Among other glorious things God hath spoken of himself this is one, I
wound, and I heal,
Deut. xxxii. 39.
Christ's discourse in this chapter, which continues and concludes his
farewell sermon to his disciples, does so.
I. Here are wounding words in the notice he gives them of the troubles
that were before them,
II. Here are healing words in the comforts he administers to them for
their support under those troubles, which are five:--
1. That he would send them the Comforter,
2. That he would visit them again at his resurrection,
3. That he would secure to them an answer of peace to all their prayers,
4. That he was now but returning to his Father,
5. That, whatever troubles they might meet with in this world, by
virtue of his victory over it they should be sure of peace in him,
Persecution Foretold; The Expediency of Christ's Departure.
1 These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be
2 They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time
cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God
3 And these things will they do unto you, because they have not
known the Father, nor me.
4 But these things have I told you, that when the time shall
come, ye may remember that I told you of them. And these things I
said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you.
5 But now I go my way to him that sent me; and none of you
asketh me, Whither goest thou?
6 But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath
filled your heart.
Christ dealt faithfully with his disciples when he sent them forth on
his errands, for he told them the worst of it, that they might sit down
and count the cost. He had told them in the chapter before to expect
the world's hatred; now here in these verses,
I. He gives them a reason why he alarmed them thus with the expectation
of trouble: These things have I spoken unto you, that you should not
be offended, or scandalized,
1. The disciples of Christ are apt to be offended at the cross; and the
offence of the cross is a dangerous temptation, even to good men, to
turn back from the ways of God, or turn aside out of them, or drive on
heavily in them; to quit either their integrity or their comfort. It is
not for nothing that a suffering time is called an hour of
2. Our Lord Jesus, by giving us notice of trouble, designed to take off
the terror of it, that it might not be a surprise to us. Of all the
adversaries of our peace, in this world of troubles, none insult us
more violently, nor put our troops more into disorder, than
disappointment does; but we can easily welcome a guest we expect, and
being fore-warned are fore-armed--Præmoniti,
II. He foretels particularly what they should suffer
"Those that have power to do it shall put you out of their
synagogues; and this is not the worst, they shall kill you."
Ecce duo-gladii--Behold two swords drawn against the followers of
the Lord Jesus.
1. The sword of ecclesiastical censure; this is drawn against them by
the Jews, for they were the only pretenders to church-power. They shall
cast you out of their synagogues; aposynagogous poiesousin
hymas--they shall make you excommunicates.
(1.) "They shall cast you out of the particular synagogues you were
members of." At first, they scourged them in their synagogues as
contemners of the law
and at length cast them out as incorrigible.
(2.) "They shall cast you out of the congregation of Israel in general,
the national church of the Jews; shall debar you from the privileges of
that, put you into the condition of an outlaw," qui caput gerit
lupinum--to be knocked on the head, like another wolf; "they will
look upon you as Samaritans, as heathen men and publicans."
Interdico tibi aqua et igne--I forbid you the use of water and
fire. And were it not for the penalties, forfeitures, and
incapacities, incurred hereby, it would be no injury to be thus driven
out of a house infected and falling. Note, It has often been the lot
of Christ's disciples to be unjustly excommunicated. Many a good truth
has been branded with an anathema, and many a child of God delivered
2. The sword of civil power: "The time cometh, the hour is come;
now things are likely to be worse with you than hitherto they have
been; when you are expelled as heretics, they will kill you, and
think they do God service, and others will think so too."
(1.) You will find them really cruel: They will kill you.
Christ's sheep have been accounted as sheep for the slaughter; the
twelve apostles (we are told) were all put to death, except John.
Christ had said
You shall bear witness, martyreite--you shall
be martyrs, shall seal the truth with your blood, your heart's
(2.) You will find them seemingly conscientious; they will think
they do God service; they will seem latreian
prospherein--to offer a good sacrifice to God; as those
that cast out God's servants of old, and said, Let the Lord be
[1.] It is possible for those that are real enemies to God's service to
pretend a mighty zeal for it. The devil's work has many a time been
done in God's livery, and one of the most mischievous enemies
Christianity ever had sits in the temple of God. Nay,
[2.] It is common to patronise an enmity to religion with a color of
duty to God, and service to his church. God's people have suffered the
greatest hardships from conscientious persecutors. Paul verily thought
he ought to do what he did against the name of Jesus.
This does not at all lessen the sin of the persecutors, for villanies
will never be consecrated by putting the name of God to them; but it
does enhance the sufferings of the persecuted, to die under the
character of being enemies to God; but there will be a resurrection of
names as well as of bodies at the great day.
III. He gives them the true reason of the world's enmity and rage
"These things will they do unto you, not because you have done
them any harm, but because they have not known the Father, nor
me. Let this comfort you, that none will be your enemies but the
worst of men." Note,
1. Many that pretend to know God are wretchedly ignorant of him. Those
that pretend to do him service thought they knew him, but it was
a wrong notion they had of him. Israel transgressed the covenant, and
yet cried, My God, we know thee.
2. Those that are ignorant of Christ cannot have any right knowledge of
God. In vain do men pretend to know God and religion, while they slight
Christ and Christianity.
3. Those are very ignorant indeed of God and Christ that think it an
acceptable piece of service to persecute good people. Those that know
Christ know that he came not into the world to destroy men's lives,
but to save them; that he rules by the power of truth and love, not
of fire and sword. Never was such a persecuting church as that which
makes ignorance the mother of devotion.
IV. He tells them why he gave them notice of this now, and why not
1. Why he told them of it now
not to discourage them, or add to their present sorrow; nor did he tell
them of their danger that they might contrive how to avoid it, but that
"when the time shall come (and you may be sure it will come),
you may remember that I told you." Note, When suffering times
come it will be of use to us to remember what Christ has told us of
(1.) That our belief of Christ's foresight and faithfulness may be
(2.) That the trouble may be the less grievous, for we were told of it
before, and we took up our profession in expectation of it, so that it
ought not to be a surprise to us, nor looked upon as a wrong to us. As
Christ in his sufferings, so his followers in theirs, should have an
eye to the fulfilling of the scripture.
2. Why he did not tell them of it sooner: "I spoke not this to you
from the beginning when you and I came to be first acquainted,
because I was with you."
(1.) While he was with them, he bore the shock of the world's malice,
and stood in the front of the battle; against him the powers of
darkness levelled all their force, not against small or great,
but only against the king of Israel, and therefore he did not
need to say so much to them of suffering, because it did not fall much
to their share; but we do find that from the beginning he bade them
prepare for sufferings; and therefore,
(2.) It seems rather to be meant of the promise of another
comforter. This he had said little of to them at the
beginning, because he was himself with them to instruct, guide, and
comfort them, and then they needed not the promise of the Spirit's
extraordinary presence. The children of the bride-chamber would not
have so much need of a comforter till the bridegroom should be taken
V. He expresses a very affectionate concern for the present sadness of
his disciples, upon occasion of what he had said to them
"Now I am to be no longer with you, but go my way to him that
sent me, to repose there, after this fatigue; and none of you
asketh me, with any courage, Whither goest thou? But,
instead of enquiring after that which would comfort you, you pore upon
that which looks melancholy, and sorrow has filled your
1. He had told them that he was about to leave them: Now I go my
way. He was not driven away by force, but voluntarily departed; his
life was not extorted from him, but deposited by him. He went to him
that sent him, to give an account of his negotiation. Thus, when we
depart out of this world, we go to him that sent us into it,
which should make us all solicitous to live to good purposes,
remembering we have a commission to execute, which must be returned at
a certain day.
2. He had told them what hard times they must suffer when he was gone,
and that they must not expect such an easy quiet life as they had had.
Now, if these were the legacies he had to leave to them, who had
left all for him, they would be tempted to think they had made a
sorry bargain of it, and were, for the present, in a consternation
about it, in which their master sympathizes with them, yet blames them,
(1.) That they were careless of the means of comfort, and did not stir
up themselves to seek it: None of you asks me, Whither goest
thou? Peter had started this question
and Thomas had seconded it
but they did not pursue it, they did not take the answer; they were in
the dark concerning it, and did not enquire further, nor seek for
fuller satisfaction; they did not continue seeking, continue knocking.
