John 16:28
I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father.
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(28) I came forth from the Father.—Comp. Note on John 16:19. He repeats with emphasis that which in the last verse He stated as believed by them—“It is true. I did come forth from the Father, and came into the world. But what follows from this? Heaven, and not earth, is My home. I leave the world again and return to the Father.” They had accepted the truth of the Incarnation, but in this there was already implied the truth of the Ascension, and in the truth of the Ascension there was implied the gift of the Paraclete, and the spiritual return and constant presence of Christ in the Church (John 16:7 and John 14:14-18).



John 16:28

These majestic and strange words are the proper close of our Lord’s discourse, what follows being rather a reply to the disciples’ exclamation. There is nothing absolutely new in them, but what is new is the completeness and the brevity with which they cover the whole ground of His being, work, and glory. They fall into two halves, each consisting of two clauses; the former half describing our Lord’s descent, the latter His ascent. In each half the two clauses deal with the same fact, considered from the two opposite ends as it were-the point of departure and the point of arrival. ‘I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again I leave the world and go to the Father.’ But the first point of departure is the last point of arrival, and the end comes round to the beginning. Our Lord’s earthly life is, as it were, a jewel enclosed within the flashing gold of His eternal dwelling with God.

So I think we shall best apprehend the scope, and appropriate to ourselves the blessing and power of these words, if we deal with the four points to which they call our attention-the dwelling with the Father; the voluntary coming to the earth; the voluntary departure from the earth; and, once more, the dwelling with the Father. We must grasp them all if we would know the whole Christ and all that He is able to do and to be to us and to the world. So, then, I deal simply with these four points.

I. Note then, first, the dwelling with the Father.

If we adopt the most probable reading of the first clause of my text, it is even more forcible than in our version: ‘I came forth out of the Father.’ Such an egress implies a being in the Father in a sense ineffable for our words, and transcending our thoughts. It implies a far deeper and closer relation than even that of juxtaposition, companionship, or outward presence.

Now, in these great words there is involved obviously, to begin with, that, during His earthly life, our Lord bore about with Him the remembrance and consciousness of an individual existence prior to His life on earth. I need not remind you how frequently such hints drop from His lips-’Before Abraham was, I am,’ and the like. But beyond that solemn thought of a remembered previous existence there is this other one-that the words are the assertion by Christ Himself of a previous, deep, mysterious, ineffable union with the Father. On such a subject wisdom and reverence bid us speak only as we hear; but I cannot refrain from emphasising the fact that, if this fourth Gospel be a genuine record of the teaching of Jesus Christ-and, if it is not, what genius was he who wrote it?-if it be a genuine record of the teaching of Jesus Christ, then nothing is more plain than that over and over again, in all sorts of ways, by implication and by direct statement, to all sorts of audiences, friends and foes, He reiterated this tremendous claim to have ‘dwelt in the bosom of the Father,’ long before He lay on the breast of Mary. What did He mean when He said, ‘No man hath ascended up into heaven save He which came down from heaven’? What did He mean when He said, ‘What and if ye shall see the Son of Man ascend up where He was before’? What did He mean when He said, ‘I came down from heaven, not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me’? And what did He mean when, in the midst of the solemnities of that last prayer, He said, ‘Glorify Thou Me with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was’?

Dear friends! it seems to me that if we know anything about Jesus Christ, we know that. If we cannot believe that He thus spoke, we know nothing about Him on which we can rely. And so, without venturing to enlarge at all upon these solemn words, I leave this with you as a plain fact, that the meekest, lowliest, and most sane and wise of religious teachers made deliberately over and over again this claim, which is either absolutely true, and lifts Him into the region of the Deity, or else is fatal to His pretensions to be either meek or modest, or wise or sane, or a religious teacher to whom it is worth our while to listen.

II. Note, secondly, the voluntary coming into the world.

‘I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world.’ We all talk in a loose way about men coming into the world when they are born; but the weight of these words and the solemnity of the occasion on which they were spoken, and the purpose for which they were spoken-viz., to comfort and to illuminate these disciples-forbid us to see such a mere platitude as that in them. There would have been no consolation in them unless they meant something a great deal more than the undeniable fact that Jesus Christ was born, and the melancholy fact that Jesus Christ was about to die.

