“I am not an elephant” by D.A. Carson

“For the last eight years I have spent more time studying the Gospel of John than any other part of the Scripture. This has proved to be a lesson in humility.

John is simple enough for a child to read and complex enough to tax the mental powers of the greatest minds. As one commentator has put it, this book is like a pool in which a child may wade and an elephant may swim.

I am not an elephant; but I have become aware of the many places where I am beyond my depth.”

–D.A. Carson, The Farewell Discourse and Final Prayer of Jesus: An Exposition of John 14–17 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 9.

“The glory of Christ” by D.A. Carson

“The glory of Christ is the more wonderful precisely because it is twofold. He chose to walk among us with a rather paradoxical glory of humiliation, in order to save us and raise us to heaven’s heights, enabling us to see the unqualified brilliance of the divine glory rightfully His.

Thou who art God beyond all praising,
All for love’s sake becamest Man;
Stooping so low, but sinners raising
Heavenwards by Thine eternal plan.
Thou who art God beyond all praising,
All for love’s sake becamest Man.

Frank Houghton (1894–)”

–D.A. Carson, The Farewell Discourse and Final Prayer of Jesus: An Exposition of John 14–17 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 205.

“The way of the cross is the Savior’s way” by D.A. Carson

“The way of the cross is the Savior’s way. Those who claim all the blessings of the new heaven and the new earth in the present time frame have not come to grips with New Testament eschatology.

True, the age to come has dawned, and the Holy Spirit himself is the down payment of future bliss; but it does not follow that all material blessings, prosperity, and freedom from opposition are rightfully ours now.

Even John, who of New Testament writers is most inclined to focus attention on the already-inaugurated features of the age to come, makes it clear that the Christian can in this age expect hatred, persecution, and even violence.

Perhaps this chapter, taken by itself, might prove depressing to some. It is helpful to remember that the biblical passage being expounded, John 15:17–16:4, does not stand in isolation. It is the counterpoint to intimacy with Jesus Christ and rich fruitbearing in the spiritual life.

To know Jesus is to have eternal life; and this is worth everything. In ultimate terms, the acclaim of the world is worth nothing. That is why the dark brush strokes of this passage, 15:17–16:4, far from fostering gloom and defeat, engender instead holy courage and spiritual resolve.

Meditation on these verses forges men and women of God with vision and a stamina whose roots reach into eternity. It calls forth a William Tyndale, who while constantly fleeing his persecutors worked at the translation of the Bible into English. Through betrayal, disappointment, and fear, he struggled on until he was captured and burned at the stake. His dying cry revealed his eternal perspective: ‘Lord, open the King of England’s eyes!’

In a similar vein, William Borden prepared for missionary service in the Muslim world. Born to wealth, he poured his money and his example into missions. After the best of training at Yale University and Princeton Seminary, he arrived in Egypt to work with Samuel Zwemer. Almost immediately he contracted a terminal case of cerebral meningitis. His dying testimony did not falter: ‘No reserve; no retreat; no regrets.’

C.T. Studd, born to privilege, gifted athletically, and trained at Eton and Cambridge, turned his back on wealth and served Christ for decades against unimaginable odds, first in China and then in Africa. He penned the words:

Some want to live within the sound
of church or chapel bell;
I want to build a rescue shop
within a yard of hell.

This is the passion we need: a passion that looks at the mountainous difficulties and exults that we are on the winning side. By all means, let us face the worst: Christ has told us these things so we will not go astray.”

–D.A. Carson, The Farewell Discourse and Final Prayer of Jesus: An Exposition of John 14–17 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 130-132.

“There is glory in this paradox” by D.A. Carson

“‘I am the way,’ Jesus answers, ‘and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me’ (John 14:6).

In this fashion one of the greatest utterances in Holy Scripture is called forth from the Master by the inability of His disciples to grasp what He had been teaching. It is an amazing statement.

‘I am the way’—spoken by One whose way was the ignominious shame of a Roman cross, the death of despised and debased criminals.

‘I am the truth’—spoken by One about to be condemned by lying witnesses, one who was generally not believed by His own people, by His own family.

‘I am the life’—uttered by One whose battered corpse would shortly rest in a dark tomb, sealed up by the authorities.

There is glory in this paradox, and much room for adoring meditation. Because Jesus’ own way was the cross, He Himself became the way for others.

As the lamb of God, He took away the sin of the world (1:29); as the good shepherd, He laid down His life for the sheep (10:11).

The lamb dies, the world lives. The shepherd dies, the sheep live. Jesus is the gate by which men enter and find life (10:9; cf. Hebrews 10:19f.); He is their way.

The way of Jesus is the cross; the way of the disciples is Jesus. Small wonder that early Christians were called followers of the Way (Acts 9:2; 22:4; 24:14).

He who was betrayed by an apostle, disowned by another apostle, abandoned by all the apostles, condemned through lying witnesses, was the truth.

We do not read simply that what He speaks is true, but that He Himself is the truth. He is the truth incarnate, just as He is love incarnate and holiness incarnate; for He is the Word incarnate.

‘The Word became flesh and lived for a while among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth’ (1:14).

‘For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but God the only Son, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known’ (1:17, 18).

John is not telling us that Moses’ writings were not true, nor that they were something other than God’s Word. But however much the law was revealed by God, the law was not the unveiling of God Himself, the revelation of grace and truth incarnate.”

–D.A. Carson, The Farewell Discourse and Final Prayer of Jesus: An Exposition of John 14–17 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 27–28.