Sunday School Lesson
Lesson 9 (KJV)
THE WORD GIVES PEACE
DEVOTIONAL READING: John 14:15–29 BACKGROUND SCRIPTURE: John 14:15–31
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.
22 Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?
23 Jesus 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.
I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever.—John 14:16
PARTNERS IN A NEW CREATION
Unit 2: The Word: The Agent of Creation
LESSON AIMS After participating in this lesson, each learner will be able to:
1. Summarize Jesus’ promise regarding the Holy Spirit.
2. Explain the link between the presence of the Holy Spirit and living in obedience to Christ.
3. Write a prayer of thanks to God for the presence of the Holy Spirit in his or her life.
HOW TO SAY IT
Judas Iscariot Joo-dus Iss-care-ee-ut.
Introduction A. Abandoned!
“Sorry, I have to leave now.” Words like these have broken many hearts. Someone goes off to war, a dear friend moves far away, an elderly loved one passes on. There is likely a sad embrace, a final farewell, and thoughts of being abandoned.
By one estimate, there are over 100 million people in the world who face the harsh reality of being orphans. War, famine, and disease have no respect for the plight of children stripped of their parents. Such children have little hope unless someone steps in to help. They feel—and often literally are—abandoned (Lamentations 5:3).
For most of three years, Jesus had been the constant companion of His chosen 12. They had left everything to follow Him. But He was about to leave. What would the sheep do if they were abandoned by their shepherd?
B. Lesson Context
Jesus revealed God to humanity. Jesus was the Word who “was God”; He was the Word who “was made flesh” (John 1:1, 14; lesson 5). He was the Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world (1:29). As the Gospel of John progresses, we see an increasing emphasis on Jesus’ divine nature. He was accused of “making himself equal with God” (5:18). He exhibited power to raise the dead and authority to pronounce judgment (5:21–22). He said, “I and my Father are one” (10:30). His miracles proved the truth of His claims (10:36–38).
The climax of Jesus’ claims came in an upper room in the week before His death. There Jesus told His disciples that no one could come to the Father except through Him (John 14:6). More stunningly, He declared, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (14:9). Truly God was present with His people! But Jesus also had an unpleasant shock for His disciples that night: He was leaving. Just when they were realizing that they had God’s presence in their midst, it seemed that they were about to lose it!
It was in this setting that Jesus promised to send another: the Holy Spirit. From the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry, the Spirit had had an active role (see John 1:32; 3:5; 4:24; etc.), and Jesus promised that one day the Spirit would be granted to all believers (7:39). On that Thursday night in the upper room, Jesus made final preparations for that to be possible.
I. Promise of the Spirit
A. Initial Requirement (v. 15)
15. If ye love me, keep my commandments.
Interwoven with promises of the coming Spirit was this insistence of Jesus. Love for Him must be more than a fickle emotion. The Bible meaning of love includes loyalty and commitment. That is the kind of love Jesus meant when He declared that the greatest commandment is to love God with all one’s heart, soul, and mind (Matthew 22:37). We owe this kind of love to Jesus; nothing less will do. Genuine Christians don’t just believe; they obey.
What Do You Think?
Name some of Jesus’ commandments right now. (After all, if we can’t name them, how can we keep them?)
What would be a passing score on naming them?
A tragic footnote must be added to the words of the verse before us. When Jesus said if ye love me, He was keenly aware that not all His disciples did, in fact, love Him. Only minutes before, Jesus had dismissed Judas Iscariot out into the night to do what that traitor was determined to do—betray his Lord to the temple authorities (see John 13:21–30). We will always show by our actions our response to Jesus’ fateful words “if ye love me.”
B. Firm Promise (vv. 16–17)
16. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever.
Jesus had already told His disciples that He would be with them only a little while longer (John 13:33). As they puzzled over the significance of those alarming words, Jesus made the promise we see in the verse before us. The Father always heard the Son (see 11:41–42), and this prayer would be honored. By Jesus’ personal request, another Comforter would soon be given.