‘I am come into the world.’ There has been a Man who chose to be born. There has been a Man who appeared here, not ‘of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man,’ but by His own free choice. He willed to take upon Him the form of humanity. Now the voluntariness of the entrance of Jesus Christ into the conditions of our human life is all-important for us, for it underlies the whole value of that life and its whole power to be blessing and good to us. It underlies, for instance, the personal sinlessness of Jesus Christ, and hence His power to bring a new beginning of pure and perfect life into the midst of humanity. All the rest of mankind, knit together by that mysterious bond of natural descent which only now for the first time is beginning to receive its due attention on the part of men of science, by heredity have the taint upon them. And if Jesus Christ is only one of the series, then there is no deliverance in Him, for there is no sinlessness in that life. However fair its record may seem on the surface, there is beneath, somewhere or other, the leprosy that infects us all. Unless He came in another fashion from all the rest of us, He came with the same sin as all the rest of us, and He is no deliverer from sin. Rather He is one of the series who, like the melancholy captives on the road to Siberia, each carries a link of the hopeless chain that binds them all together. But, if it be true that of His own will He took to Himself humanity, and was born as the Scripture tells us He was born, His birth being His ‘coming’ and not His being brought, then, being free from taint, He can deliver us from taint, and, Himself unbound by the chain, He can break it from off our necks. The stream is fouled from its source downwards, and flows on, every successive drop participant of the primeval pollution. But, down from the white snows of the eternal hills of God, there comes into it an affluent which has no stain on its pure waters, and so can purge that into which it enters. Jesus Christ willed to be born, and to plant a new beginning of holy life in the very heart of humanity which henceforth should work as leaven.

Let me remind you, too, that this voluntary assumption of our nature is all-important to us, for unless we preserve it clear to our minds and hearts, the power to sway our affections is struck away from Jesus Christ. Unless He voluntarily took upon Himself the nature which He meant to redeem, why should I be thankful to Him for what He did, and what right has He to claim my love? But if He willingly came down amongst us, and ‘to this end was born, and for this cause,’ of His own loving heart, ‘came into the world,’ then I am knit to Him by cords that cannot be broken. One thing only saves for Jesus Christ the unbounded and perpetual love of mankind, and that is, that from His own infinite and perpetual love He came into the world. We talk about kings leaving their palaces and putting on the rags of the beggar, and learning ‘love in huts where poor men lie,’ and making experience of the conditions of their lowliest subjects. But here is a fact, infinitely beyond all these legends. It is set forth for us in a touching fashion, in the incident that almost immediately preceded these parting words of our Lord, when ‘Jesus, knowing that He came forth from God, laid aside His garments and took a towel, and girded Himself,’ and washed the foul feet of these travel-stained men. That was a parable of the Incarnation. The consciousness of His divine origin was ever with Him, and that consciousness led Him to lay aside the garments of His majesty, and to gird Himself with the towel of service. That He had a body round which to wrap it was more humiliation than that He wrapped it round the body which He took. And we may learn there what it is that gives Him His supreme right to our devotion and our surrender-viz., that, ‘being in the form of God, He thought not equality with God a thing to be covetously retained, but made Himself of no reputation, and was found in fashion as a Man.’

III. Note the voluntary leaving the world.

The stages of that departure are not distinguished. They are threefold in fact-the death, the resurrection, the ascension, and in all three we have the majestic, spontaneous energy of Christ as their cause.

There was a voluntary death, I have so often had occasion to insist upon that, in the course of these sermons, that I do not need to dwell upon it now. Let me remind you only how distinctly and in what various forms that thought is presented to us in the Scriptures. We have our Lord’s own words about His having ‘power to lay down His life.’ We have in the story of the Passion hints that seem to suggest that His relation to death, to which He is about to bow His head, was altogether different from that of ours. For instance, we read: ‘Into Thy hands I commend My Spirit’; and ‘He gave up the Spirit.’ We have hints of a similar nature in the very swiftness of His death and unexpected brevity of His suffering, to be accounted for by no natural result of the physical process of crucifixion. The fact is that Jesus Christ is the Lord of death, and was so even when He seemed to be its Servant, and that He never showed Himself more completely the Prince of Life and the Conqueror of Death than when He gave up His life and died, not because He must, but because He would. There is a scene in a modern book of fiction of a man sitting on a rock and the ocean stretching round him. It reaches high upon his breast, but it threatens not his life, till he, sitting there in his calm, bows his head beneath the wave and lets it roll over him. So Christ willed to die, and died because He willed.

There was also a voluntary resurrection by His own power; for although Scripture sometimes represents His rising again from the dead as being the Father’s attestation of the Son’s finished work, it also represents it as being, in accordance with His own claim of ‘power to lay down My life, and to take it again,’ the Son’s triumphant egress from the prison into which, for the moment, He willed to pass. Jesus ‘was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father,’ but also Jesus rose from the dead by His own power.

There was also a voluntary ascension to the heavens. There was no need for Elijah’s chariot of fire. There was no need for a whirlwind to sweep a mortal to the sky. There was no need for any external vehicle or agency whatsoever. No angels bore Him up upon their wings. But, the cords of duty which bound Him to earth being cut, He rose to His own native sphere; and, if one might so say, the natural forces of His supernatural life bore Him, by inverted gravitation, upward to the place which was His own. He ascended by His own inherent power.

