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14. Jesus Comforts Disciples

Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. 4 And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. 5Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? 6Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. 7 If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. 8Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. 9Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? 10 Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake. 12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. 13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.

15 If ye love me, keep my commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; 17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. 18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. 20 At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. 21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. 22Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? 23Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. 24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me. 25 These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. 26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. 27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. 28 Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe. 30 Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me. 31 But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence.

15. If you love me. The love with which the disciples loved Christ was true and sincere, and yet there was some superstition mixed with it, as is frequently the case with ourselves; for it was very foolish in them to wish to keep him in the world. To correct this fault, he bids them direct their love to another end; and that is, to employ themselves in keeping the commandments which he had given them. This is undoubtedly a useful doctrine, for of those who think that they love Christ, there are very few who honor him as they ought to do; but, on the contrary, after having performed small and trivial services, they give themselves no farther concern. The true love of Christ, on the other hand, is regulated by the observation of his doctrine as the only rule. But we are likewise reminded how sinful our affections are, since even the love which we bear to Christ is not without fault, if it be not directed to a pure obedience.

16. And I will pray to the Father. This was given as a remedy for soothing the grief which they might feel on account of Christ’s absence; but at the same time, Christ promises that he will give them strength to keep his commandments; For otherwise the exhortation would have had little effect. He therefore loses no time in informing them that, though he be absent from them in body, yet he will never allow them to remain destitute of assistance; for he will be present with them by his Spirit.

Here he calls the Spirit the gift of the Father, but a gift which he will obtain by his prayers; in another passage he promises that he will give the Spirit. If I depart, says he, I will send, Him to you, (John 16:7.) Both statements are true and correct; for in so far as Christ is our Mediator and Intercessor, he obtains from the Father the grace of the Spirit, but in so far as he is God, he bestows that grace from himself. The meaning of this passage therefore is: “I was given to you by the Father to be a Comforter, but only for a time; now, having discharged my office, I will pray to him to give another Comforter, who will not be for a short time, but will remain always with you.”

And he will, give you another Comforter. The word Comforter is here applied both to Christ and to the Spirit, and justly; for it is an office which belongs equally to both of them, to comfort and exhort us, and to guard us by their protection. Christ was the Protector of his disciples, so long as he dwelt in the world: and afterwards he committed them to the protection and guardianship of the Spirit. It may be asked, are we not still under the protection of Christ? The answer is easy. Christ is a continual Protector, but not in a visible way. So long as he dwelt in the world, he openly manifested himself as their Protector; but now he guards us by his Spirit.

He calls the Spirit another Comforter, on account of the difference between the blessings which we obtain from both. The peculiar office of Christ was, to appease the wrath of God by atoning for the sins of the world, to redeem men from death, to procure righteousness and life; and the peculiar office of the Spirit is, to make us partakers not only of Christ himself, but of all his blessings. And yet there would be no impropriety in inferring from this passage a distinction of Persons; for there must be some peculiarity in which the Spirit differs from the Son so as to be another than the Son.

17. The Spirit of truth. Christ bestows on the Spirit another title, namely, that he is the Master or Teacher of truth. 6868     “A scavoir qu’il est Maistre ou Docteur de la verite.” Hence it follows, that until we have been inwardly instructed by him, the understandings of all of us are seized with vanity and falsehood.

Whom the world cannot receive. This contrast shows the peculiar excellence of that grace which God bestows on none but his elect; for he means that it is no ordinary gift of which the world is deprived. In this sense, too, Isaiah says, “For, the darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the people, but the Lord shall arise on thee, O Jerusalem!” 6969     “Sur toy, O Jerusalem!” For the mercy of God towards the Church deserves so much the higher praise, when he exalts the Church, by a distinguished privilege, above the whole world. And yet Christ exhorts the disciples, that they must not be puffed up, as the world is wont to be, by carnal views, and thus drive away from themselves the grace of the Spirit. All that Scripture tells us about the Holy Spirit is regarded by earthly men as a dream; because, trusting to their own reason, they despise heavenly illumination. Now, though this pride abounds everywhere, which extinguishes, so far as lies in our power, the light of the Holy Spirit; yet, conscious of our own poverty, we ought to know, that whatever belongs to sound understanding proceeds from no other source. Yet Christ’s words show that nothing which relates to the Holy Spirit can be learned by human reason, but that He is known only by the experience of faith.

The world, he says, cannot receive the Spirit, because it knoweth him not; but you know him, because he dwelleth with you. It is the Spirit alone therefore, who, by dwelling in us, makes himself to be known by us, for otherwise, he is unknown and incomprehensible.

