Exploring the Meaning of John 14

By Ray and Star Silverman
walking in woods, light

Chapter Fourteen

“Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled”

1. Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.

2. In My Fathers house are many abodes; and if not, 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 take you to Myself, that where I am, you may be also.

In the previous chapter, Jesus revealed that Judas would betray Him. He also told His disciples that He was going away, and where He was going, they could not come. Then, at the end of the chapter, Jesus predicted that Peter would deny Him three times before the night was over. It was a confusing and perplexing time for the disciples.

It is at this point in the divine narrative that Jesus speaks at length to His disciples, giving them what has become known as “The Farewell Discourse.” It begins with the words, “Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God. Believe also in Me” (John 14:1).

It is important to note that Jesus begins His farewell discourse with the most essential truth of religion: belief in God. This truth, that there is a God, is implanted in everyone in earliest infancy. It is, so to speak, a spiritual instinct. Jesus is simply calling this truth to the minds of His disciples, reassuring them that there is a God who can comfort them in times of trouble.

While this universal instinct can be suppressed or closed up by worldly concerns, the sacred scriptures testify that there is a God who is always present, ready to support, protect, and strengthen us. As it is written in the Hebrew scriptures, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble” (Psalms 46:1). 1

It is also a universal instinct that there can be only one God, and no other. This truth about one God, and only one God, is so central that it became the single, most important teaching among the Israelites. In order to keep this at the forefront of their minds, especially in an age of idolatry, they recited an ancient prayer called the Shema. They recited this prayer when they arose in the morning and when they went to bed in the evening. They discussed it during the day. They posted it on the doorposts of their home, and they taught it to their children. It begins with these words: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord” (Deuteronomy 6:4).

These opening words emphasize the singularity of the one, infinite, almighty God. He is the indivisible Supreme Being who has no equal. Speaking through the prophet Isaiah, God says, “I am the Lord, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God” (Isaiah 45:5).

Therefore, when Jesus says to His disciples, “You believe in God,” He is calling them back to their central belief in one God. But then He adds, “Believe also in Me.” With these words, Jesus is identifying Himself as the visible manifestation of the one, only God of heaven and earth. In Jesus, God is not just an abstract concept, but “a very present help in time of trouble.” He is a living being who is preparing each of us for eternal life in His heavenly kingdom.

Many mansions

As Jesus continues His farewell address, He says, “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” (John 14:2). At first glance, it might seem confusing to think of “many mansions” within one house. For this reason, translators have often preferred the term “rooms” or “dwelling places” instead of “mansions.” But the term “mansions,” when understood more deeply, serves an important use.

In order to understand the spiritual significance of the word, “mansion,” we first need to expand our understanding of what is meant by a “house.” Throughout the scriptures, the term “house” is used in different ways. Sometimes it simply refers to a person’s home or dwelling place. And yet, it can also refer to an extended family or large group of relatives who are descendants of a particular person. For example, the scriptures refer to “the house of Abraham,” “the house of Isaac,” and “the house of Jacob.” There is frequent mention of the “house of Israel,” and the holy temple is often referred to as the “house of God.”

More deeply, the phrase “house of God” refers to the entire expanse of God’s heavenly kingdom. When King David says, “One thing have I desired … that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life” (Psalms 27:1), he is not referring to the temple, but rather to the kingdom of heaven. And when he concludes the twenty-third psalm with the words, “And I will dwell in the house of the Lord, forever” (Psalms 23:6), David is expressing his desire to remain in the Lord’s presence, enjoying the Lord’s goodness and mercy, all the days of His life.

In this regard, “the house of God” refers to a heavenly state of mind. It is a state of mind which is continually receptive to the love and wisdom that flow in from the Lord. In sacred scripture, this is called the “house of the Lord,” the “house of God,” and “my Father’s house.” Therefore, when Jesus says, “In My Father’s house are many mansions; I go to prepare a place for you,” He is speaking about the blessings that flow in when we believe in God and do His will. 2

Our spiritual home, then, can be compared to a magnificent mansion, furnished with loving emotions and noble thoughts. It is a strong, powerful structure, built to withstand any storm. Within these walls, there is no room for hellish influences to invade our minds with their complaints, criticism, and condemnation. Our heavenly mansion, then, is the state of the human mind when it is founded on a belief in God and a life according to His commandments. In brief, it is a magnificent dwelling-place. 3

Preparing a place

After telling His disciples that there are many mansions in heaven, Jesus assures them that there is a place for each of them. In fact, Jesus says, “I go to prepare a place for you.” Taken literally, this seems to suggest that Jesus is departing to heaven where He will build a home for each of His disciples. More deeply, when Jesus says, “I go to prepare a place for you,” it means that He is providing the love that motivates us, the wisdom to make the right decisions, and the power to carry them out. These are the building materials for our heavenly home. It is a spiritual building project which goes on, for the most part, beyond our conscious awareness.

While we are not aware of the Lord’s secret operation within us, shaping and molding our heavenly character, the Lord sees what we cannot see. To us, the daily decisions we make might seem inconsequential, even random, but the Lord sees something quite different. From the point of view of the Lord, who sees eternity, He is supervising the ongoing construction of our heavenly character, comparable to the building of a mansion, and even to the production of a palace. 4

In this regard, then, it can be truly said that Jesus is preparing a place for each of us. But there is an important qualification: we must do our part. This means that we must learn and practice the truths that will not only protect us like strong walls, but will also fill our homes with consideration, compassion, and kindness.

