Read: John 14:1-14
Consider: What do you imagine God the Father to be like? Perhaps you picture him as an old man with a long white beard, sitting on a throne. You may not realise that we have a tendency to concentrate upon physical features when we try to imagine someone.
Jesus had been with the disciples for a considerable time and they should have progressively come to understand who he was. The miracles he performed clearly demonstrated that he had power over nature, sickness and death. However, even by the time of today’s reading the disciples still had not understood.
Jesus leads into the conversation with his disciples, by talking about heaven and what they will find there. He says: And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going (John 14:3). Do the disciples understand? Clearly not, as we read: Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?’ (14:5). Then we read: Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No-one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him’ (14:6-7).
We would now expect the disciples to understand exactly what Jesus was saying about himself and his relationship to the Father. However, this statement by Jesus elicits the following response from another disciple: Philip said, ‘Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us’ (14:8). Jesus could easily have become frustrated by the disciples’ lack of insight. Instead, we read: Jesus answered: ‘Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father?” … Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves (14:9, 11).
It would be easy for us to criticise Thomas and Philip for not understanding what Jesus was talking about. If we are honest, there was a time in each of our lives when we did not understand or recognise who Jesus was. For some the realisation that Jesus is the Son of God and Saviour may have been a gradual process. For others it may have been more dramatic, occurring suddenly. No matter when conversion occurs, it heralds a new phase in a person’s life where they can affirm with certainty that Jesus is their Lord and Saviour.
The key lesson from today’s reading is that if we want to know what God the Father is like we only have to look at Jesus. Yet when Jesus said: Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father (14:9), he was not talking about physical appearance. When Jesus said this he was referring to the essential characteristics of God the Father. In other words, if you want to know what the Father is like, look at the life and testimony of Jesus. To do this we need to spend time reading and studying the Bible to learn more about Jesus and thereby to get to know God the Father better. Devotionals like this can only whet your appetite. You need discipline and effort to go deeper into Scripture. If you are willing to put in the effort of daily reading and studying the Bible, God will reward you with a greater understanding of his character.
Pray: Father, we pray that you would reveal more of your character, as we look deeper into your Word. When we look at the life and ministry of Jesus may we get a more complete picture of your true character. Amen
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