See what a compassionate teacher Christ is, and how condescending to
the weak and ignorant. Many a teacher will not endure that the learner
should ask the same question twice; if he cannot take a thing quickly,
let him go without it; but our Lord Jesus knows how to deal with babes,
that must be taught with precept upon precept. If the disciples
here would have found that his going away was for his advancement, and
therefore his departure from them should not inordinately trouble them
(for why should they be against his preferment?) and for their
advantage, and therefore their sufferings for him should not
inordinately trouble them; for a sight of Jesus at the right hand of
God would be an effectual support to them, as it was to Stephen.
Note, A humble believing enquiry into the design and tendency of the
darkest dispensations of Providence would help to reconcile us to them,
and to grieve the less, and fear the less, because of them; it will
silence us to ask, Whence came they? but will abundantly satisfy us to
ask, Whither go they? for we know they work for good,
(2.) That they were too intent, and pored too much, upon the occasions
of their grief: Sorrow has filled their hearts. Christ had said
enough to fill them with joy
but by looking at that only which made against them, and overlooking
that which made for them, they were so full of sorrow that there was no
room left for joy. Note, It is the common fault and folly of melancholy
Christians to dwell upon the dark side of the cloud, to meditate
nothing but terror, and turn a deaf ear to the voice of joy and
gladness. That which filled the disciples' hearts with sorrow, and
hindered the operation of the cordials Christ administered, was too
great an affection to this present life. They were big with hopes of
their Master's external kingdom and glory, and that they should shine
and reign with him: and now, instead of that, to hear of nothing but
bonds and afflictions, this filled them with sorrow. Nothing is a
greater prejudice to our joy in God than the love of the world;
and the sorrow of the world, the consequence of it.
The Expediency of Christ's Departure; The Promise of the Spirit.
7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you
that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come
unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.
8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of
righteousness, and of judgment:
9 Of sin, because they believe not on me;
10 Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me
11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.
12 I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear
13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide
you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but
whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show
you things to come.
14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall
show it unto you.
15 All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I,
that he shall take of mine, and shall show it unto you.
As it was usual with the Old Testament prophets to comfort the church
in its calamities with the promise of the Messiah
Mic. v. 6; Zech. iii. 8);
so, the Messiah being come, the promise of the Spirit was the great
cordial, and is still.
Three things we have here concerning the Comforter's
I. That Christ's departure was absolutely necessary to the Comforter's
The disciples were so loth to believe this that Christ saw cause to
assert it with a more than ordinary solemnity: I tell you the
truth. We may be confident of the truth of everything that
Christ told us; he has no design to impose upon us. Now, to make them
easy, he here tells them,
1. In general, It was expedient for them that he should go away.
This was strange doctrine, but if it was true it was comfortable
enough, and showed them how absurd their sorrow was. It is
expedient, not only for me, but for you also, that I go
away; though they did not see it, and are loth to believe it, so it
(1.) Those things often seem grievous to us that are really expedient
for us; and particularly our going away when we have finished our
(2.) Our Lord Jesus is always for that which is most expedient for us,
whether we think so or no. He deals not with us according to the folly
of our own choice, but graciously over-rules it, and gives us the
physic we are loth to take, because he knows it is good for us.
2. It was therefore expedient because it was in order to the
sending of the Spirit. Now observe,
(1.) That Christ's going was in order to the Comforter's coming.
[1.] This is expressed negatively: If I go not away, the Comforter
will not come. And why not? First, So it was settled in the
divine counsels concerning this affair, and the measure must not be
altered; shall the earth be forsaken for them? He that gives
freely may recall one gift before he bestows another, while we would
fondly hold all. Secondly, It is congruous enough that the
ambassador extraordinary should be recalled, before the envoy come,
that is constantly to reside. Thirdly, The sending of the Spirit
was to be the fruit of Christ's purchase, and that purchase was to be
made by his death, which was his going away. Fourthly, It was to
be an answer to his intercession within the veil. See
Thus must this gift be both paid for, and prayed for, by our Lord
Jesus, that we might learn to put the greater value upon it.
Fifthly, The great argument the Spirit was to use in convincing
the world must be Christ's ascension into heaven, and his welcome here.
and ch. vii. 39.
Lastly, The disciples must be weaned from his bodily presence,
which they were too apt to dote upon, before they were duly prepared to
receive the spiritual aids and comforts of a new dispensation.
[2.] It is expressed positively: If I depart I will send him to
you; as though he had said, "Trust me to provide effectually that
you shall be no loser by my departure." The glorified Redeemer is not
unmindful of his church on earth, nor will ever leave it without its
necessary supports. Though he departs, he sends the Comforter,
nay, he departs on purpose to send him. Thus still, though one
generation of ministers and Christians depart, another is raised up in
their room, for Christ will maintain his own cause.
(2.) That the presence of Christ's Spirit in his church is so much
better, and more desirable, than his bodily presence, that it was
really expedient for us that he should go away, to send the Comforter.
His corporal presence could be put in one place at one time, but his
Spirit is every where, in all places, at all times, wherever two or
three are gathered in his name. Christ's bodily presence draws
men's eyes, his Spirit draws their hearts; that was the letter
which kills, his Spirit gives life.
II. That the coming of the Spirit was absolutely necessary to
the carrying on of Christ's interests on earth
And when he is come, elthon ekeinos. He that is
sent is willing of himself to come, and at his first coming he will do
this, he will reprove, or, as the margin reads it, he will
convince the world, by your ministry, concerning sin,
righteousness, and judgment.
1. See here what the office of the Spirit is, and on what errand he is
(1.) To reprove. The Spirit, by the word and conscience, is a
reprover; ministers are reprovers by office, and by them the Spirit
(2.) To convince. It is a law-term, and speaks the office of the
judge in summing up the evidence, and setting a matter that has been
long canvassed in a clear and true light. He shall convince,
that is, "He shall put to silence the adversaries of Christ and his
cause, by discovering and demonstrating the falsehood and fallacy of
that which they have maintained, and the truth and certainty of that
which they have opposed." Note, Convincing work is the Spirit's work;
he can do it effectually, and none but he; man may open the cause, but
it is the Spirit only that can open the heart. The Spirit is called the
and here it is said, He shall convince. One would think this
were cold comfort, but it is the method the Spirit takes, first to
convince, and then to comfort; first to lay open the wound, and then to
apply healing medicines. Or, taking conviction more generally, for a
demonstration of what is right, it intimates that the Spirit's comforts
are solid, and grounded upon truth.
2. See who they are whom he is to reprove and convince: The
world, both Jew and Gentile.
(1.) He shall give the world the most powerful means of conviction, for
the apostles shall go into all the world, backed by the Spirit, to
preach the gospel, fully proved.
(2.) He shall sufficiently provide for the taking off and silencing of
the objections and prejudices of the world against the gospel. Many an
infidel was convinced of all and judged of all,
1 Corinthians 14:24.
(3.) He shall effectually and savingly convince many in the world, some
in every age, in every place, in order to their conversion to the faith
of Christ. Now this was an encouragement to the disciples, in reference
to the difficulties they were likely to meet with,
[1.] That they should see good done, Satan's kingdom fall like
lightning, which would be their joy, as it was his. Even this
malignant world the Spirit shall work upon; and the conviction of
sinners is the comfort of faithful ministers.
[2.] That this would be the fruit of their services and sufferings,
these should contribute very much to this good work.
3. See what the Spirit shall convince the world of.
(1.) Of sin
because they believe not on me.
[1.] The Spirit is sent to convince sinners of sin, not barely to tell
them of it; in conviction there is more than this; it is to prove it
upon them, and force them to own it, as they
that were convicted of their own consciences. Make them to know
their abominations. The Spirit convinces of the fact of sin, that
we have done so and so; of the fault of sin, that we have done ill in
doing so; of the folly of sin, that we have acted against right reason,
and our true interest; of the filth of sin, that by it we are become
odious to God; of the fountain of sin, the corrupt nature; and lastly,
of the fruit of sin, that the end thereof is death. The Spirit
demonstrates the depravity and degeneracy of the whole world, that all
the world is guilty before God.
[2.] The Spirit, in conviction, fastens especially upon the sin of
unbelief, their not believing in Christ, First, As the great
reigning sin. There was, and is, a world of people, that believe not in
Jesus Christ, and they are not sensible that it is their sin. Natural
conscience tells them that murder and theft are sin; but it is a
supernatural work of the spirit to convince them that it is a sin to
suspend their belief of the gospel, and to reject the salvation offered
by it. Natural religion, after it has given us its best discoveries and
directions, lays and leaves us under this further obligation, that
whatever divine revelation shall be made to us at any time, with
sufficient evidence to prove it divine, we accept it, and submit to it.
