Second Reformed Church

Friday, October 28, 2016

"Show Me the Father" Sermon: John 14:8-11



“Show Me the Father”
[John 14:8-11]
October 23, 2016 Second Reformed Church
            Are you still secure?
            Last week, we looked at Jesus preparing the Eleven for Jesus’ leaving earth.  Jesus assured them by telling them that He is the Only Way to the Father, the Truth and the Life of reconciliation.  We know God through the writings of the Holy Scripture.  Jesus is preparing a place for us in the Father’s house, and He will come back to bring each one of us who believes to that place.  And God loves us; He has chosen us for His own eternally.
            Are we secure in that?  Are we comforted in these truths and promises?  Do we believe that the Almighty God Who cannot lie is bringing these things to pass?
            Today we are considering how the Eleven react to these things.
            And we see first, weakness of faith makes us ask for more than God has revealed.
            “Philip said to him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.’
            “Show me the Father!  Show us the Father!  Then our doubts will be banished.”
            What is Philip – and the Eleven – asking for?  Were they asking that the Father come before them in incarnate flesh?  Probably not.  They well-understood as faithful Jews that God is Spirit.
            So, what did they want?
            They want a Moses experience.
            We may remember that Israel rebels, even after Moses brings them the Ten Commandments.  Again and again, Moses intercedes for Israel, and God saves them again and again.  And one time, Moses makes a special request after pleading for Israel; he asks that he be allowed a special assurance of God’s presence:
            “Moses said, ‘Please show me your glory.’ And he said, ‘I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name “The LORD.” And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But,’ he said, ‘you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.’ And the LORD said, ‘Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen’” (Exodus 33:18-23, ESV).
            Moses is given the extraordinary privilege of seeing the backside of the Glory of God after God passes by him.  Moses could not see God – His Face – His Glory – straight on, because it would have killed him – similarly, no human – no creature – can ever look upon the Pure Face of God and live.  What Moses does see causes his face to radiate the Glory of God – even seeing it at such a distance – and Israel tells him he has to wear a veil – they cannot stand to look on the reflection of the passing of the Glory of God on the face of Moses.
            Peter, James, and John had a similar experience with Jesus, as we read:
            “And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. And Peter said to Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.’ When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, ‘Rise, and have no fear.’ And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only”
(Matthew 17:1-8, ESV).
            Now, the Eleven, led by Philip, ask to see the Father. 
            “Give us a Moses experience.  Let us see the reflected Glory of the Father.”
            We tend to be less brash – not that the request is necessarily sinful, but it does display the weakness of our faith – and it is foolish.
            We have a market for books about finding the Will of God.  Let us understand, we are to follow the Will of God – and we have the Will of God for us in the Bible.  But we want something more, as we look to many of these books:  What is the sign that this is the right person to marry?  What is the sign that this is the job God wants me to have?  Just give me a personal word from God that is not in the Bible so I can know what God wants from me.  I need something specific, because the Word of God is not enough.
            “God, if You let me win this scratch off card, I will know You want me to give to my church.”
            “God, if You let my team win this game, I will know that You want me to volunteer at my church.”
            “God, if You let me pass this exam, I will go to church every Sunday for the rest of my life, and I will never do anything wrong again.”
            “Jesus, everything You have said and done has been great, and we will stand with You to the end, if You show us the Father!”
            We don’t need mystical encounters.  God does not usually give us specific answers about who to marry or what job to have.  But God has given us His Word, and God has given us a massive amount of information about Who He is and what He has done and what to believe and how to live.
            And, as we have noted before, we do see God, through the Word of God, through the Person of Jesus.  We don’t see the straight on Face of God – which would kill us.  We don’t have a Moses experience – because God has not seen fit to give it to us.  But each one of us who has believed has seen God.
            Certainly, we grow in faith and understanding of God’s Word, but there are no secret texts or codes or messages, and God is not giving any new revelation.  The Word of God is enough.  It was written to be understood by regular people.  And if you think it is not enough, that shows the weakness of your faith.
Weakness of faith makes us ask for more than God has revealed.
Second, Jesus and the Father are the same One God.
“Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.’
Jesus is exasperated at the question and directs His answer to Philip: “You have been with Me for three years, how do you still not understand that if you have seen Me, you have seen the Father – [and the unspoken link] – because We are the same One God?”
