The Love of the Father
“The Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father” (vv. 27–28).- John 16:25–28
We return to our study of John’s gospel today and continue our look at the Farewell Discourse of Jesus (John 14–17). In the lead-up to today’s passage, Jesus has been preparing His disciples for the days ahead after He is no longer present with them bodily. He has said some things they have found hard to understand (16:17–18), but it must be noted that Jesus’ earthly ministry is known for its enigmatic sayings, for parables that veil the truth to the hard-hearted and reveal it to believers (Mark 4:10–12). Many of the people listening to Jesus have found much of His teaching unclear, though this is not the fault of Jesus but of hearers who are ignorant of the kingdom of God or hardened against it. Still, even those who believe have found Jesus’ teaching difficult at times because of His manner of speaking.
However, with the resurrection, all of that is about to change. A time is coming when Jesus will no longer use figures of speech but will speak plainly about the Father (John 16:25). In light of Jesus’ references to the ministry of the Holy Spirit and to His departure in the crucifixion and return in the resurrection (vv. 4b–24), our Lord clearly refers to a new state of affairs that will exist after His earthly ministry is completed. With the outpouring of the Spirit, the disciples will enjoy a greater understanding of our Savior’s person and work. We can see this in the history of the Apostolic period. The same disciples who once could not accept that Jesus would die became mighty preachers of the cross (Matt. 16:21–23; Acts 2). In fulfillment of today’s passage, they finally understood. Jesus spoke to them plainly.
Because of their new understanding of the Father, they will go to Him in prayer in the name of Jesus (John 16:26; see v. 23). But this does not mean that Jesus will ask the Father for things on their behalf (v. 26). This statement seems strange at first, given the extensive teaching in the New Testament about Christ’s work as intercessor. John Calvin offers a helpful explanation. He comments that “Christ does not absolutely say, in this passage, that he will not be Intercessor, but he only means, that the Father will be so favorably disposed towards the disciples, that, without any difficulty, he will give freely whatever they shall ask.” In other words, approaching the Father in the name of Jesus does not mean the Son has to coax the Father to listen to us or that the Son is a barrier between us and the Father. The Father loves us and wants to hear from us (John 16:27–28).
The book of Hebrews and many other passages in Scripture indicate that Jesus intercedes with the Father for us and for the sake of our perseverance. That does not mean, however, that Jesus somehow has to convince God to be favorable to us. The Father loves us no less than the Son loves us, so we should be encouraged that He will listen to us and be gracious to us when we go before Him in prayer.
Passages for Further Study