Jesus says, “You know the way to the place where I am going.”
Can you see the disciples giving quizzical looks to each other? Peter would probably be pretending comprehension. It’s the thinker, Thomas, who finally asks the question, “Lord, we do not know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” This is doubting Thomas, the one who later would require touching the wounds of Jesus in order to believe. Thomas is an intellectual one, slow to speak, quick to think. He’s the opposite of Peter.
It’s yet another worldview clash between Jesus and the disciples. Thomas and the disciples had a narrow definition of destination and route. It was a human definition. Jesus had a definition that redefined destination. He was going to the Father and He was the Way. The Way was a person and the place was God Almighty’s presence.
Jesus’s words don’t dance in circles. They are straight-lined words, clear and poignant, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” You can chart a direct course on those words, no stops to ask directions. Any ways to the Father that preclude the Son are false and deceptive. Saying no to the Son is saying no to the Father. They are one. You can’t reject the Son and enter the presence of the Father.
Philip says “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” Philip was hoping that Jesus could just wave a hand and say, “Tada! Behold the Father.” But the disciples got another unexpected answer. They’ve been seeing the Father for many months now. Jesus is one with the Father. His whole life is “Tada! The Father.” Have the disciples been blind, deaf, and mute? Perhaps Jesus should have spent less time healing the masses and more time opening the eyes and ears of his closest friends.
Jesus’s response to Philip is passionate, “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” I don’t think Philip was hurt by Jesus’s rebuke. The tone of Jesus here is one of deep longing. He is a friend, pleading for his friends to understand the work of the Father. (Can you hear him pleading with you to understand?)
“Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 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 miracles themselves.”
Jesus is asking his friends to believe that He and the Father are one. If his friends can’t understand the oneness of Father and Son (and in a few verses, the Spirit), then they won’t understand the sacrifice he is about to make. For Jesus to be Savior, He must be fully God and fully man. He identifies with us in our weakness, becoming like us, but without sin. Being sinless, he is the only acceptable sacrifice. As fully God, he fulfills Old Testament promises that the covenant-making Yahweh would bear the punishment for vassal man’s breaking of the covenant.
Belief will unfold over the next 72 hours in the lives of the disciples. At times, belief will be so buried within them that their doubts and fears will dominate external decisions. Only the power of the resurrection will be able to fertilize that seed of belief and enable it to grow.