18. I will not have you orphans. This passage shows what men are, and what they can do, when they have been deprived of the protection of the Spirit. They are orphans, exposed to every kind of fraud and injustice, incapable of governing themselves, and, in short, unable of themselves to do any thing. The only remedy for so great a defect is, if Christ govern us by his Spirit, which he promises that he will do. First then, the disciples are reminded of their weakness, that, distrusting themselves, they may rely on nothing else than the protection of Christ; and, secondly, having promised a remedy, he gives them good encouragement; for he declares that he will never leave them When he says, I will come to you, he shows in what manner he dwells in his people, and in what manner he fills all things. It is, by the power of his Spirit; and hence it is evident, that the grace of the Spirit is a striking proof of his Divinity.

19. Yet a little while. He continues the commendation of special grace, which ought to have been sufficient for alleviating, and even for removing the grief of the disciples. “When I shall have withdrawn,” says he, “from the view of the world: still I shall be present with you.” That we may enjoy this secret beholding of Christ, we must not judge of his presence or his absence according to carnal perception, but we must earnestly employ the eyes of faith for contemplating his power. Thus believers always have Christ present by his Spirit, and behold him, though they be distant from him in body.

Because I live. This statement may be explained in two ways. Either it may be viewed as a confirmation of the former clause, because I live, and you shall live; or, it may be read separately, because I live, you also shall live; and then the meaning will be, that believers will live, because Christ liveth I willingly embrace the former opinion, and yet we may draw from it the other doctrine, that the life of Christ is the cause of our life. He begins by pointing out the cause of the difference, why he shall be seen by his disciples, and not by the world It isn’t because Christ cannot be seen but according to the spiritual life, of which the world is deprived. The world seeth not Christ; this is not wonderful, for the death of blindness is the cause; but as soon as any man begins to live by the Spirit, he is immediately endued with eyes to see Christ. Now, the reason of this is, that our life is closely connected with the life of Christ, and proceeds from it as from its source; for we are dead in ourselves, and the life with which we flatter ourselves is a very bad death. Accordingly, when the question is, how we are to obtain life, our eyes must be directed to Christ, and his life must be conveyed to us by faith, that our consciences may be fully convinced, that, so long as Christ lives, we are free from all danger of destruction; for it is an undoubted truth, that his life would be nothing, when his members were dead.

20. At that day Some refer this to the day of Pentecost; but it rather denotes the uninterrupted course, as it were, of a single day, from the time when Christ exerted the power of his Spirit till the last resurrection. From that time they began to know, but it was a sort of feeble beginning, because the Spirit had not yet wrought so powerfully in them. For the object of these words is, to show that we cannot, by indolent speculation, know what is the sacred and mystical union between us and him, and again, between him and the Father; but that the only way of knowing it is, when he diffuses his life in us by the secret efficacy of the Spirit; and this is the trial of faith, which I lately mentioned.

As to the manner in which this passage was formerly abused by the Aryans, to prove that Christ is God only by participation and by grace, it is easy to refute their sophistry. For Christ does not speak merely of his eternal essence, but of that Divine power which was manifested in him. As the Father has laid up in the Son all fullness of blessings, so, on the other hand, the Son has conveyed himself entirely into us. He is said to be in us, because he plainly shows, by the efficacy of his Spirit, that he is the Author and the cause of our life.

21. He who hath my commandments. He again repeats the former statement, that the undoubted proof of our love to him lies in our keeping his commandments; and the reason why he so frequently reminds the disciples of this is, that they may not turn aside from this object; for there is nothing to which we are more prone than to slide into a carnal affection, so as to love something else than Christ under the name of Christ. Such is also the import of that saying of Paul,

Though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet henceforth we know him no longer in this manner. Let us therefore be a new creature,
(2 Corinthians 5:16, 17.)

To have his commandments means to be properly instructed in them; and to keep his commandments is to conform ourselves and our life to their rule.

And he that loveth me will be loved by my Father. Christ speaks as if men loved God before he loved them; which is absurd, for,

when we were enemies, he reconciled us to him,
(Romans 5:10;)

and the words of John are well known,

Not that we first loved him, but he first loved us,
(1 John 4:10.)

But there is no debate here about cause or effect; and therefore there is no ground for the inference, that the love with which we love Christ comes in order before the love which God has toward us; for Christ meant only, that all who love him will be happy, because they will also be loved by him and by the Father; not that God then begins to love them, but because they have a testimony of his love to them, as a Father, engraven on their hearts. To the same purpose is the clause which immediately follows: —

And I will manifest myself to him. Knowledge undoubtedly goes before love; but Christ’s meaning was, I will grant to those who purely observe my doctrine, that they shall make progress from day to day in faith; “that is, “I will cause them to approach more nearly and more familiarly to me.” Hence infer, that the fruit of piety is progress in the knowledge of Christ; for he who promises that he will give himself to him who has it rejects hypocrites, and causes all to make progress in faith who, cordially embracing the doctrine of the Gospel, bring themselves entirely into obedience to it. And this is the reason why many fall back, and why we scarcely see one in ten proceed in the right course; for the greater part do not deserve that he should manifest himself to them It ought also to be observed, that a more abundant knowledge of Christ is here represented as an extraordinary reward of our love to Christ; and hence it follows that it is an invaluable treasure.


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