This law those transgress who, when God speaketh to us by his Son,
refuse him that speaketh; and therefore it is sin.
Secondly, As the great ruining sin. Every sin is so in its own
nature; no sin is so to them that believe in Christ; so that it is
unbelief that damns sinners. It is because of this that they cannot
enter into rest, that they cannot escape the wrath of
God; it is a sin against the remedy. Thirdly, As that which
is at the bottom of all sin; so Calvin takes it. The Spirit shall
convince the world that the true reason why sin reigns among them is
because they are not by faith united to Christ. Ne putimus vel
guttam unam rectitudinis sine Christo nobis inesse--Let us not suppose
that, apart from Christ, we have a drop of rectitude.--Calvin.
(2.) Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and you see me no
We may understand this,
[1.] Of Christ's personal righteousness. He shall convince the world
that Jesus of Nazareth was Christ the righteous
(1 John 2:1),
as the centurion owned
Certainly this was a righteous man. His enemies put him under
the worst of characters, and multitudes were not or would not be
convinced but that he was a bad man, which strengthened their
prejudices against his doctrine; but he is justified by the
(1 Timothy 3:16),
he is proved to be a righteous man, and not, a deceiver; and
then the point is in effect gained; for he is either the great Redeemer
or a great cheat; but a cheat we are sure he is not. Now by what medium
or argument will the Spirit convince men of the sincerity of the Lord
Jesus? Why, First, Their seeing him no more will
contribute something towards the removal of their prejudices; they
shall see him no more in the likeness of sinful flesh, in the form
of a servant, which made them slight him. Moses was more respected
after his removal than before. But, Secondly, His going to
the Father would be a full conviction of it. The coming of the
Spirit, according to the promise, was a proof of Christ's exaltation to
God's right hand
and this was a demonstration of his righteousness; for the holy God
would never set a deceiver at his right hand.
[2.] Of Christ's righteousness communicated to us for our justification
and salvation; that everlasting righteousness which Messiah was to
Now, First, The Spirit shall convince men of this righteousness.
Having by convictions of sin shown them their need of a righteousness,
lest this should drive them to despair he will show them where it is to
be had, and how they may, upon their believing, be acquitted from
guilt, and accepted as righteous in God's sight. It was hard to
convince those of this righteousness that went about to establish
but the Spirit will do it. Secondly, Christ's ascension is the
great argument proper to convince men of this righteousness: I go to
the Father, and, as an evidence of my welcome with him, you
shall see me no more. If Christ had left any part of his
undertaking unfinished, he had been sent back again; but now that we
are sure he is at the right hand of God, we are sure of being
justified through him.
(3.) Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged,
[1.] The devil, the prince of this world, was judged, was
discovered to be a great deceiver and destroyer, and as such judgment
was entered against him, and execution in part done. He was cast out of
the Gentile world when his oracles were silenced and his altars
deserted, cast out of the bodies of many in Christ's name, which
miraculous power continued long in the church; he was cast out of the
souls of people by the grace of God working with the gospel of Christ;
he fell as lightning from heaven.
[2.] This is a good argument wherewith the Spirit convinces the world
of judgment, that is, First, Of inherent holiness and
By the judgment of the prince of this world, it appears that
Christ is stronger than Satan, and can disarm and dispossess him, and
set up his throne upon the ruin of his. Secondly, Of a new and
better dispensation of things. He shall show that Christ's errand into
the world was to set things to right in it, and to introduce times of
reformation and regeneration; and he proves it by this, that the
prince of this world, the great master of misrule, is judged and
expelled. All will be well when his power is broken who made the
mischief. Thirdly, Of the power and dominion of the Lord Jesus.
He shall convince the world that all judgment is committed to
him, and that he is the Lord of all, which is evident by
this, that he has judged the prince of this world, has broken the
serpent's head, destroyed him that had the power of death, and spoiled
principalities; if Satan be thus subdued by Christ, we may be sure
no other power can stand before him. Fourthly, Of the final day
of judgment: all the obstinate enemies of Christ's gospel and kingdom
shall certainly be reckoned with at last, for the devil, their
ringleader, is judged.
III. That the coming of the Spirit would be of unspeakable advantage to
the disciples themselves. The Spirit has work to do, not only on the
enemies of Christ, to convince and humble them, but upon his servants
and agents, to instruct and comfort them; and therefore it was
expedient for them that he should go away.
1. He intimates to them the tender sense he had of their present
I have yet many things to say unto you (not which should have
been said, but which he could and would have said), but you cannot
bear them now. See what a teacher Christ is.
(1.) None like him for copiousness; when he has said much, he has still
many things more to say; treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hid in
him, if we be not straitened in ourselves.
(2.) None like him for compassion; he would have told them more of
the things pertaining to the kingdom of God, particularly of the
rejection of the Jews and the calling of the Gentiles, but they could
not bear it, it would have confounded and stumbled them, rather than
have given them any satisfaction. When, after his resurrection, they
spoke to him of restoring the kingdom to Israel, he referred
them to the coming of the Holy Ghost, by which they should
receive power to bear those discoveries which were so contrary to the
notions they had received that they could not bear them now.
2. He assures them of sufficient assistances, by the pouring out of the
Spirit. They were now conscious to themselves of great dulness, and
many mistakes; and what shall they do now their master is leaving them?
"But when he, the Spirit of Truth, is come, you will be easy,
and all will be well." Well indeed; for he shall undertake to guide the
apostles, and glorify Christ.
(1.) To guide the apostles. He will take care,
[1.] That they do not miss their way: He will guide you; as the
camp of Israel was guided through the wilderness by the pillar of
cloud and fire. The Spirit guided their tongues in speaking, and
their pens in writing, to secure them from mistakes. The Spirit is
given us to be our guide
not only to show us the way, but to go along with us, by his continued
aids and influences.
[2.] That they do not come short of their end: He will guide them
into all truth, as the skilful pilot guides the ship into the port
it is bound for. To be led into a truth is more than barely to
know it; it is to be intimately and experimentally acquainted with it;
to be piously and strongly affected with it; not only to have the
notion of it in our heads, but the relish and savour and power of it in
our hearts; it denotes a gradual discovery of truth shining more and
more: "He shall lead you by those truths that are plain and easy to
those that are more difficult." But how into all truth? The
First, Into the whole truth relating to their embassy; whatever
was needful or useful for them to know, in order to the due discharge
of their office, they should be fully instructed in it; what truths
they were to teach others the Spirit would teach them, would give them
the understanding of, and enable them both to explain and to
Secondly, Into nothing but the truth. All that he shall guide
you into shall be truth
(1 John 2:27);
the anointing is truth. In the following words he proves both
1. "The Spirit shall teach nothing but the truth, for he shall not
speak of himself any doctrine distinct from mine, but whatsoever
he shall hear, and knows to be the mind of the Father, that,
and that only, shall he speak." This intimates,
(1.) That the testimony of the Spirit, in the word and by the apostles,
is what we may rely upon. The Spirit knows and searches all
things, even the deep things of God, and the apostles received that
(1 Corinthians 2:10,11),
so that we may venture our souls upon the Spirit's word.
(2.) That the testimony of the Spirit always concurs with the word of
Christ, for he does not speak of himself, has no separate
interest or intention of his own, but, as in essence so in records, he
is one with the Father and the Son,
1 John 5:7.
Men's word and spirit often disagree, but the eternal Word and the
eternal Spirit never do.
2. "He shall teach you all truth, and keep back nothing that is
profitable for you, for he will show you things to come." The
Spirit was in the apostles a Spirit of prophecy; it was foretold that
he should be so
and he was so. The Spirit showed them things to come, as
The Spirit spoke of the apostasy of the latter times,
1 Timothy 4:1.
John, when he was in the Spirit had things to come shown him in
vision. Now this was a great satisfaction to their own minds, and of
use to them in their conduct, and was also a great confirmation of
their mission. Jansenius has a pious note upon this: We should not
grudge that the Spirit does not show us things to come in this
world, as he did to the apostles; let it suffice that the Spirit in the
word hath shown us things to come in the other world, which are
our chief concern.
