Who Owes Me Three Dollars?

June 28, 2007

John 14:9 Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.

Filed under: Uncategorized — ineedsheetmusic @ 7:50 pm

A faithful correspondent from Texas with abnormally white skin, confused by my statement in an earlier post that said "I was not asking to know Jesus. I was asking God to reveal himself to me" writes:

Not trying to be argumentative at all here. I really am trying to understand what you mean. Didn’t God reveal Himself to you with a personal touch of Jesus Christ in your life? You always seemed to me like you knew the Lord Jesus, and if you’ve seen Him, you’ve seen the Father. Unless you really didn’t know Him. I’m confused.

All sorts of moves have been made by various correspondents to recast my story, trying to spin it in some way that always ends up in denying what I did. So, for one last time, I will say that there was no Christ involved and I wanted to ascend the ladder in some sort of mystical move to see God in the nude. I wanted him to uncover (you know – apokaluptw – reveal) himself to me.

So I get a question, an attempt to understand. I will brush aside the, interesting in itself, juxtaposition of the four horseman of "reveal", "personal touch", "know" and "see" only to say that conspicuous by its absence is the only important verb "hear". Had the question been something like "since you said you made a profession of faith in Christ and since faith comes by hearing then you must have heard Christ. So what was your problem? I don’t understand." then I would have said "Now that’s a good question". But instead I have to deal with reveal, touch, know, and see.

Specifically "see" as in John 14:9 Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. At this point I have to make a guess as to what the Texan was driving at. It could be one of two things I think. What makes it difficult is that the writer from Texas has to know that I have never seen Jesus. But he says "if you have seen Jesus you have seen the father". So my guess is that the idea is that there is here posited some kind of ontological equation between Jesus the Son and God the Father. But maybe not. In the immediate context of the John 14 passage is Philip making his own gaffe which is incredibly reminiscent (in a lot of particular details) of my own gaffe. Here is the passage beginning from the first verse of the chapter:

John 14:1-8 "Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going." Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?" Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him." Philip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us. 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. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father‘?"

Don’t you find this absolutely riveting? Rather than preach a sermon on this passage, it hardly needs to be said that had the sermon I got that day which was entitled "A Visitation From God" instead been an exposition on John 14, this whole episode could have been been avoided. Nevertheless, it seems that the Texan’s question forms a mild rebuke. "What were you thinking – going up there for your ‘show us the Father’ move. Didn’t you know that Philip was chided for asking for the very same thing?"

But I don’t think that was the drift. There was no rebuke from the Texan. The statement "You always seemed to me like you knew the Lord Jesus, and if you’ve seen Him, you’ve seen the Father" I think goes like this. Since you apparently knew Jesus then that altar experience must have been what you always claimed it was – a successful encounter with God. So now that you are denying it am I being forced to conclude that you are denying that you ever knew Jesus as well? I am speculating. Who knows?

So, moving ahead then, what about the "Whoever has seen me has seen the Father"?  The first thing to say is that we know what it can’t mean. The basic Sunday school principle that one must interpret the more difficult passages with the more clear applies here.

  • John 1:18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. (Note that part ‘b’ of that verse also shows the folly in my move , but part ‘a’ is perfectly clear).
  • 1 John 4:12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
  • 1 Timothy 6:15-16 he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.
  • 2 Corinthians 5:6-7 So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight.

So what does it mean? Based on John 14:10-12 I think that Jesus is saying that when one has seen Jesus working, one sees the Father working. In other words this isn’t about seeing God in his essence but in his works in history. Simple.

As I said earlier, I am grateful for being pushed to examine scripture to exegete my experience. Without the faithful correspondent from Texas, who knows how long the very helpful John 14 passage might have gone unnoticed?

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13 Comments »

  1. 5 days, and I’m the first commenter?

    the four horseman of “reveal”, “personal touch”, “know” and “see” only to say that conspicuous by its absence is the only important verb “hear”

    I think now would be an appropriate time for everybody to go review my Image vs. Word series of posts. Here is a concept that I think dad is driving for, and maybe this will be inflammatory enough to jumpstart the discussion again:

    Consider the worship chorus “I want to see Jesus”. If that is a sentiment of faith in the consummation and hope for glorification, great. But in a mode of “right here, right now”, it is idolatrous. The incarnation was a temporary reprieve of God’s injunction against Image as a means of relating to Himself. At the ascension, we returned to a state where our relationship to God must be through Word — until the consummation, when we will see him face to face.

    Back to the original point, I would guess if the following words were put in Dad’s mouth, he would find them resonant of what he has been trying to express: “What I did wrong is to presumptuously demand to know God by SEEING Him, instead of by HEARING his Word”

    Note also, if you continue just a few more verses in John 14, Dad’s thesis about “when one has seen Jesus working, one sees the Father working” is supported:

    Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? 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. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.

