"Show us the Father"
John 14: 8-12: Philip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us." Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father."
Phillip’s focus on the physical
Phillip’s attempt to put conditions on believing in Christ
Christ’s actions were perfectly conformed to the will of God even though Christ will was sometimes apart from Gods as shown in His prayer in the garden before he was arrested.
Jesus' example of the lives we should live that others may see him in us
Other disciples will accomplish greater works than Christ because of the limited time Christ was to be on earth.
It is important to know the setting from which Jesus is speaking; he has just started to prepare the disciples for his eventual death. Christ had told the disciples to trust in God that he was going to prepare a room in his father’s house. In explaining this text you also must remember it is before the disciples have a full understanding of Christ’s teachings, he constantly has to explain to them the meanings behind parables that he uses to teach. Their understanding was not complete until the Holy Spirit descended upon them enabling them to comprehend completely what Christ had taught them earlier.
In the preceding verses (5-7) Thomas told Christ that they did not know where he was going so how can they (disciples) know the way. Jesus responds by saying he was the way and that no one comes to the Father except though Christ. This is where Phillip makes his statement Lord Show us the Father and that will be enough for us.
Jesus was telling his disciples that he was going to leave them and without Jesus, their leader, and what would happen to them. Phillip then, just as we do today, tended to focus on the physical. Phillip was looking for that comforting feeling that he was doing the right thing by following Christ. He was looking for physical evidence to reassure him and the disciples. We do the same thing in our prayers when we pray for God to adhere to our will, whether it be healing a loved one or enhancing our own lives in some worldly way instead of simply praying your will be done and accepting that God will always do what is best for us if we are truly his. Phillip was reaching out to Jesus basically saying prove what you are saying to us by physically showing us the Father (or evidence of the Father if not literally) of which you speak so that he could be reassured his decision to continue to follow Christ after he had left them was the right path for him.
Phillip was in essence saying to Christ do this for us and we will continue to follow you. Do we not do the same thing today? I can’t count the times I have prayed to God and said Lord if you would only do this (pass a test, buy a house, heal a loved one, etc…) that I would dedicate my life to him or increase my tithing or some other thing I felt like God would desire of me. This demonstrates where Phillip and the other disciples were at this time in their spiritual life, they were but infants just as many of us are today. Christ knew they needed the Holy Spirit or they would never make it to the goal he aspired for them, the same way that we today will not reach our desired destination that Christ desires for us without studying what the Spirit has given us in the written word.
This conclusion is evident from Christ response to Phillip which was not to produce the evidence that he requested but instead to show him that it already existed. Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Jesus implies that Phillip should have already known this by saying how can you say, 'Show us the Father'. Again I say that we here today are in the same boat as Phillip was then, with all that has been given us spiritually (the Bible, our church family, the Elders, etc…) we still have not grown where we should be just as Phillip had not even though he had the physical evidence he requested right in front of him for a long time. We, as Phillip did then, tend to ignore what is before us all along. In Phillip’s case it was Christ with whom he walked and even lived with for a long time but in our case it is the written word first and then the other support the Lord provides for us (our church family, the Elders, ministry leaders, etc…) to have confidence that our journey for Christ and with Christ is the right path to follow.
The next point I would like to make Christ’s actions were perfectly conformed to the will of God even though Christ will was sometimes apart from Gods as shown(it should be noted that Christ always conformed his will to reflect God’s) in His prayer in the garden before he was arrested. Jesus states the words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves. In the NIV the last part reads at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves.
The full nature of that knowledge which the First Person of the Trinity has of the Second and the Second of the First, is something far beyond man's finite understanding. It is in short a deep mystery ... (It is) a knowledge so high, so deep, so intimate, so ineffable, that no words can fully convey it.