(2.) The Spirit undertook to glorify Christ,
[1.] Even the sending of the Spirit was the glorifying of Christ. God
the Father glorified him in heaven, and the Spirit glorified him on
earth. It was the honour of the Redeemer that the Spirit was both sent
in his name and sent on his errand, to carry on and perfect his
undertaking. All the gifts and graces of the Spirit, all the preaching
and all the writing of the apostles, under the influence of the Spirit,
the tongues, and miracles, were to glorify Christ.
[2.] The Spirit glorified Christ by leading his followers into the
truth as it is in Jesus,
He assures them, First, that the Spirit should communicate the
things of Christ to them: He shall receive of mine, and shall show
it unto you. As in essence he proceeded from the Son, so in
influence and operation he derived from him. He shall take
ek tou emou--of that which is mine. All that the
Spirit shows us, that is, applies to us, for our instruction and
comfort, all that he gives us for our strength and quickening, and all
that he secures and seals to us, did all belong to Christ, and was had
and received from him. All was his, for he bought it, and paid dearly
for it, and therefore he had reason to call it his own; his, for he
first received it; it was given him as the head of the church, to be
communicated by him to all his members. The Spirit came not to erect a
new kingdom, but to advance and establish the same kingdom that Christ
had erected, to maintain the same interest and pursue the same design;
those therefore that pretend to the Spirit, and vilify Christ, give
themselves the lie, for he came to glorify Christ. Secondly,
That herein the things of God should be communicated to us. Lest any
should think that the receiving of this would not make them much the
richer, he adds, All things that the Father hath are mine. As
God, all that self-existent light and self-sufficient happiness which
the Father has, he has; as Mediator, all things are delivered
to him of the Father
all that grace and truth which God designed to show us he lodged
in the hands of the Lord Jesus,
Spiritual blessings in heavenly things are given by the Father to the
Son for us, and the Son entrusts the Spirit to convey them to us. Some
apply it to that which goes just before: He shall show you things to
come, and so it is explained by
God gave it to Christ, and he signified it to John, who wrote what
the Spirit said,
Christ's Departure and Return; Sorrow and Joy Foretold.
16 A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little
while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father.
17 Then said some of his disciples among themselves, What is
this that he saith unto us, A little while, and ye shall not see
me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me: and, Because
I go to the Father?
18 They said therefore, What is this that he saith, A little
while? we cannot tell what he saith.
19 Now Jesus knew that they were desirous to ask him, and said
unto them, Do ye enquire among yourselves of that I said, A
little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while,
and ye shall see me?
20 Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and
lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful,
but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.
21 A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour
is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she
remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into
22 And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again,
and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from
Our Lord Jesus, for the comfort of his sorrowful disciples, here
promises that he would visit them again.
I. Observe the intimation he gave them of the comfort he designed them,
Here he tells them,
1. That they should now shortly lose the sight of him: A little
while, and you that have seen me so long, and still desire to
see me, shall not see me; and therefore, if they had any good
question to ask him, they must ask quickly, for he was now taking his
leave of them. Note, It is good to consider how near to a period our
seasons of grace are, that we may be quickened to improve them while
they are continued. Now our eyes see our teachers, see the days of
the Son of man; but, perhaps, yet a little while, and we shall
not see them. They lost the sight of Christ,
(1.) At his death, when he withdrew from this world, and never after
showed himself openly in it. The most that death does to our Christian
friends is to take them out of our sight, not out of being, not out of
bliss, but out of all relation to us, only out of sight, and then not
out of mind.
(2.) At his ascension, when he withdrew from them (from those who,
after his resurrection, had for some time conversed with him), out
of their sight; a cloud received him, and, though they looked up
steadfastly after him, they saw him no more,
2 Corinthians 5:16.
2. That yet they should speedily recover the sight of him; Again a
little while, and you shall see me, and therefore you ought not to
sorrow as those that have no hope. His farewell was not a final
farewell; they should see him again,
(1.) At his resurrection, soon after his death, when he showed
himself alive, by many infallible proofs, and this in a very little
while, not forty hours. See
(2.) By the pouring out of the Spirit, soon after his ascension, which
scattered the mists of ignorance and mistake they were almost lost in,
and gave them a much clearer insight into the mysteries of Christ's
gospel than they had yet had. The Spirit's coming was Christ's visit to
his disciples, not a transient but a permanent one, and such a visit as
abundantly retrieved the sight of him.
(3.) At his second coming. They saw him again as they removed one by
one to him at death, and they shall see him together at the end of
time, when he shall come in the clouds, and every eye shall see
him. It might be truly said of this that it was but a little
while, and they should see him; for what are the days of time, to
the days of eternity?
2 Peter 3:8,9.
3. He assigns the reason: "Because I go to the Father; and
(1.) "I must leave you for a time, because my business calls me to the
upper world, and you must be content to spare me, for really my
business is yours."
(2.) "Therefore you shall see me again shortly, for the Father will not
detain me to your prejudice. If I go upon your errand, you shall see me
again as soon as my business is done, as soon as is convenient."
It should seem, all this refers rather to his going away at death, and
return at his resurrection, than his going away at the ascension, and
his return at the end of time; for it was his death that was their
grief, not his ascension
and between his death and resurrection it was indeed a little
while. And it may be read, not, yet a little while (it is
not eti mikron, as it is
but mikron--for a little while you shall not see
me, namely, the three days of his lying in the grave; and again,
for a little while you shall see me, namely, the forty days
between his resurrection and ascension. Thus we may say of our
ministers and Christian friends, Yet a little while, and we shall
not see them, either they must leave us or we must leave them, but
it is certain that we must part shortly, and yet not part for ever. It
is but a good night to those whom we hope to see with joy in the
II. The perplexity of the disciples upon the intimation given them;
they were at a loss what to make of it
Some of them said, softly, among themselves, either some
of the weakest, that were least able, or some of the most inquisitive,
that were most desirous, to understand him, What is this that he
saith to us? Though Christ had often spoken to this purport before,
yet still they were in the dark; though precept be upon precept,
it is in vain, unless God gave the understanding. Now see here,
1. The disciples' weakness, in that they could not understand so plain
a saying, to which Christ had already given them a key, having told
them so often in plain terms that he should be killed, and the third
day rise again; yet, say they, We cannot tell what he saith;
(1.) Sorrow had filled their heart, and made them unapt to
receive the impressions of comfort. The darkness of ignorance and the
darkness of melancholy commonly increase and thicken one another;
mistakes cause griefs, and then griefs confirm mistakes.
(2.) The notion of Christ's secular kingdom was so deeply rooted in
them that they could make no sense at all of those sayings of his which
they knew not how to reconcile with that notion. When we think the
scripture must be made to agree with the false ideas we have imbibed,
no wonder that we complain of difficulty; but when our reasonings are
captivated to revelation, the matter becomes easy.
(3.) It should seem, that which puzzled them was the little
while. If he must go at least, yet they could not conceive how he
should leave them quickly, when his stay hitherto had been so short,
and so little while, comparatively. Thus it is hard for us to represent
to ourselves that change as near which yet we know will come certainly,
and may come suddenly. When we are told, Yet a little while and
we must go hence, yet a little while and we must give up our
account, we know not how to digest it; for we always took the
vision to be for a great while to come,
2. Their willingness to be instructed. When they were at a loss about
the meaning of Christ's words, they conferred together upon it, and
asked help of one another. By mutual converse about divine things we
both borrow the light of others and improve our own. Observe how
exactly they repeat Christ's words. Though we cannot fully solve every
difficulty we meet with in scripture, yet we must not therefore throw
it by, but revolve what we cannot explain, and wait till God shall
reveal even this unto us.
III. The further explication of what Christ had said.
1. See here why Christ explained it
because he knew they were desirous to ask him, and designed it.
Note, The knots we cannot untie we must bring to him who alone can give
an understanding. Christ knew they were desirous to ask him,
but were bashful and ashamed to ask. Note, Christ takes cognizance of
pious desires, though they be not as yet offered up, the groanings
that cannot be uttered, and even anticipates them with the
blessings of his goodness. Christ instructed those who he knew
were desirous to ask him, though they did not ask. Before we
call, he answers. Another reason why Christ explained it was
because he observed them canvassing this matter among themselves:
"Do you enquire this among yourselves? Well, I will make it easy
to you." This intimates to us who they are that Christ will teach:
(1.) The humble, that confess their ignorance, for so much their
(2.) The diligent, that use the means they have: "Do you
enquire? You shall be taught. To him that hath shall be
2. See here how he explained it; not by a nice and critical
descant upon the words, but by bringing the thing more closely to them;
he had told them of not seeing him, and seeing him, and they did
not apprehend the meaning, and therefore he explains it by their
sorrowing and rejoicing, because we commonly measure things according
as they affect us
You shall weep and lament, for my departure, but the world
shall rejoice in it; and you shall be sorrowful, while I am
absent, but, upon my return to you, your sorrow will be
turned into joy. But he says nothing of the little while,
because he saw that this perplexed them more than any thing; and it is
of no consequence to us to know the times and the seasons. Note,
Believers have joy or sorrow according as they have or have not a sight
of Christ, and the tokens of his presence with them.