But who was this Comforter and what would He do? The main difficulty with the word comforter is its potentially wide range of meanings. Understanding that word to signify “one who helps by consoling” is good as far as it goes, but there’s so much more here. The Greek word being translated is often found in legal settings to refer to someone who goes to court with another to help plead a case. (The same Greek word is translated “advocate” in 1 John 2:1, where it refers to Jesus himself.) In a more general sense, such an individual might promise, “If you’re ever in trouble, I’ll be there for you.”
So as Jesus announced His pending departure, He also promised that someone would take His place. That replacement was going to abide with the disciples for ever. In the Old Testament, the Spirit of God came upon individuals somewhat sporadically and temporarily (examples: Judges 14:6, 19; 15:14). But for Christians, the indwelling Spirit abides continually (see Acts 2:38; Ephesians 1:13–14).
IN OUR CORNER
My best friend was frantic. She had been summoned to court by her ex-husband, who was seeking sole custody of their children. The reasons he declared for wanting sole custody weren’t exactly true. My friend was scared and intimidated due to the manipulation she was used to receiving at his hands.
I wrote a character letter for her, outlining how hard she worked with each of her children. But it turned out she needed something else more. She needed a friend. She needed a comforter and advocate to stand with her during that stressful time.
I immediately booked a flight. And for an entire week, we battled the weight of oppression that threatened to bury her. When the court date came, I stood by her. I was waiting to be called to the stand to bear witness of my friend’s character. Thankfully, the truth was discerned, and the judge ruled in my friend’s favor.
Life’s biggest storms don’t seem so bad when we have someone in our corner to walk through the storm with us. How tragic it would be if we ignored the Comforter and Advocate we have. Look for Him in your storms! —P. M.
17a. Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him.
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth (also John 15:26; 16:13) because God himself is always true (17:17; Hebrews 6:18). This same Spirit moved those who wrote the prophecies of the Old Testament to write infallible truth (2 Peter 1:21). It was time for the Spirit to come to the disciples and to the church (compare John 15:26; 16:13).
But the Spirit would not indwell those of the world—they cannot receive Him (compare 1 Corinthians 2:14). God sends the Spirit only into the hearts of those who are redeemed (Galatians 4:6). Only the children of God have the Spirit of God, and only those who are led by the Spirit are His children (see Romans 8:14).
17b. But ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
Although the Spirit wouldn’t be poured out until the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2), the disciples already know him in the sense that they were already aware of various ways He had worked so far (Luke 1:41, 67; 2:25; 3:22; etc.). The Spirit both dwelleth with (present tense) and shall be in (future tense) the disciples.
II. Assurance by the Son
A. Presence (v. 18)
18a. I will not leave you comfortless.
The word comfortless is a good figurative translation of a word that is literally “orphans” (the same word is translated “fatherless” in James 1:27). Jesus fully understood that His disciples would feel alone after His departure, so He was preparing them for this. As God the Father had promised that He would not fail or forsake the children of Israel (see Deuteronomy 31:6), so God the Son made a similar promise to His disciples. The children (see John 13:33) were not being abandoned.
18b. I will come to you.
This promise has drawn three interpretations: it refers to (1) Jesus’ second coming (John 14:3), (2) the gift of the Holy Spirit (14:16–17, 26), or (3) Jesus’ resurrection (20:19, 26). Based on what Jesus said in John 14:20 (below), the third proposal is probably the best.
B. Life (v. 19)
19. Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also.
On the very next day, which we now call Good Friday, Jesus would be crucified and buried. After His resurrection, Jesus appeared repeatedly to His disciples, in both small and large groups (see also John 16:16). But never again would the unbelieving world see Him alive. (Individual exceptions to this statement included appearances to His half brother James, who previously did not believe in Him, and to Saul. Compare Mark 3:21; 6:3; John 7:5; 1 Corinthians 15:5–8.)
Jesus’ resurrection would give new hope to disciples: because I live, ye shall live also. His forthcoming victory over death will mean victory for all who follow Him.
C. Knowledge (v. 20)
20a. At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father.
Jesus had already discussed His relationship with His Father (John 14:7–11). However, the disciples’ understanding of that relationship was not yet what it should be. The greater understanding would come on a certain day when they shall know that I am in my Father.
