John’s Gospel Chapter 13
E. L. Lovering, Ilfracombe
Subject -THE WAY, THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE. The Sixth Wonderful Saying.
Study Portion - Chapter 13. 31-38; 14. 1-31.
THE OCCASION WAS A UNIQUE ONE, for the Saviour had gathered His own together to celebrate the Passover and to institute the new feast of communion, Judas having departed into the night, 13. 30.
Minds were active, hearts were tender; had not the Saviour said, ‘Little children, yet a little while I am with you? Ye shall seek me, and as I said unto the Jews, whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say to you’.
The whole atmosphere was one of questioning. Just when life was opening into something much grander and larger than they had ever known before, when their expectations were almost realized, and their love was warm, true and eager, just then had come the cloud and shadow of His promised exodus from them.
Here then is a portion of PROBLEMS, PROMISES, and PRECEPTS.
First, let us consider
Four of the number spoke on this occasion, each with his own
- PETER asked ‘Lord whither goest thou?’, 13. 36. He wished to know because he wished to follow.
- THOMAS said unto Him, ‘Lord, we know not whither thou goest, and how can we know the way?’, 14. 5. Here was indeed a logical question, for how can one choose the right road when one’s destination is unknown?
- PHILIP further asked, ‘Lord shew us the Father and it sufficeth us’. Philip had been with Him from the first and yet had not grasped the true meaning of His words.
- JUDAS asks, ‘Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us and not unto the world?’.
Christ answers the question in both its parts: ‘to us’ because love to Christ leads to the keeping of His words, which reveal the Father and the Son; ‘not to the world’, because want of love to Christ, leads to a neglect of His words and excludes from communion with the Father and the Son and the Spirit who reveals Him.
It was to Thomas’s question that the Sixth Wonderful Saying came as an answer.
It is, at the same time a statement of John’s three-fold theme in his Gospel namely, Jesus, the WAY, the TRUTH and the LIFE
He is all these separately and together. The Way of Love, the Light of Truth, the Gift of Life are blended in that perfect character. This, too, is evident as we read throughout the Gospel; like the three primary colours they are easily identified and yet integrated in the one pure whiteness of His spotless life and unique death.
Let us, then, briefly trace the theme -
PROLOGUE ch. 1
The Theme introduced
The Way Expressed. Here the Word of God reveals the way, for only by His revelation could the mind of the Father be known. As words or utterances express the thoughts, so He expressed the Father, v. i.
The Truth Expounded. Not only is He the revelation of the way of God, but the expression of God Himself- ‘The only begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared (expounded) Him’, v. 18. He was full of grace and truth, v. 14.
The Life Exhibited. ‘All things were made by him … in him was life, and the life was the light of men’, vv. 3, 4.
THE NARRATIVE chs. 2-I3
The Theme illustrated
THE WAY. Chapters 2 to 8 clearly indicate the basic thought that ‘Jesus not Judaism’ is the way to God.
A new beginning, ch. 2. The beginning of miracles was in Cana of despised Galilee (see Luke 13.2 and Acts 5. 37). The Galileans were held in reproach and contempt, even their speech was the subject of sarcastic remark - to Peter in the High Priest’s palace came the words ‘Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech bewrayeth thee’, Matt. 26. 73.
A new birth, ch. 3. Nicodemus must learn that it was not by Jewish birth that men entered the kingdom of God, but by a new birth from above, v. 7. That ‘God so loved the world’ in its entirety, not just the land of Israel.
A new worship, ch. 4. It is not strange to see the Saviour of the World extend his love to a despised woman of Samaria at Sychar’s well. Worship is not limited to ‘this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem’, v. 21, but ‘they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth’, v. 24.
A new activity, ch. 5. A man had been healed on the sabbath day and a Jewish tradition had been broken. Love had transcended law and the way of love had triumphed. ‘My Father worketh hitherto and I work’ - God has no sabbath while men are lying derelict.
A new provision, ch.6- Living Bread. The multitude had been fed, and their thoughts were upon material and temporal food. The Saviour had come as the living bread from heaven to give eternal life. The manna in the wilderness had been given to sustain physical life and was temporary in its application. Ch. 7 - Living Water. It was not the ritual of the Jewish festivals that would bring eternal satisfaction, but the ‘living water’ which Christ would give to those who came to Him, 4. 38.
A new relationship, ch. 8. The Jews pleaded FREEDOM, they had never been in bondage to any man, v. 33; FAMILY relationship with Abraham as their father, v. 39; FIDELITY to Abraham, though they did not his works, v. 39-41. The blessings of sonship and freedom were not by physical descent but by an experience of the Son of God, the way to life eternal.
THE TRUTH, chs. 9 and 10.
True Light, ch. 9. The blind man had received his sight and that on the sabbath day; light had replaced darkness in the physical realm. It was equally true that the light of truth must dispel the blindness of Jewish unbelief and traditional pride.
True Love, ch. 10. Christ is the Good and True Shepherd (neither thief nor, robber). He reveals the loving heart of God in giving His life, V. II, and keeping His own, not on the ground of merit but by the free gift of eternal life, v. 28.
THE LIFE, chs. 11 to 13.
Life received, ch. II. Lazarus is raised to life and Christ is the Resurrection and the Life.
Life revealed, chs. 12 and 13. The life is lived in the home at Bethany, in Witness (Lazarus), in Worship (Mary), in Work (Martha). This life is based upon His death, v. 24, and lived out in its virtue, 13. 1-17.
THE LAST WORDS, chs. 13. 36 to 17
The Theme applied
The crisis had been reached; His words to His own were, ‘now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in him’, v. 31. That which they had heard Him speak must soon be experienced in their own hearts. We trace again the theme –
The Way. The Preparation for the Cross and the Coming, ch.14. 1-7. Jesus said, ‘I go … I will come again’.
The Truth. The Promise of the Comforter. The Spirit of Truth, 14. 16. The True Vine, 15.
The Life. The Prayer of Consecration, ch. 17. ‘That he should give eternal life, to as many as thou hast given him’ … ‘that they might know thee the only true God and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent’, v. 2, 3.
THE PASSION, chs. l8 to 20
The Theme unfolded
This was not so much the unfolding of a doctrine, as God’s eternal plan unfolded in a Person. Christ is Himself The Way, The Truth and The Life.
The Way - as the way of sacrifice and suffering, ch. 18 and 19. Betrayed, v. 2; bound, v. 12; denied, v. 17; smitten, v. 22; questioned, v. 33; scourged, 19. v. 1; crucified, v. 18.
The Truth - as foretold in scripture, ch. 19. ‘That the scripture might be fulfilled’ (read w. 24, 28, 36 and 37).
The Life - as demonstrated in resurrection, ch. 20.
THE POSTSCRIPT, ch. 21
The Theme concluded
The key to this chapter is in the words, ‘He manifested himself, v. I (R.V.), and this He still does as the Way, the Truth and the Life.
There are many, here are some -
- ch. 14.
- 3. ‘I will come again’.
- 13. ‘If ye ask … I will do’.
- 16. ‘He shall give you another Comforter’.
- 18. ‘I will not leave you desolate’.
- 21. I will love him and manifest myself to him’.
- 26. ‘He shall teach you all things’.
- 27. ‘My peace I give unto you’.
- ch. 13.
- 34. ‘A new commandment … that ye love one another’.
- ch. 14.
- 15. ‘Keep my commandments.’ Love begets obedience.
- 21. ‘He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me.’ Obedience expresses love.
- 23. ‘If a man love me he will keep my words.’
Give Him your problems, embrace His promises, and seek to do His precepts.