Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9 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’? 10 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. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.John 14:8-24
12 “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.13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.
15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.
18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” 22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” 23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.
Jesus said lots of things that aren’t immediately easy to understand. Understanding what he says requires study and meditation on the Scriptures with the aid of the Holy Spirit. In this passage in John’s gospel Jesus makes a puzzling statement that is not so hard to understand as much as it is hard to believe: “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do.” Really? That’s what he said. I am reminded of the old cliche, “The Bible says it, I believe it, and that makes it so!” Not so fast, how is this to be? I believe the “how” is found in the ministry of Jesus, how he went about doing his works.
I have to preface my following comments with this caveat. Jesus was fully man and fully God at all times. He does have two natures, the human and the divine. His divinity never ceased to be.
The paradigm of ministry I see in Jesus goes like this:
- Jesus never did anything on his own initiative but always did what he either saw or heard from the Father. (John 5:19-20,36; 7:16; 8:26-28, 36-38; 10;37; 12:49-50; 14:10; 15;15)
- Jesus performed his works, not in his divinity, but as a Spirit-empowered perfectly sinless man. (Matthew 4:1; 12:18,28, Mark 1:12; Luke 4:1, 14; 10:21, Acts 1:2)
Jesus did have an unfair advantage on us, he was perfectly sinless and had perfect unadulterated fellowship with the Father. We don’t have those conditions even though as disciples of Jesus, we have been redeemed, had our sins forgiven and have the opportunity to live a Spirit-filled life.
During his ministry before he entered into his saving work of the cross, Jesus’ works included two very broad categories of work: teaching and bringing the deliverance of the kingdom of God to people. This deliverance took the form of healing the sick, casting out demons, receiving the outcast, confronting the sins of religious people and forgiving sins, etc.
We have been commissioned, in the Great Commission of Matthew 28:16-20, to go make disciples, baptizing them and teaching them to obey all the things Jesus commanded us. So, we too have this teaching mandate. It belongs to all who are recipients of the Great Commission. It applies in our neighborhoods as well as “on the mission field.” By the way, how do we define “mission field?” If it is based on the number of people far from God in a given territory, then most every space in the United States qualifies as a mission field. Go therefore…
Jesus did no mighty works until after his baptism by John and the empowering of the Holy Spirit. In the same pattern, he commands us before we head out to do the work that we wait for the promise of the Father and live a Spirit-filled life. This is the same empowerment Jesus lived with.
Jesus says that he “sees” the Father doing things and he “hears” from the Father. How did Jesus “see” the Father doing things? The Scripture never details that, but it would seem consistent with the rest of Scripture that he may have seen in dreams or visions or what me might sometimes refer to as our “minds eye,” meaning that we have a visual image in our minds of something. Many visual people access their memories in this way. You may ask someone about a recent event and they will look upward and to one side as they recall the event. If you ask them immediately as they are doing this, they will tell you they are “seeing” the memory. It is their way of accessing memories. I’m not dogmatic at all about this, but these are some possible ways that Jesus may have “seen” the Father doing things that he then did with the Father.
I think we have an easier time with Jesus “hearing” the Father. If you have walked with Jesus for any length of time, I am sure you have “heard” him speak to you. I don’t necessarily mean in an audible voice, but it is a definite communication from God by the Holy Spirit to our spirit.
These two paradigms of hearing and seeing are what Paul refers to as walking in the Spirit or being led by the Spirit. An example from Paul’s life is found in Acts 16:6-9.
And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. 7 And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. 8 So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. 9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.”Acts 16:6-9
Luke doesn’t tell us how it was that Paul’s team was forbidden or how the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. Possibly Paul “heard” from God, possibly there were visions or dreams as in verse 9, or there could even have been prophecy spoken to them, we just don’t know. But God did clearly communicate to them and give them direction. The point is that Paul’s team followed the same paradigm as Jesus who only did what he saw or heard from the Father.
May we give ourselves to prayer and fasting to enter into this same paradigm of ministry in our lives. Why prayer and fasting? One quick example:
Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.Acts 13:1-3
It was during this time of worship and fasting that the Holy Spirit said… Is this a formula we can use to force God to speak? Absolutely not, but it is an example of folks just like you and me who were seriously seeking God and he responded.
I see this pattern. We who are redeemed and forgiven have the opportunity to have deep fellowship with God where we can hear from God. We have the promise of the Spirit that allows us to be empowered by the Spirit to do the same works Jesus did. I encourage you to do it. Follow Jesus’ example.