Doing our part also includes focusing on a use that is best suited to our nature, a form of service in which we truly feel “at home.” Just as every cell in our body has a specific use and purpose, each of us is designed to carry out a specific function in God’s heavenly kingdom. This function is determined by the kind of things we love and the truths that we believe. It is a special function reserved for us alone, a function that we are born and prepared for during our life on earth.

None of this, however, can be done apart from our willing cooperation with the Lord. Although the Lord is omnipotent, He cannot build a heavenly home for us, or within us, without our collaboration. It is a partnership. 5

Even so, it is essential to keep in mind that every effort to cooperate with the Lord, even the least effort, is freely given, and is never self-generated. As it is written in the Hebrew scriptures, “Unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain who build it” (Psalms 127:1). 6

The story of the carpenter

There is a non-biblical but significant story about a carpenter who was ready to retire. His employer gave the carpenter a very generous budget, told him to buy the best materials, and asked him to build just one more house before retirement. The carpenter agreed. But he had no real interest in the house that he was building. In a hurry to finish the project, the carpenter used the cheapest materials he could find, hammered boards together without measuring carefully, ignored building codes, and took every short-cut he could just to get the job done as quickly as possible. When the carpenter finished the job, his employer gave him the deed to the property and the key to the front door, saying, “This house is yours.”

This is a cautionary tale. Every decision we make goes into the construction of our eternal home—our dwelling-place forever. Jesus is, indeed, preparing a place for us, in fact, a mansion. But this cannot happen without our careful cooperation. Therefore, we need to think about the decisions we make and the actions we take as thoughtful additions to our heavenly home. 7

A practical application

Just as the heart, lungs, eyes, ears, kidneys, brain, and stomach serve various functions in our body, our place in heaven depends upon the particular use or function that we will serve. It should be kept in mind, however, that our function or use is more than a specific job or occupation. It is, in the deepest sense, the way we uniquely affect others by our presence and attitude. Whether we are a barber cutting hair, a teacher instructing students, a parent raising a child, or a manager supervising employees, we are more than our jobs. We are also the sphere we communicate to others. It can be a gloomy, disrespectful sphere that brings others down, or a cheerful, respectful sphere that lifts others up. While it is important to be skilled and diligent at our jobs, it is even more essential to perform our tasks in ways that allow the Lord’s spirit to flow through us. A friendly barista once put it this way: “I’m not just pouring coffee. I’m pouring happiness.” As a practical application, then, see your daily tasks not only as opportunities to do a certain job well, but also as a means through which you can communicate the Lord’s love for others. It could be as simple as offering a kind word when opportunity arises, or just giving a warm smile and a thank you to the person who bags your groceries. These opportunities to bless others with respect, kindness, and gratitude can be a full-time job for those who are willing to be servants of the Lord. 8

The Way, the Truth, and the Life

4. And whither I go you know, and the way you know.

5. Thomas says to Him, Lord, we know not whither Thou goest, and how can we know the way?

6. Jesus says to him, I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father except by Me.

7. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.

8. Philip says to Him, Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.

9. Jesus says to him, Am I with thee so much time, and hast thou not known Me, Philip? He that has seen Me has seen the Father; and how sayest thou, show us the Father?

10. Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The sayings that I speak to you, I speak not from Myself, but the Father that remains in Me, He does the works.

11. Believe Me, that I [am] in the Father, and the Father [is] in Me; and if not, on account of the works themselves, believe Me.

Jesus has just told His disciples that He is going ahead to prepare a place for them. To this He adds that He will come back to them and take them to where He is. As He says, “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am you may be also” (John 14:3). Jesus then comforts them with these words of assurance: “Where I go you know, and the way you know” (John 14:4).

Confused by what Jesus is saying, Thomas says, “Lord we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” (John 14:5). Thomas is confused because he is thinking about a worldly destination and a physical way to get there. But Jesus is talking about a way to live which involves believing in God and living according to what God teaches. Therefore, Jesus says to Thomas, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).

Throughout the three years that Jesus has been with His disciples, He has been showing them “the way.” It begins with repentance. As prophesied in the Hebrew scriptures, John the Baptist would come as “a voice crying in the wilderness.” He would come preaching repentance for the remission of sins, and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” This is how we “prepare the way of the Lord” (see Isaiah 40:3; Matthew 3:1-3; Mark 1:1-4; Luke 3:3-4).

In its simplest form, repentance begins with the realization that the state we are in, or what we have said, or the way we have acted is not in alignment with who we want to be. While we might have reasons to justify being irritated, impatient, resentful, or acting in anger, we also realize that this is not what we want to be feeling, thinking, saying, or doing. This could take the form of expressions like, “I wish I had more patience,” or “I wish I could give up this resentment,” or “I wish I had acted in a different way.” It is to honestly acknowledge that we are in a negative state or have fallen into a destructive habit. This is the time to turn to the Lord who will help us raise our thoughts to higher levels.

In other words, we know that we need to change our thoughts, which is exactly the meaning of the Greek word for repentance. This word is metanoia (μετάνοια), which means quite literally “to think above” [meta = above + noein = to think]. In order to think above, however, or to think higher thoughts, we need to know what is true. This is the next step along the path in our spiritual development. It is the process of learning truth from the Word of the Lord, and is called “reformation.”

These truths give us the opportunity to see things differently. Our minds are being “re-formed.” In the light of higher truth, we understand that we have a choice about how we can respond to any given situation. When our spiritual eyes are opened, we see that we can be loving rather than defensive, forgiving rather than resentful, trustful of God rather than fearful. While repentance is about preparing the way, reformation is about learning the truth that can lead us out of our negative states.

