The Ruler Of This World Is Coming, But He Has No Claim On Me

John 14:25-31 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. 28 You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe. 30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, 31 but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.


It’s been a little while since I’ve rooted our place in John’s Gospel in the larger context. I feel a particular need to do so regularly both because we cannot rightly understand any passage in John apart from understanding its place in the whole Gospel and because I still remember so vividly what it was like to sit through church services for the first 20 years of my life apart from any sense of context.

If you’re just joining us or in case you forgot, the typical sermon you’ll hear at Grace Church is one in which we work our way through an entire book of the Bible. In the last decade or so, I’ve preached through every verse in Mark’s Gospel (chapters 11-16), 1 John, Titus, 1 Peter, Hosea, Ruth, Genesis, James, and now John. We preach through whole books of the Bible because, as I said, just like your favorite novel or a letter you get from a friend, the different passages within a biblical book only make sense within the whole book. And we keep preaching through all the books of the Bible because together they tell one unified story of God’s redemption of His people. In other words, each passage in a book of the Bible only makes sense in light of the whole book and each book of the Bible only makes sense in light of the whole Bible.

What’s more, the Bible as a whole and each book of the Bible are inspired by God. For that reason, we can rest assured that it is trustworthy and true in all it says. And because it is divine in origin, it is authoritative (our final authority for all of life), clear (the difficulties we have in understanding are because of our ignorance, not any lack in the Bible), necessary (we cannot know the truth about the nature and purpose of God, ourselves, or the world without it), and powerful (it is the means by which God saves and changes us).

At the same time, each book of the Bible was written by a particular, human author, to a particular audience, for a particular purpose. And for that reason, we always need to answer three questions when studying a passage: (1) What was the author’s original intent? That is, what did he intend his original audience to understand? (2) What is the larger context of the passage, both in the book itself and in the Bible as a whole? And (3) What does God intend us to do in light of the passage? How do we apply it in a manner consistent with its meaning and context? For the goal of all biblical truth is our sanctification.

With all of that in mind, the Gospel of John was written by a relatively uneducated fisherman named John. Later in his life, he became one of Jesus’ closest followers (disciples), one whom Jesus loved. He was an eye witness to the things he wrote about in this Gospel.

John wrote his Gospel for a wide audience. More importantly, he wrote down the events in the life and ministry of Jesus for a very specific purpose: to convince his readers that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, the Savior of the world, so that his readers would believe in Jesus, so that his readers might gain eternal life, which comes from trusting in Jesus (20:30). Knowing those things helps us make sense of each passage we encounter.

Again, then, our passage for this morning is written about the events that took place mere hours before Jesus’ crucifixion. They record the words Jesus spoke to His disciples to explain His departure and comfort them in light of it. Jesus would soon leave the disciples by dying, rising from the dead, and then ascending into heaven, but He explained all of this to make it easier for His followers, He promised to send the Holy Spirit to dwell in them and minister to them, He encouraged them to consider the glory and joy that would soon be His, He promised that the devil would not defeat Him, and He reaffirmed that He had and would perfectly obey the Father until the end.

Once again, the big idea of this passage is that Jesus would not only die in the place of His followers in order to bring them eternal life, but also leave them with everything they need to thrive in His physical absence and share in His victory. The main takeaways are to trust in Jesus, reject the devil, and walk in righteousness.


We considered vs.25-27 last week, but I included them in this sermon because they provide the context for 28-31. The pinnacle of all of it is found in v.27, where Jesus promises a new and special kind of peace for His followers. We saw last time that the source of this peace, in the midst of fierce trials, is obedience to Jesus, the imminent, indwelling ministry of the Holy Spirit, and certain knowledge of eternal life for all who hope in Jesus.

25 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

Before we move on to the new content, I’d like to reiterate two things from these three verses. First, Christian, the Spirit is always with you and in you to help you. Much of the time, especially in the past, that sounded like a neat concept, but it was not something I consciously experienced very often. Over the years, however, I’ve come to realize that much of what I considered “normal” was actually the work of the Spirit. What I mean is that it is the grace of God, through the Spirit of God, every time I remember the commands and promises of God, every time I am convicted of sin, every time I walk in righteousness or repent of failing to, every time I preach or minister to someone and they’re genuinely strengthened in their faith, every time I am filled with worship because of God’s creation, every time there is genuine love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control in me, every time I trust in Jesus instead of myself, and every time the story of God, rather than my own sense of things, shapes my feelings and actions. In other words, by simply learning to recognize the work the Spirit was already doing in me, I’ve found real comfort and help, along with real communion with the Spirit, whom the Father sent according to the Son’s promise here.

Second, Jesus was not over-promising or being metaphorical when He said He was leaving His peace for and giving it to His followers. There is a peace that comes and transcends all circumstances when our hope is truly in Jesus. It is a gracious gift of the Spirit, but it is a gift offered to all who hope in Jesus.

The thing that often comes to my mind when I consider this is from a biography I read on John Patton. He was a missionary to the New Hebrides islands in the 1800s. The only two known missionaries to the islands before John Patton were killed and eaten by cannibals. Think about that, Grace Church. There probably isn’t much that could cause more peacelessness in us than the idea of being dropped off on an island of cannibals, is there?

