The U.K. Bible Students Website
Christian Biblical Studies
LORD, SHOW US THE FATHER
All Scripture texts are from the King James (Authorised) Version unless stated otherwise.
No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son,
which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.
John 1: 18
IT WAS PHILIP who ventured to challenge the Lord Jesus with such a demand (John 14: 8, NIV-UK): Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.
The other Apostles, perhaps, drew in a startled breath, but they too awaited their Master’s response. Through their three years of discipleship they had seen many evidences of His Divine power in the healing ministry, in which they themselves had participated. And it was to Philip that the Master had directed the question as to the feeding of the five thousand, ‘to prove him’ (John 6: 5, 6). The miracle that followed was amazing, like the others, but there lingered in Philip’s mind a longing to reach out to the source of such power, as the Master evidently did. ‘Show us the Father and that will be enough for us.’ Enough? The Apostles had seen with unmistakeable clarity that Jesus’ relationship with the Father was unique, far beyond their own experience, and to trespass therein might incur a godly rebuke. So with some misgivings they waited for Jesus’ reaction.
Jesus of course was not taken aback by Philip’s request. The characters of the twelve were to Him as an open book – their weaknesses and their strengths, their hopes and fears, their motives and aspirations. Yet in His response to the challenge there was not only a sad rebuke at their apparent failure – in spite of all the evidence – to grasp the fact that He had already shown them the Father. There was surely also a deep compassion for them in their somewhat blinkered condition.
But some of the twelve may have sensed already that further revelations would in due time resolve their uncertainties, a hope that was to be realised unmistakably on the bestowal of the Pentecostal blessing. After that momentous event they began to see the Father, not with their physical eyes, but with the eyes of their understanding. And the faithful were destined in a heavenly resurrection to be with their Lord, to see Him as He is, and as new creatures in Christ to see the Father in the fullest sense (1 John 3: 2; 2 Corinthians 5: 17).
Who Is The Father?
He identifies Himself in Isaiah 57: 15 as ‘the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity.’ The eternity of God is beyond human comprehension. Our minds can only conceive of events taking place within a span of time, having a beginning and an end. From our present experience of the passage of time we can grasp the idea of its future continuance, and even the possibility that we ourselves may have an endless existence – eternal life in some form not yet clearly understood by many, but positively promised by the Lord Jesus, as John 3: 16 testifies:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever
believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
It is impossible for us to project our minds back to a time when eternity began. For it has no beginning, as it has no ending. Though there must have been a start so far as creation, visible and invisible, is concerned, God tells us that this is not true as to Himself. The ancients grasped this concept to some extent, and Isaiah, in particular, attempts to give some impression of the eternal, invisible God (Isaiah 43: 10, 11; 44: 6):
I am he: before me there was no God . . . I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me
there is no saviour.
I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.
The patriarch Moses, like Philip the Apostle many centuries later, desired to see the Lord God. He was not rebuked, but the Lord said to him: ‘Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live’ (Exodus 33: 20). And in Psalm 90: 2, Moses declares that ‘Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.’
Who Is The Son?
Some regarded Him simply as the carpenter’s son, while others thought He must be one of the prophets of old. ‘But whom say ye that I am?’ He asked the disciples. Peter replied with conviction, ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God’ (Matthew 16: 13-16). Philip and the other Apostles doubtless shared Peter’s conviction, regarding him as their natural leader. They were entrusted with that foreknowledge of the Saviour’s identity, but He charged them that they should tell no man of it at that time.
So it was in the passing months of His ministry that the twelve observed with increasing wonder the Master’s unique relationship with that living God whom they yearned to know more intimately. Show us the Father! It was to be John, the youngest of that company, who would record the details of that request, and the Lord’s response (John 14: 9, 10, NIV-UK):
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?’ Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.
It was enough. But lest it be thought that Jesus and the Father were one and the same person, a single identity, the Apostles under the direction of the holy spirit in due time amplified the relationship of Father and Son. It was John, ‘the beloved disciple’, who manifested a deep insight into matters difficult for the natural man to understand (John 1: 18, 14):
18 No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son . . . hath declared him . . . 14 (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth.
Though men knew that the Eternal is fundamentally uncomprehended by human senses, the Word (Greek, Logos), in the person of the man Christ Jesus, had come to earth to manifest his Father in the sight of men in a manner never before conceived by human intelligence. The beginning in which the Word was with God was that point in time when the Eternal planned the revealing of Himself to the creation He was about to commence. And it was then that the Word – the Father’s only begotten Son – became His active agent, by whom all the designs of the Eternal were to be activated.
Where Are They?
Where is the Father, and where is the Son? Responsible scientists agree that the universe had a beginning, but their instruments cannot determine at what time or by what means it was brought into existence. That the universe may be the work of an intelligent designer is conceded as a possibility by some, but the years of research and the intensive probing of space has not revealed any life, even of the most primitive form, beyond Earth. The trend among the ‘educated’ is therefore to dismiss the idea that there is any intelligence more advanced than the human kind. There is no God – or we would have found him!
But isn’t there a nagging doubt in the minds of some? Countless generations have sung praises to an ‘Immortal, invisible God only wise, In light inaccessible, hid from our eyes.’ Would the human race have been so deluded for so long? And how can the life and death of Jesus be dismissed as insignificant? And another question: where is Heaven? The Lord says that ‘heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool’ and that He will make the place of His feet ‘glorious’ (Isaiah 66: 1; 60: 13).
Seen from a satellite, planet Earth is already seen as glorious and we can marvel with the angels who sang together and ‘shouted for joy’ at its creation (Job 38: 4-7, NIV-UK). Angels? Their existence has been accepted from time immemorial, but is largely dismissed today as fantasy, since the theory of evolution sought to undermine faith in a Divine Creator. Dismissing the possibility of a life form other than the terrestrial or earthly kind, many are confronted by a self-imposed barrier to greater understanding of our amazing universe.
The Apostle Paul explains that there is a fundamental difference between earthly (terrestrial) bodies and heavenly (celestial) bodies. Flesh and blood cannot as such inherit the Kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 15: 40, 50). The only begotten Son of the Heavenly Father relinquished His original heavenly existence to become the Son of Man, confined to the human condition that He might rescue the race from the death sentence imposed by Divine Justice. So Jesus poured out His (human) soul unto death and was raised to the highest rank of the celestial realm, the Divine nature.
Show Us The Father!
Philip’s earnest request was satisfied. In the Heavenly Father’s great love for His earthly sons, He gave the faithful an opportunity to become sons in the highest rank of celestial life along with His own First-Born, Jesus – to attain the Divine nature of God Himself. In their faithful earthly course they had learned to see the Father with their mind’s eye. Now, being like Jesus, they see the Father as He is. So unnumbered faithful men and women have been raised to that spiritual sphere that remains invisible to earth’s inhabitants. The vast majority of Adam’s race have died without the opportunity or the will to join in the sacrificial work of the Saviour, and await the general resurrection to life on earth.
Will the heavenly world remain forever hidden, inscrutable, mysterious to earth’s inhabitants, inheritors of eternal life in the terrestrial condition? Or will there be communion between angelic and human kind, between the heavenly and the earthly, between the Father and man? It will surely be so, but in some way not yet understood. And perhaps Adam and Eve when raised to life will recall how they heard the voice of the LORD in the garden in the cool of the day, a companionship once lost, but in the fullness of time renewed and treasured by all of God’s children, by every inhabitant of this glorious planet, Earth. And for God’s earthly children, it will be enough.
Copyright August 2012 ukbiblestudents.co.uk
You are free to reproduce this article, but please let us know if you do so.