14:18-24 "I will not leave you forlorn. I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me; but you will see me because I will be alive and you too will be alive. In that day you will know that I am in the Father, and that you are in me, even as I am in you. It is he who grasps my commandments and keeps them who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him." Judas, not Iscariot, said to him: "Why has it happened that you are going to reveal yourself to us, and not to the world?" Jesus answered: "If any man loves me, he will keep my word; and the Father will love him, and we will come to him, and we will make our abode with him. He who does not love me does not keep my words. And the word which you hear is not mine, but it belongs to the Father who sent me."
By this time a sense of foreboding must have enveloped the disciples. Even they must now have seen that there was tragedy ahead. But Jesus says: "I will not leave you forlorn." The word he uses is orphanos ( Greek #3737 ). It means without a father, but it was also used of disciples and students bereft of the presence and the teaching of a beloved master. Plato says that, when Socrates died, his disciples "thought that they would have to spend the rest of their lives forlorn as children bereft of a father, and they did not know what to do about it." But Jesus told his disciples that would not be the case with them. "I am coming back," he said.
He is talking of his Resurrection and his risen presence. They will see him because he will be alive; and because they will be alive. What he means is that they will be spiritually alive. At the moment they are bewildered and numbed with the sense of impending tragedy; but the day will come when their eyes will be opened, their minds will understand and their hearts will be kindled--and then they will really see him. That in fact is precisely what happened when Jesus rose from the dead. His rising changed despair to hope and it was then they realized beyond a doubt that he was the Son of God.
In this passage John is playing on certain ideas which are never far from his mind.
(i) First and foremost there is love. For John love is the basis of everything. God loves Jesus; Jesus loves God; God loves men; Jesus loves men; men love God through Jesus; men love each other; heaven and earth, man and God, man and man are all bound together by the bond of love.
(ii) Once again John stresses the necessity of obedience, the only proof of love. It was to those who loved him that Jesus appeared when he rose from the dead, not to the scribes and the Pharisees and the hostile Jews.
(iii) This obedient, trusting love leads to two things. First, it leads to ultimate safety. On the day of Christ's triumph those who have been his obedient lovers will be safe in a crashing world. Second, it leads to a fuller and fuller revelation. The revelation of God is a costly thing. There is always a moral basis for it; it is to the man who keeps his commandments that Christ reveals himself No evil man can ever receive the revelation of God. He can be used by God, but he can have no fellowship with him. It is only to the man who is looking for him that God reveals himself, and it is only to the man who, in spite of failure, is reaching up that God reaches down. Fellowship with God and the revelation of God are dependent on love; and love is dependent on obedience. The more we obey God, the more we understand him; and the man who walks in his way inevitably walks with him.