1. In vss. 23-28 Jesus speaks primarily of Pentecost, the Spirit's guidance in the book of Acts and the giving of the New Testament. That's what He means by "in that day" (vss. 23 and 26). He ends this with vs. 28: The divine Jesus came from the Father and entered the world as a true man, suffered, died, rose from the dead, ascended into heaven. In vss. 29-30, though the disciples believe, they are mistaken in thinking what Jesus promised in vss. 23-28 has already taken place. And so, in vss. 31-33 He both warns and comforts them. He warns them about what they are on the verge of doing in Gethsemane (Mt. 26:31). In vs. 32 He is saying that they would run but He would not run. He ends in vs. 33 with words of wonderful comfort.
2. In vss. 23 and 26 the original Greek uses two distinctly different words for "ask" or "request". Context decides the meaning of words. In vs. 23a the word for "ask" means "ask questions of doctrine" but in 23b the word for "ask" means to make requests for spiritual and physical gifts in the name of Jesus. In 23a Jesus means that there will be no further revelation after the NT has been written. (The gift of languages was not for further revelation but for preaching the Gospel.) When we have a question about what God says we simply go to the Bible and search for the answer. But when we have particular spiritual or physical needs then we should request in Jesus' name. Jesus makes an emphatic point of this in 23b, 24 and 26a.
3. As mentioned under number 2 above, two different verbs are used in vss. 23 and 26. The verb used in 23a is used again in 26b and the one used in 23b is used in 26a. The verbs used in 23b and 26a have the same meaning, making a request for particular spiritual or physical needs. But verbs in 23a and 26b, though the same, have different meanings. In 26b it means a request of an equal to an equal. Jesus says He will not request the Father about the disciples. He explains immediately in vs. 27. Because of the disciples' love for, and faith in, Jesus they are very close to the Father and stand in His presence. For example, when we pray the Lord's prayer we say: "Our Father" without adding Jesus' name. We can now approach our heavenly Father just as children approach their earthly fathers without fear and trembling. Jesus is not denying, but further affirming, that He is our Mediator between God and man. See I Tim. 2:5. To summarize: vs. 23a says that with the coming of the Holy Spirit in Acts and the remainder of the NT we need ask no more questions or seek further revelation. It's all in the Scriptures. But in 23b, 24 and 26a Jesus is strongly urging us to bring all our requests, spiritual and physical to Him because of the completed work of redemption in vs. 28. Vs. 26b is a firm assurance of our oneness with the Father through Jesus.
4. In vss. 29-30 the disciples mistakenly think that Jesus has now fulfilled all. But they mention only "that You have come forth from God." They do not mention that He was about to leave the world and return to the Father. They believe, but in their enthusiasm they omit Jesus' suffering, death, resurrection and ascension and also the coming of the Spirit on Pentecost and the giving of the NT. Jesus gently asks them in vs. 31: "Do you believe now?" Their belief is mixed with emotional enthusiasm. Then in vs. 32 He tells them the awful truth about their deserting Him in Gethsemane, Gabbatha (before Pilate) and Golgatha (on the cross). They will prove to be faithless but He will remain faithful. He says that He is not alone but that the Father is with Him. And then in vs. 33 He speaks very comforting words. He has spoken to them so that they have the peace of God mentioned in Rom. 5:1 and 8:16ff. In this life they will have affliction. But remember Jesus has overcome the world. I Jn. 5:4; Rom. 8:37. We are often like the disciples need to listen to His warnings and comfort.
THEME: Jesus' Compassionate Help For the Immature In the Faith
On Thursday evening, just before He suffered and died, Jesus celebrated the Lord's Supper with the disciples and spoke His last words to them as a group, Jn. 13-16. Our text is the final section of what He said to them. The disciples seemed confident but they were still immature. But Jesus does not cast them aside. After this section follows Jesus' prayer to the Father, Jn. 17, but His word to the disciples have come to an end.
I. THE DISCIPLES' IMMATURITY AND PROOF THEREOF
A. The Disciples' Immaturity. During the three years of Jesus' ministry the disciple showed their immaturity again and again. For example, when He fed the 5000 He presented the problem to them but they were at a loss as to what to do. In the synoptic Gospels (Mt., Mk. and Lk.) Jesus announced His betrayal, suffering, death, resurrection and ascension three times (Mt. 16:21; 17:22; 20:18) but it only grieved the disciples. On this Thursday evening the disciples asked immature question: See 13:36; 14:5; 14:8. And at the end of this discourse in their immaturity the disciples think that what Jesus had just prophesied about the time, when they would have fuller knowledge, had already come. Read vss. 29-30. They seemed very confident. But Jesus criticizes. He asks: "Do you now believe?" And then in vs. 32 He warns them of their immaturity.
B. The Proof Of Their Immaturity. What Jesus said in vs. 32 happened exactly as He had predicted. Because of their lack of faith they abandoned Him in the Garden of Gethsemane. They failed to attend His trial. Except for John they did not go to Calvary. And on Saturday and Sunday they locked themselves into their room. They proved their lack of faith and immaturity.
II. JESUS' COMPASSIONATE HELP FOR THESE DISCIPLES
A. Jesus' immediate help. Read vs. 33. Only a few hours later, in the Garden, the disciples ran from the Jewish authorities and the Roman soldiers. They were in tribulation. Though they did not realize it, the peace of God went with them. What is this peace? First read Rom. 5:1. Because we are justified by faith in Jesus, God is not angry with us. They thought God was angry but He was not. This peace of God guarded their minds and hearts in Christ Jesus. Php. 4:7. It was the peace of God, not of the world. Jn. 14:27. And, though they were about to desert Him, He says: "Be of good courage, I have overcome the world." Read I Jn. 5:4. Our flesh and the world overcome us. But He has overcome the world.
B. What He promises them in the future. We are at an advantage over the disciples during Jesus' lifetime. We still live in the Pentecost, in the time that has the whole Word of God in the Bible, in the time of the great Reformation of the Church. All of this Jesus promises in vss. 23-28:
1. The time will come when they will ask no questions of doctrine. What does He mean? Jesus sent the Holy Spirit Who gave us the Holy Scriptures. They lead us in all truth. We do not and should not ask for further revelation because the Triune God has given us the whole Truth in the New Testament which is the fulfillment of the Truth.
2. The time will come when they can bring any spiritual or physical need to Jesus and He assures us that He will answer. That's what He means in vss. 23b, 24 and 26a. In fact, Jesus' Mediatorship is so complete that we can now go directly to the Father. We are the Father's dear children in Christ Jesus. That's what Jesus means in vss. 26 and 27. As Luther says: "We can come to our Heavenly Father as earthly children approach their earthly father." Read Heb. 10:19-22.
Don't wish yourself back to the days of the disciples. Do enjoy what the Triune God has done for you!