It is one of the most amazing and wonderful and sweetest things in the Bible to realize that just hours before Jesus was crucified he was concerned for the peace and the joy and the faith of his followers. Think of it. He is about to be tortured to death with one of the most horrific means of torture ever devised, and his burden was to solidify in the souls of his followers peace and joy and faith.
What would we be doing if we knew that we would not only be killed tomorrow, but tortured for who knows how long? My guess is we would be desperate to find our own peace, and our own joy and our own faith. We would probably not be pouring out our concern for the peace and joy and faith of our friends and family unless Jesus had filled us with his peace and joy and faith, so we were free to think of others.
Peace. Joy. Faith. This was his burden for his followers the night before his suffering. Amazing. Look at verse 27. Peace: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” Look at verse 28b. Joy: “If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.” Look at verse 29. Faith: “And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe [have faith!].”
This is what he is aiming at just before he suffers. I want you to have peace. I want you to be deeply joyful. I want you to believe in what I say and what I do — to have unshakable faith. I want you to have the kind of peace that I give, not the world. The kind of joy that I give, not the world. The kind of faith, I give, not the world. That is the practical outcome of these verses — indeed the outcome of this night. This suffering. This gospel.
Now suppose the thought enters your mind, as it does the mind of many: That seems subjective, emotional, individualistic, socially and culturally and politically lame. Disconnected from the great public, systemic, global crises and injustices and calamities of our time. Suppose that’s what you think when you hear that the Lord of the universe spent his last night before death building peace and joy and faith into the hearts of his followers (verse 27).
Here’s my response. Pick your crisis, your injustice. Poverty with all its internal and external causes. The devastation of drug addictions. White-collar corruption like Ponzi schemes or nepotism or money laundering or planned obsolescence or redlining or embezzling or insider stock movements or bribery. Or pick ethnic and religious hostilities — like the Burmese against the Christian Kachin, or the Nigerian Muslims against the Nigerian Christians, or the butchery in Syria.
“Ask the same Holy Spirit who inspired the writing to illumine the reading.”
I ask, where do these things come from? Where do these human impulses come from — that drive all these destructive behaviors? They come from hearts devoid of the peace of Jesus Christ, and the joy of Jesus Christ, and the faith of Jesus Christ. But where that peace and that joy and that faith hold sway, those behaviors are overcome.
So, before I get to the so-called practical, so-called relevant, socially urgent topic of homosexuality next week, I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that today’s message (and every message!) is radically political and social and global. And it is far more deeply, far more pervasively, far more enduringly transformative than if I considered such things as the peace of Jesus and the joy of Jesus and the faith of Jesus as feeble. They are not feeble, they are volcanic. They are the roots of a new world order. And someday Jesus himself will come again, pull out all the weeds, and bring that new-order to full flower.
In the meantime, open your eyes, and your mind and your heart to see and receive what he is doing on this last night.
Let’s set the stage with verses 25 and 26: “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”
Jesus is answering the question for them and for us: How are the foundational documents of the church going to be created so that they are rock-solid reliable? The apostles don’t have recorders, video cameras, stenographers. How are they going to remember all that Jesus has taught them, and how are they going to understand what they do remember since they are obviously in the dark right now about a lot of what’s going on?
And here is Jesus’s answer. And his answer is as important as 2 Timothy 3:16–17, where Paul said: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” That is the apostolic testimony about the whole Old Testament. It’s inspired by God. And therefore reliable and profitable.
What about the New Testament? What about the documents that the apostles themselves and those closely connected with them would write? Jesus’s answer in John 14:26 is: “In my name, God the Father will send the Holy Spirit. And he will bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. And he will teach you all things.” That is, he will see to it that you remember what I want you to record and he will teach you, that is, he will help you understand it so that when you write it you can make that understanding clear.
In other words, Just as Paul testified about the inspiration of the Old Testament, Jesus promised the inspiration of the New Testament. This is exactly what the apostles believed they were doing. Listen to how Paul expresses it in 1 Corinthians 2:12–13:
Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit.
