The Son and the Father (2)
J. Wesley Ferguson, Antrim, N. Ireland [SEE PROFILE BELOW]
A STUDY OF THE CLAIMS OF THE LORD JESUS IN JOHN'S GOSPEL TO A UNIQUE RELATIONSHIP WIYH THE FATHER
Continuing our thoughts on this theme we note that the Lord Jesus claimed that He was:
The only way to the Father’s house, 14. 2-6
The passage which deals most specifically with the comfort of His own drawing from His divine authority is probably the first few verses of John 14. The Lord Jesus has finished His public ministry at the end of chapter 12. He has dealt with the problem of lack of humility and has bidden Judas to do his business quickly in chapter 13. He is about to leave an anxious and dispirited company of disciples. He will tell them of the importance to them of the coming of the other Comforter, the Holy Spirit, 14. 16-16. 15. Before He does that He will reassure them with the fact that, when He goes away out of sight, they can trust Him in the same way as they trust the Father, whom they have never seen. He is going to the cross and on to the Father to prepare a place for them. He will come again to receive them to Himself. They are to be with Him where He is now going.
This was too much for Thomas to take in. He could not visualize what all of it meant. What was ‘the way’ that the Lord mentioned? The answer, which the Lord Jesus gave, is unmistakable in its import. God would use many men in the spread of the message of eternal life being available to all. Many would be given power by God to be witnesses and their lives would give credibility to the message that they preached. But Jesus Christ is uniquely the Way to Father. The house to which we are going He describes as ‘my Father’s house’, so it is apt that He should have authority to be the only way to it.
Ancient and modern heretics and skeptics are offended by this claim. Only He came down from heaven to give life to the world. Only He was qualified by His divine greatness and His spotless holiness to give Himself for our sins. Only He could utter that triumphant cry from the cross, ‘It is finished!’ Only He is the Way to the Father. When we arrive at the Father’s house we shall be ‘with Christ’. This is the answer when we are in doubt or confusion; He is already there, and we are going to be with Him, for He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He claimed it and He will make it good.
He claimed in resurrection that He was going to ascend to His father and ours, 20. 17
References to His ‘own’ Father come to a wonderful climax in chapter 20. Mary Magdalene has discovered that He is not just the gardener, as she had mistakenly supposed. He is her Teacher, her Lord. He is risen and not only is all not lost, but all is as well as it could possibly be! She wants to sustain this bliss of reunion by holding His feet. But she must learn that He has not come back to return to the relationship with His own which He previously had with them on earth. When He was physically with His own during the days of His flesh, He could withdraw and leave them temporarily alone. Martha and Mary in chapter 11 verse 21 could say, ‘Lord if thou hadst been here’, implying that in a time of trial He had not been available immediately. Similarly, it could be said of the disciples in chapter 6 verse 17, when the storm was imminent, that ‘Jesus was not come to them’.
Now, as He was about to go to the Father, they need not fear that their link with Him might be weakened or broken by His physical absence. He was going to ascend, He said, ‘unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God’. Calvary had linked them for ever to Himself and the Father in a spiritual nearness which could not be severed by temporary absences. They need not cling to Him, for their security was to be on a heavenly, spiritual plane.
It is surely significant that this assurance of our secure link with Him was given after He was crucified and risen again, and in anticipation of His ascension. The truth in this assertion of His impending ascension is closely similar to what Paul taught in Ephesians, ‘But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus’, Eph. 2. 4-6. The full import of the link promised by the Lord Jesus in John chapter 20 is not made explicit yet, but the seeds of Ephesians chapter 2 are here. It is a fitting climax to His claims in John’s Gospel. John displays Christ‘s glory in this Gospel, and in marvellous grace He associates His own with Himself.
AUTHOR PROFILE: Wesley Ferguson is in the assembly in Antrim in N. Ireland. He ministers the word throughout the Province and the UK and is the author of numerous magazine articles, and recently authored ‘Genesis’ in the Ritchie series ‘What the Bible Teaches'.