“Show us the Father and it will suffice us”, pleaded Philip. “Have I been with you so long and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John14:9).
This is yet another statement of Jesus recorded by John that knocks some traditional theological assumptions on their head – namely the notion epitomized by the likes of Augustine and Calvin that God’s nature is incomprehensible to human reason. Such gentlemen needed to assert as much to support their version of the Good News, namely that to pay for Adam’s disobedience, God determined that the majority of human souls should be destined for eternal misery, apart from the proportionally few who would be enabled to apprehend God’s mercy as it is to be found in Christ. Apart from making “εὐαγγέλιον” (Good News) something of a misnomer, such a narrow and fatalistic narrative needed to be squared with the biblical assertion that the Creator is Love personified (1Jn4:8), a God who describes Himself as tender and compassionate (Ex34:6). To reconcile such, God’s qualities of love, justice and compassion would need to be radically different in nature from our own, or indeed how such qualities are defined in Scripture (e.g. 1Cor13:4). To say that God is love personified but that in the context of the Godhead, “love” means something quite different is surely perverse, but it is the only way such theology can be made to work.
For the psalmist proclaims, “All the earth shall worship You and shall sing unto You; they shall sing to Your glorious name” (Ps66:4). The likes of Augustine, Calvin and Luther have ensured that such could never happen. They assert instead that human beings are unable to worship the God of the Bible as they perceive Him because of the depth of their innate depravity and the sheer unknowability of the divine nature. Truly, this distorts both the munificence of the Creator and the underlying goodness of those made in His image. Such long-held misconceptions will turn bitter in the stomach once the sweetness of God’s true providential intentions has been sampled by the many (cf. Rev10:10).
So, briefly, how does this statement of Jesus support the points made above? Paraphrasing the dialogue a little: “Lord, we have got to know You and we love You with all our hearts – but we need to see and understand the Father so that we may love Him with all our strength as the first commandment requires us to do”. “Oh Philip, Philip –Have I not been with you these past three years – truly I tell you: if you have seen Me you have seen the Father”. The key point is that in responding to Philip Jesus is referring to His person and nature as revealed during His earthly ministry. He is indicating that the incarnated Jesus and His Father have the same nature. For Jesus had never been the “compassionate face of God”, He was the very image (eikon) of God: the incarnate Word. The Son did not die to save us from His Father, as effectively these medieval theologies infer. As considered in the previous post Jesus died as a sacrifice for sin and to save us from Satan’s control as well as from the malign influence of the intellectual vessel that the soul inhabits whilst in mortal flesh (Rom7:24-25; 1Thes4:4).
Of course, the Father dwells in a “light that no man can approach, whom no man has seen nor can see” (1Tim6:16). Yet man can know communion with the Godhead even now through the Son and the Spirit who are equally holy yet communicable. Apart from which man’s destiny is not to be “lost in God” but to resume his existence as a physical entity in union with the Man who is God’s true Son. “For in Him dwells the fullness of the Godhead bodily and (man) is complete in Him – the Head of all principality and power” (Col2:9-10).
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