The Experimental Knowledge of the Christian Mysteries
John 14:20
At that day you shall know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.

Our Lord had just been exhorting His disciples to believe that He was in the Father and the Father in Him; and had been gently wondering at the slowness of their faith. Now He tells them that, when He is gone, they shall know the thing which, with Him by their side, they found it so hard to believe.

I. The principle that underlies these wonderful words is that CHRISTIAN EXPERIENCE IS THE BEST TEACHER OF FUNDAMENTAL CHRISTIAN TRUTH. Observe with what decision our Lord carries that principle into regions where we might suppose at first sight that it was altogether inapplicable.

1. "Ye shall know that I am in My Father." How can such a thing as the relation between Christ and God ever be a matter of consciousness? Must it not always be a matter that we must take on trust? Not so; remember what has gone before. If I have these things I know that it is Jesus Christ that gives them, and I know that He could not give them if He did not dwell in God and were not Divine. These new influences, this revolution in my being, this healing touch, these new hopes, these reversed desires, all these things bear upon their very front the signature that they are wrought by a Divine hand, and as sure as I am of my own Christian consciousness, so sure am I that all its experiences proclaim their author, and that Christ who does them is in God. On the subject of Christ's Divinity, many profound and learned arguments have been urged by theologians, and these are all well and needful in their places, but the true way to be sure of it is to have Him dwelling with us and working on us.

2. In like manner, the other elements of this knowledge flow necessarily from Christian experiences. "That ye are in Me, and I in you." If a Christian man carries the consciousness of Christ's presence, and has Him as a Sun in his darkness, and as a Life source feeding his deadness with life, then he knows with a consciousness which is irrefragable that Jesus Christ is in him.

3. So, let us learn what the Christian man's experience ought to be, and to do for him. It should make all the fundamentals of the gospel vitally and vividly true; and, certified by what had passed within your own spirits, you should be able to say, "we have the witness in ourselves." And though there will remain much in Christian doctrine which is not capable of that plain and all-sufficing verification; much about which we must still depend on the teaching of others, the central facts which make the gospel may all become elements of our very consciousness which stand undeniable to us, whosoever denies them.


1. It is in plain analogy with the manner by which we attain to the knowledge of everything except the mere external facts. How do you know anything about love? You may read poems and tragedies to the end of time, and you will not understand it until you come under its spell for yourself; and then all the things that men said about it cease to be mere words, because you yourself have experienced the emotion. And the only way to be sure, with a vital certitude, of Christ, is to take Christ for your very own, and then He comes into your very being, and dwells there unchanged, the Sun and the Life.

2. Though such certitude is not available for other people, the fact that so many millions of men allege that they possess this certitude is available for other people. And there is nothing to be said by the unbeliever to this. "Whether this man be a sinner or no, I know not." You may jangle as much as you like about the controversial points that surround the Christian revelation. "One thing I know, that whereas I was blind, now I see." And we may push the war into the enemy's quarters, and say, "Why! herein is a marvellous thing, that you that know everything do not know whence this Man is. And yet He has opened mine eyes." You want facts; there are some. You want verification; we have verified by experiment, and we set to our seals that God is true.

3. But, you say, that is not a fair account of the way in which Christian men and women generally feel about this matter. Well, so much the worse for the so-called Christian men and women. And if they are Christians, and do not know by this inward experience that Christ is Divine and their Saviour, then either their experience is wretchedly superficial and fragmentary; or, having the facts, they have failed to make their own by reflection the certitudes which are their own.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.

WEB: In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.

Christ's Legacy
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