Who are we?

In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Jesus, the heavenly teacher (John 16:25)

I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father (John 16:25)

Throughout this section of John 13–16, there has been a strong emphasis on the activities of the heavenly Father. The Saviour, as he comes to the end of his teaching, returns to this dominant theme and highlights several aspects of it for the benefit of his disciples.

First, he says that in while (after his resurrection and ascension), he will tell them plainly about the Father (v. 25). Up until now, he has had to teach them in figures of speech or parables because they could not appreciate what the situation would be like after Jesus had risen from the dead and ascended back to heaven. Their inability was in a sense understandable, so Jesus assures them that he would still remain their teacher when these changes occurred. 

When that happened, his teaching would be plain. We are not to think that Jesus is saying that the content of his teaching, while on earth, was more difficult than what he would teach later. There are two reasons why it would be plain. 

Firstly, during his earthly ministry Jesus often taught in enigmatic ways, such as using parables. The reason for this method was not that his parables are simple illustrations of his difficult statements. He told his disciples that parables were a means of preventing those who rejected him from seeing the truth (Mark 4:33-34); they also encouraged his disciples to ask him for clarification. Often Jesus had taught in a way in which his meaning was not obvious. He would not teach them in this manner when he returned to heaven. 

This leads on to the second reason why his teaching would be plain – the coming of the Spirit would enable his disciples to understand what Jesus had previously taught them and what he would continue to teach them as he gave them new understanding of God’s purposes.

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