But the process does not end with repentance and reformation. We can’t just be repentant or understand truth. We need more than a change of mind; we also need a change of heart. This means that the truth must also be willed and lived. This step in the process is called “regeneration.” It is about the development of a new will by first compelling oneself to live according to the truth, and eventually loving to live according to the truth. 9

In brief, this entire process is called, “repentance, reformation, and regeneration.” Repentance is about the way. Reformation is about the truth. And regeneration is about the life that is born in us as we develop a new will. Rather than a physical destination, these are the three stages of spiritual development, called “the way, the truth, and the life.” Each stage leads us to the place that Jesus is preparing for us and inviting us to enter. As He says, “Where I am, you shall be also.”

“No one comes to the Father except through Me”

After saying that He is the way, the truth, and the life, Jesus says, “No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). It is true that Jesus teaches the way with His words, and shows the way with His life, but He is more than a great teacher or an enlightened spiritual guide. He is the way. This is why He can truly say, “No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

Whenever Jesus refers to “the Father,” He is referring to the divine goodness within Him. It is His very soul. And whenever He refers to “the Son,” He is referring to the divine truth which comes forth and manifests the divine goodness in visible form. In this regard, Jesus is knowable and approachable. His words and example can be understood, taken into one’s life, imitated, and lived.

To the extent that people do this, they are going through the visible Son, Jesus, who is divine truth on earth, to the invisible Father who is the divine goodness. Therefore, when Jesus says, “No one comes to the Father except through Me,” He is speaking about coming into a state in which truth and goodness are united. We cannot approach a state of genuine love without first living according to eternal truth. To approach the Father through Jesus, then, means, quite simply to experience the blessings of the divine goodness (called “the Father”) through living according to the divine truth that Jesus teaches (called “the Son”). 10

But we should not take this to mean that the Father and the Son are merely abstract concepts. God came to earth Himself—in the flesh—under the name of Jesus Christ. The infinite, unknowable God revealed Himself as a divinely human being who loves, teaches, suffers, and dwells among His people as One who serves. At the same time, Jesus’ inmost soul, the source of life itself, is always God, infinite, and indivisible.

“If you had known Me …”

After telling His disciples that no one can come to the Father except through Him, Jesus says, “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also” (John 14:7). In other words, if they had really known, understood, and lived according to the truth that Jesus taught, they would have come to know and experience the goodness within the truth. The disciples, however, cannot as yet understand this. After all, Jesus has never told them directly that He is God incarnate. Therefore, it is understandable that the disciples still think of Jesus and the Father as separate beings. Therefore, Philip says, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us” (John 14:8).

The implication of Philip’s request is that Jesus will somehow introduce him to another person called “the Father.” This, of course, is impossible, because the Father is already present within Jesus as infinite love and compassion. Therefore, Jesus says, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father…. Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me?” (John 14:9-10).

When Jesus says that He is in the Father and the Father is in Him, He is speaking about the reciprocal relationship between goodness and truth. When they are united, goodness is within truth, and truth is within goodness. For example, consider the parent who tells a child to stay in the yard, eat healthy food, or go to bed at a reasonable time. When these “truths” have goodness within them, they come from love.

The truth that the child should stay in the yard contains the parent’s love for protecting the child from danger. The truth that the child should eat healthy food and go to bed at a reasonable hour contains the parent’s love for the health and well-being of the child. This is the goodness within the truth, the love within the words. Similarly, love and goodness are within every truth that Jesus speaks, and every truth that Jesus speaks comes from love. This is what Jesus means when He says, “I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me.”

This applies not only to the words that Jesus speaks, but also to the works that He performs. Everything that Jesus says and does comes from the divine love within Him which He calls, “the Father.” As Jesus says, “The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works” (John 14:10). Jesus is saying that His words and His works are one with His love. Love, which Jesus calls “the Father,” is the great motivator, the divine impulse that gives birth to every noble thought and benevolent endeavor.

Jesus then says, “Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves” (John 14:11). Even if Philip cannot fully understand how Jesus and the Father are one, He should keep in mind the wonderful works that Jesus has performed, works that could not have been accomplished except through the divinity that dwells within Him. It is for this reason that among the many names that describe Jesus, one of the first is “Wonderful.” As it is written in the Hebrew scriptures, “His name shall be called ‘Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace’” (Isaiah 9:6). 11

A practical application

Jesus begins His farewell discourse by saying to His disciples, “You believe in God. Believe also in Me.” As the episode continues, Jesus does everything He can to help His disciples understand that He and the Father are one, not just as two people who have the same plan are one, but in the way that goodness and truth are one. To use an analogy, Jesus and the Father are one in the way that heat and light are one in the flame of a candle. This idea, that Jesus is not just a co-partner with the Father, but is, in fact, one with the Father, is crucial. It helps us understand that Jesus is more than a hero to be admired, or a role-model to be imitated. He is the incarnation of the living God. If we do not believe this, His words have limited power in our life. But if we believe that Jesus is God in human form speaking to us, there is amazing power in His words. As a practical application, take just one of the statements given so far in this chapter and let it speak to you with divine power. For example, “Let not your heart be troubled,” or “No one comes to the Father except through Me,” or “Where I am, there you shall be also.” As Jesus said earlier in this gospel, “The words I speak to you, they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63).

Greater Works

12. Amen, amen, I say to you, He that believes in Me, the works that I do he shall do also, and greater than these shall he do, because I go to My Father.

13. And whatever you shall ask in My name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

14. If you shall ask anything in My name, I will do [it].

The opening words of the farewell discourse focus on belief. Jesus has said to His disciples, “You believe in God. Believe also in Me” (John 14:1). As the discourse continues, Jesus describes the benefits of belief. He says, “Most assuredly I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father” (John 14:12).