(1.) What Christ says here, and in
of their sorrow and joy, is primarily to be understood of the present
state and circumstances of the disciples, and so we have,
[1.] Their grief foretold: You shall weep and lament, and you shall
be sorrowful. The sufferings of Christ could not but be the sorrow
of his disciples. They wept for him because they loved him; the pain of
our friend is a pain to ourselves; when they slept, it was for sorrow,
They wept for themselves, and their own loss, and the sad apprehensions
they had of what would become of them when he was gone. It could not
but be a grief to lose him for whom they had left their all, and from
whom they had expected so much. Christ has given notice to his
disciples beforehand to expect sorrow, that they may treasure up
[2.] The world's rejoicing at the same time: But the world shall
rejoice. That which is the grief of saints is the joy of sinners.
First, Those that are strangers to Christ will continue
in their carnal mirth, and not at all interest themselves in their
sorrows. It is nothing to them that pass by,
Nay, Secondly, Those that are enemies to Christ will
rejoice because they hope they have conquered him, and ruined his
interest. When the chief priests had Christ upon the cross, we may
suppose they made merry over him, as those that dwell on earth over the
Let it be no surprise to us if we see others triumphing, when we are
trembling for the ark.
[3.] The return of joy to them in due time: But your sorrow shall be
turned into joy. As the joy of the hypocrite, so the sorrow
of the true Christian, is but for a moment. The disciples were glad
when they saw the Lord. His resurrection was life from the
dead to them, and their sorrow for Christ's sufferings was turned
into a joy of such a nature as could not be damped and embittered by
any sufferings of their own. They were sorrowful, and yet always
(2 Corinthians 6:10),
had sorrowful lives and yet joyful hearts.
(2.) It is applicable to all the faithful followers of the Lamb, and
describes the common case of Christians.
[1.] Their condition and disposition are both mournful; sorrows are
their lot, and seriousness is their temper: those that are acquainted
with Christ must, as he was, be acquainted with grief; they
weep and lament for that which others make light of, their own
sins, and the sins of those about them; they mourn with sufferers that
mourn, and mourn for sinners that mourn not for themselves.
[2.] The world, at the same time, goes away with all the mirth; they
laugh now, and spend their days so jovially that one would think they
neither knew sorrow nor feared it. Carnal mirth and pleasures are
surely none of the best things, for then the worst men would not have
so large a share of them, and the favourites of heaven be such
strangers to them.
[3.] Spiritual mourning will shortly be turned into eternal rejoicing.
Gladness is sown for the upright in heart, that sow tears, and
without doubt they will shortly reap in joy. Their sorrow
will not only be followed with joy, but turned into it; for the most
precious comforts take rise from pious griefs. Thus he illustrates by a
similitude taken from a woman in travail, to whose sorrows he compares
those of his disciples, for their encouragement; for it is the will of
Christ that his people should be a comforted people.
First, Here is the similitude or parable itself
A woman, we know, when she is in travail, hath sorrow,
she is in exquisite pain, because her hour is come, the hour
which nature and providence have fixed, which she has expected, and
cannot escape; but as soon as she is delivered of the child,
provided she be safely delivered, and the child be, though a
(1 Chronicles 4:9),
yet not a Benoni
then she remembers no more the anguish, her groans and
complaints are over, and the after--pains are more easily borne, for
joy that a man is born into the world, anthropos, one
of the human race, a child, be it son or daughter, for the word
signifies either. Observe,
a. The fruit of the curse, in the sorrow and pain of a woman in
travail, according to the sentence
In sorrow shalt thou bring forth. These pains are extreme, the
greatest griefs and pains are compared to them
Isa. xiii. 3; Jer. iv. 31; vi. 24),
and they are inevitable,
1 Thessalonians 5:3.
See what this world is; all its roses are surrounded with thorns, all
the children of men are upon this account foolish children, that they
are the heaviness of her that bore them from the very first.
This comes of sin.
b. The fruit of the blessing, in the joy there is for a child
born into the world. If God had not preserved the blessing in force
after the fall, Be fruitful and multiply, parents could never
have looked upon their children with any comfort; but what is the fruit
of a blessing is matter of joy; the birth of a living child is,
(a.) The parents' joy; it makes them very glad,
Though children are certain cares, uncertain comforts, and often prove
the greatest crosses, yet it is natural to us to rejoice at their
birth. Could we be sure that our children, like John, would be
filled with the Holy Ghost, we might, indeed, like his parents,
have joy and gladness in their birth,
But when we consider, not only that they are born in sin, but, as it is
expressed, that they are born into the world, a world of snares
and a vale of tears, we shall see reason to rejoice with trembling,
lest it should prove better for them that they had never been
(b.) It is such joy as makes the anguish not to be remembered,
or remembered as waters that pass away,
Hæc olim meminisse juvabit.
Now this is very proper to set forth,
[a.] The sorrows of Christ's disciples in this world; they are
like travailing pains, sure and sharp, but not to last long, and in
order to a joyful product; they are in pain to be delivered, as
the church is described
and the whole creation,
[b.] Their joys after these sorrows, which will wipe away all
tears, for the former things are passed away,
When they are born into that blessed world, and reap the fruit of all
their services and sorrows, the toil and anguish of this world will be
no more remembered, as Christ's were not, when he saw of the travail
of his soul abundantly to his satisfaction,
Secondly, The application of the similitude
"You now have sorrow, and are likely to have more, but I will
see you again, and you me, and then all will be well."
a. Here again he tells them of their sorrow: "You now
therefore have sorrow; therefore, because I am leaving you," as is
intimated in the antithesis, I will see you again. Note,
Christ's withdrawings are just cause of grief to his disciples. If
he hide his face, they cannot be troubled. When the sun
sets, the sun-flower will hang the head. And Christ takes notice of
these griefs, has a bottle for the tears, and a book for the sighs, of
all gracious mourners.
b. He, more largely than before, assures them of a return of
He himself went through his own griefs, and bore ours, for the joy
that was set before him; and he would have us encourage ourselves
with the same prospect. Three things recommend the joy:--
(a.) The cause of it: "I will see you again. I will make
you a kind and friendly visit, to enquire after you, and minister
comfort to you." Note,
[a.] Christ will graciously return to those that wait for him,
though for a small moment he has seemed to forsake them,
Men, when they are exalted, will scarcely look upon their inferiors;
but the exalted Jesus will visit his disciples. They shall not only see
him in his glory, but he will see them in their meanness.
[b.] Christ's returns are returns of joy to all his disciples.
When clouded evidences are cleared up and interrupted communion is
revived, then is the mouth filled with laughter.
(b.) The cordiality of it: Your heart shall rejoice.
Divine consolation put gladness into the heart. Joy in the heart
is solid, and not flashy; it is secret, and that which a stranger
does not intermeddle with; it is sweet, and gives a good man
satisfaction in himself; it is sure, and not easily broken in upon.
Christ's disciples should heartily rejoice in his returns, sincerely
(c.) The continuance of it: Your joy no man taketh from
you. Men will attempt to take their joy from them; they would if
they could; but they shall not prevail. Some understand it of the
eternal joy of those that are glorified; those that have entered
into the joy of the Lord shall go no more out. Our joys on earth we
are liable to be robbed of by a thousand accidents, but heavenly joys
are everlasting. I rather understand it of the spiritual joys of those
that are sanctified, particularly the apostles' joy in their
apostleship. Thanks be to God, says Paul, in the name of the
rest, who always causes us to triumph,
2 Corinthians 2:14.
A malicious world would have taken it from them, they would have lost
it; but, when they took everything else from them, they could not take
this; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing. They could not rob
them of their joy, because they could not separate them from the
love of Christ, could not rob them of their God, nor of their
treasure in heaven.
