Show Us the Father!

Rev. Steven D. Spencer – Pastor messiah Lutheran Church


John 14:8–21

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. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. "If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him."

Grace, peace and mercy from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen!

What are those three most important things for a Christian to properly understand the Scriptures? CONTEXT – CONTEXT and CONTEXT! Understanding our Gospel today can be aided by reading just 2 verses before our text. Listen carefully to verses 6-7 Jesus said to Philip, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father also. From now on you do know Him and have seen Him"(John 14:6-7).

Philip then said: "Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us."  In view of verses 6 and 7, what Philip says seems a bit silly. He like Thomas just doesn’t seem to get it. How could he ask such a question? But there are a few observations we ought to make.

First, the disciples aren’t afraid to admit their ignorance to Jesus. We should also. One of my favorite quotes from Mark Twain is this: It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.  I’m not saying that ignorance is bliss, but to trying to wing it, especially when it comes to God and your salvation isn’t a prudent thing. It’s best to admit your ignorance and ask for knowledge and wisdom.

Secondly, Knowledge of God doesn’t arise out of man's own reason or strength. Without God’s intervention no one can grasp who Jesus is. And that’s the same for us too. This observation is really an extension of the first observation. 

Thirdly, Evidently Philip was looking for something more tangible than what Jesus had given them in the Word. Are we any better? In my grandmother’s house was a beautiful Bible. It sat up high on a shelf. In the front of that Bible was written family information. Who was born when and where, who got married when and where, and who was buried when and where. That Bible was pulled down either to enter an important family date from the womb, groom or tomb or to remove its dust. The word of God is active and alive. God created by speaking His Word. It is sharper than any two edged sword. It kills and makes alive. And that Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. Yes I’m talking about Jesus. All of Scripture points to the cross. And Jesus is the Word of God personified. Your Bibles are full of what God wants to give you. I was raised in era that we should never write in our Bibles, but I encourage you to read, mark and learn and inwardly digest that Word of God. Go ahead and underline, highlight and meditate upon God’s Word, go ahead and write in the margins.

When we lived in Missouri I went to visit a member of our church who lived out in the country. I noticed one day that both the knees on his pants were worn through. I kiddingly asked if those were his praying pants. To my surprise he said yes. Due to years of use the knees had worn out I had assumed. But then he explained that all his pants were praying pants, “pray without ceasing”. It’s alright to wear out a Bible from using it, from carrying it, from reading it, from marking it and from making notes in it. It’s a shame to see a Bible fall apart from disuse.   

"Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us."   Ultimately what Philip is saying: "I'll be satisfied if you'll DEMONSTRATE the Father to us." 

But no one has ever seen God according to John 1:18. In Exodus 33:18 Moses begged of Yahweh, “show me your glory.” But Moses was only allowed to see a mere shadow of it as He passed by. So, Philip knows that Jesus is doing something that has never been done before throughout the history of Israel. Even to call God Father, to describe the relationship in that way was considered blasphemy.

“Show us the Father, and it is enough.”  As Jesus responds to Philip it’s easy to get the feeling that Jesus is saying: “NO, that won’t be enough!” It’s not enough for my Father. The Father wants more for you than just to see Him. In fact, you don’t realize just how close to you He is right now.

In the midst of their fear and anxiety, Jesus is making sure the disciples know who He is and who they are. Jesus is focusing on the “who” question, which is funny because when you face a problem you usually want someone to explain the “how”… how do I fix it, how do I get through it, how can I make it better, how, how, how? But please notice, as the disciples come to grips with Jesus leaving, He doesn’t provide them with a “how to” plan, a how to mission strategy, or a how to be Ablaze manual, or even a how to Live a Purpose Driven Life book! Jesus is explaining the “who” and not the how. Even when Thomas asks, “How do we know the way?” Jesus answered the how question with the Who: “I am the way!” (John 14:5-7).

