John 14:20

The "little while" doubtless refers to the very short time which was to elapse before Jesus' removal from the view of men. Thenceforth, he taught, the world should lose sight of him, but he should be plainly apprehended by the gaze of faith.


1. Whilst Jesus was upon earth, the unenlightened and unspiritual saw but little of him. It had been foretold that men should "see no beauty in him." "His own received him not." They saw in him a Friend of sinners, a carpenter's son, One unlearned. But they saw in him no Divine glory, for they had no spiritual eyesight with which to discern it. Some there were who wished to behold his form and features, e.g. Zacchaeus, Herod, the Greeks, etc. But generally speaking, the Jews, because there was no sign such as they desired to witness, cared not to see anything of him. In his humiliation Jesus disappointed the expectations of the carnal, and offended their prejudices.

2. After Jesus was crucified, he was not - to the apprehension of the world. Those who had seen but little of the Lord during his ministry, after his departure saw nothing of him. His enemies thought they had succeeded in altogether expelling hint from the world he came to save, and they had no further concern with him. And ever since, to the irreligious, Jesus is invisible and as it were non-existent. Perverted by prejudice and self-sufficiency, their minds are open to what interests them, but are closed against any communication with the Savior and the Lord of men.

II. WHEN CHRIST WAS HIDDEN FROM THE EYES OF THE UNSPIRITUAL, HE WAS SEEN BY HIS FRIENDS MORE CLEARLY THAN BEFORE. There were those who learned to see in Jesus after his departure more than they had seen during his residence on earth. Just as the sailor can see a distant ship which the landsman's eyes cannot discover; just as the scholar can read a difficult manuscript which is unintelligible to the unlearned; just so there were those who, during Christ's ministry of humiliation, saw him to be full of grace and truth. Lowly, penitent, devout souls recognized his authority and felt his love. And after his departure, taught and illumined by the Spirit, they beheld indeed their Friend and King. Like the blind man whose eyes Jesus opened, they saw their Benefactor, believed, and worshipped. Stephen saw him in the hour of martyrdom; Saul saw him by the way. Christians see their Lord, in all the glory of his moral attributes, in all the adaptation of his mediatorial grace, in all the authority of his world-wide rule. Christians see their Lord so as to correct their views of all beside, and especially to moderate their earthly affections by the recognition of his superior excellence. Christians see their Lord as the Guide of their present course, and as the Object of their aspiring hope. He is now discerned by the eye of faith, and this vision is the pledge and the preparation for a vision fuller, clearer, and immortal. Faith shall give place to sight. The confident expectation of the Christian is that expressed by the apostle in the simple but soul-stirring words, "We shall see him as he is." - T.

At that day ye shall know that I am in My Father, and ye in Me, and I in you.
I. THE LEGACY ITSELF: Knowledge. "Ye shall know." God delivered the Jews to some extent from ignorance by the law, which was their schoolmaster. But in the gospel we are graduates, and know as a matter of history and experience what was only previously known in prophecy and type, in the manifestation of Christ, and the presence of the Spirit. Consider this knowledge as opposed to —

1. Ignorance. As there is a profitable ignorance which is a reverent abstinence from searching into God's secrets, so there is an unprofitable ignorant knowledge which puffs us up. And one strange effect of this ignorance is that every man murmurs that someone else has more land or money than he, yet every man thinks that he has more knowledge than all the world beside. Wherefore the prophet (Jeremiah 10:14) calls this confident believer in his own wisdom a fool, as the greatest reproach that can be fastened upon him. Now, this foolishness is not narrowness of understanding, nor inability to acquire knowledge, for many good men are unlettered and dull. The fool is he who trusteth in his own heart; and against this Christ has left us this legacy of knowledge.

2. Inconsideration. God takes it worse to be neglected than to be injured. Dares an officer who receives instruction from his prince on nonperformance say, "I never thought of it?" Dares a subject, a servant, or a son? God shows the inconsiderate man —(1) The book of His creatures. Every ant asks him, "Where had I this providence and industry? Every flower, Where had I this beauty, fragrance, medicinal virtue?"(2) The Scriptures, where every merciful promise cries, "Why am I here to meet thee and perform God's purpose towards thee, if thou never consider me?" So with every judgment.(3) The example of Christ, who reconsidered His prayer, "Yet not My will, but Thine, be done." Since, then, our best acts of reading or hearing and praying need consideration, value this legacy.