Encouragement to Prayer.
23 And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I
say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he
will give it you.
24 Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall
receive, that your joy may be full.
25 These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the
time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but
I shall show you plainly of the Father.
26 At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you,
that I will pray the Father for you:
27 For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me,
and have believed that I came out from God.
An answer to their askings is here promised, for their further comfort.
Now there are two ways of asking: asking by way of enquiry, which is
the asking of the ignorant; and asking by way of request, which is the
asking of the indigent. Christ here speaks of both.
I. By way of enquiry, they should not need to ask
"In that day you shall ask me nothing;" ouk erotesete
ouden--you shall ask no questions; "you shall have such
a clear knowledge of gospel mysteries, by the opening of your
understandings, that you shall not need to enquire" (as
they shall not teach); "you shall have more knowledge on a
sudden than hitherto you have had by diligent attendance." They had
asked some ignorant questions (as
some ambitious questions (as
some distrustful ones (as
some impertinent ones, (as
some curious ones (as
but after the Spirit was poured out, nothing of all this. In the story
of the apostles' Acts we seldom find them asking questions, as
David, Shall I do this? Or, Shall I go thither? For they
were constantly under a divine guidance. In that weighty case of
preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, Peter went, nothing
Asking questions supposes us at a loss, or at least at a stand, and the
best of us have need to ask questions; but we should aim at such a full
assurance of understanding that we may not hesitate, but be constantly
led in a plain path both of truth and duty.
Now for this he gives a reason
which plainly refers to this promise, that they should not need to ask
questions: "These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs, in
such a way as you have thought not so plain and intelligible as you
could have wished, but the time cometh when I shall show you
plainly, as plainly as you can desire, of the Father, so
that you shall not need to ask questions."
1. The great thing Christ would lead them into was the knowledge of
God: "I will show you the Father, and bring you acquainted with
him." This is that which Christ designs to give and which all true
Christians desire to have. When Christ would express the greatest
favour intended for his disciples, he tells them that it would, show
them plainly of the Father; for what is the happiness of heaven,
but immediately and everlastingly to see God? To know God as the
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is the greatest mystery for the
understanding to please itself with the contemplation of; and to know
him as our Father is the greatest happiness for the will and affections
to please themselves with the choice and enjoyment of.
2. Of this he had hitherto spoken to them in proverbs, which are wise
and instructive sayings, but figurative, and resting in generals.
Christ had spoken many things very plainly to them, and expounded his
parables privately to the disciples, but,
(1.) Considering their dulness, and unaptness to receive what he said
to them, he might be said to speak in proverbs; what he said to them
was as a book sealed,
(2.) Comparing the discoveries he had made to them, in what he had
spoken to their ears, with what he would make to them when he would
put his Spirit into their heart, all hitherto had been proverbs.
It would be a pleasing surprise to themselves, and they would think
themselves in a new world, when they would reflect upon all their
former notions as confused and enigmatical, compared with their present
clear and distinct knowledge of divine things. The ministration of
the letter was nothing to that of the Spirit,
2 Corinthians 3:8-11.
(3.) Confining it to what he had said of the Father, and the
counsels of the Father. what he had said was very dark, compared
with what was shortly to be revealed,
3. He would speak to them plainly,
parresia--with freedom, of the Father. When the
Spirit was poured out, the apostles attained to a much greater
knowledge of divine things than they had before, as appears by the
utterance the Spirit gave them,
They were led into the mystery of those things of which they had
previously a very confused idea; and what the Spirit showed them Christ
is here said to show them, for, as the Father speaks by the Son, so the
Son by the Spirit. But this promise will have its full accomplishment
in heaven, where we shall see the Father as he is, face to face,
not as we do now, through a glass darkly
(1 Corinthians 13:12),
which is matter of comfort to us under the cloud of present darkness,
by reason of which we cannot order our speech, but often
disorder it. While we are here, we have many questions to ask
concerning the invisible God and the invisible world; but in that day
we shall see all things clearly, and ask no more questions.
II. He promises that by way of request they should ask nothing in vain.
it is taken for granted that all Christ's disciples give themselves to
prayer. He has taught them by his precept and pattern to be much in
prayer; this must be their support and comfort when he had left them;
their instruction, direction, strength, and success, must be fetched in
by prayer. Now,
1. Here is an express promise of a grant,
The preface to this promise is such as makes it inviolably sure, and
leaves no room to question it: "Verily, verily, I say unto you,
I pledge my veracity upon it." The promise itself is incomparably rich
and sweet; the golden sceptre is here held out to us, with the word,
What is thy petition, and it shall be granted? For he says,
Whatsoever you shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it to
you. We had it before,
What would we more? The promise is as express as we can desire.
(1.) We are here taught how to seek; we must ask the Father in
Christ's name; we must have an eye to God as a Father, and come as
children to him; and to Christ as Mediator, and come as clients. Asking
of the Father includes a sense of spiritual blessings, with a
conviction that they are to be had from God only. It included also
humility of address to him, with a believing confidence in him, as a
Father able and ready to help us. Asking in Christ's name includes an
acknowledgment of our own unworthiness to receive any favour from God,
a complacency in the method God has taken of keeping up a
correspondence with us by his Son, and an entire dependence upon Christ
as the Lord our Righteousness.
(2.) We are here told how we shall speed: He will give it to
you. What more can we wish for than to have what we want, nay, to
have what we will, in conformity to God's will, for the asking? He
will give it to you from whom proceedeth every good and
perfect gift. What Christ purchased by the merit of his death, he
needed not for himself, but intended it for, and consigned it to, his
faithful followers; and having given a valuable consideration for it,
which was accepted in full, by this promise he draws a bill as it were
upon the treasury in heaven, which we are to present by prayer, and
in his name to ask for that which is purchased and promised,
according to the true intent of the new covenant. Christ had promised
them great illumination by the Spirit, but they must pray for it, and
God will for this be enquired of. He had promised them perfection
hereafter, but what shall they do in the mean time? They must continue
praying. Perfect fruition is reserved for the land of our rest; asking
and receiving are the comfort of the land of our pilgrimage.
2. Here is an invitation for them to petition. It is thought sufficient
if great men permit addresses, but Christ calls upon us to petition,
(1.) He looks back upon their practice hitherto: Hitherto have you
asked nothing in my name. This refers either
[1.] To the matter of their prayers: "You have asked nothing
comparatively, nothing to what you might have asked, and will ask when
the Spirit is poured out." See what a generous benefactor our Lord
Jesus is, above all benefactors; he gives liberally, and is so far from
upbraiding us with the frequency and largeness of his gifts that he
rather upbraids us with the seldomness and straitness of our requests:
"You have asked nothing in comparison of what you want, and what
I have to give, and have promised to give." We are told to open our
mouth wide. Or,
[2.] To the name in which they prayed. They prayed many a prayer, but
never so expressly in the name of Christ as now he was directing them
to do; for he had not as yet offered up that great sacrifice in the
virtue of which our prayers were to be accepted, nor entered upon his
intercession for us, the incense whereof was to perfume all our
devotions, and so enable us to pray in his name. Hitherto they had
cast out devils, and healed diseases, in the name of Christ, as a king
and a prophet, but they could not as yet distinctly pray in his name as
(2.) He looks forward to their practice for the future: Ask and you
shall receive, that your joy may be full. Here,
[1.] He directs them to ask for all that they needed and he had
[2.] He assures them that they shall receive. What we ask from a
principle of grace God will graciously give: You shall receive
it. There is something more in this than the promise that he will
give it. He will not only give it, but give you to receive it, give you
the comfort and benefit of it, a heart to eat of it,
[3.] That hereby their joy shall be full. This denotes,
First. The blessed effect of the prayer of faith; it
helps to fill up the joy of faith. Would we have our joy full,
as full as it is capable of being in this world, we must be much in
prayer. When we are told to rejoice evermore, it follows
immediately, Pray without ceasing. See how high we are to aim in
prayer--not only at peace, but joy, a fulness of joy. Or,
Secondly, The blessed effects of the answer of peace:
"Ask, and you shall receive that which will fill your joy."
God's gifts, through Christ, fill the treasures of the soul, they fill
"Ask for the gift of the Holy Ghost, and you shall receive it; and
whereas other knowledge increaseth sorrow
the knowledge he gives will increase, will fill, your joy."
