelt with, but not in His disciples, the Holy Ghost dwells in us.
48 Now I get another thing, that being sprinkled by the blood of Jesus Christ and perfectly clean the Holy Ghost can take up His abode in us. It was not simply that a man was born again - being born again is not righteousness before God. There is a mixture, my poor flesh is there. I may hate the evil, hate myself for it, but it does not cleanse the conscience, but when I get the work of Christ outside myself, then it is according to the value God has of the blood of Christ that I am clean in His sight. In virtue of Christ being at the right hand of God my righteousness, the Spirit of God can come and take up his abode in me. Now He abides, now we get the power in us. Our bodies the temple of the Holy Ghost. What a thought! Who that thought of it could use his body for sin, who that thought of it could deck it out with vanities? We forget it or we never could, this wonderful thought that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Ghost! If we just think of that what servants of Christ we should be in everything. We should be so careful not to grieve the Spirit. God dwelling in us as a Guest, what a thought! See the effect of that when I receive the Holy Ghost. "In that day ye shall know that I am in the Father." He does not add here, "and the Father in Me." The world was the place where they needed to know that. When they wanted to know about the Father, then it was, "He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father." But now it was to know that this Man - this "carpenter's son," whose visage was marred more than any man's, who was treated as a malefactor, who underwent the outrages of man - that He is in the Father, and one with the Father. It brings God to us, and us to God.
49 And now mark what follows "Ye in Me," "Ye shall know this." I do not want this simply as a truth, but do you know, are you living in the consciousness that you are in Christ and Christ in you? Are you living day by day in that consciousness? Is that your life? It is our whole place now; we are in Christ, and in the presence of God. It is not only that He is in the presence of God between God and us to intercede for us, but we are in Him there, and the favour that rests on Him rests on us. I am in Christ Himself before God, and, moreover, Christ is in me. Now I get the standard of walk. He is before God for me and I in Him, and I am before the world for Him and He in Me. This gives us the measure of our walk down here. If it is true that you are in Christ, Christ is in you, and now let me see Him. I look to see nothing in your walk, or ways, or manner, or anything about you that is not Christ. Do you manifest Christ in everything? In your walk, and ways, and dress and everything?
The heart sees Him now. All that made God delight in Him we are called to esteem and to apprehend by the Holy Ghost, "because I live ye shall live also." If Christ is my life, He must die before I can die. If I look up to God, divine favour rests upon me. I am in Christ. If I want to know how to walk, Christ is in me and I am to show Him.
50 Then He closes this chapter in a way that is wondrously touching. I am to be concerned about His happiness. The place He has set us in is His own, as sons with the Father, the righteousness of God in Him. He is our life, and then, having put us in His own place, He leaves us His path. I ask you where your heart's time is spent? Is it spent in Christ or in tittle-tattle or what not? What springs up when we meet one another, is it Christ or what is in Christ? Or is it the tittle-tattle of the world? I am not talking of evil, I am supposing you know Him and are not going on in sin. But when the pressure of what you have to do is taken off, does Christ come forth?
"Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you, not as the world giveth, give I unto you." The way that Christ gives is to bring us into the enjoyment of all that He enjoys Himself. "In the world ye shall have tribulation." He leaves us His own path.
There is such a wonderful expression here of how He identifies Himself with us and expects us to identify ourselves with Him: expects our affections to be occupied with Him. I know no such expression, showing how near he has come to us, how near He has brought us to Himself, as this. "If you are thinking of yourselves," He says, "you will be sorry that I am going to leave you. If you are thinking of Me you will be glad that I am going back to my Father's house."
The Lord give us to have our eye resting on Him, on the fulness of grace in Him, so that knowing what He is going to take us into, we may know Him in us now; in Christ and Christ in me; and know His strength to go on, showing Him forth.