Indeed, while still considering whether to go, Patton received lots of advice. One of the elders in His church, a Mr. Dickson, in an attempt to dissuade him from going, understandably beseeched Patton, “The cannibals! You will be eaten by cannibals!”

While the mere thought of going caused Mr. Dickson no small lack of peace, John Patton’s hope was in Jesus’ John 14:27 promise, such that his response was altogether different. He was filled with Jesus’ peace even in the face of being killed and eaten by the people he went to love.

Therefore, he replied, “Mr. Dickson, you are advanced in years now, and your own prospect is soon to be laid in the grave, there to be eaten by worms; I confess to you, that if I can but live and die serving and honoring the Lord Jesus, it will make no difference to me whether I am eaten by Cannibals or by worms; and in the Great Day my Resurrection body will rise as fair as yours in the likeness of our risen Redeemer.”

That’s the peace Jesus was talking about and promising to all who would hope truly in Him.


Of course, Patton had a measure of faith, and with it a kind of peace that is rare. We’re right to wonder where those things come from. How can we have that kind of faith in Jesus and the peace that comes with it? Ultimately, the answer is the grace of God. It is always God’s kindness that allows us to trust in Jesus in the first place, grow in that trust, and experience the transformation of that trust.

At the same time, and let us never forget, the kind of trust that God gives and through which God saves and sanctifies, is always substantive. It is never generic. Our trust is always in the actual person of Jesus, not lies we believe about Jesus, and the actual promises and work of Jesus, not nice thoughts we have about what we wish Jesus offered or did.

In other words, to have the kind of trust that Jesus demands, and John Patton had, the kind that produces peace even when sleeping in a tree to avoid being killed and eaten by the people you’re trying to share Jesus with, that kind of trust is always the result of God’s grace and Spirit working true belief in true things.

In the next several verses (28-31), Jesus named four such things; four truths that all who believe in them by supernatural grace, will find supernatural peace that is able to withstand every trial under the sun.

Knowledge of Jesus’ Future Strengthens Faith (28)

The first faith-building truth is one that snuck up on me a bit. At the same time, it’s one that we all have a category for; at least everyone who has been to a funeral for a Christian. Have you ever been to a funeral of someone who you knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, loved Jesus; who you were so sure of their faith that you were certain that they were in heaven?

If you were close to that person, it was probably really difficult not to feel crushed by losing them. Their passing most certainly left a real and significant wound. And in situations like that, it is often hard not to be consumed by grief. It can feel almost impossible not to be controlled by sadness.

And yet, with even a brief moment’s consideration, it’s easy to see that when a believer dies, there’s a well of joy just below the surface for the grief-stricken. It is the joy of knowing that the person you loved is one million times happier than you are sad. It is the joy of knowing that they have finally come to a place where they are able to glorify and enjoy the Father, Son, and Spirit fully and eternally. It is the joy of knowing that all their suffering is gone and has been replaced by unlimited ecstasy. It is the joy of knowing that they are in perfect and uninterrupted fellowship with God.

Probably my most vivid early memory of this was Howie Holms funeral. He and his wife Marie (you may have noticed Marie in the directory) were pillars in the early years of Grace Church. Howie served on the worship team and even recorded a worship album to bless the church. (We have it. It’s called, “Do Try This at Home”.) He was a faithful man of God who died of cancer way too early (back in 2009).

I had been to many funerals at that point, but none like Howie’s. I was mostly unprepared for a funeral that felt more like a worship service than a time of mourning. He chose the songs we sang and they were filled with hope and gladness. It really did feel more like a Sunday morning than a funeral.

The first truth Jesus gave to the disciples (in these verses) to comfort them by strengthening their faith was that He was returning to His rightful place of glory at the right hand of God.

28 You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.

Remember, to love someone is to long for them to have that which is best for them. What was best for Jesus was to obey all the way (the fourth truth) and then return to heaven (this truth). If His disciples really loved Him, they would rejoice that He was about to experience both. Their sorrow would wain and their peace would wax as they turned their eyes off of their loss and onto Jesus’ gain.

In chapter 17 we’ll read Jesus’ words to this effect, “And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.” In coming to earth and taking on flesh, Jesus set aside some measure of His glory and communion with the Father (Which is probably what Jesus’ meant by “the Father is greater than I”). He was about to receive both back forever, and for that, the disciples should have rejoiced.

In your sorrow, Grace, remember where Jesus is, the path of He took to get there (the cross) and the reason for it (your salvation), and rejoice that He’s in the Father’s presence and pleasure. Rejoice also that you will be there with Him one day too. Should the Spirit grant it, there is sweet and abiding peace for every trial in that truth.

Knowledge from Jesus’ Predictions Strengthens Faith (29)

The second truth spoken by Jesus to strengthen the faith of His followers on the eve of His departure was a familiar one.

In chapter 13, we read of Jesus telling His disciples of Judas’s betrayal. Jesus explained that He was telling them of this treachery in advance, “… before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he.” In other words, Jesus revealed certain things to His disciples ahead of time to help them understand the extent of His power, to help them trust in Him as they should.

