When the children of my eldest son were very small you could see them looking at a photograph of me hanging in the hall with a puzzled expression. They knew it was not picture of their father and yet they were still not sure because my likeness was so similar to my son’s. When people rang the home phone number and Paul answered they could not tell the difference between our voices and equally the same thing happened if I answered his phone. The likeness between parent and child can be very close. Personality can also be very similar although in that case it is difficult to know how much is genetic and how much environmental. Is it that sort of thing that Jesus meant when he said, ‘I am in the Father and the Father is in me’?
Well the answer is no, he was not speaking about genetics as both are eternal. They are part of the mystery that is the Trinity. Their closeness is of a different order to a biological genetic connection. So much so that Jesus perfectly reveals the Father but, in a way, more comprehendible to us. To emphasize the point Jesus repeats four times, although he says it in different ways, within four verses, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father’ v9
It was time for Jesus to fully open the eyes of his disciples as to who he was. Firstly, in response to Thomas’ questioning as to where Jesus was going and how they were to get there, Jesus answers he was going to the Father meaning God (Yahweh) and the way to God was through him. vv5-6 This is an exclusive route, there is no other way, says Jesus. At this point the narrative does not answer the question what about those who have never heard of Jesus? We have to look elsewhere in the bible for responses to that question. Here, however, Jesus is speaking to disciples of his own, in a country that had the benefit of the Old Testament scriptures that speak of him, and to people who had met him, watched him and heard him. They clearly have no excuse as to whether or not they positively respond to him. For ourselves, Jesus words make it imperative to explain who Jesus is. If people are genuinely seeking God then we know we need to introduce them to Jesus.
Jesus could not have made it plainer when he said, ‘If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen me.’ v7 Philip did not take in the meaning immediately but demonstrated the heart of a seeker by saying, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.’ v8 There appears to be a mix of exasperation and patience in Jesus’ reply to Philip. He says again that to see him is to see the Father. He clearly does not mean physical sight. He means that Jesus expresses God’s love, power, wisdom, truth and character. He can only do that as the two are intimately combined and he expresses that with the question, ‘Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?’ What Jesus says comes from the Father, what he does comes from the Father and his power comes from the Father.
For Jesus it is better if the disciples believe in him because they know him. However, Jesus goes on to say in effect, if knowing me is not enough for you to believe: believe because of the miracles you have witnessed. v11 This statement by Jesus places miracles in the appropriate perspective. The main purpose of miracles is to enable faith, which leads people on to the Father. They have a gospel value. The miracle’s primary purpose is not the miracle itself.
How much time do we take to know Jesus?
What have we learnt about God the Father through the life of Jesus?
How do we try to make Jesus known?
Knowing You, Jesus – Graham Kendrick