Salient Features in John's Gospel.

Notes of an address by R. Duncanson, No. 1.

Scriptures read, John 3:35; John 5:20-26; John 12:27-28; John 13:3.

These Scriptures bring the Lord Jesus before us in the relationship of Son to the Father, and in the Son there exists a system of divine affections of which He is the centre. We have read, "The Father loveth the Son and hath given all things into His hand." This sets forth the complacent love of the Father in Him Who ever was the object of His pleasure. In eternity He was the constant delight of the Father's heart; the object of His love; and though here found in Manhood still retains the same relationship and the same place of affection. To manifest how great His love for the Son is, He gave all things into His hand. The measure of the gift is the measure of the love. Nothing has been left out of the Son's hand for the love of the Father to the Son is infinite, boundless and eternal.

In John 5:20 the expression recurs with this addition, "And showeth Him all things that He Himself doeth." Here in the intimacy of love the Son is perfectly conversant with all the Father's work. From the very outset the Father had been working: now the Son says, "I work." The work of the Son was in unison with the work of the Father, since He had come to do the Father's will and to finish His work. The character of that work is brought out in John 9, where, in relation to the opening of the blind man's eyes, He said, "I must work the works of Him that sent me while it is day, the night cometh when no man can work." (John 9:4). But the Son is not only manifesting divine power as seen in many cases in this Gospel, He is the source of life: for "as the Father has life in Himself, so has He given to the Son to have life in Himself." He not only quickens, but He raises the dead; and while these things evince His equality with the Father, it is blessed to see that He receives these things as Man and as Son from the Father as an expression of the Father's love.

The death and resurrection of the Lord are brought before us in John 12:27-28. Anticipating the dread hour of death His holy soul is troubled, and in His sorrow He turns to the Father, saying, "Father save me from this hour, but for this cause came I unto this hour." What that hour meant to Him could only be known to the Father, and so it is to the Father that He turns. In deepest devotedness to the Father and in subjection to His will as ever delighting in it, though it made Him a Man of Sorrows, He submitted Himself to all that that hour meant to maintain the Father's glory and secure all that lay in the Father's counsels. If in verse 27 He asks the question, "What shall I say?" He answers it Himself in verse 28, "Father glorify Thy Name." He would not say "Father save me from this hour," for then the Name of the Father would not have been glorified in the cross. Is it any wonder that the Father's voice is heard replying "I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again." The Father's Name had been glorified in the raising of Lazarus, but the Father would glorify it again in raising Jesus from the dead. In the resurrection of the Son the Father has established a circle of divine affections into which those who have been given to the Son by the Father have been brought.

John 13. unfolds how we are maintained in relation to this circle of divine affections. The Lord Jesus lays aside His garments and takes the place of a servant that He might wash the disciples' feet. What a wonderful stoop for such a glorious Person! He would ever have us in closest intimacy with Himself, hence the need for such a service. All the defilement contracted in our pathway here must be removed that no shade of reserve might remain upon our spirits in relation to Him. May the Lord give us to enjoy more deeply, part with Him, in this blessed sphere of affections in which He dwells and into which He has brought us.

Salient Features in John's Gospel. 2

John 3 and John 5 show the Lord Jesus to be the object of the Father's love; and in John 13 we see the circle of divine affections established in relation to resurrection, and the Lord serving His own to maintain them in moral suitability to Himself so that they might have part with Him in that circle. The Scripture read introduces us to the Home of Love. He Who had come from the Father is about to return to the Father, and because of this sorrow filled the hearts of His own. To comfort them, the Lord opens out before them the truth of the Father's House. Although He would be absent from them, He was to be the object of their hearts in the Father's House, and He desired that they would have the same confidence in Him as they had in God. While hidden from them, He would still find pleasure in them; and His going to the Father's House was to prepare a place for them. All that they were to Him He treasured with fond affection, and nothing would part them from Him, for in His own presence in the Father's House they would soon dwell. For this, He would soon return and take them to be forever with Himself. What a joy it will be for His heart when He shall see of the travail of His soul and be satisfied!

