The farewell discourse contains profound words directly from Christ that have the propensity to aide a person in traversing from death to life. In his final hours, Jesus talks to the disciples with clarity uniting the work of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in a call to believers to stand firm, abide in the Lord, and keep His commandments. The Gospel of John is like a pool in which a child may wade and an elephant may swim (1) and this particular discourse confirms this. There is much to be learned and encouraged by from Christ’s words here.
In The Farewell Discourse and Final Prayer of Jesus, scholar D.A. Carson takes readers through a deep exposition of chapters 14-17 of John, through ten chapters and 236 pages. This is not a new book, but a repackaging of the original publication from 1980. However, the teaching goes back further to a series of talks that Carson gave, originally directed towards deep scholars, the book has sought to remove the complexity, but not the profundity. Such a developed discussion causes intense contemplation and learning that should drive readers back to the Scriptures in wonder of the Lord’s teaching.
D.A. Carson has a gift of communication, writing and teaching in a clear and concise manner. This allows him to write and expound on truths in a way that provokes the mind to dwell deeply upon God’s truth while compelling the heart to incline itself more towards God. There is much to be gained from reading The Farewell Discourse and Final Prayer of Jesus, but there are three areas that readers will find most exceptional in this book. First, Carson does well at explaining the roles of the Trinity. Most specifically, Carson’s attention to the roles of the Holy Spirit as one who reveals Christ is greatly needed and appreciated (see chapter 7). Second, despite some strong words about Christian obedience within the passage, Carson not only compels Christian belief and behavior, but he does so with a hopeful attitude, not a defeatist one. Finally, Carson draws believers to Christ, promoting true contentment through Him alone (specifically on pages 26, 113). One cannot help but be provoked with quotes such as the following:
No one is more miserable than the Christian who for a time hedges in his obedience. He does not love sin enough to enjoy its pleasures, and he does not love Christ enough to relish holiness” (pg. 116).
Thoughts like these can do nothing less than pierce the heart.
While compelling readers to a more profound contentment in Chris he also pushes them towards a more profound obedience. In many ways this is a great thing, however, there are moments when Carson skirts dangerously close to the line of a faith by works (pg. 112-113) sometimes suggesting that we win God’s blessings by our obedience to him (pg. 68 & 69). Like the Bible though, it is important to interpret all that is said within the context of its entirety. Therefore, looking at the rest of the book, one will see that Carson is not promoting a salvation by works, however, there are times in which his wording can be closer than I would personally be with. However, his call to obedience is notable and important, and should not be completely neglected.
The Farewell Discourse and Final Prayer of Jesus are well-known, but very little explored beyond basic personal sentiments and wants. D.A. Carson masterfully expounds upon John 14-17. It will not be an easy read, because what is shared requires meditation of the Lord’s truth and inclination towards the Lord’s person. Yet, believers will be encouraged and can learn much. Therefore, I highly recommend it to readers.
To purchase a copy of The Farewell Discourse and Final Prayer of Jesus by D.A. Carson, click here.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher at no cost to me for the purposes of review. However, my review was not influenced in any way by the publisher, author, or any other person associated with this book and is the result of my own reading of it.
(1) This description comes from an unknown commentator and is quoted on page 9 of D.A. Carson’s book The Farewell Discourse & Final Prayer of Jesus.