Thus, by a voluntary death, He became the Sacrifice for our sins; by the might of His self-effected resurrection He proclaimed Himself the Lord of death and the resurrection for all that trust Him; and by ascending up on high He draws our hearts’ desires after Him, so that we, too, as we see Him lost from our sight, behind the bright Shekinah cloud that stooped to conceal the last stages of His ascension from our view, may return to our lowly work ‘with great joy,’ and ‘set our affection on things above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.’

IV. So, lastly, we have here the dwelling again with the Father.

But that final dwelling with God is not wholly identical with the initial one. The earthly life was no mere parenthesis, and He who returned to the Throne carried with Him the manhood which He had assumed, and bore it thither into the glory in which the Word had dwelt from the beginning. And this is the true consolation which Christ offered to these His weeping servants, and which He still offers to us His waiting children, that now the manhood of Jesus Christ is exalted to participation in the divine glory, and dwells there in the calm, invisible sweetness and solemnity of fellowship with the Father.

If that be so, it is no mere abstract dogma of theology, but it touches our daily life at all points, and is essential to the fullness of our satisfaction and our rest in Christ.

‘We see not all things put under Him, but we see Jesus.’ Our Brother is elevated to the Throne, and, if I might so say, He makes the fortunes of the family, and none of them will be poor as long as He is so rich. He sends us from the far-off land where He is gone precious gifts of its produce, and He will send for us to share His throne one day.

Christ’s ascension to the Father is the elevation of our best and dearest Friend to the Throne of the Universe, and the hands that were pierced for us on the Cross hold the helm and sway the sceptre of Creation, and therefore we may calmly meet all events.

The elevation of Jesus Christ to the Throne fills Heaven for our faith, our imagination, and our hearts. How different it is to look up into those awful abysses, and to wonder where, amidst their crushing infinitude, the spirits of dear ones that are gone are wandering, if they are at all; and to look up and to think ‘My Christ hath passed through the Heavens,’ and is somewhere with a true Body, and with Him all that loved Him. Without an ascended Christ we recoil from the cold splendours of an unknown Heaven, as a rustic might from the unintelligible magnificence of a palace. But if we believe that He is ‘at the right hand of God,’ then the far-off becomes near, and the vague becomes definite, and the unsubstantial becomes solid, and what was a fear becomes a joy, and we can trust ourselves and the dear dead in His hands, knowing that where He is they are, and that in Him they and we have all that we need.

So, dear friends! it all comes to this-make sure that you have hold of the whole Christ for yourselves. His earthly life is little without the celestial halo that rings it round. His life is nothing without His death. His death without His resurrection and ascension maybe a little more pathetic than millions of other deaths, but is nothing, really, to us. And the life and death and resurrection are not apprehended in their fullest power until they are set between the eternal glory before and the eternal glory after.

These four facts-the dwelling in the Father; the voluntary coming to earth; the voluntary leaving earth; and, again, the dwelling with the Father-are the walls of the strong fortress into which we may flee and be safe. With them it ‘stands four square to every wind that blows.’ Strike away one of them, and it totters into ruin. Make the whole Christ your Christ; for nothing less than the whole Christ, ‘conceived of the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, . . . crucified, dead, and buried, . . . ascended into Heaven, and sitting at the right hand of God,’ is strong enough to help your infirmities, vast enough to satisfy your desires, loving enough to love you as you need, or able to deliver you from your sins, and to lift you to the glories of His own Throne.

16:28-33 Here is a plain declaration of Christ's coming from the Father, and his return to him. The Redeemer, in his entrance, was God manifest in the flesh, and in his departure was received up into glory. By this saying the disciples improved in knowledge. Also in faith; Now are we sure. Alas! they knew not their own weakness. The Divine nature did not desert the human nature, but supported it, and put comfort and value into Christ's sufferings. And while we have God's favourable presence, we are happy, and ought to be easy, though all the world forsake us. Peace in Christ is the only true peace, in him alone believers have it. Through him we have peace with God, and so in him we have peace in our own minds. We ought to be encouraged, because Christ has overcome the world before us. But while we think we stand, let us take heed lest we fall. We know not how we should act if brought into temptation; let us watch and pray without ceasing, that we may not be left to ourselves.I came forth from the Father - I came sent by the Father.

And am come into the world - See John 3:19; John 6:14, John 6:62; John 9:39.

28. I came forth from the Father, &c.—that is, "And ye are right, for I have indeed so come forth,and shall soon return whence I came." This echo of the truth, alluded to in Joh 16:27, seems like thinking aloud, as if it were grateful to His own spirit on such a subject and at such an hour. Though I be in the world, yet my original is not from the world; I am one with my Father, equal with him, God blessed forever. I came forth from him, as one sent in the fulness of time, to discharge the office of the Messias; the world, the place so called, was neither my original, nor yet is my home. I am presently leaving the world again, and going to my Father.

