John 14:8, 9
Philip said to him, Lord, show us the Father, and it suffises us.…
We have here -
I. A DIVINE VISION REQUESTED. "Show us the Father." This implies:
1. A special vision of God.
(1) A material vision. Such as Moses wished when he prayed, "Show me thy glory," and such as Moses had when he saw that glory on the mount. The request of Philip did not mean much more than this, although the language in itself is capable of a wider and a higher meaning, and ultimately led to this.
(2) A vision of God as the Father. "Show us the Father." it is not "Show us the Creator, the Governor, the Judge," but "the Father." How natural for an embodied spirit to wish an embodied representation of its Divine and invisible Parent! No view of God could be so charming and attractive as this.
2. That such a vision is the great want of man.
(1) This want is deeply felt. It is the deepest cry and the profoundest prayer of the human heart. The heart, in spite of sin and estrangement from God, has not lost all its aspirations for the Divine, but the echo of God's voice is still there, and the shadow of his image, and the most plaintive wail of the heart is for a fuller knowledge and a clearer vision of the Father. The ritualism and idolatry of the world were its intense but mistaken struggles for this.
(2) This want was generally felt. "Show us the Father." It was not the cry of one, but the cry of all to a more or less extent. It was the common prayer of the human family, expressed in every age, in different ways, and through different mediums. God is the universal Father, and to know and realize him was a universal want.
(3) This want was now especially felt by the disciples. "Show us the Father." They had heard so much of him in the ministry of Jesus, and this had excited in them an intense desire to know more of him, to enjoy a closer fellowship with him, and even to have a direct vision of him in his endearing character, and especially would they feel this desire now as Jesus was about to leave them; then they sighed for a vision of their Father.
3. That such a vision, they believed, Jesus was fully able to furnish. "Lord, show us," etc. Of his ability to do this they are quite confident, of his willingness they have but little doubt; hence the prayer is direct, confident, but reverential. Their request is addressed to the proper Person, and their confidence is well founded. Jesus was able and willing to furnish them with a vision of the Father, and struggled hard to prepare them for it.
4. That such a vision would be most satisfying. "It sufficeth us."
(1) Most satisfying to faith. Faith had become weak and struggling; her eye was dim by gazing on the invisible, and panted for a present and real vision of the Divine, the Source of light and love. Such a vision as requested would invigorate and even satisfy faith.
(2) Most satisfying to conscience. The conscience by sin is become guilty, burdened, and turbulent. The righteousness and reconciliation of God in Christ alone can appease it, and a full view of God in real character and disposition as a kind, loving, and forgiving Father can alone satisfy it.
(3) Most satisfying to the heart. The orphan-cry of the human heart is for the Divine Father. There is in it a craving which nothing can satisfy but the Divine Father, a vacant seat which no one else can fill. But a clear vision of the Father will give full satisfaction to the spiritual nature of man.
II. THIS DIVINE VISION HAD BEEN GIVEN.
1. It had been given in Christ. "He that hath seen me," etc.
(1) In Christ the nature and relationship of God were maul-rested. Being essentially one and equal with him, "the Image of the invisible God, the Brightness of his glory, and the express Image of his Person," he had a unique capacity of revealing his nature and glory as a personal, infinite Spirit, and the Spirit-Father of the human race.
(2) In Christ the character of God was manifested. Not only as the Creator of men, but as their Father; and in his life, actions, and conduct the power, wisdom, justice, holiness, love, and mercy of the supreme Father shone with constant and Divine brilliancy.
(3) In Christ God's will was manifested. In his life on earth he was an embodiment of the Divine heart and a revelation of the Divine will and purposes, and the Divine vision was exhibited in our nature, so that it was near, clear, and in the most attractive and congenial form.
2. It had been given, but not fully realized.
(1) Because Christ was not fully known. To realize fully the vision of the Father, Christ must be fully known. To see the Father, Christ must be seen and recognized. The very request, "Show us the Father," is a confession of their ignorance of Jesus; for if they had known him, they would have known the Father.
(2) Jesus was not fully known, although the greatest advantages to know him had been enjoyed. "So long a time with you." It would not be a long time to be with many, but a long time to be with Jesus. An hour with him was an age of the highest tuition. Their progress is not commensurate with their advantages.
(3) It takes a long time to know Jesus fully. It was so in this instance. They were very ignorant, short-sighted, and material in their notions of his mission and reign; so that to know him cost them repeated failures and struggles, and cost him repeated revelations.