    Comment by RubeRad — July 2, 2007 @ 8:32 am

  2. And here it is, July 5th, and still no interaction.

    Bruce, I can tell you why you have gotten no interaction. Your Texan interlocutor does not know how to respond, while your other interlocutors are not sure if they’re supposed to, or if they think they are free to respond, they too don’t know how.

    There could be a couple of reasons for this.

    1. They think that your post has proven much of what they believe to be wrong, and they are simply ignoring what you said, hoping that it will just go away.
    2. They have been too busy to blog lately.
    3. They don’t understand a word of what you said. As such, they don’t know what it does prove, or even what it is trying to prove, so they don’t know how to interact with it.

    If it had been a day or two, I would have said that number 2 was the best bet. But now it has been about a week, and still nothing but the deafening silence. So I think 2 can probably be ruled out. Some of the desired respondents have made a comment or two on my own blog, so I find that evidence definitive.

    So now we’re left with 1 or 3. If we say that 1 is correct, then we are accusing them of a great wrong, namely to plainly ignore the truth that contradicts their claims, because they value their own ideas and notions more highly than the Word of God, which is truth itself. And without some proof for this, I think it would be way out of line to make this assumption. It is purely speculative, and not very charitable.

    So then, unless there might be some other reason, we are left with 3: they don’t understand what you’ve said here. Now there could be a couple of reasons why they might not understand it.

    1. The way you have communicated it has simply failed to connect with them. It’s not in their personal dialect, not in their categories, not on their level.
    2. They understand what you have said, but the concepts are foreign, and they’ve never heard them before; perhaps they’re even trying to think it through carefully.

    Whichever it is, if we can assume that the reason they have not responded is a certain dumbfoundedness to your post, then we must also posit the fact that they are so confused that they don’t even know what questions to ask in order to clear up their confusion.

    This being the case, I think we can rule out 1. Because if it was just a lack of clarity of speech that was tripping them up, you’d expect a question like, “What do you mean by the phrase…” But you have gotten no such questions of clarification.

    So the most reasonable thing to say is that these concepts are foreign to them, and as such they just don’t get it. Perhaps saying that it is over their heads would go too far, but I don’t know – it’s pretty hard to interpret silence.

    If I think back to my pentecostal days, I would be confused by your assertion that you haven’t seen Jesus. I would have probably responded that of course you haven’t LITERALLY seen Jesus, but you know, haven’t you seen Jesus? Don’t you know him? I think your post brings this out. I think what you’re saying about the Texan is that there is no distinction in his mind between seeing Jesus and knowing Jesus. If you are a Christian today and have a personal relationship with Jesus, then you have simply seen him, and therefore you have seen the Father, so what are you talking about?

    But this is exactly your point. When have we ever seen Jesus WITH OUR EYES? Jesus was IN THE BODY when he was talking to the disciples here. He was clothed in real flesh and blood. The disciples could SEE him. We cannot. We can only HEAR about him through the Bible, specifically the preached Word from the mouth of the God-chosen vessel to interpret the Bible for us. So since we have only heard about Jesus, therefore we have only heard about the Father. So no, we cannot see Jesus or the Father in this life. And in the life to come we will only see the Son, not the Father, never the Father. He is infinite, our eyes are finite. Our eyes cannot take in the sight. It’s as simple as that. Not to mention that he doesn’t have a body like we do, that reflects light like we do. So there is nothing to see with physical eyes.

    So perhaps these concepts are just plain confusing, even dumbfounding, and thus the silence.

    Comment by gospelordeath — July 5, 2007 @ 4:20 pm

  3. Happened to pass by again. My 2 cents as an outside “interlocutor” who actually was too busy to comment: Maybe the lack of response is not because readers think its wrong, or confusing, or controversial, but because its so obviously correct there’s not much more to say on the subject. No one can see God and live (Ex 33:18). We’re alive. Obviously havent seen/cannot see him in the human sense. Seems pretty plain to me.

    Comment by apasserby — July 18, 2007 @ 10:46 pm

  4. Mr. Bruce:

    Send me an email please…I owe you a Scripture index and I need your email address!

    Thanks,
    spl

    Comment by shane — August 8, 2007 @ 6:48 am

  5. he danger of own interpretation is real. If Jesus is not the Name above every other name, we have a problem. For this is what many actually profess although they try to convince us that they accept the Diety of Christ they believe God did not come in the flesh. They believe God sent another to die on the cross. What kind of Fatherly love is this? The warning here states that this is the spirit of the Anti-Christ. If the Name of the Father is Jesus then He, God himself generated a body (Son) and Himself came in the flesh. This is true love. On earth Jesus had both divinity and humanity in One Body. He could say:’ believe in God, believe also in me… He could pray: “ Our Father which art in heaven..” He could die, He could be seen without people dying.. He could be raised again from the dead by His own Holy Spirit, not another Holy Spirit.

