Jesus continues His farewell discourse in this chapter by softening the blow a bit after having told His chosen ones that He is leaving them. Verse 2 is translated in ways in some versions that confound the meaning. The King James says it in such a way as to make people think they will have their own mansion in heaven. The ESV (and NASB) simply says “In my Father’s house are many rooms (dwelling places),” not intending to convey that space is small, but to drive home the point that we are going to live with God – not separated from Him. Jesus is telling them that they will follow Him, and He will prepare a place for them.
Thomas points out that since they do not know where He is going, they do not know the way. Jesus then said “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” In Acts 9:2, Christians are for the first time described as belonging to “The Way,” a term which is repeated in scripture as well as by secular historians (such as Josephus Flavius). It is hard to imagine that the term did not come from these words of Jesus.
In verses 13-14, Jesus says “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” We must remember first that other scriptures define prayer properly. Secondly, in this age, a person’s name represented what that person was as a being – who they were, so to speak. So praying in Jesus’ name means praying in a way consistent with His will and His character.
Jesus then offers more reassurance to His apostles in verses 15-28, as He confirms that He is one with the Father, and that He is going to Him. But He will not leave them as “orphans.” The promise of the Holy Spirit in these verses is for the apostles, not for us. As those who He is sending, they will need the guidance of the “Helper” to speak His word and make the will of God known. As His chosen ones, the Holy Spirit also help them remember all that He has told them. But Jesus says that He will no longer talk much with them.
The end is very near, but that end will be very much a new beginning.
Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
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