3. Here are the grounds upon which they might hope to speed
which are summed up in short by the apostle
(1 John 2:1):
"We have an advocate with the Father."
(1.) We have an advocate; as to this, Christ saw cause at present not
to insist upon it, only to make the following encouragement shine the
brighter: "I say not unto you that I will pray the Father for
you. Suppose I should not tell you that I will intercede for you,
should not undertake to solicit every particular cause you have
depending there, yet it may be a general ground of comfort that I have
settled a correspondence between you and God, have erected a throne of
grace, and consecrated for you a new and living way into the
holiest." He speaks as if they needed not any favours, when he had
prevailed for the gift of the Holy Ghost to make intercession within
them, as Spirit of adoption, crying Abba, Father; as if they
had no further need of him to pray for them now, but we shall find that
he does more for us than he says he will. Men's performances often come
short of their promises, but Christ's go beyond them.
(2.) We have to do with a Father, which is so great an encouragement
that it does in a manner supersede the other: "For the Father
himself loveth you, philei hymas, he is a friend to
you, and you cannot be better befriended." Note, The disciples of
Christ are the beloved of God himself. Christ not only turned away
God's wrath from us, and brought us into a covenant of peace and
reconciliation, but purchased his favour for us, and brought us into a
covenant of friendship. Observe what an emphasis is laid upon this
"The Father himself loveth you, who is perfectly happy in the
enjoyment of himself, whose self-love is both his infinite rectitude
and his infinite blessedness; yet he is pleased to love you." The
Father himself, whose favour you have forfeited, and whose wrath you
have incurred, and with whom you need an advocate, he himself now loves
[1.] Why the Father loved the disciples of Christ: Because you have
loved me, and have believed that I am come from God, that is,
because you are my disciples indeed: not as if the love began on their
side, but when by his grace he has wrought in us a love to him he is
well pleased with the work of his own hands. See here, First,
What is the character of Christ's disciples; they love him, because
they believe he came out from God, is the only-begotten of the
Father, and his high-commissioner to the world. Note, Faith in Christ
works by love to him,
If we believe him to be the Son of God, we cannot but love him as
infinitely lovely in himself; and if we believe him to be our Saviour,
we cannot but love him as the most kind to us. Observe with what
respect Christ is pleased to speak of his disciples' love to him, and
how kindly he took it; he speaks of it as that which recommended them
to his Father's favour: "You have loved me and believed in me when the
world has hated and rejected me; and you shall be distinguished
yourselves." Secondly, See what advantage Christ's faithful
disciples have, the Father loves them, and that because they love
Christ; so well pleased is he in him that he is well pleased with all
[2.] What encouragement this gave them in prayer. They need not fear
speeding when they came to one that loved them, and wished them well.
First, This cautions us against hard thoughts of God. When we
are taught in prayer to plead Christ's merit and intercession, it is
not as if all the kindness were in Christ only, and in God nothing but
wrath and fury; no, the matter is not so, the Father's love and
good-will appointed Christ to be the Mediator; so that we owe Christ's
merit to God's mercy in giving him for us. Secondly, Let it
cherish and confirm in us good thoughts of God. Believers, that love
Christ, ought to know that God loves them, and therefore to come boldly
to him as children to a loving Father.
Christ's Discoveries of Himself.
28 I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world:
again, I leave the world, and go to the Father.
29 His disciples said unto him, Lo, now speakest thou plainly,
and speakest no proverb.
30 Now are we sure that thou knowest all things, and needest
not that any man should ask thee: by this we believe that thou
camest forth from God.
31 Jesus answered them, Do ye now believe?
32 Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be
scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and
yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.
33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might
have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of
good cheer; I have overcome the world.
Two things Christ here comforts his disciples with:--
I. With an assurance that, though he was leaving the world, he was
returning to his Father, from whom he came forth
where we have,
1. A plain declaration of Christ's mission from the Father, and his
return to him
I came forth from the Father, and am come, as you see, into
the world. Again, I leave the world, as you will see shortly,
and go to the Father. This is the conclusion of the whole
matter. There was nothing he had more inculcated upon them than these
two things--whence he came, and whither he went, the Alpha and
Omega of the mystery of godliness
(1 Timothy 3:16),
that the Redeemer, in his entrance, was God manifest in the
flesh, and in his exit was received up into glory.
(1.) These two great truths are here,
[1.] Contracted, and put into a few words. Brief summaries of Christian
doctrine are of great use to young beginners. The principles of the
oracles of God brought into a little compass in creeds and catechisms
have, like the beams of the sun contracted in a burning glass, conveyed
divine light and heat with a wonderful power. Such we have,
Eccl. xii. 13; 1 Tim. i. 15; Tit. ii. 11, 12; 1 John v. 11;
much in a little.
[2.] Compared, and set the one over against the other. There is an
admirable harmony in divine truths; they both corroborate and
illustrate one another; Christ's coming and his going do so. Christ had
commended his disciples for believing that he came forth from God
and thence infers the necessity and equity of his returning to God
again, which therefore should not seem to them either strange or sad.
Note, The due improvement of what we know and own would help us into
the understanding of that which seems difficult and doubtful.
(2.) If we ask concerning the Redeemer whence he came, and
whither he went, we are told,
[1.] That he came from the Father, who sanctified and sealed
him; and he came into this world, this lower world, this world of
mankind, among whom by his incarnation he was pleased to incorporate
himself. Here his business lay, and hither he came to attend it. He
left his home for this strange country; his palace for this cottage;
[2.] That, when he had done his work on earth, he left the world, and
went back to his Father at his ascension. He was not forced away, but
made it his own act and deed to leave the world, to return to it no
more till he comes to put an end to it; yet still he is spiritually
present with his church, and will be to the end.
2. The disciples' satisfaction in this declaration
Lo, now speakest though plainly. It should seem, this one word
of Christ did them more good than all the rest, though he had said many
things likely enough to fasten upon them. The Spirit, as the wind,
blows when and where, and by what word he pleases; perhaps a word that
has been spoken once, yea twice, and not perceived, yet, being
often repeated, takes hold at last. Two things they improved in by this
(1.) In knowledge: Lo, now speakest thou plainly. When they were
in the dark concerning what he said, they did not say, Lo, now
speakest thou obscurely, as blaming him; but now that they
apprehend his meaning they give him glory for condescending to their
capacity: Lo, now speakest thou plainly. Divine truths are most
likely to do good when they are spoken plainly,
1 Corinthians 2:4.
Observe how they triumphed, as the mathematician did with his
heureka, heureka, when he had hit upon a demonstration he
had long been in quest of: I have found it, I have found it.
Note, When Christ is pleased to speak plainly to our souls, and to
bring us with open face to behold his glory, we have reason to rejoice
(2.) In faith: Now are we sure. Observe,
[1.] What was the matter of their faith: We believe that thou camest
forth from God. He had said
that they did believe this; "Lord" (say they) "we do believe it, and we
have cause to believe it, and we know that we believe it, and have the
comfort of it."
[2.] What was the motive of their faith--his omniscience. This proved
him a teacher come from God, and more than a prophet, that he knew all
things, which they were convinced of by this that he resolved those
doubts which were hid in their hearts, and answered the scruples they
had not confessed. Note, Those know Christ best that know him by
experience, that can say of his power, It works in me; of his love, He
loved me. And this proves Christ not only to have a divine mission, but
to be a divine person, that he is a discerner of the thoughts and
intents of the heart, therefore the essential, eternal Word,
He has made all the churches to know that he searches the reins and the
This confirmed the faith of the disciples here, as it made the first
impression upon the woman of Samaria that Christ told her all the
things that ever she did
and upon Nathanael that Christ saw him under the fig-tree,
These words, and needest not that any man should ask thee, may
bespeak either, First, Christ's aptness to teach. He prevents us
with his instructions, and is communicative of the treasures of
wisdom and knowledge that are hid in him, and needs not to be
importuned. Or, Secondly, His ability to teach: "Thou needest
not, as other teachers, to have the learners' doubts told thee, for
thou knowest, without being told, what they stumble at." The best of
teachers can only answer what is spoken, but Christ can answer what is
thought, what we are afraid to ask, as the disciples were,
Thus he can have compassion,
3. The gentle rebuke Christ gave the disciples for their confidence
that they now understood him,
Observing how they triumphed in their attainments, he said, "Do you
now believe? Do you now look upon yourselves as advanced and
confirmed disciples? Do you now think you shall make no more blunders?