Next, we come to the source of love. Everything originated with the Father, and it was His purpose that the Son should not be alone, but that others should share in His place of affection and glory. This is most touching and bows the heart in worship! In verse 8 Philip says, "Show us the Father and it sufficeth us." This brings from the Lord such a wonderful unfolding, "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father." In the Person of Jesus, all that the Father is in life, nature, disposition and affection has been made known. His whole pathway expressed the Father's grace to sinners and revealed that the resources of the Father had been opened for the blessing of men. Every act of the Son, every movement in that life of perfect love and obedience and His every attitude Godward and manward proved that He was in the Father and the Father in Him. But the Father was not only revealed in what Jesus was Personally, and in His activities of grace, but also in the words He spoke, He said, "I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak, and I know that His commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak" (John 12:49-50). We see Him sitting at Sychar's well, wearied with His journey, pouring into the ears of that poor degraded Samaritan the words of the Father. But the Father was also made known in all His works of power, as opening the eyes of the blind man in John 9, and in raising Lazarus from the dead in John 11. Therefore in three ways is the Father revealed in the Son. (1) In all that the Son was in His Person. (2) In the words spoken by the Son. (3) In the works wrought by the Son.

In verse 20 we learn that the Holy Spirit has been given so that we might know the present place of the Son. The Son is in the Father, and we can look up to heaven and by the Spirit see the Son in the bosom of the Father. As we learn of the Son's place in divine affections we learn our own place in Him. This is our present place and portion. We are in Him before the Father's face to rejoice in the circle of divine love and favour into which we have been brought, and until the moment comes when we shall enter with Him the Father's House, He is in us down here that we might set forth in testimony and that under the Father's eye for His pleasure, the beauties of the Son. May we therefore ponder more constantly the Home of Love to which we soon shall be brought with Jesus; and as we do so worship the Father the source of love in the power of the Spirit; and in result be found here in the enjoyment of that love reproducing the moral features of Jesus.

Salient Features in John's Gospel. 3

In John 12 we have the hour of the Lord's death and resurrection, in chapter 13 the hour of His ascension noticed, while in John 17 it is the hour of His glory. Turning His eyes to the Father He says, "Glorify Thy Son that Thy Son may glorify Thee." Having glorified the Father upon the earth by the maintenance of all that was due to His holy Name, and having finished the work which the Father had given Him to do that a basis might be laid to give effect to the Father's eternal counsels, He takes His new position as Man in the glory that from thence He might glorify the Father. As receiving authority over all flesh, He communicates the blessing of eternal life to those given to Him by the Father: a life consisting of the knowledge of the only true God the Father, and Jesus Christ the Sent One. Verse 5 presents the essential Godhead glory of the Son; what He had with the Father before the foundation of the world. Here we have the privilege to listen to the voice of the Son speaking to the Father of the place of relationship and equality that were His with the Father before the world was. In these sweet and blessed communications there are depths beyond our feeble apprehension, but with adoring hearts, as we listen to the words of the Eternal Son, we wonder and we worship.

In v. 21-24 we have the prayer of the Son for those who should be brought into the Christian circle by the preached word: and this brings us, the saints of the present moment, into living touch with the very source of the affections that move our hearts. "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also that believe on me through their word; that they all may be one, as Thou Father art in me and I in Thee, that they also may be one in us, that the world may believe that Thou hast sent me." As brought into communion with the Father and the Son we have the privilege to come out in this world in divine testimony expressing the moral features of the Man who is in heaven. Who can tell the blessedness of the communion in divine affection subsisting between the Father and the Son? Nothing can mar or hinder the sweetness of the eternal communion belonging to that circle. In the same way we are brought into a circle where divine communion and affection subsist, and as we enjoy what is there we come out in the features of the Son to represent Him in this world.

At verse 22 we are introduced to the scene where in Christ's own company we shall share His glory which displays the moral beauties of the Son. The world will then know that the Father loved the Son and that He was the Sent One of the Father, when they see the features of the Son manifest in His own. Their being there is the fruit of His work: the result of His coming into the world; so that the presence of the saints in His company is the testimony to His being here as the Sent One. But the saints having the glory of the Son are sharing His place, and this is the public manifestation that they are loved by the Father with the same love as rests upon the Son. Then in verse 24 we have the Son's expressed desire to the Father that His own should be with Him in the Father's House. After the display of the world to come has served God's purpose, and we are with the Son for ever in that unchanging scene, we shall gaze upon the Son in that peculiar glory that is His and in which none can share. This glory is the eternal answer to all His toil and suffering here; but in that glory we shall read and learn that the Son was constantly the object of the Father's love before the world's foundation. What an object is this for our contemplation and heart's affection for the ages of ages!