The Key to Knowing Christ

Sometimes you think you understand something, but you’re wrong. Sometimes this is because you are totally wrong. Other times it is because you are kind of right and kind of wrong at the same time.

Look at this picture and what do you see? If you say “castle” or “turtle,” then you are wrong because you are totally wrong. But if you say “vase,” then you are wrong because you are kind of right and kind of wrong at the same time. If you say, “two men looking at each other,” then you are also kind of right and kind of wrong at the same time. If you say that it both “vase” and “two men looking at each other,” then you are right because you understand the picture completely.

Whether you see this picture the right way is unimportant. But other things are very important to understand completely, and nothing is more necessary to understand completely than the truth about Jesus. To believe on Jesus, you need to understand who Jesus is. If you believe on Jesus, but you believe on a wrong concept of Jesus, then you have not believed on Jesus at all. No matter how sincere you may be and no matter how strongly you may believe something, if you are believing the wrong thing, then you will be wrong.

If you believe on Jesus, but you believe on a wrong concept of Jesus, then you have not believed on Jesus at all.

At the beginning of every new year, tax season looms over us. As we prepare to report our taxes, we must answer a variety of questions. Should I report this money as income or a gift? Does this receipt qualify as a deductible business expense? Do I need to report the interest and dividends that I earned from my retirement investments or not? Does my mortgage or rent payment count as a tax credit? You can find all kinds of answers on Google and from friends at work. Sometimes you can find all kinds of answers from accountants, too. It is your responsibility to get the right answers and file your taxes the right way. If you do, then you will have the peace of knowing that the IRS will not penalize you. But if you do not, then you will live in fear of an audit and exorbitant fines and penalties. If the IRS audits you and finds that you filed your taxes the wrong way, you cannot say, “I heard such and such and sincerely believed with all of my heart that it was right.” No matter how sincerely you believed the information you heard, if it was wrong, then you did not file your taxes correctly.

More important than how you file your taxes is how you believe about Jesus. If you believe the wrong thing about Jesus, then you will spend eternity in separation from God. You must believe the right thing about Jesus. What do you need to know about Jesus to believe on him the right way? To understand the truth about Jesus you must understand that he is God. To discover this, let us examine what Jesus teaches about himself in John 14:7-11.

To understand the truth about Jesus you must understand that he is God.

Do you have questions about Jesus? If so, then you are in good company. The first disciples had questions about him, just like you do. He spoke to all eleven men who were in the room with him. In John 14:10, when he said, “the words that I speak to you,” he used the plural form of you. He was talking to all the disciples because they all needed to learn the truth about Jesus. They all had questions. Jesus answered their questions. They believed what he told them and then went on to spread the news about Jesus to the world.

In John 14:5-6, Thomas asked Jesus to show them how to get to God the Father. Jesus said that he was the way. That brings us to a question that Philip asked next. He asked Jesus to show them God the Father. You would think that Jesus would applaud this question, because it showed that Philip wanted to come face to face with God. But Jesus corrected him instead.

This was not a case of Philip being entirely wrong. He was partially right, because Jesus did come to show God the Father to the world. But knowing this was not good enough.

It is not good enough to believe that Jesus is a good teacher who taught us the truth about God. It is not good enough to believe that Jesus is a powerful prophet who is close to God who came to give us a message from God. You must believe something more, and that’s what Jesus insisted on here in John 14.

I. To see Jesus is to see God the Father. (John 14:7-8)

In John 14:7, at the end of his answer to Thomas, Jesus says that to have a personal relationship with him is the same thing as having a personal relationship with God. He says, “If you had known me, you would have known my Father also.” Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus? If you do, then you also have a personal relationship with God the Father. If you don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus, then you don’t have a personal relationship with God the Father.

If you don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus, then you don’t have a personal relationship with God the Father.

In John 14:8, we find that Philip misunderstood what Jesus said. He thought what you and I and most other people would probably think. “Jesus, I know that you are like God and you help us to know God, but can you show us God the Father directly, face to face?” Philip makes the same mistake that we all can make so easily, viewing Jesus as someone who is special, perhaps very special, and perhaps more special than anyone else – but not quite as special as he claimed to be.

Another pastor makes this observation about the things that Jesus said of himself:

“It should go without saying that Jesus was telling the truth or lying [about being God]. Either his followers called it as they saw it, or they made up all those stories. But people are hesitant to embrace either of those options. Nearly every major world religion views Jesus as special but not quite as special as he claimed to be. And that in itself is interesting. When a person claims to be more important than he really is, that generally does not garner support and respect. Yet when it comes to Jesus, everyone is quick to make an exception to the rule.”[1]

Why are people so confused? When Jesus answered Philip, it is clear he was not satisfied with his question. If he was a good teacher (perhaps the best ever) or a mighty prophet (perhaps the best ever), then he should have been satisfied that Philip asked him to show God to them. But he insisted that Philip (and all the disciples) believe more than this.