We are seeing a statement that affirms what Christians believe about the Trinity – that there is One God and this One God exists simultaneously as Three Distinct Persons Who are equally and fully God – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Jesus can say that anyone who sees Him has seen the Father, because Jesus and the Father are the same One God.  We cannot look upon the Father and live, but we can look upon Jesus – in the flesh and in His Word – because His flesh mediates His Divinity – as Jesus’ Divinity – the fullness of the One God – comes through His flesh, we see His Divinity, but “as through a glass darkly” – we are kept from directly viewing His Divinity.  And that is a way in which the Father and Son are distinct – the Son incarnate in the Person of Jesus – the Son has flesh which provides a buffer for us as we look at God – the Father does not.
The truth that God is One and Three is bigger than our minds – we cannot fully understand how this can be, but we can understand from the Word of God that it is true.  And we can hold on to this truth and confess it, because God has revealed it to us.
Perhaps the best summary of the doctrine of the Trinity is The Athanasian Creed.  Rather than have us read through it today, let’s affirm a few statements – a few biblical facts – about the Trinity.
Please repeat after me:
There is only One God.
The Father is God.
The Son is God.
The Holy Spirit is God.
The Father is not the Son.
The Father is not the Holy Spirit.
The Son is not the Father.
The Son is not the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is not the Father.
The Holy Spirit is not the Son.
Thank you.
Here we have a basic outline:  There is One God.  And God exists equally and distinctly in Three Persons at the same time.
Because God says that in His Word, Jesus can say that if you have seen Jesus, you have seen the Father, because they are both equally the same One God – the Only God.
Jesus and the Father are the same One God.
Third, each Person of the Trinity indwells the Others.
“’How can you say, “Show us the Father”? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?’
Jesus speaks of Two Persons of the Trinity, but we can extend it:
The Father indwells the Son.
The Father indwells the Holy Spirit.
The Son indwells the Father.
The Son indwells the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit indwells the Father.
The Holy Spirit indwells the Son.
How can this be true if the Three Persons of the Trinity are distinct – They exist and act simultaneously with Each Other?
Because the Father is God, and the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, and the Three are the same One God.  The Will of the Three is the Will of the One, because They are equally and wholly the One God.
Each Person of the Trinity indwells the Others.
Fourth, there are two evidences of Jesus and the Father being the same One God Who indwell One Another.
“’The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.’”
Jesus explains to the Eleven that He is not making this stuff up – there are two good reasons to believe that Jesus and the Father are the same One God Who indwell One Another:
First, the Father has to indwell Jesus, because the Father does His Works through Jesus.
In other words, in order for Jesus to live a holy and sinless life, to keep the whole Law of God, and to do the miracles He did, He could not merely be a human being.  In fact, He could not be anyone less that God Himself to be able to live a sinless and holy life – or, similarly, be God incarnate in human flesh – a real human being and God Himself at the same time in the same body.
You and I cannot live a completely holy and sinless life if for no other reason than we are born sinners.  But Jesus did, and not only that, He did miracles, and He did everything God the Father told Him to do.  Jesus could only do that if He is human and God in One Person – the Father, indwelling the Son, united to Jesus in One Person.
Second, if it is not enough for you that Jesus was able to do these works – that God the Father worked through Him, look at the works He did, themselves.  Look at all the ways in which Jesus did things that fulfilled all the prophecies of the Messiah – the Savior – Who has to be 100% God and 100% human in one person, or He would not be able to save His people.
No one could do all the things Jesus did unless He is exactly Who He says He is.
And so Jesus teaches the Eleven to help mature them in their faith, so they will not continue to seek for more revelation than God has so graciously given us.
We ought to be in prayer for ourselves and others that we would all grow in our faith and obedience to all the God has revealed to us – including things that are clear, but hard to wrap our heads around – like the Doctrine of the Trinity.
There is One God in Three Persons.
The Three Persons are equally, fully God at the same time.
And the Three Persons indwell each other, proving Jesus to be the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and the Only Way to the Father – the Only Way to be reconciled to God.
As the promises of Jesus are confirmed to us again as the Word of God, do you find more comfort, renewed security?
May we desire and seek to know God in the fullness of His revelation in His Word, and may we find comfort and security in knowing that our God is the only God, our Savior, Who is coming back for us.
Let us pray:
Almighty God, Your Word calls those fools Who say there is no evidence of Your existence, and while we believe, we have had times of foolishness, just like Philip and the Eleven, asking for more that You have seen fit to reveal.  Forgive us for not seeking and receiving all You have told us and following after You in obedience, receiving Your comfort and joy.  And as we do so, enabled and guided by the Holy Spirit, we give thanks that we see You.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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