Jesus has already done many miracles in this gospel. He has turned water into wine, healed a nobleman’s son, caused a disabled man to walk, fed five thousand people with five loaves and two fish, walked on the sea, restored sight to a blind man, and raised Lazarus from the dead. And yet, Jesus promises His disciples that they will perform greater miracles than these.

While the miracles that Jesus performed represented spiritual principles, they were, nevertheless, physical miracles. Therefore, when Jesus tells His disciples that they will do greater works, He is saying that they will do miracles on another level. They will open eyes that are spiritually blind so that people will be able to see truth for themselves. They will encourage people who are spiritually paralyzed to walk in the way of the commandments. They will inspire people who are spiritually dead to rise up into resurrected lives of unselfish service. They will help people to rise above their preoccupation with themselves and the things of the natural world so that they might enjoy the blessings of a new life where loving God and loving others will become their first priority. In all these ways they will perform “greater works”—spiritual works that are far greater than earthly miracles. 12

But in order to perform these greater works, the disciples will have to pray in Jesus’ name: “Whatever you ask in My name,” He tells them, “that I will do.” And again, “If you ask anything in My name, I will do it” (John 14:13-14). The “Lord’s name” stands for all the divine qualities that we associate with a loving, wise, and merciful God who cares for us deeply, and who will never leave us. Therefore, to ask for anything “in the name of the Lord” is to be in a state of mind in which we prayerfully desire that God’s qualities may be in us. This is a fundamental pre-requisite for doing “greater things.” 13

“Because I go to My Father”

Jesus has promised His disciples that they will do greater things because He is “going to the Father.” At first glance, this seems to be counter intuitive. In what way will His departure enable them to do greater things? If anything, it seems that their abilities would be diminished by His absence, not enhanced. But the phrase, “going to My Father,” has special meaning. It means that even though Jesus will no longer be physically present with His disciples, He will be spiritually present with them. To say it differently, Jesus will no longer be with them; rather He will be within them. He will be within them as a loving, wise, inner presence, the silent motivation within every act of service.

For the past three years, Jesus has been with His disciples. He has been guiding, teaching, illustrating, and instructing them through His words and actions. But the time is coming when He will be with them on a deeper, more interior level. Although He will no longer be with them physically, He will be within them spiritually. All of this is contained in the meaning-filled phrase, “because I go to My Father.” In the language of sacred scripture, “the Father” is the source of all love and all goodness. Whoever dwells in love and goodness, acknowledging God and loving the neighbor, dwells in the Father and the Father dwells in that person. This is the inner presence of God. 14

A practical application

We all begin life completely dependent on those who are with us. A child learns to walk by holding a parent’s hand. But the time comes when the child lets go of the parent’s hand and starts walking. A young musician sits beside the teacher on the piano bench. But on the day of the piano recital, the young musician performs without the assistance of the teacher. A medical student spends a year or more as an intern studying under the guidance of a surgeon. Initially, the surgeon was physically present during operations, teaching and assisting the intern. The surgeon was with the intern. Eventually, however, the time will come when the intern performs the operation without the physical assistance of the surgeon. Although the surgeon is no longer in the room, the skills and attitudes of the supervising physician may still be present within the intern who has now become the surgeon. As a practical application, then, go about your daily duties with the thought in mind, “God is not just with me; God is within Me.” This is what Jesus had in mind when He told His disciples that they would do greater things because He was “going to the Father.” He was going to be within them as the source of their love and wisdom. Whenever you are engaged in works of love and charity, the Great Physician is within you performing the greatest surgery of all—gently removing a heart of stone and replacing it with a heart of flesh. A new will is being developed in you. The good news is that you get to participate in this process while the Lord directs the operation from within. 15

If You Love Me, Keep My Commandments

15. If you love Me, keep My commandments.

16. And I will beseech the Father, and He will give you another Comforter, that it may remain with you into eternity:

17. The spirit of Truth, which the world cannot receive, because it beholds it not, neither knows it; but you know it, because it remains with you, and shall be in you.

18. I will not leave you orphans; I come to you.

19. Yet a little [while] and the world beholds Me no more, but you behold Me; because I live, you shall live also.

20. In that day you shall know that I [am] in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.

21. He that has My commandments and keeps them, he it is that loves Me; and he that loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him.

22. Judas, not Iscariot, says to Him, Lord, what has come to pass that Thou art about to manifest Thyself to us, and not to the world?

23. Jesus answered and said to him, If anyone love Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make an abode with him.

24. He that loves Me not keeps not My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Fathers that sent Me.

25. These things have I spoken to you, remaining with you.

Jesus promised His disciples that they would do greater works. But in order to do so, they would have to call upon Him in prayer, asking for all things “in His name.” This means they would need to ask for the qualities that derive from and are associated with faith and love. According to all of Jesus’ testimony, there was really only one way to demonstrate their love and their faith in Him. As Jesus says in the next verse, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). 16

The refrain, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” and “If anyone loves Me. He will keep My word,” is frequently repeated throughout Jesus’ farewell address (see John 14:21, 23, 24; and John 15:10). These words involve much more than just knowing the commandments, or understanding them, or discussing them. Most importantly, they involve willing them, and when opportunity arises, doing them. 17

Of course, it is impossible to keep the commandments by ourselves. We need to ask God for the power to do so. That’s why Jesus now gives them the following promise: “And I will pray the Father, and He will give You another Helper, that He may abide with you forever, even the Spirit of truth whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you” (John 14:16-17).