3. Concealment. It must be published for the benefit of others. Virtue that is never produced into action is not worthy of the name (Philemon 1:6).


1. The word itself affords cheerfulness. When God inflicted the greatest plague on Egypt it was at midnight; and when He would intimate both deaths at once He says, "Thou fool, this night," etc. Against all supply of knowledge He calls him fool; against all sense of comfort in the day He threatens night.

2. It was a certain day: "That" — and soon. For after Christ had made His will at this supper, and given strength to His will by His death, and proved His will by His resurrection, and left the Church possessed of His estate by His ascension, within ten days after that He poured out this legacy of knowledge.

3. On that day the Holy Ghost came as a wind to note a powerful working; filled them, to note the abundance; and gave them utterance, to infer the communication of their knowledge to others. But He was poured forth for the benefit of all. The prophets, high as their calling was, saw nothing without the Spirit; with the Spirit simple man understands the prophets.

III. OUR PORTION IN THIS LEGACY — the measure of the knowledge of those mysteries which we are to receive. When Felix the Manichaean would prove to that was the Holy Spirit who should teach all truth, because Manes taught many things of which men were ignorant concerning the frame and nature of the heavens, Augustine answered, "The Holy Ghost makes us Christians, not mathematicians." This knowledge is to know the end and the way — heaven and Christ. Now, in all our journeys, a moderate pace brings a man most surely to his journey's end, and so does a sober knowledge in the mysteries of religion. Therefore, the Holy Ghost did not give the apostles all kind of knowledge, but knowledge enough for their present work, and so with us. The points of knowledge necessary for our salvation are three.

1. The mystery of the Trinity. "I am in My Father." tells us that the principal use of knowledge is to know the Trinity. For to know that there is one God, natural reason serves our turn. But to know that the Son is in the Father I need the Scriptures, and the light of the Holy Spirit on the Scriptures, for Jews and Arians have the Bible too. But consider that Christ says, "ye shall know," not "ye shall know how. It is enough for a happy subject to enjoy the sweetness of a peaceable government, though he knows not the ways by which his prince governs, so it is enough for a Christian to enjoy the working of God's grace, though he inquire not into God's unrevealed decrees. When the Church asked how the body of Christ was in the sacrament we see what an inconvenient answer it fell upon. Make much of that knowledge with which the Spirit hath trusted you, and believe the rest. No man knows how his soul came into him, yet no man doubts that he has a soul.

2. The mystery of the Incarnation — Ye in Me." For since the devil has taken manhood in one lump in Adam, Christ to deliver us as entirely took all mankind upon Him. So that the same pretence that the devil hath against us, "You are mine, for you sinned in Adam," we have also for our discharge, we are delivered, for we paid our debt in Christ.

3. The assurance of this grows from the third part of our knowledge the mystery of our redemption, in our sanctification. "I in you." This last is the best. To know that Christ is in the Father may serve me to convince another who denies the Trinity; to know we are in Christ may show that we are more honoured than angels. But what worth is this if I know not that Christ is in me. How then is this? Here the question is lawful, for it has been revealed. It is by our obedience to His inspiration, and by our reverent use of His sacrament, when the Spirit visits us with effectual grace, and Christ marries Himself to our souls.

(J. Donne, D. D.)

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.)

1. The importance of a definite knowledge and firm belief of the more recondite doctrines of Christianity is greatly underrated. By the infidel they are considered as mystical dreams, scholastic abstractions, characterized by self-contradiction and absurdity. The rationalistic Christian for the same reason explains away the passages that teach them. But there are also men — loud in proclaiming their belief of all these doctrines — whose belief of them is little more than a belief that the propositions in which they are stated, and who plainly consider them as having little connection with the formation of character and guidance of conduct. But I do not worship the Christian God if I do not worship God in Christ; and as Christian worship is rational worship, I cannot worship God in Christ, without knowing what is meant by God being in Christ, and believing it. All Christian motive and comfort flow from Christian doctrine understood and believed.

