Jesus replied, "Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don't know who I am?" – John 14:9 NLT
Jesus had just informed Peter that he would deny Him three times, then He says, "Don't let your hearts be troubled" (John 14:1 NLT). Really? For the last few hours, He had been talking continuously about being betrayed, denied, having His body broken, His blood shed, and that He was going away, and where He was going they couldn't go. So how could He tell them to not be troubled? There is much the disciples do not understand. And they would not understand it until some time after Jesus left and the Holy Spirit came. So until then, Jesus tried to assure them that, in spite of all the fear building up inside themselves, they could trust Him. In fact, He encouraged them to trust in God AND to trust in Him. Why? Because He and His Father were one. This was a joint plan, involving both the Son and the Father, and so the disciples had nothing to fear. Jesus assured them that He was going away, but that He was also returning for them, and when He did, He would take them to be with Him.
Thomas speaks up, expressing his confusion and concern. "We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?" (John 14:5 NLT). You can sense the growing anxiety in Thomas' reaction. He doesn't understand WHERE Jesus is going or WHY He has to go. He can't comprehend what is happening and what it is that Jesus seems to be inferring. This is NOT what he and the disciples had expected. But Jesus tells Him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me" (John 14:6 NLT). With this one statement, Jesus summed up His entire ministry and message. It had always been about access. Jesus came to provide a way for men and women to be made right with God and to restore them to fellowship with Him. Sin had compromised their relationship with God. Sin had alienated them from God. The Law had showed them God's holy standard and sin had caused them to rebel against it, preventing them from keeping His law perfectly. Jesus had come to remedy that. He had come to do what they couldn't do: Keep the law perfectly. He came to live a sinless, holy, obedient life, so that He might be the perfect sin substitute and die in their place on the cross. In doing so, He would satisfy the just demands of a holy, righteous God. Jesus would take on our sin and suffer our punishment, and in return, we would receive His righteousness and God's approval. So when Jesus told Thomas and the disciples that He was the way, the truth and the life and that no one could come to God any other way than through Him, this was radical news to them.
If You Had Known Me
Jesus followed this bombshell by bringing up the subject of the knowledge of Him. He said, "If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is" (John 14:7 NLT). This had to have offended the disciples. Hadn't they just spent the last three and a half years of their lives with Jesus, and now He was insinuating that they didn't know Him? But in reality, they didn't know Jesus. Up until that point, they hadn't known Him as the way, the truth and the life. They knew Him as the Messiah, the healer, the Son of God, the teacher, rabbi, parable teller, and miracle worker. But there was so much they still didn't know about Him. But Jesus assured them that even with their limited knowledge of Him, they knew God, because He was revealing God to them through His life and actions. He really was the way, the truth and the life. And He really was going to provide access to the Father through His coming death on the cross. It would all make sense to them eventually.
Philip, hearing all this talk of knowing God, asked Jesus to show the Father to them, and then they would be satisfied. Once again, Jesus responds with a statement that had to have deeply hurt Philip. "Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don't know who I am?" (John 14:9 NLT). The inference is that Philip still did not know or comprehend the deity of Jesus. He knew Him, but He didn't know Him. His knowledge of Jesus was limited. Jesus told him, "Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So why are you asking me to show him to you? (John 14:9 NLT). What Jesus wants Philip and the other disciples to grasp is that He and the Father are one. He is not just a representative of God, He is God in human flesh. He is divine. Seeing Him is as good as seeing the Father. Hearing from Him is as good as hearing from the Father. "The words I speak are not my own, but my Father who lives in me does his work through me" (John 14:10 NLT). This was news to the disciples. This intimate connection between Jesus and the Father had been unknown to them up until this point.
The main focus of this entire exchange between Jesus and the disciples seemed to be their knowledge of Him. Because ultimately, their belief about Jesus would need to be based on what they knew about Him. If their knowledge of Jesus was limited, so would their faith be. Jesus wanted them to know exactly who He was, so that they could believe. "I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the seame works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with my Father" (John 14:12 NLT). The belief Jesus spoke of had to be based on His identity as the Son of God. His unity with the Father was to be the foundation of that belief. And ultimately, the disciples would do greater works than Jesus. This is not talking about greater miracles, but it is speaking about the scope and reach of their ministry. Jesus' ministry was limited to a specific geographic area and only impacted a limited number of people, but the disciples would be responsible for helping spread the Good News of Jesus Christ around the world. Their efforts, when based on the name of Jesus, would be backed by the power of God and would therefore be unlimited. But it all began with their knowledge of who Jesus was.
And the same is true for us today. We must fully understand and grasp the significance of who Jesus is. For many of us, He is simply our Savior, which is important. But we must also recognize Him as our God and Sovereign. If we limit our understanding of Jesus, we will limit our belief in Jesus. If we fail to see Him as God and fully deserving of our full obedience, worship and honor, then our belief will be limited. Jesus came to provide us with more than just a ticket to heaven. He has given us access to God. We can know God through Him. We can experience the power of God because of Him. He is still the way, the truth and the life. It is still true that no one can come to the Father except through Him. No one can know the Father, but through Jesus. So the greater we grow to know Him, the more we will know God. And our belief will increase exponentially.
Father, help my unbelief. Help me to grow to know Jesus better and better every day. Open my eyes to the reality of who He is, the significance of His deity, His sovereignty and majesty. I want to know Him better so that I might know You more. Amen.