Whether you’re brand new to SonRise or have been around SonRise for a while, let me briefly state what we seek to accomplish in this sermon moment each week. During the preaching portion of our Sunday morning gathering we employ and enjoy a style of preaching called expositional preaching. Which means that whoever is preaching does not aim at saying anything new but seeks only to say what God has already said, such that the point of the text in view that week is the point of the sermon. In this sense whichever elder preaches the sermon we must make it our aim to be the nothing more than waiters, whose task is taking the Chef’s meal and bringing it to the table without adding to it, taking away from it, or changing it in any way, shape, or form. We don’t to do this randomly but orderly, as we work through books of the Bible. So when we come to specific passages week after week we come to them in their own context, having already examined the verses that come before and anticipating the verses that come after. Or to put it another way, we seek to sit underneath the authority and illumination of the Scripture, rather than standing over it using the Scripture to support our own message.
Think of it like this. If a king were to tell you to go into his gold mines and dig freely for as much gold as you so desire, would that not be an encouragement to you? So too, it is an infinitely greater encouragement to know that in preaching (in all of worship really) the King of Kings invites us to come and dig into His mines of grace and glory in order to take away as joy and delight in Him as we can carry away. The double result follows: we are satisfied in Him and He is glorified in us.
This is our goal, we don’t do it perfectly, but we do aim to be faithful handlers of God’s Word.
Today we come to the end of John 14, though not the end of the Upper Room discourse. As v25-31 come into our view there is much for us to dig into and carry away. Jesus continues to expand on the theme of His near departure telling His disciples in v28 that this isn’t to be a time of sorrow but a time of rejoicing for them. Why should they and why should we rejoice? Two reasons:
Reason 1: Peace in the Spirit’s Helping Presence (v25-27)
As He’s done before in this Upper Room discourse, Jesus begins teaching by discussing His absence soon to come. “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you” meaning that soon He will not be with them. But though the Son of God will soon be absent the Spirit of God will soon be present. He was introduced to us in v16-17 as the “Helper” or the “Spirit of Truth”, here Jesus again calls Him the “Helper” but goes further calling Him the “Holy Spirit.” This is no ordinary helper or impersonal power, no. He is holy. And because He is holy He is united to both Father and Son, which is what we see unfolded to us here in v26. The Spirit is sent by the Father in the name of the Son, so just as the Son came and was sent in the Father’s name, so too the Spirit comes and is sent in Jesus name.And just as the Son carried all the authority of the Father in all He did, so too the Spirit carries the authority of the Son in all He is doing, which means the disciples can rely on the Spirit the same way they relied on the Son.But wait, in John 15:26 Jesus says He sends the Spirit from the Father. So which one is it? Does the Spirit proceed from the Father or does the Spirit proceed from the Son? While some see a inconsistency here I don’t think we should see these as contradictory, but as harmonious. The Spirit is closely related to both Father and Son and in both of these places we cannot say that the Spirit’s ministry is solely the Father’s or solely the Son’s, so…we conclude that the Holy Spirit proceeds from both the Father and the Son.
But I wonder…do you think this is just meaningless doctrinal detail that we shouldn’t give time to? Do you believe the origin of the Holy Spirit is nothing more than mere theological minutiae, and that by discussing this we’re straining out gnats? Jesus clearly thought it was worth mentioning here. The early Church followed suit and didn’t think it was unimportant. For example, the Council of Nicea (325 AD – one of the fiercest theological debates of history) produced the Nicene Creed which states, “And I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life; who proceeds from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified…”Over these things the members of that council studied, they discussed, they came to conclusions, they debated, and together they came to decision to forever uphold the unity of Father, Son, and Spirit. And since those days all Christians have agreed with them after their own study and discussion, also agreeing that the Church for all time must work hard at seeing how the Scriptures uphold the unity of the Trinity. In other words, the three Persons of the Trinity, though distinct in different roles to carry out, are unified their operation. To come to any other conclusion about the Holy Spirit’s role among the Godhead would result in a God who isn’t unified. Which would be disastrous for us, because what we think about God determines everything we do.