Jesus is trying to show the disciples that they are seeing God in the only way that matters, and that is spiritually. I will start at the end of the statement where Jesus tells the disciples to at the very least believe on the miracles themselves. This implies that if for no other reason that God would not work these wonders though Christ if Jesus was not doing his will. Jesus is a physical man just as Phillip and the other apostles are and he has his own will just as they did, however his actions were conformed to meet God’s will perfectly. In other words, if God did not desire it to be so then Christ would not have done it. Today we have that same opportunity to be like Christ if and only if we know God the same way that Christ knew God (although not to the same perfect level that Christ had attained). The apostles accomplished this later with the arrival of the Holy Spirit with which they attained a more perfect knowledge of God however not to the extent that Christ knew God’s will. This is why we will always fall short however we still have the opportunity to know God’s will more perfectly and to be more pleasing to God by studying his word to come to a more perfect knowledge of God’s will. We use the word maturity to show the level of knowledge that each of us has of God’s will and it differs with every Christian. In 1st Timothy, Paul describes a mature Christian when he is giving the requirements to be an Elder or Shepard of the flock. This maturity is perfected in Christ and by Christ in his willingness to put God first and Christ argues his success in this area by implying that the miracles are the evidence he does only what God desires. We can relate to this with our own children, who among us do not reward or show our approval in some way when our children conform to our will?
The next point I would like to make is from this part of the passage truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do. Jesus is squarely qualifying those who can claim to believe in him and have Christ acknowledge their claim with his action to give them a home in heaven. The verse that comes to mind is that not all who call on my name will enter into the kingdom of heaven but those that do the will of the Father, thus reflecting what he says here and implying that those who do not the works that I do also do not believe as Christ defines belief. Here are some other verses that demonstrate this same thought.
Luke 13:22-30. Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, “Lord are only a few people going to be saved?” He said to them, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’
But he will answer, I don’t know you or where you come from
“Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’
But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers. “There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out.
John 6 57-58 Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever.
Luke 8:19. Now Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him, but they were not able to get near him because of the crowd. Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you. He replied, “ My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.
I am sure there are many more verses that reflect this; however the point that Christ is trying to make to Phillip and the apostles is very clear. They are showing some doubt at this point by requesting additional proof that they will be taken care of or are on the right path and Jesus defines belief in him for them by saying only those who do the works that I do. In other words they could not claim to believe without doing as Christ had done in the same way that Christ could claim the Father because he did the will of the Father.
The last point of this passage is less definitive to me and can mean several things in my mind however some points are clear. And greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father." Here Jesus is clearing proclaiming that he is leaving to be with the Father that point is clear. We know now that he was referring to the coming crucifixion that was the culmination of his personal ministry. This is one of the few times we see that Jesus will and God’s will were not the same however again I must stress that God’s will was the one that Jesus chose to put into action versus his own. This is also an inspiration to me in that I am not falling short for desiring some path other than God’s for even Christ did that. Now back to the less definitive part of the message. And greater works than these will he do refers back to those who believe by doing the works that Christ done. If you believe that works refers to the miracles (NIV account) then this could refer to the apostles and the coming power they are to receive with the Holy Spirit. However how do you get greater than raising the dead, healing the sick, etc...? The apostles did nothing that could be defined as greater in the enacting of miracles unless they just did a greater volume of miracles because of the additional time they had on earth as opposed to Christ. I personally believe this passage refers to all Christians including you and I since I believe the work that Christ is talking about is accomplishing God’s ultimate goal of redeeming mankind into that desired relationship with God. I believe that Christ was referring to the number of souls bought back to God even though all those works would be though Christ Jesus had to die to enact the new covenant he provided so that the kingdom of God could be established, therefore the adding to the kingdom would be done by his disciples who though him would lead many others to reach the desired will of God. Therefore it is you and I (all disciples) who will do greater works that Christ is referring to since God’s will is restoring man to a relationship with him and it is up to us to do that though Christ who laid the foundation through his death and resurrection. There is a verse that goes something like this – restoring one soul to God will cover a multitude of sins, thus showing the value God places on a soul restored because we already know the cost of one sin.
EZEKIEL 34:23,24 "And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. And I Jehovah will be their God, and my servant David prince among them; I Jehovah have spoken it.
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