That’s what Jesus promised. The Father will send the Holy Spirit. He will bring to your memory what he wants the church to know. (Which by the way implies that they had seen and heard these things. They were eyewitnesses. He didn’t promise to create new events in their head that they had not experienced. He promised memory not creativity.) And he promised teaching. “He will teach you all things” (verse 26) — all the things needed to give a true interpretation of what Christ had said and done, and who he was.
Now the stage is set. This is what is happening in verses 27–31. Years later John is remembering and he is teaching. And he is doing it for the sake of our peace and joy and faith. And, of course, this is what the whole Gospel of John is — the inspired memory and teaching of the apostle for the sake of our faith and joy and peace and life.
Be amazed as you read the Gospels. Be expectant. Jesus planned them. He sponsored them. By the Spirit, he inspired them. In a real sense, the risen Christ wrote his own story. These are no ordinary books. Be amazed that we have them. Be expectant when you read them. Ask the same Holy Spirit who inspired the writing to illumine the reading.
Now turn with me to verses 27–31 and let Jesus put his peace and his joy and his faith in you the way he was doing this for his followers that night. Let’s go backward since where he ends is the foundation of everything — namely, his going to the cross to lay down his life for the sheep.
Verses 30-31: “I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.” They have been in the upper room after the last supper. Now he makes his move toward the garden of Gethsemane where he would be arrested and taken away to die.
So he puts that “going” in a light that he wants them to understand and believe. He is serving their faith. And what he wants them to see and believe is that the devil (“the ruler of this world”) is real and active and, in one crucial sense, powerless. Verse 30b-31a: “The ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, but I do as the Father has commanded me.” Satan has entered into Judas (Luke 22:3) and he is coming. But that is not why I am going. Satan is not decisive.
Why not? Because (verse 30 at the end), “He has no claim on me.” Literally: “he has nothing in me.” That is, nothing in me to accuse. No sin where he can set his hook. No guilt where he can make his accusations sting. He looks everywhere around the armor of my righteousness and finds no access to my holy soul. There is no chink in this armor. Satan is powerless to rule a sinless man.
So why then does Jesus get arrested? Why does he die? Jesus tells us clearly who is in charge on this night. Verse 30 (at the end)–31a: “He [Satan] has no claim on me, but I do as the Father has commanded me.” Satan is not the explanation of Calvary, obedience is. “I do as the Father has commanded me. . . . Rise, let’s go.”
“Evil does not have the upper hand. We do. Love does.”
I want you to know, Jesus says, and I want the world to know that demonic betraying and demonic denying and demonic lying are not ruling this night. Love is ruling this night. I am obeying the Father (verse 31b) “so that the world may know that I love the Father.” I’m not controlled by the lies of false witnesses. I’m controlled by love for my Father.
The cross was not at root the coercion of evil; it was the compliance of love. The roots of the cross reach back before creation into the eternal Godhead where the God the Son has always infinitely loved God the Father. “I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father” (John 14:31).
Now we are ready to look briefly at faith in verse 29 and joy in verse 28 and peace in verse 27. The foundation for all three is the that Satan is not sovereign in the death of Jesus, love is sovereign.
Verse 29: “And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe.” He has said this before. John 13:19: “I am telling you this now [namely, Judas’s betrayal], before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he.”
In other words, in addition to all the things that happen to Jesus, and all the things Jesus does, which in themselves would awaken faith, he adds this: prediction. He doesn’t just experience painful things and do glorious things to awaken faith, he predicts them. Which means he weaves the thread of sovereignty through his final words.
The point of prediction is to make clear who’s in charge. It isn’t Satan. It isn’t Pilate. It isn’t Herod. It is not the Jews. It isn’t the soldiers. My Father is in charge (Acts 4:27–28). And by his command, I am in charge (John 3:35; 13:3). Nobody takes my life from me (John 10:18).