Jesus tells His disciples that they already know the Spirit of truth, for “He dwells with you” (John 14:17). Jesus is referring to Himself, for He is indeed with them at that very moment, dwelling with them. But He is also promising that if they remain faithful, living according to His commandments and trusting in Him, He will not only be with them, but He will be in them. By this He means that after He has departed from their physical presence, He will be with them in spirit, as the Spirit of truth. “I will not leave you orphans,” He says. “I will come to you” (John 14:18).

Jesus is saying that when He comes to them again, He will come as the Spirit of truth. It is a promise that He will come to them Himself and be with them in ways they never imagined. He will come to them as an inner presence, filling their hearts with love, opening their minds to higher understanding, inspiring them to keep His commandments, and giving them the power to do so.

It is a beautiful promise, and Jesus is making it just before His departure. As He puts it, “A little while longer and the world will see Me no more; but you will see Me” (John 14:19). In other words, when Jesus is no longer visible to those who only see the things of this world, He will still be visible to those who look beyond the things of this world to the things of spirit.

On one level, Jesus is telling His disciples that He will rise from the grave and come to them after the crucifixion. Although the world would “see Him no more,” His disciples will see Him in His resurrected glory. For many, the evidence of the resurrection will confirm belief—not only in Jesus, but also in the reality of life beyond the grave. As Jesus puts it, “Because I live, you will live also” (John 14:19). And He adds, “At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you” (John 14:20). The miracle of the resurrection will bring assurance of Jesus’ divinity along with the promise of everlasting life.

On another level, Jesus is also speaking about the willingness to keep His commandments. To the extent that we do so, we will experience the presence of God in our own lives. In spiritual reality, when we endeavor to keep His commandments, we open the way for God to come to us and dwell within us. This is why Jesus goes on to say, “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And He who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him” (John 14:21). 18

When asked, “How could this be?” (John 14:22), Jesus continues to emphasize the importance of keeping the commandments. He says, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him” (John 14:23). To the extent that we live according to Jesus’ teachings, the divine truth and the divine love will be with us and dwell within us. If, however, we do not live according to the commandments or keep His words, but instead live selfishly, it is an indication that we do not love God. As Jesus says, “He who does not love Me does not keep My words” (John 14:24).

Jesus then makes a final appeal, telling His disciples that the words He speaks come from love. In the language of sacred scripture, He puts it like this: “The word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me” (John 14:24). In essence, Jesus is saying that the commandments, which open the way to heaven and guide us into the joy of everlasting life, come from the very heart of love. 19

It is especially striking that in Matthew, Mark, and Luke Jesus consistently refers to keeping the commandments and knowing the commandments (see for example, Matthew 19:16; Mark 10:19; and Luke 18:20). In the Gospel According to John, however, Jesus talks about keeping My commandments. “If you love Me,” He says, “keep My commandments.” Again, “If anyone loves Me, He will keep My Word.” The commandments have not changed. They are still the Ten Commandments. They tell us how to love the Lord, and how to love the neighbor. What has changed is that here, in the Gospel According to John, Jesus identifies Himself as the Author of the commandments—the same commandments that were written over a thousand years earlier “with the finger of God” (Exodus 31:18).

Once again, Jesus is indicating that He and the Father are One.

The Promise of the Holy Spirit

26. And the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, which the Father will send in My name, this will teach you all things, and will remind you of all [things] which I have said to you.

27. Peace I leave to you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, give I to you. Let not your heart be disturbed, neither let it be afraid.

28. You have heard that I said to you, I go away, and come to you. If you loved Me, you would rejoice because I said I go to the Father, for My Father is greater than I.

29. And now I have told you before it come to pass, that when it has come to pass, you might believe.

30. I will no longer speak many things with you, for the ruler of this world comes, and has nothing in Me.

31. But that the world may know that I love the Father, and even as the Father has commanded Me, so I do. Arise, let us go hence.

This chapter began with the words, “Let not your heart be troubled” (John 14:1). It was a message of calm assurance, coming just after a troubling time for the disciples. Jesus had just said that Judas would betray Him, that Peter would deny Him, and that He would be leaving His disciples for a little while. Aware that His disciples are confused and frightened, Jesus says to them, “These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (John 14:26).

In the case of the disciples, the Holy Spirit will bring to their remembrance all things that they have learned during their three years with Jesus. No longer will Jesus be standing before them, telling them what to think and what to do. Instead, He will be within them as the Spirit of truth—the Holy Spirit—helping them draw from their memory those teachings that will be most useful in any given circumstance.

Moreover, the Holy Spirit will reveal insights into the meaning of Jesus’ words that will become progressively deeper throughout all eternity. This is because the words of God contain infinite depths of wisdom. The unfolding of these progressively deeper truths will enable the disciples to learn, and grow, and continue to see more applications of these truths in their lives. It will also give them the power to live according to these increasing perceptions. This is why Jesus says, “I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper [the Holy Spirit] who will abide with you forever” (John 14:16). 20

In essence, the Holy Spirit is what goes forth from the unition of divine love and divine wisdom. Because of this, we can experience an even closer presence of God, a deeper understanding of His Word, and a greater sense of peace. It is an inner peace that can only be experienced when hellish influences are subjugated and made quiescent, allowing heavenly influences to flow in and dwell with us. Therefore, Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.” Jesus then repeats the opening words of this chapter: “Let not your heart be troubled.” And He adds, “neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). 21

The disciples need not fear that Jesus is leaving, for He promises that He will come back. As He says, “You have heard Me say to you, ‘I am going away and coming back to you’” (John 14:28). Jesus wants them to understand that His departure is necessary, and that if they truly love Him, they will not be sad, but rather they will rejoice. “If you loved Me,” He says, “you would rejoice because I said, ‘I am going to the Father,’ for the Father is greater than I” (John 14:28).

