Show Us the Father!

July 22, 2021 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement

Right after Jesus gives his infamous statement, “I am the way and the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me,” Philip requests, “Show us the Father, and it is enough for us” (John 14:6, 8). What is Philip thinking when he makes this request? 

Considering that Philip was a Jew, the Old Testament would certainly have shaped his understanding of his relationship with God. Let’s think about his request, “Show us the Father,” through the lens of the Old Testament. There is no exact equivalent in the OT to Philip’s request, but that are several places where seeing God is highlighted. 

Moses cries out, “Show me your glory” in Exodus 33:18. This is in the context of the Golden Calf. As punishment, God declares that he would not go up to the Promised Land with Israel because of their sin (Ex. 33:3). Moses pleads for mercy and for God to remain with the people. God responds that his presence will go with them (v. 14). After receiving this gracious promise, Moses declares, “Show me your glory.” God’s glory is linked with his character, the core of who he is. So, Moses was requesting for assurance that God would keep his promises. 

Philip could be making a similar request. Jesus has just said that he is going away, leaving his disciples on their own. Then he makes a promise that he would come back to take them to where he is. Philip says, “Show us the Father.” He is looking for an assurance that Christ will be faithful to keep his promises. 

Later in the Exodus narrative, God gives Aaron instructions to bless Israel. What is now known as the Aaronic blessing reads, “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace” (Num. 6:24-26). God’s “face” shining on his people is a metaphor of his favor and blessing abiding on them. Perhaps Philip has this in mind when he says, “Show us the Father.” He is looking for the favor and blessing of God. 

Several times the Psalmist is called to seek God’s face. Those who seek God’s face are righteous and pure in heart (Ps 24:4-6). And to seek God’s face is to desire to be in his presence through worship (Ps. 27:4). Those who seek God’s face are those who enjoy his presence. Perhaps Philip has these Psalms in mind when he says, “Show us the Father.” He is demonstrating a desire to be in the presence of God. 

Whatever is behind Philip’s request, Jesus’ response astonishes. He says, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (Jn. 14:9). Just as we looked to the Old Testament to help us understand Philip’s request, we can now bring Jesus’ statement back to those OT passages. We behold the glory of God when we behold Jesus. We are assured of God’s faithfulness to keep promises when we look to Jesus. In Christ, we find God’s ultimate favor and blessing for his people. And, if we desire to be in the presence of God, our desires are fulfilled in Christ. Like many other dynamics in the Gospel, this interaction is enriched when we allow the Old Testament to set the context.



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