Jesus further expands our view of how the Holy Spirit will help them saying He is a teacher and a reminder. “…He will teach you all things and bring to Your remembrance all that I have said to you.” The role in view here is the Spirit helping as Teacher. All things the Spirit will teach. But how will He teach? True, He will grant a divine and supernatural light. True, He will open their eyes. True, He will awaken their dead hearts, and enlighten and illumine their minds. Over and above this all, the Spirit would remind them. The Spirit didn’t grant them new revelation from God, or new wisdom beyond Christ’s teaching, no. The Spirit reminded them of what Christ had already said. We could easily think of the times the disciples were confused, or questioned, or just plain forgot the teaching of Jesus. How then did they preach so boldly and leave us such an in-depth and accurate account of Jesus’ ministry and teaching in the books of the New Testament? Answer: the Spirit filled them and taught them by reminding them. This is what happened with them, this is not what happens with us.Don’t hear me wrong. The Spirit still helps us, the Spirit still teaches us, and the Spirit still reminds us. But now the Spirit teaches us by reminding us of what these disciples said about Jesus in their writings. In other words, the Spirit points us to Scripture. So, any teaching or doctrine or new theology apart from or in contradictory with what is revealed in Scripture is not from the Spirit of Christ but the deception of the devil.This is why we call the books of the Bible ‘inspired.’ Because men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Spirit and it is through their Spirit inspired testimony that we come to know the truth, love the truth and be set free by the truth.
What’s the result of the Spirit helping like this? Operating in unity with the Father and the Son reminding the disciples what Jesus taught and reminding us of what the disciples taught, what’s the result of that labor? One word: peace. v27 “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
Few things have been, are now, and will be sought after more than peace. In their time it was the famous Pax Romana (Peace of Rome) that spread across the Roman Empire. This peace was won and maintained by the sword and many thought the rule and kingdom of the Messiah and His peace would be won by a similar but greater and mightier sword. Yet ironically a sword did secure Jesus’ peace, but it was reversed. He didn’t kill but allowed Himself to be killed by the sword to secure the peace of His coming kingdom.And that peace continues to spread within all those and through all those who come to this Christ, losing their lives for His sake, following Him, and becoming a living sacrifice laboring to spread His peace through His gospel. But as for this peace, Jesus says He doesn’t give as the world does meaning that His peace is peace indeed. It isn’t a momentary, fleeting, or temporary peace but a lasting, vibrant, and eternal peace. A peace resembling the meaning of the Hebrew word shalom, a peace so robust it throws all troubles and fears out the window in this world, regardless what the world brings our way! Peace not dependent on the absence of conflict, but peace abundant in the presence of Christ in His people by His Spirit. So Paul will soon say in Romans 5:1, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Before coming to Christ we’re in a war with God we cannot win, after coming to Christ we’re in a war with the world, the flesh, and the Devil that we cannot lose…because of His very peace. In these things we rejoice!
There’s more to this peace in view here. As we continue to through this text the next reason they should rejoice is presented to us. Notice peace remains in view but while before it was peace in the Spirit’shelping presencenow it’s peace in the Son’svictorious absence.
Reason 2: Peace in the Son’s Victorious Absence (v28-31)
Jesus begins unfolding this saying in v28-29, “You heard Me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe.”
So, if they had been hearing Him rightly they would have loved Him, they would have rejoiced with joy inexpressible and full of glory because at His going away to the Father. Or to say it another way, His absence would’ve made it possible for the Spirit’s presence and all the glory we’ve just lingered on would’ve been theirs and in that knowledge they would be gain a whole-souled joy! Jesus not only says He is telling them this now so that when it happens they’ll know and believe with certainty that He was right, He tells them that the Father is greater than He is. Do not misunderstand Jesus here. This little phrase is often used by Jehovah’s Witnesses, Unitarians, and other cults past and present to teach that Jesus is really lesser than His Father. That Jesus is a created being, or more startling, that Jesus is not divine, not the eternal Son of God co-equal and co-eternal with the Father that He claimed to be. No, this verse must be interpreted in light of John 10:30 where Jesus says, “I and the Father are one.” So see Jesus meaning this. If Jesus’ disciples truly loved Him, they would be glad of His near departure to His Father, because He’s returning to where He belongs, to the right hand of the Father who sits in unapproachable light and glory, which is unquestionably greater than the Son standing before them in His present earthly state.But His earthly state was only temporary, He is now back at the Father’s side, dwelling forever as the God Man at His Father’s right hand in the glory He had with the Father before the foundation of the world. So do not manipulate this as so many do, see Jesus speaking of His wondrous return to the place He was before, which would enable Him to send the very Spirit in view throughout this passage.