When Jesus says that He is “going to the Father,” it means that He is in the process of uniting His humanity with His Divinity. For each of us, this is the process of uniting the truth we have learned with the love from which it comes. This begins, first of all, by knowing the truth. This is of great importance, but living according to the truth is of even greater importance. Love is the goal, the purpose, the end in view. And truth is the means for getting there. To the extent that we live according to truth, we experience the Father’s love. This, then, is what Jesus means when He says, ‘I am going to the Father,’ for the Father is greater than I” (John 14:28).” 22

Similarly, whenever we strive to put the truth into our life, we are “going to the Father.” This means that we are coming into a state of love. While this can be a difficult process, it is a necessary one. Moreover, it leads to the highest joy. If the disciples knew this, and if they knew the joy of spiritual growth, they would not only rejoice—they would also believe. As Jesus puts it, “All this I have told you before it comes to pass, so that when it comes to pass, you may believe” (John 14:29).

For each of us, spiritual growth necessarily involves spiritual struggles. Hereditary and acquired evils must be subdued so that a new nature may be born in us. It is similar for Jesus. He, too, has had to undergo fierce temptation combats in order to overcome the hereditary nature He acquired through a human birth. Although He has already undergone numerous combats in the process of subjugating the hells and glorifying His humanity, a final culminating combat is still ahead. His arrest, torture, and crucifixion are only hours away. As Jesus puts it, “The ruler of the world is coming” (John 14:30). 23

Knowing that His final hour is drawing near, Jesus realizes that He only has time for a few last words—a few last words to remind His disciples, once again, that their highest duty is to keep His commandments as an act of love to God. This is exactly what Jesus intends to do. As He puts it, “That the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment, so I do” (John 14:31). Jesus will continue to teach by example. And to the extent that His disciples follow Jesus’ example, loving others as He loves them, their hearts will not be troubled, and they will be at peace.

It is only then, through keeping God’s commandments, that we can leave troubled states behind and rise to higher levels. As Jesus says in the closing words of this part of the farewell discourse, “Arise, let us go from here” (John 14:31).

A practical application

In the first three gospels, Jesus is asked, “What is the greatest commandment?” In response, Jesus says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” And then He adds, “The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (see Matthew 22:37-39; Mark 12:28-31; Luke 10:27). While these two commandments define the two great categories of love—loving God and loving the neighbor—they do not replace the Ten Commandments. This is because the Ten Commandments show us how to love. We love God by having no other gods before Him, by not taking His name in vain, and by remembering the sabbath. We love our neighbor by honoring our father and mother, not murdering, not committing adultery, not stealing, not lying, and not coveting. These timeless commandments, which were given on Mt. Sinai, are repeated and deepened in the gospels. As a practical application, then, demonstrate your love for God and for your neighbor by keeping His commandments, not just on the literal level, but on a deeper level as well. For example, practice the commandment about not murdering by saying nothing critical to or about anyone. Do not murder someone’s reputation with idle gossip. Do not kill someone’s joy. Do not tear people down. Instead, let your words pass through three gates: “Is it kind?” “Is it true?” “Is it useful?” Then, with the Lord’s help, be a person who lifts others up. Be a commandment keeper. Be a life giver. As Jesus says, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.”


1True Christian Religion 9: “There is no nation in the whole world, possessing religion and sound reason, which does not acknowledge that there is a God, and that He is one. This is because there is a divine influx into the souls of all people … an internal dictate that there is a God and that He is one. Still there are some who deny that there is a God. Instead, they acknowledge nature as god. There are, moreover, those who worship several gods, and those also who set up images for gods. The reason for this is that they have closed up the interiors of their understanding with worldly and corporeal things, and have thereby obliterated the primitive idea of God which was theirs in infancy, banishing at the same time all religion from their hearts.”

2Arcana Coelestia 2048: The term, ‘house of God’ in a universal sense signifies the Lord’s kingdom.” See also Apocalypse Explained 220: “Jesus said to them that sold in the temple, ‘Make not My Father's house a house of merchandise’ …. In the psalms, it is written, I have chosen to stand at the door in the house of my God, rather than to dwell in the tents of wickedness (Psalms 84:10)…. Also, ‘They that are planted in the house of Jehovah shall flourish in the courts of our God (Psalm 92:13)…. And in John: Jesus said, ‘In My Father's house are many mansions’ (John 14:2). It is clear that in these passages, by ‘house of Jehovah’ and ‘Father’s house’ heaven is meant.”

3Apocalypse Explained 638:13: “A ‘house’ signifies the spiritual mind.” See also Apocalypse Explained 240:4: “A ‘house’ signifies the whole person, and the things which are with a person, thus those things that pertain to a person’s understanding and will.” See also Arcana Coelestia 7353: “The ancients compared the mind of person to a house, and those things which are within a person’s mind to the inner rooms of the house. The human mind is indeed like this; for the things therein are distinct, comparable to a house divided into its rooms.” See also Arcana Coelestia 8054:3: “Evil is continually endeavoring to invade the places where the good are, and they actually do invade them as soon as they are not filled by good.”

4Divine Providence 203: “A person sees nothing of the Lord’s universal providence. If people were to see it, it would appear to their eyes only as scattered heaps and random piles of building materials out of which a house is to be built. And yet, the Lord sees it as a magnificent palace constantly being built and enlarged.”