In John 14:9, Jesus tells Philip that he has an inadequate understanding. He said that when the disciples looked at him, they were looking at God the Father. He claimed that to see Jesus is to see the Father. What would you think if I said that? If Muhammad said that? If Mahatma Ghandi said that? If anyone else said that? “If you look at me, then you are looking at God.” That’s what Jesus said to his disciples. Philip said, “Jesus, please show God to us.” Jesus answered, “You are looking at him right now.”

Philip said, “Jesus, please show God to us.” Jesus answered, “You are looking at him right now.”

In John 14:10, Jesus says something more. “I am in the Father and the Father is in me.” Whatever this means, you have to admit that it means something more than Jesus is merely somebody who came from God to tell us about God. By using very simple terms – not long, complicated, theological terms – Jesus is describing complete unity between himself and God the Father.[2]

This is not the first time that Jesus has said something like this. John said this about Jesus in John 1:1. He said that Jesus – who is called “the Word” – had always been with God the Father from before the beginning of the world. He also said that he was God. So, Jesus was with God and he was God.

This means that he was just as much God as God the Father, even though he was not the Father. This means that God the Father is God and Jesus the Son is God, too. This also means that they are not two different Gods, even though they are two distinct persons. They are two distinct persons, but they are the one, same God at the same time.

This reminds me of what Jesus said to the Jewish leaders in John 10:30. He said, “I and the Father are one.” The first time you hear this, you might think that Jesus is simply claiming to be on the same team or the same side with God the Father. It may sound like he is saying that he and God the Father are united in purpose, but nothing more.

But to understand what he was saying, you need to understand how his audience understood what he was saying. They spoke the same language. They lived in the same culture. They heard him say it in person, and what did they do? They began to execute him by stoning (John 10:31). They did this because they said that he was claiming to be a man who was equal with God (John 10:33).

Did Jesus correct them? Did he say that they were wrong, and he didn’t mean to say that he was equal with God? No. He defended what he said because that is exactly what he was claiming to be. To defend this, he said the same thing that he said to Philip (John 10:10). He said, “Believe that I am in the Father and that the Father is in me.”

In his answer to Philip, Jesus went on to give evidence that he was equal to God the Father, and just as much God as the Father is God. He gave two lines of evidence, which he has done before in John’s gospel.

II. The words and works of Jesus show that this is true. (John 14:10-11)

Jesus knows that what is he saying about himself is difficult to understand. He also knows that once you understand what he is saying, it is difficult to accept. So, he points to the evidence. First, he points to his words (John 14:10). He says that whatever he says is in perfect harmony with what God the Father would say.

You can study the prophet Moses, for instance. He was an admirable man who had a close relationship with God. Through Moses, God revealed himself to us through the first five books of the Old Testament. But did Moses always say what God the Father would say? You can say the same thing of any other prophet, whether he or she is in the Bible or not. You can say this even if they are a prophet from another religion. Many prophets claim to say things about God, from God, and for God. But only Jesus claimed to say exactly and completely what God the Father would say. He said this before in John 12:50, “whatever I speak, just as the Father has told me, so I speak.”

Not only did Jesus always say what God the Father would say, but he also always did what God the Father would do. In John 14:10, he said that whenever he did things, it was the Father who was doing it. In John 14:11, he said that the things he did were evidence that he was equal to God the Father. Again, could Moses (or any other prophet, good or bad) claim that he always did exactly what God the Father would do? Could he claim that it was always God doing the work when he did things?

Moses did several things contrary to God. He murdered an Egyptian in cold blood (Exo 2:11-15). He said ‘no’ to God when God told him to speak to Pharaoh (Exo 4:10-14). He threw the first set of 10 commandments to the ground in rage (Exo 32:19). He disobeyed God when he hit the rock in in the wilderness out of anger (Numb 20:8-12). (God had told him to speak to the rock, not hit it.) Because he failed to speak and act as God wanted, God refused to let him enter the Promised Land.

What prophets do you know and what do you know about their lives? You can always find faults, sins, and failures with every prophet that has ever lived. But no one ever found a fault with Jesus. The more you examine Jesus, the more you discover that he always spoke and acted as God would speak and act. There is no evidence any other way.

You can always find faults, sins, and failures with every prophet that has ever lived. But no one ever found a fault with Jesus.

The only sin Jesus committed was claiming to be equal to God. But that is only a sin if he is not equal to God. The only evidence you need to prove his sin is one word or one action in his life that is not in harmony with the nature and will of God. But no such evidence exists. Therefore, when he claimed to be equal to God, he spoke the truth and did not sin.

If Jesus is equal with God the Father, this raises a very important question. How can two persons be the same God?  The key to understanding this is to accept what God says, even when it doesn’t make perfect sense. God is infinite and unlimited in his capacity to understand things, and so there are things that make perfect sense to God which may not make perfect sense to us. We have a finite and limited ability to understand things.

This in mind, I will share with you several observations from the Bible to show you why we believe the Father and the Son are two distinct persons but the same God.

