John 14 - 17.
J. A. Trench.
Article 39 of 55 from 'Truth for Believers' Volume 2.
How wonderful the thought is, that it is in the revelation of divine Persons, and the circle of relationship and intimacy into which we are brought with them, that our portion is for ever, a portion that we are brought into already. It is to the Gospel of John, of course, that we must turn for all this richest character of blessing. Chapters 1 - 3 lay the basis, as all the varied glories of the Person of the Lord Jesus come before us — all at least that belong to His manifestation here, (John 1, 2) and the essential work of God in the soul (John 3) by which alone our hearts opened to receive Him, whether on the side of earthly things — the new birth meeting the necessity of man's condition — or that of heavenly things, into which the cross introduces. Then after this wonderful introduction, we have all the great elements of the Christian position brought out in the Lord's ministry from John 4 - 7. The Spirit given from Christ as the power of the life within, springing up into that heavenly relationship with the Father in which eternal life consists. (John 4) The Son quickening in a power of life that extends to the resurrection of the body. (John 5) The Son of Man in death as the food and sustenance of the life. (John 6) And the Holy Ghost given from the glory of Christ, to put more than all the joy of the feast of Tabernacles into our hearts as a present thing, that out of the joy there might flow in testimony rivers of living water to the poor thirsty scene around us. John 8 - 10 are supplementary, developing John 1:1-4; the Divine Word that convicts in John 8 applied in power in grace, John 9, to open the eyes of one naturally blind to the Person of the Lord Jesus in Whom is life — the Word, Light and Life — and who on confessing Him, according to the light he gets, is cast out of the synagogue, and into the company of the Son of God; who here only in the Gospels, reveals Himself personally in this, the full glory of His Person, to anyone.
And now it is at this point — John 9 being used to illustrate the teaching of the Lord that comes out in John 10 — the Lord having come into the Jewish fold to attract hearts to Himself out of Judaism — a clean break made with man and man's world, and all that was once recognised of God in it, as a religion for man, "the Camp," out of which Jesus and those who would confess Him, are cast, — it is at this point that we begin to find the circle of divine relationship and intimacy opening out to us.
See John 10:14-15, reading the two verses connectedly thus, "I know my sheep, and am known of mine, as the Father knoweth me and I know the Father." It is the wonderful character (I say not measure) of intimacy into which the Lord introduces us with Himself — namely, such as He was in with the Father.
In John 12:24, He must die, to end all that was of the first man in death, to be able to associate us with Himself for this intimacy in the new place He takes as man in resurrection.
In John 13:1-8, He provides by His service for us for our enjoyment of it now that He has departed out of the world to the Father. For when we might have thought that when He was gone it was all over, really it was only then begun in the full character of it. This is, I believe, the force of the Lord's words "Touch me not" in John 20. Mary thought she had Him back on the old ground, but the Lord was going to introduce her into an association and nearness and intimacy with Himself, impossible till He was risen and ascended; such as had never been known upon earth, and in which John 10:14-15, would be found fully realised.
In John 14, all from verse 16, being the effect of the Holy Spirit's indwelling, He comes to — He manifests Himself to — one living of His life, and in whom that life is displayed in the love and obedience that constituted the life in the blessed Lord; and the Father and the Son make their mansions with such, before we go to have our place in their mansions; the word of verse 23 and verse 2 being the same. What provisions for hearts that miss Him in His absence from this world! The two things that constitute heaven's joy, Christ's presence (compare ver. 3 with 18, 21) and the mansions above brought down to our hearts in the path of the life we have in Him down here!
In John 15 we have further, the character of the Lord's love to us; it is that of His Father to Him, and to be enjoyed by us, as the Father's was by Him; namely in the path of obedience. He gives us His own path, and the joy He had in the Father's love, now to be in us, and be full, as walking in that path we enjoy our place in Christ's love.
In John 16 He leads us higher still, verses 26-28 putting us directly before the Father, as the objects of the Father's love, in having a common object of love with the Father in the blessed Lord Himself ("because ye have loved me.")
But the climax is not reached till John 17, where on the ground of the work, and its results for Him (ver. 1-5) He now claims to put us into all His own place and relationship with the Father (vers. 6-13), providing for our full enjoyment of it, by passing on the words that belonged to Him in it (vers. 8 and 13); and carrying us on to the given glory (vers. 22, 23), in which He will display us to the world, and it will know that we have had the very same place in the Father's love that He had when He was here. And we are allowed to hear Him say it, while before that day verse 26 tells of how He lives to make known to us the Father's Name, so as to bring more and more all the sweetness and power and joy of the love of which He was the object into our hearts, as the objects consciously of the same love, and He in us to be our strength to enjoy it.
With such a provision for divine intimacies and fellowship, shall our hearts be satisfied with anything short of an increasing realisation of them? The position of the Christian, so infinitely beyond anything known upon earth before, is one thing. But how great the loss, if we were to miss here the enjoyment of what it leads us into, in such communion of divine joy.