I came forth from the Father,.... This is the sum of what the apostle believed, and Christ, in these discourses of his, had been speaking of. This his coming forth from the Father is to be understood, not of his eternal filiation; nor of his coming forth in a way of grace towards his own people in the council and covenant of grace and peace; nor of his constitution, as Mediator, from everlasting; but of his coming in the flesh in the fulness of time: which supposes that he was, that he existed as a divine person before; that he was with the Father before; that he came forth from him with his knowledge, mind, and will; he came not of himself, but he sent him; and yet he came willingly, was not forced, or did not come against his will: and this does not suppose any local motion, or change of place, but only intends an assumption of the human nature into unity with his divine person, who fills heaven and earth with his presence; nor any separation from his Father, with whom he was, and in whose bosom he lay when he was made flesh, and dwelt among men; nor any absence from heaven, for he was there when on earth.

And am come into the world; where he was before, as the Creator and upholder of it, by his immensity and powerful presence; this designs his coming and manifestation in the flesh, which in general was to do the whole will of God, which he in council and covenant agreed to do, and for which he came down from heaven; and in particular to preach the Gospel, call sinners to repentance, give life and light to many, and to fulfil the law, by obeying its precepts, and bearing its penalty, and both to do and suffer in the room and stead of his people, and to save lost sinners, even the chief of them.

Again, I leave the world; not that he relinquished the sustaining and government of it, as God, nor the care of his people in it, as Mediator, for whom he retains the same love as ever, and will not leave them fatherless and comfortless; nor was he leaving it as never to return more; for he will descend, in like manner he ascended, and will come a second time and judge the world in righteousness: but he was about to depart from it by death, having done the work and business for which he came about.

And go to the Father; to give an account of his work unto him, as his righteous servant, being faithful to him that had appointed him; and to transact the affairs of his people; to appear in the presence of God for them; to present their petitions, be their advocate, make intercession for them, take possession of heaven in their name, and prepare it for them; to take his place at the right hand of God in human nature, and to be glorified with the glory promised him before the world was.

I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father.
John 16:28. With ἐξῆλθον, solemnly, and with still more definite precision by means of ἐκ τοῦ πατρός, a fresh confirmation of these fundamental contents of faith is commenced, and the return to the Father is subjoined,—and with this a conclusion is made with the same thought,—now, however, by means of the intervening explanatory clauses, brought nearer to the understanding of the disciples—from which the whole discussion, John 16:16-17, took its rise. A simple and grand summary of His entire personal life.

John 16:28. ἐξῆλθονπατέρα. “I came forth from the Father and am come into the world; again (reversing the process) I leave the world and go to the Father.” There is a sense in which any man can use these words, but it is a loose not an exact sense. The latter member of the sentence—“I leave the world and go to the Father”—gives us the interpretation of the former—“I came forth,” etc. For to say “I leave the world” is not the same as to say “I go to the Father”; this second expression describes a state of existence which is entered upon when existence in this world is done. And to say “I came forth from the Father” is not the same as to say “I am come into the world”: it describes a state of existence antecedent to that which began by coming into the world.

28. I came forth from] Our translators are again right in marking a difference but not quite right in their way of doing so (see on John 16:7). The Greek rendered ‘I came forth from’ here differs in the preposition used (ek) from that rendered ‘I came out from’ in John 16:27 (para). It would be better to transpose the translations. In John 16:27 it is the temporal mission of Christ from the Father that is meant (comp. John 17:8); in John 16:28 the Eternal Generation of the Son is also included (comp. John 8:42). The verse would almost form a creed. The Son, of one Substance with the Father, was born into the world, suffered, and returned to the Father.

John 16:28. Ἐξῆλθον, I came forth) This verse contains the most important recapitulation. The Socinians wrongly understand these words as spoken in the way of a παροιμία (John 16:25) or parabolic and dark saying.

Verse 28. - In these words our Lord gathers sublimely up a record of his entire self-manifestation. I came forth out of the Father (where ἔξελθον ἐκ, instead of παρὰ, is the new and better reading), as from the Divine Source of my pre-existent glory, I have come into the world, incarnate in humanity, "the Word was made flesh," "the Light lighting every man has come into the world." Again, I am leaving the world behind me, though for a little while you may behold me, and I am going on a great mission, with a goal in view, to the Father. "Recapitulationem maximam habet hic versus" (Bengel). Christ had said all this before, but they have never seen it as a whole. The several parts had been so impressive, that the whole truth had been concealed from them. John 16:28From the Father (παρά)

The best texts read, ἐκ, out of.

Go (πορεύομαι)

See on John 16:7.

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