This should have given them great joy but they counted Jesus’ leaving as a loss to them, not as the gain truly was! Do you similarly wish you could be with Jesus yourself today? To hear Him, to learn from Him, or be near Him? Do not be fooled, the Son’s absence is gain to us because God the Spirit has now been poured out. It is He who awakens us, He who grows us, nourishes us, ripens His fruit within us, brings order – loveliness – and beauty out of our chaos and confusion, and it is He who keeps us to the end when we shall see no longer by faith but by sight! May we never see the presence of the Spirit as a loss but as what it is, great gain in the absence of Christ!
But how did the Son depart? He didn’t just disappear, He didn’t just go ‘poof’ and vanish like some kind of divine magician. He explains His absence in v30-31. “I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on Me, but I do as the Father has commanded Me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.”
As He prepared to leave the Upper Room it’s as if Jesus could hear the footsteps of Satan drawing near.And do not miss that His response to hearing those footsteps wasn’t fear, it was peace! Follow the sequence of questions and answers that flow from this: His teaching them and being with them will soon end and He will leave. Why? Because the ruler of this world (Satan) is coming. But even though he is coming he has no claim on Christ! He’s got nothing on Christ! Why? Because Jesus will do (and now has done) what the Father commanded Him to do. What did the Father command of the Son? Though v31 doesn’t say it, we know it don’t we? The Father commanded the Son to reclaim ruined sinners, to bear their shame, guilt, penalty, and curse in their place, on the cross, sealing their pardon with His blood. And by so doing, He would accomplish a full atonement for them. This is why the Devil has no claim on Him. His death wasn’t a sign of defeat or the Devil’s victory, it was a dramatized display of Christ’s victory over him, of His love for the Father, and of His willingness to obey the Father in all things!
Yes, this all means the Son will soon leave them, but His departure was a victorious departure, an authoritative absence leading to the helping presence of the Spirit. Or to say it another way: Jesus left after accomplishing His work, while the Spirit came and began applying His work.
Edwards Hicks was a 19thcentury American folks painter as well as a Quaker. Nearly all of his paintings are centered on one theme: ‘the peaceable kingdom.’ During his younger years some of his paintings were bordered by Isaiah 11:6 which speaks of a coming kingdom of peace where a wolf will dwell with the lamb and a lion will dwell with the calf. Other paintings of his have this same verse on a banner wrapped around a particular person or child in the scene. But as he grew older his paintings changed. Being somewhat disillusioned with what he saw in the world, in his fellow Quakers around him, and in himself his paintings no longer displayed a kingdom of peace but a kingdom lacking peace. For example, his very last painting is of a lion depressed and hunched over in weariness and exhaustion.Hicks never painted again and many think it’s because he never found the peace he always longed for.
Even though many have followed this path to despair by witnessing such a lack of peace…Jesus says “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you.” Peace….think about this in two senses. Jesus gives peace with God and Jesus gives the peace of God. Jesus gives peace with God by paying with “…His blood the price of peace in the courts of divine justice.”Upon conversion the hostility between God and man is dealt with by God in Christ fully, finally, and forever. But there’s more. After giving us peace with God, Jesus gives us the peace of God by giving us the Holy Spirit. This peace passes understanding, it is the result of being made right with God, it is an internal testimony or a joyful awareness of His loving presence.This is what calmed the disciples then, does it calm you here today? Or do you despair? Many may be surprised to find that despite what it seems peace is abounding, spreading, growing, and alive and well in the world today. Not in every person on the planet, but only in and only through those who come to this Christ.
If you’ve come to Him may you continue to come and drink afresh of this fountain and be glad in it’s strength. If you haven’t we’d all invite you to drink deeply and find in Christ what your own soul has always longed for.
“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you.”
All Praise to Him!
Thomas Watson, Body of Divinity (Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Banner of Truth, 2012) page 14.
The Response Church in San Diego (Acts 29) begins every sermon with a description very similar to this.
D.A. Carson, The Gospel According to John – PNTC (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1991) page 505.
Grant Osborne John – Verse by Verse (Bellingham, Washington: Lexham Press, 2018) page 348.
Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John – NICNT (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1971) page 656.
R.C. Sproul, John – St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary (Orlando, Florida: Reformation Trust, 2009) page 278.
Carson, page 505.
Calvin’s Commentaries, 18:101.
Carson., page 506.
Ibid., page 506-507.
Richard Phillips, John 11-21 – Reformed Expository Commentary (Phillipsburg, New Jersey: P&R Publishing, 2014) page 278.
Ibid., page 271-272.
Ibid., page 273.
Ibid., page 273.