The disciples had waited their entire lives for this moment. They envisioned Jesus as the fulfillment of the promised king who would rescue them from their oppressive pagan government and establish a kingdom where they would assume roles of prominence (Mt. 20:21, Mk.10:37). So, when they heard Jesus say he would leave them, they were deeply discouraged and disturbed.
Jesus responds, “Let not your hearts be troubled” (Jn. 14:1a). Pause here and consider how Jesus comes alongside his disciples and acknowledges their angst. He relates to them by sympathizing with the awaiting trauma. Earlier, he too uttered the same distress (Jn. 12:27a) as he anticipated both the agony and necessity of the cross. He then proceeds to invite the disciples to let go of their finite understanding of redemption—which included their misguided perceptions of Christ’s earthly ministry—in exchange for infinite and incomparable glory.
Much like the disciples, our heartaches can readily consume our perspective, hijack our story, and overshadow the truth of who God is. When we’re in the midst of hard circumstances, relinquishing our expectations of how things ought be feels frightening and vulnerable. We choose instead, to numb pain, worry obsessively our way through uncertainty, and manipulate people and our environment for a desired outcome. However, what if our insistence on control and holding tightly to our misplaced securities—such as health, finances, work, successes, giftedness, and relationships—hinder us from hearing Jesus? And what if we miss his tender care and reassuring comfort for us?
In John 14:15-31, Jesus speaks to troubled hearts. He promises the indispensable and enduring presence of the Helper.
The Helper is Paraclete in the Greek which means, “one called alongside” to “exhort,” “comfort,” entreat,” and “encourage” and carries a legal application in the Greek context. When Jesus says he will request the Father for “another Helper” (v. 16), “the Spirit of truth” (v. 17), he is not sending a replacement or substitute. He is stating that the Spirit’s “presence is equivalent to the presence of Jesus” and the Spirit will come to continue the work of Christ in the life of his followers.
The Helper enable us to do what we cannot do in our own striving and self-sufficiency: to exercise on-going and continuous belief that is rooted in a relationship with the Father and the Son (v. 1b), to remember the fullness of Jesus’ teachings (v. 26) including the new commandment to love one another (13:34-35), and to live in faith and obedience. He is less like the help needed when we are carrying groceries up a flight of stairs and more like the warning label on an oversized package clearly stating you can’t lift this alone; help is an absolute must.
Jesus requests the Father for the Helper who will be with us forever. He uses the image of an orphan (v. 18) to convey that while the disciples may feel like they are abandoned, left powerless and defenseless, it is not so.
In verse 21, Jesus reiterates the Father’s love toward the disciples by adding that both the Son and the Father will “make our home with him” (v. 23). The eternal “place” Jesus is preparing (v. 2) is the same Greek word used for “home”. Andreas Köstenberger suggests that verse 23 is the “climax” of Jesus’ promise made in verse 18 to not desert the disciples; Jesus will return following his departure and the Spirit will take permanent residence in the believer. And one day, there will be unhindered and enduring fellowship with God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (v. 17) as God and man dwell together (Rev. 21:3) forever.
Furthermore, Jesus imparts his peace—a peace that he knew intimately even as he willingly and sacrificially stood at the intersection of the wrath of God and the sin of the world. It’s a peace that the world neither knows nor can give (v. 27). It is “the permanent end-time blessing of a right relationship with God”. This peace is followed by joy (v. 28) as Christ returns to the Father.
John’s introduction began with Christ, the Word, becoming flesh and dwelling among man. In him, the world bore witness to his glory—full of grace and truth (1:14). Now, his homecoming will usher in the era of richer and deeper intimacy with Christ (cf. v. 20) and the ever-present ministry of the Helper (v. 16).
At a pivotal moment, the Spirit brought to my mind Jesus’ words to Peter spoken before his epic failure: “I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail” (Lk. 22:32a). It happened as the felt shame from my sins and failures teamed up with the convincing voices of condemnation and self-contempt. The scene where Jesus intercedes on Peter’s behalf became like the north star in my black sky. It enabled me to believe that indeed, my faith will not fail because Jesus has prayed for me.
When we feel weighed down by indescribable pain and distress, unexpected loss, futility, and hopelessness, the Helper is there. He lifts our heavy and distressed hearts. And the heavier it is, the greater he is. He draws close. He comforts, breaths life and courage, entreats, and advocates on our behalf from Good Friday to Resurrection Sunday, from Christ’s ascension until his final and glorious return when all is made new and right.
 Milne, B., The Message of John: Here is Your King! (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 214.
 Kruger, M. J., ed., A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the New Testament: The Gospel Realized. (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2016), 125.
 Hughes, R. K., John: That You May Believe. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1999), 336.
 Köstenberger, A. J., John. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004), 440-441.
 Arnold, Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commnetary: John, Acts, Vol. 2, 142.
About the Author:
Alice Kim is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker at Emmaus Counseling and Consulting Services (emmausccs.com) where she offers gospel-centered therapy to the DC Metro area. She finds deep fulfillment in engaging people’s stories and bearing witness to the good work of God to redeem and restore. She is married to Sam Kim, pastor at Christ Central Presbyterian Church in Centreville, VA and they raise their two daughters.