Alas! you know not your own weakness; you will very shortly be
scattered every man to his own," &c. Here we have,
(1.) A question, designed to put them upon consideration: Do you now
[1.] "If now, why not sooner? Have you not heard the same things many a
time before?" Those who after many instructions and invitations are at
last persuaded to believe have reason to be ashamed that they stood it
out so long.
[2.] "If now, why not ever? When an hour of temptation comes, where
will your faith be then?" As far as there is inconstancy in our faith
there is cause to question the sincerity of it, and to ask, "Do we
(2.) A prediction of their fall, that, how confident soever they were
now of their own stability, in a little time they would all desert him,
which was fulfilled that very night, when, upon his being seized by a
party of the guards, all his disciples forsook him and fled,
They were scattered,
[1.] From one another; they shifted every one for his own safety,
without any care or concern for each other. Troublous times are times
of scattering to Christian societies; in the cloudy and dark day the
flock of Christ is dispersed,
So Christ, as a society, is not visible.
[2.] Scattered for him: You shall leave me alone. They should
have been witnesses for him upon his trial, should have ministered to
him in his sufferings; if they could have given him no comfort they
might have done him some credit; but they were ashamed of his chain,
and afraid of sharing with him in his sufferings, and left him alone.
Note, Many a good cause, when it is distressed by its enemies, is
deserted by its friends. The disciples had continued with Christ
in his other temptations and yet turned their back upon him now; those
that are tried, do not always prove trusty. If we at any time find our
friends unkind to us, let us remember that Christ's were so to him.
When they left him alone, they were scattered every man to his
own; not to their own possessions or habitations, these were in
Galilee; but to their own friends and acquaintance in Jerusalem; every
one went his own way, where he fancied he should be most safe. Every
man to secure his own; himself and his own life. Note, Those will not
dare to suffer for their religion that seek their own things
more than the things of Christ, and that look upon the things of
this world as their ta idia--their own property,
and in which their happiness is bound up. Now observe here,
First, Christ knew before that his disciples would thus desert
him in the critical moment, and yet he was still tender of them, and in
nothing unkind. We are ready to say of some, "If we could have foreseen
their ingratitude, we would not have been so prodigal of our favours to
them;" Christ did foresee theirs, and yet was kind to them.
Secondly, He told them of it, to be a rebuke to their exultation
in their present attainments: "Do you now believe? Be not
high-minded, but fear; for you will find your faith so sorely shaken as
to make it questionable whether it be sincere or no, in a little time."
Note, even when we are taking the comfort of our graces, it is good to
be reminded of our dangers from our corruptions. When our faith is
strong, our love flaming, and our evidences are clear, yet we cannot
infer thence that to-morrow shall be as this day. Even when we
have most reason to think we stand, yet we have reason enough to take
heed lest we fall. Thirdly, He spoke of it as a thing very
near. The hour was already come, in a manner, when they
would be as shy of him as ever they had been fond of him. Note, A
little time may produce great changes, both concerning us and in
(3.) An assurance of his own comfort notwithstanding: Yet I am not
alone. He would not be thought to complain of their deserting him,
as if it were any real damage to him; for in their absence he should be
sure of his Father's presence, which was instar omnium--every thing:
The Father is with me. We may consider this,
[1.] As a privilege peculiar to the Lord Jesus; the Father was so with
him in his sufferings as he never was with any, for still he was in
the bosom of the Father. The divine nature did not desert the human
nature, but supported it, and put an invincible comfort and an
inestimable value into his sufferings. The Father had engaged to be
with him in his whole undertaking
&c.), and to preserve him
this emboldened him,
Even when he complained of his Father's forsaking him, yet he called
him My God, and presently after was so well assured of his
favourable presence with him as to commit his Spirit into his hand.
This he had comforted himself with all along
He that sent me is with me, the Father hath not left me alone,
and especially now at last. This assists our faith in the
acceptableness of Christ's satisfaction; no doubt, the Father was well
pleased in him, for he went along with him in his undertaking from
first to last.
[2.] As a privilege common to all believers, by virtue of their union
with Christ; when they are alone, they are not alone, but the
Father is with them. First, When solitude is their choice, when
they are alone, as Isaac in the field, Nathanael under the fig-tree,
Peter upon the house-top, meditating and praying, the Father is with
them. Those that converse with God in solitude are never less alone
than when alone. A good God and a good heart are good company at any
time. Secondly, When solitude is their affliction, their enemies
lay them alone, and their friends leave them so, their company, like
Job's, is made desolate; yet they are not so much alone as they are
thought to be, the Father is with them, as he was with Joseph in
his bonds and with John in his banishment. In their greatest troubles
they are as one whom his father pities, as one whom his mother
comforts. And, while we have God's favourable presence with us, we are
happy, and ought to be easy, though all the world forsake us. Non
deo tribuimus justum honorem nisi solus ipse nobis sufficiat--We do not
render due honour to God, unless we deem him alone
II. He comforts them with a promise of peace in him, by virtue of his
victory over the world, whatever troubles they might meet with in it
"These things have I spoken, that in me you might have peace;
and if you have it not in me you will not have it at all, for in the
world you shall have tribulation; you must expect no other, and yet
may cheer up yourselves, for I have overcome the world."
1. The end Christ aimed at in preaching this farewell sermon to his
disciples: That in him they might have peace. He did not hereby
intend to give them a full view of that doctrine which they were
shortly to be made masters of by the pouring out of the Spirit, but
only to satisfy them for the present that his departure from them was
really for the best. Or, we may take it more generally: Christ had said
all this to them that by enjoying him they might have the best
enjoyment of themselves. Note,
(1.) It is the will of Christ that his disciples should have peace
within, whatever their troubles may be without.
(2.) Peace in Christ is the only true peace, and in him alone believers
have it, for this man shall be the peace,
Through him we have peace with God, and so in him we have peace in our
(3.) The word of Christ aims at this, that in him we may have
peace. Peace is the fruit of the lips, and of his lips,
2. The entertainment they were likely to meet with in the world: "You
shall not have outward peace, never expect it." Though they were sent
to proclaim peace on earth, and good-will towards men,
they must expect trouble on earth, and ill-will from men. Note, It has
been the lot of Christ's disciples to have more or less tribulation in
this world. Men persecute them because they are so good, and God
corrects them because they are no better. Men design to cut them off
from the earth, and God designs by affliction to make them meet for
heaven; and so between both they shall have tribulation.
3. The encouragement Christ gives them with reference hereto: But be
of good cheer, tharseite. "Not only be of good
comfort, but be of good courage; have a good heart on it, all shall be
well." Note, In the midst of the tribulations of this world it is the
duty and interest of Christ's disciples to be of good cheer, to keep up
their delight in God whatever is pressing, and their hope in God
whatever is threatening; as sorrowful indeed, in compliance with the
temper of the climate, and yet always rejoicing, always cheerful
(2 Corinthians 6:10),
even in tribulation,
4. The ground of that encouragement: I have overcome the world.
Christ's victory is a Christian triumph. Christ overcame the prince of
this world, disarmed him, and cast him out; and still treads Satan
under our feet. He overcame the children of this world, by the
conversion of many to the faith and obedience of his gospel, making
them the children of his kingdom. When he sends his disciples to preach
the gospel to all the world, "Be of good cheer," says he, "I
have overcome the world as far as I have gone, and so shall you;
though you have tribulation in the world, yet you shall gain your
point, and captivate the world,"
He overcame the wicked of the world, for many a time he put his enemies
to silence, to shame; "And be you of good cheer, for the Spirit will
enable you to do so too." He overcame the evil things of the world by
submitting to them; he endured the cross, despising it and the shame of
it; and he overcame the good things of it by being wholly dead to them;
its honours had no beauty in his eye, its pleasures no charms. Never
was there such a conqueror of the world as Christ was, and we ought to
be encouraged by it,
(1.) Because Christ has overcome the world before us; so that we may
look upon it as a conquered enemy, that has many a time been baffled.
(2.) He has conquered it for us, as the captain of our salvation. We
are interested in his victory; by his cross the world is crucified
to us, which bespeaks it completely conquered and put into our
possession; all is yours, even the world. Christ having overcome
the world, believers have nothing to do but to pursue their victory,
and divide the spoil; and this we do by faith,
1 John 5:4.
We are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
Matthew Henry "Verse by Verse Commentary for 'John' Matthew Henry Bible Commentary".