Therefore, trust me. Have faith. Put your faith in our work — the Father and me — and in our divine power. Evil does not have the upper hand. We do. Love does. And if that was true at history’s darkest hour, it will be true at your darkest hour — if you trust him. He was speaking and working on his last night for your faith. Let it be awakened.
Verse 28: “You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.”
Here’s the argument: The Father is greater than I. Which I think has two meanings. One is that the Father, during the incarnation, is greater in glory and more exalted because Jesus has humbled himself to serve and suffer. The other meaning is that from all eternity the Father has been the one who begets the Son — that is the one who eternally stands forth in a perfect image and radiance of himself. His nature has an “exact imprint” in the Son. His glory has a full “radiance” in the Son (Hebrews 1:3). So that they are equally God, of the same divine nature, but different in role, and Jesus says that because of the Father’s unique role he is greater.
And since he has that relation to the Son, Jesus says, you should rejoice when you see me return to that more immediate experience of the Father’s glory. In other words, the joy of Jesus in being near the Father should be part of the joy of his followers in being near him. We should be glad in the gladness of Jesus in the glory of his Father. Part of our joy in Jesus is Jesus’s joy in his Father.
“If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father” (John 14:28). So our joy is not the joy of the world. Oh how different is the foundation of the joy of the Christian! Not as the world gives, does God give his people joy. Our joy has infinite roots. It is a participation in the very joy of God in God.
And remember, God showed us this love between the Father and the Son, mainly in the cross. Verse 31: “I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father.” So practically what this means is that before you go to bed at night you say, “Father, I praise you for the love that exists between you and your Son Jesus. I praise you for the joy that you both have in each other. And I realize that for this love and this joy Jesus endured the cross [see Hebrews 12:2]. And therefore my forgiveness, my righteousness, my life utterly depends on it. So I am glad in your gladness in Jesus and his in you. Thank you for giving me a taste of this joy.”
Faith. Joy. Peace. Finally, verse 27: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
In the last hours of his life Jesus is helping you become a fearless and peaceful person. The peace he has in mind may include the final peace of all things in the new heaven and the new earth. But that is not what he is focusing on. We know that because he says, “Let not your heart be troubled. Neither let it be afraid.” He has in view your heart, and the peace of your heart, and the fearlessness of your heart, and the untroubled waters of your heart. He wants his people now, to be free from anxiety.
And he knows that the only kind of heart-peace the world can give is peace of mind based on good circumstances. If the world can take away our troubles — through health insurance, or retirement accounts, or flood protection, or bomb shelters, or labor-saving devices — then the world can give some peace of mind.
But Jesus says (middle of verse 27), “Not as the world gives do I give to you.” Which means that his peace is not based on good circumstances. It is given, and it holds sway, in spite of bad circumstances. Here is how Jesus says it in John 16:33, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation. But take heart in that tribulation; I have overcome the world.”
In other words, our peace will make no sense to the world. That is why Paul calls in Philippians 4:7, “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding.” Human understanding cannot produce it or grasp it. Why not?
The ultimate reason is that it is not human peace. It is God’s peace. The peace between Jesus and his Father. Verse 27a: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.” My peace. I am not creating your peace. I am sharing with you my peace. I am bringing you into my peace.
“Jesus will bring you into the very peace that he enjoys with his Father.”
Your peace, Jesus? They are about to kill you. What kind of peace is that? Perfect peace — with my Father. Tomorrow I will go to the cross, and there I will open the door for my sheep to enter my peace with my Father. I will satisfy his justice, and I will purchase your forgiveness, and I will provide your righteousness. And I will bring you into the very peace that I enjoy with my Father.
And nothing — and nobody — will be able to take it from you. “My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Therefore, let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27).
Receive my faith that I have in my Father’s sovereignty over Satan. Receive my joy that I have in my Father’s greatness. And receive my peace that I have with my Father’s favor.
Faith. Joy. Peace. His and yours. We have an amazing Savior. And a great salvation.
John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books, including Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist and most recently Providence.