"He who has seen me, has seen the Father," (John 14:8).
I'm so excited that "The Bible" series on the History Channel has reached the point in the meta-narrative where Jesus has appeared on the scene. If you think of the Bible in terms of classic story structure, the Old Testament is Act One. The primary purpose of Act One in a story is to get you to Act Two. In terms of the Bible, the Old Testament's primary purpose is to get us to Jesus. The main message of the Old Testament is, "Jesus is Coming." The main message of the Gospels is, "Jesus is here!"
Today's text comes from the night before Jesus went to the cross. It is part of what scholars call "The Upper Room Discourse." The most complete version of this event is found in John's Gospel. He dedicates five chapters (13-17) to these hours in the life of Christ. Immediately preceding today's text, Jesus has made the claim, "I AM the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but through me." If you don't take this statement seriously, you don't really understand Jesus or the Bible. Some of the disciples still didn't "get it" after spending more than three years with Jesus. In three days they will "get it" all!
Philip was one who still didn't understand completely. Once Jesus has made the reference to God the Father, Philip asked Jesus to show them the Father. It was at this moment that Jesus revealed the message of today's text. "Philip...have I been with you so long and you still don't understand? He who has seen me, has seen the Father."
Someone once told me that the most important question we can ask is, "What is God like?" How each of us answers that question determines the course of our lives. If we think God does not exist, or don't think about him at all, we will never experience a transcendent sense of meaning and purpose in life. The logical outcome of such thinking is that life has no meaning and purpose other than what we give it. If we think God is judgmental and punitive, a kind of Cosmic Cop, we will live with either a core fear or angry defiance towards life.
But if we believe that God is like Jesus. If we believe that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one; if to see Jesus is to see God, then we can live with a sense that God loves us: that along with his holy and righteous nature, God is love, mercy, and grace. That is why it is so important to "see" Jesus. That is why I'm so excited about the next two week on "The Bible". People will see Jesus. Hopefully it will create a hunger to go to the Gospels and see more of him. Knowing that this is what God is like draws us to him. We then can live in a daily relationship with the one who said, "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."