Jesus did the same thing here. He had just spoken to them about the coming of the Spirit.

29 And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe.

Jesus loved His disciples such that He gave them grace after grace to carry them through their trials if they would simply believe Him. And in this case, His grace took (again) the form of promising something only the omniscient, omnipotent God could promise. It was a sweet promise of more help. And even more, Jesus promised it beforehand so that it would provide a double blessing when it came to pass—the help of the indwelling Spirit and the help of confidence that comes from remembering Jesus’ promise of it.

Grace, this is all of God’s promises to us. Do you want peace in the midst of every trial, John Patton like peace, Jesus’ going-to-the-cross peace? If so, go to the Word of God and find the promises of God for those who believe and believe them with the Spirit’s help. If you do, they, not your circumstances will shape your thoughts, actions, and feelings and bring you peace. And when they come to pass, you will receive another blessing still in their fulfillment.

Knowledge of Jesus’ Victory Strengthens Faith (30)

The third truth Jesus shared with His disciples to strengthen their faith as they believed in it, is a bit less familiar (which is the reason for the title). Jesus had mentioned that the “ruler of this world” will be cast out (12:31). In chapter 13 (vs.2 and 27) we’re told that Satan entered Judas, which Jesus predicted back in chapter 6(:70). And He accused the religious leaders of being sons of the devil (8:44). More subtly, a significant part of the contrast between light and dark in John’s Gospel is tied to the battle between the devil and the people of God. In other words, there have been a few mentions of the devil (Satan, the evil one, the ruler of this world), but in the most explicit and significant statement yet, Jesus told His disciples, 30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming…”.

By “the ruler of this world” Jesus was referring to the devil, the fallen angel, the serpent who deceived Adam and Eve in the Garden. He is the ruler of this world, not in the sense that He has ultimate authority over it, but in the sense that “the world” (fallen men and women) has chosen to submit to him rather than God.

In one sense, of course, the devil has been in the world since the beginning. There is no indication in God’s Word that he ever left. What Jesus had in mind here (by “the ruler…is coming”), therefore, is the return of Judas who had been overcome by the devil to betray Jesus. Judas, filled with Satan, was about to lead the Jews and Roman authorities to Jesus that they might execute Him.

As tragic as that was, it was far outweighed by the good news of the following clause, “He has no claim on me…”.

Since Adam and Eve, the devil had a claim on every man, woman, and child in the sense that he could rightly accuse them before God of having sinned against God. But Jesus, born of a virgin and perfectly obedient in all his ways (the next, fourth, and final truth), was different. There is nothing the devil could legitimately accuse Jesus of, for He is perfect in every way.

It was such great irony that the devil’s tactics were the devil’s ruin and the world’s salvation. By mistakenly believing that he had a claim on Jesus, the devil felt confident in seeking to put Jesus to death. But because the devil was wrong, Jesus’ death was the very means by which He would rescue mankind from our sin.

Judas was minutes away from acting on his satanic schemes. By itself, that would rob every reasonable person of peace. It would be nothing more than tragedy. But Jesus told the disciples that this news was not by itself, that there is something more. It came with the promise that the ruler of this world would gain nothing more than the appearance of victory, and that only for a few days, before Jesus would come bursting forth in victory, and He offers that victory to all who believe!

I hope it’s easy for you to see, Grace Church, that if anyone truly believes that by the Spirit’s power, there is peace through every trial. There was peace for the disciples who heard Jesus first say these things and there is peace for anyone and everyone since who will receive these things. These are faith-strengthening, peace-giving words of grace. Believe them, Grace. Live in light of them. The devil has no claim on Jesus or any who are in Him by faith.

Knowledge of Jesus’ Obedience and Love Strengthens Faith (31)

Finally, and as I’ve noted twice already, all of this is ultimately possible because Jesus obeyed all the way to the end. He did just as and only as the Father commanded Him. And He did so in love—in the love of and in love for the Father and all the Father had given to Him.

31 …but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father.

I hope you see that Jesus’ love for the Father is of the same essence as the love He called His followers to have for Him and one another. It was a love rooted in and defined by pursuing that which is best for others; which is rooted in and defined by obedience to the commands of God.

I hope you also see that before Jesus’ incarnation, teaching, miracles, obedience, death, and resurrection are for mankind, they are for the Father. His love for the Father is first and, in His perfect wisdom and love, it is simultaneously love for us. What’s best for the Father—Jesus’ perfect obedience, even unto death—is also what’ best for all mankind. How awesome is that?!

Do you believe these things? Do you believe Jesus’ teaching that there is peace in rejoicing in the fact that He is in His proper place and glory with the Father, awaiting us to join Him? Do you believe Jesus’ promises of future grace for all who believe in Him? Do you believe that the devil has no claim on Him, or any who are in Him? And do you believe that Jesus’ perfectly obeyed the Father in love, which is also the greatest act of love for us? If so, if you believe these things by the Spirit’s power, your faith in Jesus will grow and grow. And if your faith continues to grow, so too will your peace through every trial.