3. Their confessed ignorance of Jesus called forth from him very significant and valuable expressions. "Have I been so long time with you," etc.?
(1) There is here a feeling of surprise and even grief. Christ struggled hard to reveal himself, his Person, character, Divinity, mission, his inmost thoughts and heart. Some are afraid to be really known - recognition pains them; such are impostors. But it pained Jesus not to be known. His chief object in making himself known was to make known the Father. He was the only Medium of this knowledge and vision.
(2) There is here a gentle rebuke. It is addressed to all, especially to Philip. "And yet hast thou not known me, Philip?" Thou, one of my first followers, who gavest such an early promise of spiritual insight into and recognition of my character and mission! And think of the long time I have been with you, and the advantages enjoyed! "And yet hast thou not," etc.? There is here a gentle rebuke. With whip of small cords faith is lashed to greater activity, to higher flights, and to open her eyes on the vision so much desired.
(3) There is here a fuller revelation. "He that hath seen," etc. The light is intensified, and the vision of the Father in him is directly pointed out, so that they gain by their failure and learn by their confessed ignorance. It is a step towards further knowledge. They are drawn out towards him and he towards them, and their minds are fixed upon him as the only Medium of the desired vision.
III. THIS DIVINE VISION CAN BE ONLY REALIZED BY FAITH. "Believest thou not," etc.?
1. By faith alone the Son and the Father can be seen and known. In the days of his flesh the Godhead of Jesus could not be seen in his Person by the material eye. To the carnal and material sight he was only an ordinary man. Faith alone could see his glory and Divinity. Divinity in the Father or the incarnate Son can only be seen and known by spiritual insight - by faith, the eye of the soul.
2. To faith, Christ and the Father are in essential, close, and Divine union. In this spiritual vision the Son is seen first in the Father, then the Father in the Son. The order depends upon the standpoint from which faith looks; but whether viewed in their essence, nature, and glory, or in relation to the scheme of redemption, the Son is seen in the Father and the Father in the Son.
3. Faith in relation to this vision is supported by the strongest evidence.
(1) The personal evidence of Christ. "Believe me," etc. This is the highest evidence of the highest Witness. He is the true and faithful Witness. The Son of God is in the witness-box. And his dignity and known character deserve and demand faith and confidence.
(2) The evidence of his ministry. "The words that I speak unto you," etc. His ministry as a whole, and some of his special sayings, they unquestionably point to the Father. His speech betrayed him; the echo of his Father's voice was in his. Any one who had the least knowledge of the Father would at once recognize him in Christ.
(3) The evidence of his miracles. "He doeth the works;" "Believe me for the very works' sake." His teaching and actions pointed to the same Divine Source. There is a perfect consistency. Although conscious of perfect veracity, yet he is willing to be judged by his works, all of which were of such a nature and character as to reflect most brightly the Father's glory and power.
4. The evidence of faith is promised a substantial increase.
(1) In the performance by the apostles of the same works. This would bring the evidence home to them; the Divine voice would speak in their own; the Divine vision would appear within them; and they themselves would be the direct mediums of the Father's power and glory.
(2) In the performance by them of even greater works than those performed by the Lord. This was literally fulfilled in the experience of some, if not all, of the apostles. Some of their works were more marvelous in some respects than his own. They were greater in number, wider in their influence, more extensive and mighty in their spiritual results and triumphs. Christ is spiritually mightier in believers than in his personal ministry; in them he still works and reveals the Father.
(3) In the exercise of prayer. "And whatsoever ye shall ask in my Name," etc. In prayer faith is strengthened and transfigured, and the Father is revealed to the soul. It brings it into immediate fellowship with him, and there is a spiritual commerce carried on between them. To establish this between the soul and the great Father was one of the chief aims of Jesus.
(4) All this was the result of the complete fellowship of Jesus with the Father. "Because I go unto the Father." Thus was completed his fellowship, in his human nature, work, and mission, with the Father; and the blessings of that fellowship would flow to believers in ever-living streams. He went nearer to the Father that the Father might come nearer to them; that faith might glow in the smiles of his countenance, and be satisfied with the Divine vision for which it craves, and the soul become ecstatic with the full answer of one of its profoundest prayers. "Show us the Father." - B.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us.
WEB: Philip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us."