    Comment by Prof Louis — January 28, 2010 @ 8:46 am

  6. What are you all talking about? I sort of understand but you all get very convoluted in your discussions. Why is the simple straightforward truth so difficult to discern?
    Here’s my simplistic reasoning. If Christ were actually God himself then all the scriptures calling him the son of God are lies. If God himself came in the flesh to sacrifice himself for himself then nothing would be settled on the charges made by Satan on God’s right to rule. It wouldn’t be a valid sacrifice. What had to be repaid was to be equal to what was lost- namely a perfect Human life. So, as the obedient son of God Christ is he agreed with his Father to “empty himself” from his glorious spirit form in which he was dwelling from his beginning with his Father in heaven and to be fashioned in human form, “made a little lower than the angels” in a slaves form and became obedient to death. God does not change. Being altered from spirit to flesh is a huge change. Almighty God has never died, ( another big change ) He has never left his heavenly abode and certainly never made himself lower than his angels (Boy, wouldn’t Satan just love that!?) obviously, Jesus stating that in seeing him his Father’s qualities were displayed through him, or by him, or in or as him. He said he was the IMAGE of the INVISIBLE God. We all know the meaning of image and invisible. If a thing is invisible we need an image to represent it, and that is what Christ did – represent The Father. These discussions always puzzle me as the truth is so simple and obvious. It is Satan’s wiles that confuse the truth. His tactics never change. He says some truth, then he contradicts it. Go look in your bible and see how the enemy operates, then you can tell easily when something is one of his stupid lies. He’s only too happy for people to worship Jesus as God. He offered to give his authority to Jesus in exchange for an act of worship. How absurd if Christ were in fact God.
    Jesus accepts our worship for the father not for himself as our high priest. Use your reasoning skills people.

    Comment by diana — November 12, 2010 @ 6:05 am

    • “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” (John 1:1-2). This is obviously a reference to Christ (the divine origin of the human Son of Man – Jesus). “And the Word become flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.” (John 1-14). Yes it does say “No one has ever seen God” in John 1-18, but if you remember, John preached about Jesus as the coming Messiah BEFORE Jesus was baptized as the Son of Man in the river Jordan. It was at that moment the Father, the Son, and the Spirit shared in full glory at the moment of the Son of Man (Jesus) revealing to the rest of the world and all creation the fullness of his sonship with the Father and his spiritual equality with both the Father, and the Spirit as three distinct revelations of God. So no one had seen God in a manner they could discern or know in John 1-18, but Jesus as the “Word” was God and become man as Jesus of Nazareth. God is omnipotent. If he so desired to form himself in the likeness of those he created (through Jesus) then it is possible. The Father-Son-Spirit relationship is interwoven within the revelation of God to show us that knowing God is not possible without the context of a relationship. By the time of Jesus’s baptism he well understood his dual-origin, but preferred the title “Son of Man” because he desired that his pilgrimage to this earth to be about “his Father’s business”. Even Jesus himself gives a clue to the mysterious Trinity that does flow within the essence of God when he said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28:19)In that context, in terms of the baptism, how can I truly play semantics and attempt to divide what is indivisible – God. Would you baptize for purposes of spiritual sanctification to anyone less than God? So would God truly be anything LESS than the Father, Son, AND the Holy Spirit? Remember, the Word was God (John 1:1) and when you closely look at that statement, the past-tense participle in effect implies time, not a change of meaning. If the Word was God then, the Word was God when Jesus came down from heaven (the Word made flesh) and still is today and will be for all eternity. Jesus had the power and authority to speak on the Father’s behalf because he literally was in spirit equal to the Father in heaven and the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, is literally “The Spirit of God” dwelling among us because he has the power to work on behalf of both the Father and the Son. The Trinity is indeed a mighty mystery, not one that is readily discernible, but one that will always be true, forever and anon.

      Comment by Jason Wise — March 4, 2011 @ 3:15 pm

      • Sorry…above I said Jesus as the “Word”, what I meant to say was Christ as the “Word” was God and become man as Jesus of Nazareth. The term Jesus Christ reveals the dual-nature of God (Christ) incarnate in man (as Jesus) and with his ascension, we do now have a personal and one-time human advocate to the Father, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, yet equal in spirit in the revelation of God, along with the Father and the Spirit.

        Comment by Jason Wise — March 4, 2011 @ 4:08 pm

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  9. if you have seen Jesus image, you have seen the Father,. simple. if you have seen an image of jesus-you have seen the Father. thats why we need statues that is the likeness of Jesus,.

    Comment by Manno Ako — September 3, 2014 @ 10:46 pm

  10. of course ALLAH is powerful

    Comment by ali — December 22, 2015 @ 4:35 am

  11. I too am confused and that’s the only thing did I agree with you or relate as to the rest with words as posited ontological and gaffe U totally lost me and un-lmpressed me … as when Christ spoke to illiterate and uneducated people in parables that I will never understand that I will never believe that he would do this with simple people I am no scholar but I wouldn’t I would never talk to the simple folk and that matter if I wanted them to truly understand and grasp my wisdom and knowledge!

    Comment by Eric SAHA — April 26, 2017 @ 2:47 pm


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