Sts. Philip and James, Apostles: John 14:1-14

How strange, how strange in so many ways.  It’s Easter and, yet, we find ourselves back in Lent.  We find ourselves again on Thursday, the night of Jesus’ betrayal.  It is the Thursday before Good Friday, but also the Thursday before Christ’s resurrection.

The disciples, minus Judas, had just eaten the Passover meal.  They had taken part in the first Lord’s Supper.  They were the first to experience the New Covenant of Christ, which the Old Covenant left in unfulfilled emptiness, pointing to the New.

Soon, the disciples will go to Gethsemane.  But now, Jesus takes a moment to inform–but also to encourage–His disciples.  He tells them that He will soon be separated from them.  But Jesus also says, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled.”

You see, the disciples weren’t supposed to let this coming separation fill them with fear.  For this was all part of the Father’s working out of our salvation.  Yet, the disciples are still anxious, despite the many proofs they have seen of Jesus’ divinity.  A doubting anxiety stirs within them.  They think, “What will happen when our Master is gone?  Will He give us enough for what lies ahead?”

So Jesus then says, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life…  If you know Me, you will also know my Father.”  The Apostles understood the disapproval in His words.  With a tension hanging in the air, Philip finally speaks, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”  Do us this one little favor, says Philip, and then we’ll have enough, then we’ll be ready for what lies ahead.

Poor, deluded Phillip, he was no better than you or me.  He was misguided and confused.  “Show us the Father,” he said.  “That’s what we need.”  Philip had no idea what he was asking.  For him, having Jesus wasn’t enough.  He considered what God had revealed to him as lacking.  Jesus wasn’t enough.  He wanted more.  He wanted more than Jesus, which was exactly where the devil wanted him to be.

Phillip didn’t lack anything from Jesus.  No, it was that Phillip suffered from a faith besieged by his fallen flesh.  Weariness had seeped into his bones.  Temptations had dogged him.  Was it wrong to want the emotional high from Palm Sunday to go on without end?  Was it wrong not to want to go through Good Friday?

But, instead, Philip will have to go to Gethsemane and face his doubt and fear.  He will have to endure Good Friday.  He will have to wait until Easter evening without proof that Jesus’ resurrection has become reality.  He must live by faith, trusting only the Old Testament prophets and the spoken words of Jesus.

We can understand Phillip’s frustration, for he thought God was holding out on him.  And so Philip came up with a plan for what Jesus should do to make everything all right: “Show us the Father.”  Philip wanted more than Jesus gave him.  He wanted more than Jesus.

How Ironic.  Philip was already seeing the Father!  For Christ Jesus is also God.  What Jesus says and does are the words and deeds of God.  The words Jesus says to us are not just His own; they are also the Father’s.  For when you see Jesus, you see God.  Faith believes that.  That’s how it is: When you see and receive Jesus Christ, you also see and receive God the Father.

But Philip still wrestled with Jesus and God the Father being one.  That puzzled him.  Philip wasn’t even sure that what God was doing in Christ Jesus was enough.  But it was enough.  It was even enough for Phillip’s sins, doubts, and worries, his concerns, and all his faults and failures.

Indeed, Jesus is enough!  For only Jesus, God in human flesh, shows us the Father.  As a human, Jesus could die; as God, He could be the Sacrifice that restores us to the Father.  What Jesus did and does is enough to wash away your sins, to defeat the devil, and to open heaven.

Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.  The Church doesn’t have some secret path that will bring the sinner up to God.  Anyone who thinks so only deludes himself.  No, in the Holy Spirit, the Church proclaims the Word of God, which brings Jesus to the sinner.  Yes, the only way to God is through Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who is one with the Father.

Philip’s statement, “Show us the Father,” shows how difficult it is for us to banish our self-made ideas and notions.  Philip’s statement shows how difficult is it to stop speculating about what God has chosen not to reveal.  Even more, Philip’s statement shows us how difficult it is to walk by faith, to rely on the Word of God.

Praise God that Jesus doesn’t expect us to know every mystery of the faith!  Yet, neither does Jesus want us to be satisfied with some minimal understanding of the faith.  You should never smugly say, “I know enough.  I don’t need to learn more of God’s truths.”

You see, once we stop learning the depths of our God-given faith, our sinful imagination will fill in the void.  With such a void, we will look for something in ourselves to fill in the blanks.  That’s what happened to Philip.  His sinful imagination filled in the blanks.  Philip wanted to see the Father, imagining that Jesus was not enough.

Through faith, whoever sees Jesus, sees the Father.  They are One, for God is One.  In the Son, the Father reveals His whole heart and will.  So don’t consult your own heart, mind, or emotions.  In the ways of God, they are nothing but vanity.

All you need, you have in Jesus.  Jesus’ responded to Philip, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still don’t know me?  Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.”  You see, to be connected to Jesus is to be connected to the Father.

For when you have Jesus, you have the Father.  It is as Jesus said: “The Father and I are one” (John 10:30).  It is as the Apostle Paul writes.  “So then, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of God’s household” (Ephesians 2:19).

Each of us–even after God has planted faith into our hearts–still struggle understanding how Jesus and the Father can be one, yet still be separate persons of God.  We can identify with Philip.  We can even see that we deserve the same scolding as Philip.  Jesus says, “Have I been with you all this time … and you still don’t know me?”

In our fallen ways, we often fail to understand God’s eternal truths and realities.  And so our prayer should be this prayer we find in the New Testament: “I believe; help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24).  Yes, “I believe; help my unbelief.”  And God will help, just like He helped Philip in his life of confessing Christ to the world.  God helped Philip, sending the Spirit through the Word of grace, increasing and strengthening his faith.

You see, to trust in Christ is to trust in God.  Jesus is God come in the flesh.  He brought and still brings all that we need for life everlasting.  If you look for God anywhere else, you will only go astray and be lost.  For us, living now in this fallen world, we can only see God through His Son, Jesus Christ, in the Holy Spirit.

Jesus said these words to Nicodemus.  “No one has ever gone into heaven except the One who came from heaven–the Son of Man.  Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so whoever believes in him may have eternal life” (John 3:13-15).  When the people of Israel were wandering in the wilderness, when they were bring bitten by snakes, and when they cried out for rescue, what did God do?  Did He directly slay the poisonous snakes from heaven?  No, He took the image of the snake and, through that, He gave life.

So it is with you.  You desperately need to be delivered from sin, death, and the devil.  And so, for you, God sent His Son, born of a woman, and had Him lifted up on a cross.  For you, God came and subjected Himself under His Law.  For you, God died in your place on that cross.

God has fully saved you.  And you receive His salvation every week when the risen Jesus comes to you through Word and Sacrament, where He brings you to the Father, in the Holy Spirit.  Indeed, Christ is risen!  He is risen, indeed, alleluia!  Amen.