Jesus said, “If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” 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. Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.”
“Lord, show us the Father and we will be satisfied!” One should hope so! There is nothing beyond. But perhaps what John had in mind was the echo with a passage in Exodus. There Moses said to God, "Show me your glory, I pray," which the Septuagint translates, "Show me yourself" (Exodus 33:18). God's reply was, "You cannot see my face; for no one shall see me and live." But Jesus’ reply to Philip stands in perfect contrast to this: “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.”
This was a clear expression of Jesus’ intimacy with the Father. He cannot be understood apart from his relationship with his Father: “I am in the Father and the Father is in me.” On another occasion he said, “The Father and I are one” (John 10:30). But he never said, “I am the Father.” Between him and his Father is a vital relationship, and also a vital distinction.
Without imagining that we are ‘explaining’ Jesus and the Father, we can say that this is what personal life is like. Inanimate things can fuse together as an amorphous whole, but union in personal life retains all vital distinctions. There is union, and simultaneously difference. Some holy person once said, “God and I are not one and we are not two.” How do we understand this? Try and figure it out! According to the head we are two; according to the heart we are one. Is that the answer? An answer can be too clear. I think we can answer it really only with our life, not with words.
“The one who believes in me will also do the works that I do.” ‘Faith’ and ‘works’ together in one phrase! There have been centuries of argument about these words. It’s clear, though, that Jesus is not referring to some sort of manipulative strategies on our part, but to action that flows directly from faith. Without such action there would be no evidence of life. As Paul put it, “the only thing that counts is faith working through love” (Galatians 5:6).
“In fact, [they] will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father.” Jesus’ greatest work is still to come: his death, resurrection, ascension, and his sending the Spirit. That Spirit will be poured out on them in abundance at Pentecost. Johann Tauler said, “Imagine the Rhine in flood, with all the dams and barriers cleared away. How it would come rushing down in full stream, overflowing its banks as if to drown and submerge everything, filling all the valleys and meadows in its way! That is just how the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples and all those whom He found ready to receive Him. And so He still does, unceasingly at every moment.”
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