5Arcana Coelestia 3637: “People in heaven are said to be ‘in the Lord,’ indeed in His body; for the Lord is the whole of heaven, and being in Him every single person there is assigned to a particular province and function.” See also Arcana Coelestia 3644: “All people in the entire world have a place either in heaven or outside it in hell. Although people are not aware of this while they are living in the world, it is nevertheless true…. The goodness they love and the truth they believe determine their place in heaven.” See also Arcana Coelestia 503: “Life is given to everyone by the Lord from use, through use, and according to use…. The useless can have no life; for whatever is useless is cast away…. They who love [the Lord and their neighbor] are not delighted in merely knowing, but in doing what is good and true, that is, in being of use.” See also True Christian Religion 369: “Our partnership with God is what gives us salvation and eternal life.”

6Arcana Coelestia 1937:3: “There were some who practiced self-compulsion and set themselves against evil and falsity. At first, they had imagined that they did so of themselves, by their own power. Afterwards, however, they were enlightened to see that their effort originated in the Lord, even the smallest of all the impulses of that effort. In the next life, people like this cannot be led by evil spirits, but are among the blessed.”

7Apocalypse Explained 911:17: “Although the Lord works all things, and people work nothing from self, yet the Lord wills that people should work as if from self in all that comes to their perception. For without a person’s cooperation as if from self there can be no reception of truth and good, thus no implantation and regeneration.” See also Apocalypse Explained 585:3: “When people cooperate with the Lord, that is, when they think and speak, will and act, from the Divine Word, they are kept by the Lord in things divine, and are thus withheld from self; and when this continues there is formed within them by the Lord as it were a new self, both a new will and a new understanding, which is wholly separated from their former self. In this way, they become as it were created anew, and this is what is called reformation and regeneration by truths from the Word, and by a life according to them.” See also Divine Love and Wisdom 431: “When people perform the duties of their calling sincerely, uprightly, justly, and faithfully, the good of the community is maintained and perpetuated. This is what it means to ‘be in the Lord.’”

8Apocalypse Explained 902:2-3: “There are two opposite spheres that surround people, one from hell, the other from heaven. From hell there is a sphere of evil and of falsity, and from heaven there is a sphere of good and of truth…. These spheres have an effect on people’s minds because they are spiritual spheres.” See also Arcana Coelestia 4464:3: “People are not aware that they are encompassed with a certain spiritual sphere that is in accordance with the life of their affections, and that to the angels this sphere is more perceptible than is the sphere of an odor to the finest sense on earth. If people have spent their life in mere external things, that is, in the pleasures that come from hatred against the neighbor, revenge, cruelty, and adultery, from exaltation of self and contempt for others, and from robbery, deceit, and extravagance [covetousness], and from other similar evils, then the spiritual sphere which encompasses them is as foul as is in this world the sphere of the odor from carcasses, dung, stinking garbage, and the like…. But if people have been in internal things, that is to say they have felt delight in benevolence and charity toward the neighbor, and above all they have felt blessedness in love to the Lord, they are encompassed with a grateful and pleasant sphere which is the heavenly sphere itself.”

9Arcana Coelestia 6717:2: “Those who have been regenerated love to live according to the truth.” See also Apocalypse Explained 295:12: “The Lord’s love is with them when they love to live according to His commandments. This is what it means to love the Lord.”

10Apocalypse Explained 349:8: “The words, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life,’ were said of the Lord’s human; for He also says, ‘No one comes unto the Father but through Me.’ His ‘Father’ is the divine in Him, which was His own divine.” See also Apocalypse Revealed 170: “The ‘Father’ is often mentioned by the Lord, by whom is everywhere meant Jehovah, from whom and in whom He was, and who was in Him, and never any divine separate from Him…. The Lord made mention of the Father, because by ‘Father’ in the spiritual sense is signified good, and by ‘God the Father’ the divine good of divine love.”

11Arcana Coelestia 10125:3: “The soul of the Lord, being from Jehovah, was infinite, and was nothing else than the divine good of the divine love, and consequently after glorification His Human was not like the human of a person.” See also Arcana Coelestia 2005: “The Lord’s internal was from the Father, and therefore was the Father Himself, and hence it is that the Lord says that ‘the Father is in Him,’ ‘I am in the Father and the Father in Me,’ and, ‘He that sees Me sees the Father; I and the Father are one.’ In the Word of the Old Testament, the Lord is called ‘the Father,’ as in Isaiah: ‘Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given and the government shall be upon His shoulder; and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, God, Hero, the Father of Eternity, the Prince of Peace’ (Isaiah 9:6).”

12The New Jerusalem and Its Heavenly Teachings 7: “In heaven, all things exist in a state of greater perfection. This is because all those who are there are spiritual, and spiritual things immensely exceed in perfection those that are natural.”

13Arcana Coelestia 9310: “He who does not know what ‘name’ signifies in the internal sense, may suppose that where the ‘name of Jehovah,’ and the ‘name of the Lord,’ are mentioned in the Word, the name alone is meant; when yet all the good of love and all the truth of faith which are from the Lord are meant.” See also True Christian Religion 300: “That the name of anyone means not his name alone but his every quality, is evident from the use of names in the spiritual world. No person there retains the name that was received in baptism, or that of one’s father or ancestry in the world; but everyone is there named according to one’s character, and angels are named according to their moral and spiritual life. Such are meant in these words of the Lord: Jesus said, ‘I am the Good Shepherd. The sheep hear His voice, and He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out.’”

