Finally, it was done. He’d come clean and they had him trapped in His own words. The Pharisees accused Him of ducking the issue, of speaking in generalities, of not telling the whole truth. They said, “How long do You keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly (or, clearly, publicly, openly)” (John 10:24).
“No more spin. Tell us who You are.”
And He did. He, clearly and for all to hear, said: “I and my Father are one.” That’s “one” in the neuter and not in the masculine. It speaks of one in substance, one in essence, one in character, and not just as one person. Jesus, in the clearest way possible, was saying that He and the Father are of one essence, one substance, are equal, are one and the same. In other words, all that God is, Jesus is, and all that Jesus is, God is.
But this really shouldn’t have surprised the Pharisees, nor anyone else for that matter. After all, Jesus had been telling them this for quite some time.
Who Are You, Jesus?
For example, from John’s gospel:
John 5:17-18 – But Jesus answered them, “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.” Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.
Looks like the Jews understood exactly what Jesus was saying.
John 8:24 – “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”
Note, the He in your Bible is italicized. That means the He was added by our translators to make the Greek more understandable in the English. No big deal, they do it all the time and they let us know when they do by italicizing the word or word phrases they added in the English. But it actually reads, “if you do not believe that I am (the I AM of the Old Testament, the God of the burning bush), you will die in your sins.” Jesus is clearly identifying Himself with the God of the Old Testament, the “I Am that I Am” (Ex. 3:14).
Confused? Well, don’t be. There’s much less ambiguity just a few verses later when Jesus basically says the same thing. Only this time, the translators got it right.
John 8:58 – Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”
That’s pretty point blank and direct, isn’t it? No confusion here. Jesus clearly and publicly states that He and the God of the burning bush are one and the same. He is, and always has been, God. But there’s more.
John 14:6-7 – Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you had known (1097, to know by experience, to be intimate with, to approve, to choose, to show favor towards, to know as in an intimate relationship ) Me, you would have known (1097) My Father also; and from now on you know (1097) Him and have seen Him.”
Wait a minute. I think I’ve got the know part down, but when have I ever seen the Father? In fact, when has anyone ever seen the Father? I thought that if we ever saw the Father we would die? Isn’t that what God told Moses? (Ex. 33:20).
That was the exact question Philip had. He said, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us” (John 14:8). In other words, Philip still has some issues with God and Jesus being one and the same. I mean, God the Father is in “His heavens and He does what He pleases” (Ps. 115:3) and Jesus was standing right in front of them, alive, in the flesh, in living color, and close enough to touch. I can understand some of Philip’s frustration. Can’t you?
Seen One, Seen All
When Jesus answered Philip you can almost feel the exasperation in His words. It was like He was saying, “Really, Phillip? Are you serious? Haven’t you been listening to anything I’ve been telling you?”
John 14:9-11 – Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known (1097 – to know by experience, to be intimate with, to approve, to choose, to show favor towards, to know as in an intimate relationship) Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? 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. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.”
Jesus was affirming for Philip, and for you and me, that when we see Jesus we have seen the Father. That’s right. Jesus and the Father are one (John 10:30). So what’s the Father like? He’s like His Son. And what’s Jesus like? He’s just like His Father. He’s the exact representation, the imprint, the “image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15). What Philip didn’t realize when He looked into eyes the of Jesus was that he was also beholding the Father, the infinite God, the Creator of the Universe, the Great “I Am” (Ex. 3:14). The God who no one could see and live (Ex. 33:20) has made Himself known to us. Why? So we can behold His glory, the “glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). I know it’s hard to understand, this idea of the Trinity, but it’s glorious to believe. Why? Because Jesus reveals to us, to fallen man, to you and me, who the Father is and what the Father’s like. And the Father’s like His Son and His Son is like His Father. If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. Isn’t that wonderful? Doesn’t that fill your heart with peace?
“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).
