John chapter 14 right through to John chapter 17 are considered some of the weightiest sections of the Gospels.
My guess is that John was a perceiver. He seems to write in a manner very similar to many of the perceivers I know – they take very cryptic notes, if any notes at all, and any one other sentences can be expanded out into a paragraph or even a chapter. They seem to write very concisely as opposed to myself, as an encourager, who tends to be quite verbose.
(I like to joke about there being a self-help group finally for those of us who can’t stop talking – it’s called “On and On Anon”.)
The scene of these four chapters is the upper room where Jesus and his 12 disciples have just finished celebrating the annual Passover meal together – just hours before Judas betrays Jesus to the soldiers, following which Jesus is executed. Judas has already left to go meet with his cohorts, and Jesus has commented to Peter that Peter will deny even knowing him before dawn comes (despite Peter’s protests to the contrary).
My guess is that this material which Jesus lays on them that evening is not all that new to His friends, but is rather a summary of some of the main points of His teaching to His inner circle. He seems to be concerned that the small group will stay together after He is killed and not scatter as the disciples of his cousin John the Baptist had done when John the Baptist was executed.
In chapter 14, which is the focus of this particular item, Jesus is addressing the issue of grief which He knows that they are going to be dealing with in a matter of hours – despite the seeming unreality of that event at this particular time. The passages in this Scripture are often read out at funerals where a great part of the agenda of a funeral is the comfort of people who have lost loved ones.
The essence of the comfort that Jesus gives His disciples is that they will not be left alone, but that the Spirit of God will comfort them over the long haul, and that same Spirit will guide them both to remember the things that He’s taught them, and guide them into creative and life-giving activity in relation to the community after he’s gone.
Jesus also talks about the fact that He is going to heaven, but that He will return and work with them “from the other side” so to speak.
The material in chapters 15 to 17 build on this. In many evangelical denominations, when ministers are being examined prior to ordination, the focus of their questions frequently comes from these four chapters. Candidates are advised to know these four chapters upside down and backwards, and if they do, they will likely pass the exam.