By Hoyt H. Houchen
Question: What does the expression “will manifest myself” in John 14.21 mean?
Reply: In His farewell discourse to His disciples, Jesus said: “He that hath my commandments, and keepth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself unto him” (Jn. 14:21).
The verb “will manifest” is the Greek word emphanizo in the future tense. There are other passages (Matt. 27:53; Heb. 9:24) where the word refers to a physical manifestation. But the word also (as suggested by W.E. Vine) is used metaphorically (Vol. 1, p. 65). In this discourse Jesus has promised the Holy Spirit to His apostles (Jn. 14:26; 16:13). It is in harmony with this context that to those obedient to His will, He would make His presence known by the Holy Spirit who would dwell in them. Of course, being guided by the Holy Spirit in what they spoke and wrote, this was miraculous (see Acts 2:14). Christians today do not have a miraculous indwelling of the Holy Spirit, but every child of God who is obedient to the will of Christ will have Him in his heart (1 Pet. 3:15), thus will be aware of His presence.
It is not a physical presence of Christ that is in Christians, but He abides in our hearts by faith, just as do the Father and the Holy Spirit. This is made possible by our obedient submission to the will of Christ. This is proof of our love (Jn. 14:15) and assurance that Christ loves us, and is manifested in us (v. 21) in our hearts and our lives. Even though Christ is in heaven, the Christian is conscious of His presence in his heart and life. The Scriptures supply our faith (Rom. 10: 17); therefore, Christ dwells in the obedient child of God by faith. As Paul expressed it, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I that live, but Christ liveth in me: and that life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith. . . ” (Gal. 2:20). The world sees Christ in us, not His physical presence, but by our words and actions as they conform to Christ’s will. He dwells in His followers spiritually as we partake of His strength and comfort, being assured that He is with us.
Thus the “manifestation” in John 14:21 is both a spiritual indwelling and a communion. Every faithful child of God can rejoice for the spiritual presence of Jesus — his redeemer, Lord, Savior and friend.
Guardian of Truth XXX: 4, p. 101
February 20, 1986