As we head towards Easter this year, we ask what it was all about. Why did Jesus come? If he was indeed God, why did he step into the world and live alongside us?
One of the clues can be found in something Jesus said to his disciples Thomas and Philip:
“If you really know me, you will know my Father as well… How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”
When you know someone, you learn certain things about their family—even if you’ve never met them. They will have picked up values, attitudes and characteristics from their family. Seeing how someone acts in certain situations often teaches us about their family values. And it was just the same for the people who saw Jesus in action. In the same way, what we see in Jesus teaches us about God, but of course for now we can’t even begin to see God fully…
Imagine you’re peering through a keyhole into a room. As far as you’re concerned, right now that room is keyhole-shaped and contains only the things you can see within that shape. It’s not until you go through the door, into the room, that you appreciate the size and scope of the room, and see everything that’s in it.
Jesus is like that keyhole. Through him, we see certain aspects of the Father—but we must accept that God is more vast than we can visualise.
So what does Jesus shows us of the Father?
One of the most obvious things Jesus showed us was his extraordinary compassion—and compassion comes from love. John goes on to say: “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!"
In his compassion, Jesus healed people. He healed their bodies (as with lepers and the blind, paralysed, haemorrhaging, and the mentally unstable) and their spirits, by lovingly challenging their behaviour and forgiving their sins. Jesus shows that God’s love intends for us to be whole people—spiritually, emotionally, mentally, physically. Jesus’ healing miracles point to a Father who loves, us and a kingdom in which only perfection exists.
Jesus also shocked society with his heart for the poor and vulnerable (and his challenge to the rich). At that time, among that people, wealth was seen as a sign of spiritual success. Jesus showed us a different kind of spiritual success: he told us, and showed us, that loving God and one another was the way to ‘spiritual success’ (Matthew 22:38-39). Pretty much everything Jesus did was a sign of his love for the Father—by talking to him constantly and obeying him—or for other people.
Perhaps we can be keyholes, too. When others see us, do they see aspects of Jesus? Ideally, we should become God-shaped, too, projecting the nature and character of the Father. If we are his children, as he tells us, we’d just be showing our family traits!
Pray: Lord, today we only catch glimpses of youm but one day we will meet you in person. Help me to hold onto that hope and to come home to you when my life on this earth has ended. Amen.
Think about: In which other ways do you think Jesus might resemble the Father?
Challenge: If there's a door in your house which has a keyhole, close that door and then look into the room from the keyhole, from the outside. Try it! How much of the room do you see? How different does it look?