Loving Father, may I have the power to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge (Ephesians 3:18-19).
Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.”
Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and
you still do not know me? 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; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me;
but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves.”
The Chinese Christian leader, Watchman Nee, begins his classic The Normal Christian Life wanting to bring clarity; he does not want readers confusing the average Christian life with the normal Christian life. It is not. For what often passes as the average Christian life is a far cry from the abundant life, the normal life, the Father sent His Son to give. The life and love that the Triune God pours out remains elusive to many Christians. It has little more practical impact than E = mc2. Yes, I believe that it’s true, but so what! “There are many truths in Christianity to which we give lip service or a head-knowledge consent, yet if we were to live by them, such revealed truths would radically change our lives.” (George Maloney, God’s Community of Love) Jesus’ words in the Upper Room can radically change the average Christian life into the normal Christian life He came to give.
Jesus’ words in today’s scripture are a response to Philip’s urgent plea: “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Remember that this is the Philip who has walked with Jesus since the beginning of Jesus’ ministry (John 1:43). Philip became an instant evangelist for Jesus, telling people: “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth”(John 1:45). Philip had heard Jesus’ powerful sermons and saw His many miracles, but tonight is unsure of what that all means. Philip has confessed Jesus as Messiah but does not yet understand how He is Emmanuel, God with us. He cannot yet put together the mystery that to see Jesus is to see God the Father.
But in an act of sheer faith in Jesus, Philip asks Him to do the impossible. He dares to ask Jesus to show them something that even Moses was not allowed to see (Exodus 33:18; John 1:18). He asks, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Philip is sure that to see the Father will soothe and satisfy their troubled hearts.
Rather than more revelation, Jesus points Philip back to what he has already heard and seen from Jesus: “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” That must have seemed too good to be true for Philip. God is just like the Jesus he had come to know and love!
Brennan Manning tells of a night he ‘heard’ Jesus saying: “For the love of you I left my Father’s side. I came to you who ran from me, and who fled me, who did not want to hear my name. For love of you I was covered with spit, punched, beaten, and fixed to the wood of the cross.” Manning says he reflected on what he ‘heard’ Jesus say and remembered the words of a wise old Franciscan: “Once you come to know the love of Jesus Christ, nothing else in the world will seem as beautiful or desirable.” (Abba’s Child)
The way for Philip, or for anyone, to see the Father is to keep eyes fixed on Jesus. Jesus reveals the heart of God for us. The average Christian life becomes the normal, abundant Christian life, as we grow in awareness of the Father’s unchanging love for us. This alone will radically change our lives.
- How do I see Jesus revealing the Father?
- Do I see my life as the “average” Christian life or the “normal” Christian life?
O most merciful Redeemer, Friend and Brother, may I know Thee more clearly, love Thee more dearly, and follow Thee more nearly, day by day.
Richard of Chichester (1197-1253)