14Arcana Coelestia 724: “The Lord is present within love and charity, but not within faith that has been separated [from love and charity].” See also Arcana Coelestia 3263:2: “As regards the Lord’s spiritual Church, it should be realized that it exists throughout the whole world, for it is not confined to those who possess the Word and from the Word have knowledge of the Lord and of some truths of faith. It also exists among those who do not possess the Word and therefore do not know the Lord at all, and as a consequence have no knowledge of any truths of faith…. For among those people there are many who know from the light of reason that there is one God, that He has created and preserves all things; and also, that He is the source of everything good, and consequently of everything true; and that being the likeness of Him makes a person blessed. And what is more, they live up to their religion, in love to that God and in love towards the neighbor. From an affection for good they perform the works of charity, and from an affection for truth they worship the Supreme Being. Such people among the gentiles belong to the Lord’s spiritual Church. And although they do not know the Lord while they are in the world, they nevertheless have within themselves a worship and virtual acknowledgement of Him when good exists within them, for the Lord is present within all good. For this reason, they acknowledge the Lord in the next life without difficulty.”

15Apocalypse Revealed 796:2: “The acknowledgment and worship of the Lord, and the reading of the Word, cause the presence of the Lord; but these two together with a life according to His commandments effect conjunction with Him.” See also Conjugial Love 72: “There are two things which form the church and so heaven in a person: the truth of faith and the goodness of life. The truth of faith brings the Lord’s presence, and the goodness of life in accordance with the truths of faith brings conjunction with Him.”

16Apocalypse Explained 433:2: “To love the Lord is not merely to love Him as to Person, but to live according to His commandments.” See also Apocalypse Explained 981: “Love to the Lord means the love or affection of doing His commandments, thus the love of keeping the commandments of the Decalogue. For so far as people from love or from affection keep and do them, so far, they love the Lord, for they realize that these commandments are the Lord with them.”

17Apocalypse Explained 1099:3: “Loving the Lord does not mean loving Him as a Person only, for such a love, by itself, does not conjoin people to heaven. Rather, the love of divine goodness and divine truth, which are the Lord in heaven and in the church, do conjoin people with heaven. These two [divine goodness and divine truth] are not loved by knowing them, thinking about them, understanding them, and talking about them, but by willing and doing them for the reason that they are commanded by the Lord, and thus because they are uses.” See also Apocalypse Explained 433:2: “They love the Lord who do and observe His commandments and words because His commandments and words signify divine truths, and all divine truth proceeds from Him, and that which proceeds from Him is Himself.” See also True Christian Religion 387:6: “Will or drive is actually a form of action, since it is a constant striving to act, which under the right circumstances becomes an external action. Therefore, all wise people take the internal actions of a drive or will to be entirely the same as external actions (because that is how God takes them), provided there is no failure to act when the opportunity arises.”

18True Christian Religion 725: “Truths related to faith bring about the presence of the Lord, and the good of charity together with faith work together to bring about conjunction with the Lord.”

19True Christian Religion 329: “When a person shuns evils as commanded in the Decalogue, then love and charity flow in. This is evident from the Lord's words in John: ‘Jesus said, He that hath My commandments and keeps them, he it is that loves Me and he that loves Me shall be loved of My Father; and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him: and We will make our abode with him’ (John 14:21, 23). By ‘commandments’ here the commandments of the Decalogue are particularly meant, which are that evils must not be done or lusted after, and that the love of a person to God and the love of God toward a person then follow as good follows when evil is removed.”

20Arcana Coelestia 10738:1-3: “The Lord [Jesus Christ] teaches that the Father and He are one, that the Father is in Him and He in the Father, that whoever sees Him sees the Father, and whoever believes in Him believes in the Father and knows Him, and also that the Paraclete, whom He calls the Spirit of truth and also the Holy Spirit, proceeds from Him and does not speak from Himself, but from Him, whereby is meant the Divine proceeding.”

21Arcana Coelestia 1581: “When evils become quiescent, then goods flow in from the Lord.” See also Arcana Coelestia 6325: “Life filled with goodness flows in from the Lord, and life filled with evil flows in from hell…. When people believe this, evil cannot be attached to them or be accepted by them as their own because they know that it does not originate in themselves but in hell. When this is their state, peace can be granted to them, for they trust solely in the Lord.” See also True Christian Religion 123[5]: “The Lord’s subjugation of hell is meant by His calming the sea by saying ‘Peace, be still,” for here, as in many other places, the ‘sea’ signifies hell. In the same way, the Lord fights at this day against hell in every person who is being regenerated.”

22Apocalypse Revealed 17: “Truths are first in time, but are not first in end…. For residence in a house is first in end, and first in time is the foundation. Again, use is first in end, and knowledge first in time. Likewise, the first in end when a [fruit] tree is planted is the fruit, but the branches and leaves are first in time.” See also True Christian Religion 336: “The truth of faith is first in time, but the good of charity is first in end.” See also True Christian Religion 406: “The first in end is that to which all things look. It is also like building a house; first the foundation must be laid; but the foundation must be for the house, and the house for a dwelling place.”

23Arcana Coelestia 8403:2 “They who have not been instructed about regeneration suppose that people can be regenerated without temptation; and some believe that people have been regenerated when they have undergone one temptation. But be it known that without temptation no one is regenerated, and that many temptations follow on, one after another. The reason is that regeneration takes place to the end that the life old life may die, and the new heavenly life be insinuated, which shows that there must needs be a fight, for the old life [old will] resists, and is not willing to be extinguished, and the new life [new will] cannot enter except where the old life [old will] has been extinguished. Hence it is evident that there is a fight on both sides, and this fight is a fiery one, because it is for life.”