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John 14:8-11, NIV8 Philip said, "Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us." 9 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'? 10 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. 11 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 miracles themselves."
December 14, 2011Philip is the next one to chime in. Like Thomas, Philip wants to see and handle "the Father". That's all he asks. Just show us the Father. Thomas and Philip were quite adequate when it came to walking and talking with Jesus. They were loyal, honorable disciples who followed Jesus wherever he went.
But now as Jesus was telling them about his departure, he was also asking them to believe in his Father in heaven, and to continue being loyal and honorable disciples even in his absence. Because God in spirit is just as real as Jesus in the flesh. But only if you believe.
God living in Jesus; Jesus living in the Father. And now it will be the same for these disciples and for all others who accept the invitation to be disciples in the future. The Father living in Thomas, Philip, or whatever your name is; you living in the Father. Jesus is saying, "Trust me. This was true for me as I lived among you, now it can be true for you and all future generations, for all who believe."
When we don't know what's happening in life or we have to walk a difficult road, it's comforting to read this episode about Thomas and Philip. Yes, they should have known better. After all they had been with Jesus for three years, witnessing everything, listening to his teaching, studying his responses to life. And after all that time, they still didn't know the essentials.
Philip was looking for more than words. Jesus said all it takes is faith. What you have seen in me, you will also do!
John 14:12-14, NIV12 I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
December 15, 2011Here's the truth according to Jesus, spoken to his disciples on the night before he died. To these trustworthy, upright men he promised that by faith they would continue to do the works of God just as he had been doing. Better yet, they would do even greater things than he, Jesus, had done.
Here's the bonus, or the proof that what Jesus said is true. Whatever you ask in Jesus' name, he will do! Why? To continue bringing glory to his heavenly Father. Jesus is describing a real partnership here. The living Christ will do whatever his faithful disciples ask of him so that he can continue bringing glory to his Father.
I looked up the cross references in my study Bible to see if this promise is given in the other gospels. There were two times when Jesus said something similar. In Matthew 21:22, during holy week and while Jesus was standing by a roadside fig tree, he told his disciples, "If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer." Also in Matthew 7:7-8 Jesus said we are to ask, seek and knock because when we do we will receive, find and the door will be opened.
Here in John's gospel the vow is laid out in more specific terms. It is a new promise, and one that should encourage and stimulate his uncertain disciples. They will do even greater things than Jesus did! All that is required on their part is to ask and believe.
December 16, 2011I personally have some reservations. Because all good things can, and will, be abused. When misused, this promise of Jesus verges on manipulation of God. It's easy to go to extremes and think God should do what I want instead of me doing what God wants. Better to remember this--the qualification to this promise is bringing glory to God, and Jesus associated glory with his crucifixion. So if we want to boldly ask Jesus to do anything for us we better be willing to put our own wants to death so that the desires of our Father in heaven can arise in our hearts. There's always a catch to everything. But when our requests pertain to the furtherance of the works of Jesus, he wants us to be bold and go for it.
So what kind of prayers is Jesus so eager to grant us? The apostle Paul advises us to think on these things: whatever is pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy. We can start there. Then there are the works of God. Whatever contributes to healing of body, mind or spirit. Whatever brings others into peace and reconciliation with God and with each other. There are the fruits of the spirit - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Also acts of forgiveness, grace and mercy. Everything that leads to understanding and the cessation of violence. All that builds up, encourages and provides light along the way.
December 17, 2011I sometimes feel like arguing with Jesus. People of all faiths and people with no religious faith have been asking forever for peace on earth. Why have these prayers not been answered? Within our personal lives, we ask for peace within our families, within our extended relationships, within our souls. Why does it seem like so many of these prayers go unanswered? Has Jesus reneged?
And then I consider it takes time to see things clearly. For example, a question on the minds of Americans today is, "Was the war in Iraq worth fighting?" I want to say, "It's too soon to tell? We don't know what the future will be in that region of the world. History will decide." The same might be true for our prayers.
We demand instant results. We want to see recognizable improvements. If something is not done on our timetable, we consider it a failure. I don't think God thinks like we do. We see only one tiny section on one side of the tapestry; God sees all of it on both sides.
Besides, the responsibility for "peace on earth, goodwill to all" is ours as well. As long as mankind is free, God cannot do it all; we must cooperate.