Three True Statements
To understand, somewhat, this idea of the Trinity, we must recognize that the following three statements that summarize what the Scriptures teach about God are all true— even if they seem illogical or contradictory to us. It’s a glorious mystery that we will never fully understand. And that’s ok. After all, God is God and we’re not. And He says “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa. 55:8-9). In other words, it’s sheer foolishness for the creation, that which was created from nothing, you and me, to try to understand all there is about the Creator. Why? Because we can’t. We don’t have the capacity to fully grasp God and everything about Him. No created thing can ever know all there is to know about the Person who created them. It’s impossible and ridiculous to even try. Why? Because the Creator creates something, by definition, less than Himself. The One creating doesn’t duplicate Himself and create another Creator. No, He simply creates something less than Himself— you and me and the universe we live in. And we cannot fully grasp all there is to know about God the Creator because we are, by our very creation, less than God. The best we can hope for, as creations, is for God, our Creator, to choose to reveal some of what He is like to us. And He has. And when we struggle to make sense of what He has revealed to us about Himself, we must simply believe what our great God and Creator reveals to us about Himself as truth. We must accept what He says by faith. I mean, to not believe what the Creator reveals about Himself is to think we know more about the Creator than the Creator knows about Himself. And how stupid is that?
So here are the three seemingly contradictory, yet absolutely true, statements about God as revealed in the Scriptures. Your task is to either believe them or not. It’s your call, your choice. Your future.
God is three persons.
Each person is fully God.
There is one God.
Now read that again slowly and let the magnitude of this Biblical teaching sink in.
God is revealed to us in Three Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We’ve got that and we see it confirmed all through Scripture such as at the baptisms of Jesus when all Three Persons of the Godhead, the Trinity, made an appearance.
We also know the Bible teaches us there is only one God. Just one. Not many, not multiple, not a handful, not even three— just one. After all, the most familiar passage of the Old Testament is Deuteronomy 6:4-5 which states: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” Got it? There is one God, and only one.
But some struggle with the second statement: Each person is fully God, and I’m not sure why. Over and over again the Bible confirms for us, by their attributes, characteristics and deeds, that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are indeed God. The attributes of God: omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, eternal, infinitely wise, perfectly holy, infinitely loving, pure, etc. are all true of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. After all, only God can do the things God can do.
Which brings us back to the last comment Jesus spoke to Philip. Remember? He said, if you can’t believe My words, then “believe me for the sake of the works themselves” (John 14:11). In effect, let My works point to Who I really am. Let what I do speak louder than what I say. If I do only what God can do then draw the logical conclusion about who I am and Who sent Me. Think. After all, if it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, and looks like a duck… well, it’s no great leap of faith to believe it is a duck.
Wouldn’t you agree?
Of course. But the Jews in Jesus’ day didn’t. In fact, they rejected the proof He offered and condemned themselves by doing so— just like so many do today, both in and out of the church. When Jesus boldly and confidently asserted that “I and My Father are one” (John 10:30)— well, the war started. And it still rages today.
Let me give you some homework before we tackle the claim of Jesus to believe in His works. It’s found in Colossians 1:15-17 and gives the clearest statement in all Scripture, at least for me, that Jesus is God.
He (Jesus) is the image (or, exact representation, the imprint, likeness, icon) of the invisible God (or, that which cannot be seen by the physical eye), the firstborn (or, preeminent) over all creation (or, that which is formed, created). For by (or, through) Him (Jesus) all things (or, the whole, in totality, all without exception, the entire, absolutely all, each and every one) were created (or, to produce from nothing) that are in (or, at, with the primary idea of rest) heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.
Couple of Questions
What does it mean that Jesus is the image of the invisible God?
What does it mean to be firstborn?
Does this mean Jesus was the One who created all things in Genesis?
What are “thrones or dominions or principalities or powers”?
What does it mean “all things were created for Him”?
What is this verse actually saying?
Chew on these for a couple of days and we’ll pick up here next time.