So, who is this Jesus? Already, Peter proclaimed Him to be, “the Christ the Son of the Living God” (Matt. 16:13-20). Though he doesn’t really seem to understand what that means. Yes, Jesus is the Son of the Living God, but most importantly, the Son of God made flesh in the person of Jesus the Christ.

Sometimes I think we miss the importance of the Son of God being a person – God in the flesh. Sometimes we think of God more like a general… giving commands, barking orders, and shouting from behind the lines. But where’s the general during the war? Not on the field, not in thick of battle but off behind the lines, in some safe place, overseeing and directing it from afar. We may dare to think of God being with us during church and during the good times. But when life gets tough, things get intense, when things go sour, when you are in the heat of battle with the flesh and the world, it can feel as if God has stepped away to safety to watch it all unfold from far away in heaven.

But Jesus is the Son of God in the flesh, which means that God didn’t pretend to be human and He doesn’t shout from behind the lines. He is right here in the midst of life. Living with Jesus for three years should have taught the disciples, at least, one thing, God will live and suffer with them. But they struggled even more to understand that God would suffer and die for them on the cross.

And so, in these verses we hear this outrageous, intimate, relational language describing who God is in the relationship between the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Jesus emphasizes that the Father has been there all along through Him and the Holy Spirit is just as close.

In verses 9-11, Jesus emphasizes just how close the Father is by saying, if you have seen Me you have seen the Father. I am in the Father and the Father is in me. My words are the Fathers words. My miracles are the Father’s miracles.

And Jesus goes on to explain to them in verses 12-14, the relationship He has with the Father. And in that same way because Jesus has become flesh He has been united to them as well. If they believe Jesus then they can also believe that the Father through them; will live, work and do miracles and even greater things because they are united with His Son.

In verses 15-17, Jesus and the Father send the Holy Spirit, And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. You know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” He’s the One who is called to your side to help and encourage you and He will be with you forever.

From these verses, as Jesus leaves for the cross there’s one thing certain, the disciples will not be forsaken or abandoned. Jesus hasn’t come to abandoned them but is right there with them and so is the Father and the Holy Spirit.

Jesus speaks about their relationship to God. He told them about the relationship that God has with them but now He speaks about who they are to God. “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you” (John 14:18-20).

This is how far our relationship goes. God is not hiding safely off at some distance. But came to where you are to embrace you and bring you home. Jesus shared life with His disciples – He shared their place as a person in this world but He also shared his Father with them and… now… they… share His place as the Son and the relationship He has with his Father and the Spirit.

You could imagine Jesus saying, so Philip, seeing the Father is not enough… this is who God is. He doesn’t want you to just see Him nor is He watching you from some distance, but He loved you so much that He went through life, death and even hell for you. But Jesus doesn’t stop there. He goes on to share some benefits of faith.

“Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. Furthermore, he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him" (John 14:21). Verse 21 Jesus states the truth that one who knows His teachings and observes them." That person has a right relationship with Him, a relationship of love, willing obedience, caused by faith. Faith is not of self but is a gift of God. Nothing is valued more than willing obedience between children and parents or the willing loyalty between husband and wife. But nothing is more important than the willing obedience and loyalty of the believer toward Jesus. This is sanctification. It’s apparent in a believer's actions and attitudes. Now Jesus makes a triple promise introduced by the "furthermore." 

  1. The heavenly Father will bless this relationship by utter devotion to the believer;
  2. Jesus will further bless His own blessing;
  3. Jesus will manifest Himself to the loving believer.

How could anyone possibly add anything to this? Notice the centrality of love between the believer and the Trinity. Notice also that the persons of the Trinity work in utter harmony. Even the closest of mere human relationships is temporal and their relationships with each other intermittent, not constant. But the presence and relationship of the Trinity with the child of God is constant and will never end, for He is with you always even unto the end of the age. In Jesus name, amen and amen!

The peace of God which surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, AMEN.