But when exactly is that day? Bible students have proposed three possibilities: (1) the day Jesus rose from the dead (John 2:22), (2) the day when Jesus was glorified (12:16), or (3) the day when the Holy Spirit came (16:12–15). The strongest case probably can be made for the day of Jesus’ resurrection, given the last part of John 14:19, just considered.
20b. And ye in me, and I in you.
The forthcoming transformation of the relationship between Jesus and His disciples seems to be the intent of this phrase. Jesus addressed the significance of this more fully in John 14:23–24 (below) and in John 17.
D. Obedience (v. 21)
21a. He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me.
Jesus repeated the importance of keeping of His commandments (John 14:15, above; compare 15:10). His teachings are not mere suggestions or general guidelines for an improved life; they are, rather, directives from the Lord to His servants. It is by keeping the Lord’s commands that His servants show that they love Him (compare 1 John 5:3; 2 John 6). True discipleship must be more than mere lip service (see Luke 6:46).
“IF YOU REALLY LOVED ME, YOU’D …”
People have used the phrase above to manipulate others for as long as anyone can remember. Such manipulators fill in the blank with requests that are often illegal, immoral, and/or unethical. There was even a true-crime book written about a father who used that expression to get his daughter to commit a horrendous crime. Sadly, the manipulation worked, ruining a whole family in the process.
John 14:21a is not at all similar because Jesus’ motivation was different from that of a manipulator. In showing our love by keeping His commandments, we end up doing what is in our best interests too, not only His. When we get this straight, we may just find ourselves less susceptible to becoming one of the world’s manipulators—or being victimized by one. —P. M.
21b. And he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
True love is to be modeled on the Father’s own love for us: always loyal and committed. The harmonious oneness between Father and Son is so profound that to be loved by one is to be loved by the other. The result for the disciples in being so loved was that Jesus planned to manifest himself to them. This certainly happened after Jesus’ resurrection (John 20:19–29; 21:1–14).
E. Clarification (vv. 22–24)
22. Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?
Judas Iscariot had already departed to betray Jesus at this point (John 13:26–30). But there was another man named Judas among the 12 apostles (Luke 6:16; Acts 1:13); this Judas was also known as Thaddaeus (Matthew 10:3; Mark 3:18). He was struggling to understand what Jesus meant by His statement in John 14:19, above. Judas wasn’t asking how in terms of methods or procedures; rather, he was asking why, which is the sense of how is it that.
What Do You Think?
When in a crisis situation, how do you know when it’s better to voice your concerns and when it’s better to remain quiet?
Don’t just answer that with “it depends on the situation.” Dig deeper!
23. Jesus 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.
For the third time (see John 14:15, 21, above), Jesus emphasized that those who love Him must keep His words. This time it is stated not as a command but as a simple fact.
When followers do obey their Lord, two things are promised to follow. First, the Father will love that person. Second, both the Father and the Son will come to that person and will make their abode with him. The word translated “abode” is the same that is translated “mansions” in John 14:2. In both places the emphasis is on the intended permanence of the dwelling place. Therefore, when Jesus departed to prepare the place of John 14:2, He was also making the believer to be a dwelling place for Him. The role of the Holy Spirit in this is addressed in 14:25–26, below.
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.
After saying that those who love Him will keep His commands, Jesus then stated the flip side of this same truth: whoever does not love Him does not keep His sayings. After all, how can someone truly love Jesus but ignore what He says?
These commands/sayings were not just from Jesus; they were in fact those of the Father (compare John 7:16; 14:10). God sent His Son to deliver the Father’s message and to show the Father’s love. Therefore, to disregard Jesus is to disregard God.
What Do You Think?
When is it not wrongly “judgmental” to point out someone’s disobedience to Jesus?
Consider Matthew 7:1, 20; Romans 14:4, 10, 13; 1 Corinthians 4:4–5; 5:12–13; James 5:20; etc.
III. Purpose of the Spirit
A. Son’s Present Message (v. 25)
25. These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you.
Jesus spoke many things to His disciples that night. He had instituted the Lord’s Supper, demonstrated a servant spirit by washing their feet, and taught them about the coming of the Comforter. While Jesus was yet present with them, He still had more to teach. But their minds were able to absorb only so much (compare John 20:9). Even so, there was more to come, as the next verse shows.
