Have you ever heard someone ask the question: “Do you know the Lord”? It’s a common question often asked by some in “religious” circles. If you were to search the web for that particular question you would find a plethora of websites discussing it. Maybe you have even been asked this question yourself.
But have you ever heard this question: “Do you know the Father”? Most likely you haven’t. Have you ever really considered just who the Father is? Even Philip, one of the apostles, didn’t initially know the Father. In John 14:8, he said to Christ, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.” Of course Philip knew the God of the Old Testament, but the God of the Old Testament was not the Father.
The surprising truth is that the Father was not known by Israel even though the Father was alluded to and mentioned several times in the Old Testament. The God that Israel knew in the Old Testament was the One who became Jesus Christ. Paul tells us in 1 Cor. 10:4, “and all [Israel] drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.”
The Father Revealed
One of Christ’s stated purposes for coming in the flesh was to reveal the Father. “Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him” (Matthew 11:27). Philip, and all Israel, didn’t know the Father, because it was Christ’s prerogative to reveal the Father. Knowing the Father is a privilege that Christ grants. So what did Christ specifically reveal about the Father?
The Father Calls
How often have you heard, “Just invite Jesus into your heart” and be saved, as if salvation depended on an individual’s decision to simply accept Christ? Yet Christ Himself declared that “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:44).
This scripture shows plainly that it is God the Father who decides whom to call. The Father calls individuals according to His will. Even Christ did not choose His own disciples – they were given to Him. Christ prayed on the night He was betrayed, “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word” (John 17:6). It was the Father who gave Christ the men who became the apostles.
It is the Father who draws people to His Son, Jesus (John 6:44-46) and teaches those whom He draws. It is the Father who gives the opportunity of entering into a relationship with Jesus Christ (John 6:65). The Father gives the elect to the Son (John 6:37) and gives instructions for their loving care. The will of the Father is to give eternal life to anyone who looks to the Son with true faith (John 6:40).
The Father Teaches
Christ taught His disciples and continues to teach those who have been called and reconciled to the Father. But who taught Jesus Christ? Although Christ’s parents had their role in instructing their son, Christ points to the ultimate source of his education. He stated, “I speak what I have seen with My Father…for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me” (John 8:38, 42). And again, Christ said, “The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works.”
Christ taught His disciples and all those who are a part of the Body of Christ, exactly what He Himself was taught by the Father. Christ did not come to set forth His own agenda, but rather, diligently taught what He learned from His Father.
And what message did Christ proclaim?
The message that Christ proclaimed was the Father’s gospel. Peter makes this point in Acts 10:36, “The word (gospel) which God sent…preaching peace by Jesus Christ…” The message Christ preached was the message He received from the Father. The Father’s message was the good news of the Kingdom of God and the reconciliation of all mankind through the blood of Christ.
Christ’s Answer to Philip
What was Christ’s response to Philip’s request, “Show us the Father”? “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” (John 14:9). To know more about the Father, Christ says we need to know Him as He is a reflection of the Father: “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30).
Let us look at two examples of how Christ’s life reveals the Father.
The Father Works
Christ followed the Father’s example of working. A common idea is that God simply sits in heaven and doesn’t do much of anything. But Christ tells us that the Father works. The Father works (John 5:17) as an example for His son (John 5:18-23). The Father and Son worked together from the very beginning. John shows us this in John 1:1-3, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.”
The Father makes Himself known in the works He gave Jesus to do (John 10:25-26). The works serve a purpose as John records in John 10:36-38, “…do you [the Jews who accused Christ of blasphemy] say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him.”
The Father is Generous
Just how generous is the Father? Sometimes by dint of seeing something over and over again, it no longer clearly registers in our minds. How often have we read or heard John 3:16? “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” The Father’s generosity extends to the very sacrifice of His only Son so that those who believe in the Son can have eternal life. And He was willing to do so from the very foundation of the earth, even while we were yet sinners.
The Father’s generosity is very graphically highlighted in a custom from ancient times. The giving of bread was an outward sign of friendship and duty to traveling strangers. But the Father did not just give physical bread, which spoils. The Father’s generosity is in the giving of the bread from heaven (John 6:32-33), “Then Jesus said to them [who were fed by the loaves and fishes], “Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
The Father’s generosity extends even to the giving of Himself to those He has chosen (John 14:22-24): “Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, ‘Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?’ Jesus answered and said to 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. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.’ ”
Do You Know the Father?
There is much more to study regarding knowing the Father. Just these two examples can be delved into more deeply. If you want to know the Father, then take the time to study just how Christ reveals the Father in His sinless life. And remember, as the Father taught His Son, so His Son teaches those whom the Father calls.
By John Grabara