2. The phrase, "that day," does not seem here to refer to some short fixed period — as the time when our Lord returned to the disciples after His resurrection — or, the time of the giving of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, — or, the time of the second coming; but to the whole period from our Lord's coming after the Resurrection, to His coming the second time for complete salvation. The phrase is very often so used in the Old Testament (Isaiah 12:1; Zechariah 13:1; Zechariah 14:9).


1. Christ is in the Father. The sentiment is more fully expressed in vers. 10, 11. Note —(1) The relation between our Lord and the Father as Divine persons? They are, with the Holy Spirit, possessors of the one Divine essence, are of the same perfections and prerogatives. It is the most intimate relation in the universe. The Father and the Son are one. This is a union with the Father common to the Son and to the Spirit; but there is a union with the Father peculiar to the Son. He is the Son of the Father, the Father is His Father.(2) The relation between our Lord as the man Christ Jesus, and the Father?(a) The man Christ Jesus is in personal unity with the Divinity. He is related to God as no man ever was, ever will be, ever can be. He was "God manifest in flesh."(b) The man Christ Jesus was, from the very moment of His beginning to exist as a man, brought entirely under the influence of the Holy Spirit, through whom the one Divinity does all things. In other relations the Son stands alone. Here He stands, at the head of an innumerable multitude of brethren.(3) The relation between our Lord as God-man, Mediator and the Father. It belonged to the Father, as sustaining the majesty of Godhead, to appoint the Mediator. Our Lord took not this honour on Himself. He was in the Father, as the ambassador is in his prince or sovereign; and the Father was in Him, as the prince or sovereign is in his ambassador. His doctrine was the doctrine of God; His works were the works of God.

2. Christ's people are in Him.(1) By the Divine constitution, every believer is brought into such an intimacy of relation with Jesus Christ, as that he is treated as if he had done what Christ has done. So that in him he is justified, sanctified, and redeemed (1 Corinthians 1:30), absolutely secured of a complete salvation, from His connection with Him.(2) Besides, Christ's people are in Him, as the branch in the vine, as the members in the head. As new creatures, in Him "they live, and move, and have their being" (John 6:57).

3. Christ is in His people. They are animated by His Spirit. But that Spirit, enabling them to understand and believe His word, makes them think, will, choose along with Him, walk as He also walked; so that they are His animated images, His living epistles.

II. THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE DOCTRINES. The apostles had heard them again and again, and they had some misty general conception of them; but they had no clear apprehension. But the time was approaching when their views should be enlarged, and their faith confirmed, and experience called in to the aid of faith.

1. The Resurrection, to some extent, cleared their minds. They saw that their Master was in the Father. He was thereby powerfully declared to be the Son of God (John 20:28).

2. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit went still farther in extending their views and confirming their faith (see Peter's sermon on the Day of Pentecost).

3. And all the true followers of our Lord, in every age and country, are all made to know these doctrines by the teaching of His Spirit through the word, and the working of the Spirit in their hearts. They lie at the very foundation of all their hopes, and all their holiness.

4. And at the great day of doom, they shall know more clearly still, and as eternity rolls on, new depths of meaning are found in these unfathomable words.

(J. Brown, D. D.)

It is a union of mutual in-being, not a union of affection only, such as the stones have, when they lie together in a heap; but rather such as is between the wine and the water, when they are put together, saving that they are not mixed together. Christ is not mixed with a Christian, a Christian is not mixed with Christ; Christ is not a Christian, a Christian is not Christ; but there is a union of mutual in-being. Now, you know, when the fire gets into the iron, is united to it, is in it, the properties of the fire are communicated to the iron; the iron forgets his own blackness, and shines with the shining of the fire, and burns with the burning of the fire. And as a coal, though it be never so dark and black a body, when the fire comes, get into it, the properties of the fire are communicated to it, and it burns like the fire itself, and melts like the fire itself, and shines like the fire itself. So, when the Lord Jesus Christ is united to a soul, look what excellencies there are in Christ, what graces in Christ, the same are communicated to it; the soul shines with Christ's shining, and warms with His warming: there is grace answerable for His grace.

(W. Bridge, M. A.)

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