B. Spirit’s Future Ministry (v. 26)
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.
Jesus now summarizes the forthcoming ministry of the Comforter (see on John 14:16, above), who is also known as the Holy Ghost. This is God’s own Spirit, who was soon to be sent to the apostles in the name of Jesus. The word Ghost here is translated from the same word as “Spirit” in 14:17, above. The King James Version usually uses the word Ghost when the word Holy precedes it. For a rendering of “Holy Spirit,” see Luke 11:13.
Jesus also added information about what the apostles were to expect the Holy Spirit to do. First, He would teach them all things. This would become the basis of the inspiration of the men who wrote the New Testament. Things that they did not know would be taught to them by the Holy Spirit. Like the prophets of old, they would be moved by the Spirit to write Scripture.
What Do You Think?
How do you know when a promise of Scripture applies to all Christians rather than just to those to whom it was originally given?
What Scripture passages support your answer?
The Spirit would also remind the disciples of things previously seen and heard. Since two of those present, namely Matthew and John, would later write Gospels of Jesus’ life, it would be vital for them to be able to recall accurate details of what they had witnessed. Even as they wrote decades later, their thoughts on the life of Jesus would be clear and correct.
In an indirect way, the work of the Spirit to teach and to remind is a promise to all of us. First through Scripture and then through His indwelling presence, the Spirit leads us toward the truth and to recall it. The Spirit is our helper indeed!
What Do You Think?
How do you respond to someone who claims to have had a revelation from the Holy Spirit?
When would you cite Scripture passages in your response and when would you not?
IV. Insight of Jesus
A. Peace Bestowed (v. 27)
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.
Jews of the era customarily used peace as a word of greeting and farewell (examples: 2 Corinthians 1:2; 13:11). Given the context, Jesus’ use of that word was a farewell bequest. But this farewell word was to become again a word of greeting, after the resurrection (see John 20:19, 21, 26).
B. Failure Rebuked (vv. 28–29)
28a. Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice.
The disciples hadn’t fully comprehended Jesus’ repeated announcement of His pending departure (John 14:2–4, 12, 18–19). This failure drew a rebuke from Jesus: if they truly loved Him, they would rejoice. The reason they didn’t rejoice was because they were focused on their own grief at their forthcoming loss of Jesus’ companionship. 28b–29. Because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe.
Many verses make clear that Jesus was and is equally divine with God the Father (John 1:1, 18; 5:16–18; 10:30; 20:28). Therefore, Jesus’ declaration my Father is greater than I cannot mean that Jesus played second fiddle to the Father in the core nature of their being.
The solution is to understand the role that Jesus had accepted: in His then-current role as God incarnate, Jesus had subordinated himself to the Father’s desires (John 4:34; 5:19–30; 8:29; 12:48–50). It is in comparison with those two roles as sender-from-Heaven and sent-to-earth that the Son declared the Father to be the greater. But when Jesus returned to His eternal home, His role of subordination was completed. Thus Jesus’ statement here was part of His rebuke of the disciples. In their self-centered grief, they were unwilling to see what Jesus would regain by returning to Heaven.
A. Abandoned? Never!
The disciples in the upper room were startled, even frightened, to hear that their shepherd was going to leave them. Their lack of understanding was still evident at the empty tomb (John 20:9) and again at the ascension (Acts 1:6). But was their Lord going to abandon them? Never!
One of the most precious promises in the Bible, stated in both the Old and New Testaments, is God’s promise not to abandon His people (see Joshua 1:5; Hebrews 13:5). Even though we “walk through the valley of the shadow of death,” our shepherd is with us (Psalm 23:4). We are not forsaken.
As we are reminded each Christmas season, one of the names of Jesus is Immanuel, which means “God with us” (Isaiah 7:14; 8:8; Matthew 1:23). That truth becomes real for believers in every generation. Because we have the divine presence of the Holy Spirit, we are never abandoned.
Father, help us sense the presence of Your Spirit as He dwells within us. May we draw on His strength to show Your Son’s love daily through our obedience. Give us peace in Him. In His name we pray. Amen.
C. Thought to Remember
We have the promised Spirit of God.