A. There is only one God.
  • The OT affirms this from the opening line, “In the beginning, God…” (Gen 1:1)
  • The 10 Commandments begin the same way, “I am the Lord your God … you shall have no other gods before me” (Exod 20:2-3).
  • The central command of all Scripture, called the shema, rests squarely on this fact, which Jesus repeated centuries later. “The Lord our God is one Lord” (Deut 6:4).
  • The first church pastor, called James, reaffirms this belief in one God for the church, “You believe that there is one God, you do well” (Jam 2:19).
  • The apostle Paul also draws attention to this doctrine, “there is no other God but one.” (1 Cor 8:4-6).

So, whatever it means that both the Father and the Son are God, it does not change the fact that there is only one God.

B. There is a plurality in the Godhead.

In the first chapter of Genesis, Moses tells us that God said, “Let us make man in our image” (Gen 1:26). This is not God talking to angels. It is God talking to God with a plural pronoun. Moses records this two other times, and the prophet Isaiah does the same thing.

Notice especially how Isaiah records what God said when he saw the throne of God. “I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” (Isa 6:8). Do you see that in one sentence, God refers to himself in the singular form (there is one God) and in the plural form (there is a plurality in the Godhead) all at the same time?

C. Both the Father and the Son are God.

We know that Jesus called the Father God, but he is not the only one to do so. The OT prophet Malachi did the same. “Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us” (Mal 2:10)? The NT apostle Paul did, too. “For us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for him” (1 Cor 8:6). And also, “One God and Father of all.”

But what about Jesus? Where else does the Bible call Jesus God? We have already seen today that Jesus said, “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30). But Hebrews 1:8 is very clear about this. “To the Son he says: “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever.” If you read Hebrew 1, you will know that this verse is talking about God the Father. In this verse, we read something that he said to Jesus the Son. What did he say? He called Jesus God.

At the end of John’s gospel, we see that the disciples learned to believe what Jesus was teaching them in John 14. He bowed before Jesus and said, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28). Some people claim that Thomas was cursing and using God’s name in a wrong way. If that were so, then why didn’t Jesus correct him? In fact, Jesus commended him for saying this. He affirmed that what Thomas said was true and encouraged everyone else who would come later in history to believe the same thing. Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29).

Have you believed? When you look at Jesus, what do you see? If you see a sinful man and a liar, then you are entirely wrong. If you see a good man, a great teacher, and a mighty prophet, then you are partly right but partly wrong. To understand the truth about Jesus, you need to understand that he is God. He is just as much God as God the Father. You also need to believe on Jesus as God to have forgiveness of sins and a place in God’s forever kingdom. If you commit yourself to Jesus in this way, then you will be saved.

To believers, I must ask the question. Do people around you know that Jesus is God? Do they know this from you? If not, then one of two things are true. Either you don’t believe Jesus is God, or you don’t care that the people in your life will spend eternity without God.

Like the first disciples, if you believe the truth about Jesus – that he is God and that he is the only way to God – then you have the truth you need to weather any storm, to stand up to any bad treatment that you may receive from others, to endure any suffering that may come your way. You have what you need to face anything that you experience in this life and to “not let your heart be troubled.”

Unfortunately, many professing believers raise doubts about whether Jesus is truly God. They do this by allowing trials in this world to trouble their hearts, responding in worry, anger, or fear. They also do this by refusing to spread the truth about Jesus to others.

Unfortunately, many professing believers raise doubts about whether Jesus is truly God. They do this by allowing trials in this world to trouble their hearts, responding in worry, anger, or fear.

Philip, who asked the question in our passage today, went on to believe the truth about Jesus, that he was God and Savior.

“Tradition tells us that [he] was greatly used in the spread of the early church and was among the first of the apostles to suffer martyrdom. By most accounts he was put to death by stoning at Heliopolis, in Phrygia (Asia Minor), eight years after the martyrdom of James. Before his death, multitudes came to Christ under his preaching.”[3]

The same is true of Thomas, who asked the question we looked at last week. He is also the one who called Jesus “my Lord and my God” (John 20:28).

“There is a considerable amount of ancient testimony that suggests Thomas carried the gospel as far as India. There is to this day a small hill near the airport in Chennai (Madras), India, where Thomas is said to have been buried. There are churches in south India whose roots are traceable to the beginning of the church age, and tradition says they were founded under the ministry of Thomas. The strongest traditions say he was martyred for his faith by being run through with a spear—a fitting form of martyrdom for one whose faith came of age when he saw the spear mark in his Master’s side and for one who longed to be reunited with his Lord.”[4]

What about you? Is your life a living witness that Jesus is God? Are you free from worry, anger, and fear and do people see that testimony in your life? Are you doing all that you can to love people and to share with them the truth about Jesus.


[1] Andy Stanley, How Good Is Good Enough?: Since Nobody’s Perfect . . . (LifeChange Books) (Kindle Locations 550-554), The Crown Publishing Group, Kindle Edition.

[2] George R. Beasley-Murray, John, vol. 36, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 2002), 253.

[3] John F. MacArthur Jr., Twelve Ordinary Men: How the Master Shaped His Disciples for Greatness, and What He Wants to Do with You (Nashville, TN: W Pub. Group, 2002), 133.

[4] MacArthur, Twelve Ordinary Men, 164.

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