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John 14:7-14 Study Guide: Show us the Father

Community Group Study Guide — Show us the Father
John 14:7-14

Study Information:
Many of us can find ourselves in a place where we are struggling and really long to “see” God or experience him in what we’d describe as a powerful way. What we learn in our passage though is that God has already done a powerful work to reveal his character and nature to us and this teaches us about God’s gracious and generous heart. 

The context for our passage describes the disciples as being troubled and Philip expressed his longing for Jesus to finally show them the Father and it would be enough for them (John 14:8). Jesus’ responded “I’ve been with you for so long and you still do not know me?” In times where our hearts are troubled we need to remember that God sent forth his Son so that we’d be able to see and know him. This happens as we are reconciled to God through faith in Jesus, receive the Holy Spirit and as we examine his life in the scripture.

Jesus Revealed the Father
John 14:7-11 
Many themes from John’s prologue (John 1:1-18) come up later on in the gospel of John. One such theme is that the Word (Jesus) reveals God to followers of Christ (John 1:18). John wrote that none of us as “seen God” but the “the only God, who is at the Father’s side has made him known.” This was John’s way of telling us that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us SO THAT God’s character and nature would be revealed to us. The disciples did not grasp this even though they had spent three years with Jesus; Jesus’ wanted them to know about his union with God the Father and how he revealed God to them in a unique and precious way.

Jesus challenged Philip, “Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?” Philip probably struggled to grasp that idea, just like many of us have a hard time wrapping our minds around what that entails. This is not to get rid of distinction and say that God the Father and God the Son are the SAME, that would be a false teaching. They are different persons in the Trinity but of the same essence “God.” What Jesus was teaching Philip was union between the members of the Trinity. There is one God who eternally exists in three persons (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). Jesus revealed to them that he (God the Son) was sent to accomplish our salvation, reconcile us to God and to reveal God’s character and glory to us(John 14:10-11). By saying that God the Son is in the Father and the Father is in the son, Jesus pointed to their unity, mutual indwelling and that there is constant communion and intimacy between them. Learning about the life of Jesus through the gospels is revelation from God and about God because Jesus is God the son, in the flesh. 

During this conversation Jesus taught that he revealed God the Father in two ways. First, through his words (John 14:10). Jesus taught truth about God, and expounded the true meaning of the Old Testament teaching. The teaching of Jesus came with authority because he did not have to appeal back to previous interpretations but was the very Word of God himself. Second, Jesus revealed God the Father through his works (John 14:10-11). The works of Jesus were completely holy, righteous and good. Likewise he did many signs and miracles. The goal of these miracles was not just to wow people but to reveal God’s creative power and the authority of Jesus over sin, sickness, death and nature. 

This teaching of God’s revelation though Jesus is a great comfort to us. If God was impersonal and just got the universe going and checked out he would not have sent his Son. The fact that God sent his Son teaches us that he wants to be known and desires for us to experience his love. It could be that you’re in a time of trouble and God feels distant. Certainly the disciples were in a similar place and their faith would go through a great trial when Jesus was arrested; but Jesus prepares them by reminding them that the God they worship reveals himself and wants to be known in relationship. 

Followers of Jesus Reveal Jesus to the World
John 14:12-14
During his conversation with Philip, Jesus challenged him to believe that his words and works revealed God and to believe that Jesus would be at work in and through them as his followers (John 14:12). Part of being a follower of Jesus is imitating Christ and becoming more like Jesus as we follow him and specifically disciples of Jesus get to participate in Christ through their works and prayer. 

First, Jesus promised them that they’d do greater works than he did. This is not to say that if you believe in Jesus you get to do miracles on command just like Jesus did, but rather that God will be at work in and through your life. Jesus will teach us in John 15 that he is the vine and we are the branches and that by abiding in him we bear fruit. These “greater works” means that your entire life as a follower of Jesus becomes a testimony to the resurrection power of Jesus as he works in and through you. In John 14:12 Jesus Jesus pointed them to the future when he said “I am going to the Father” and this is key because as he rules and reigns from heaven his power is still at work among his people. Paul explained this for us in Ephesians when he prayed that God’s power would be at work in us who believe, the same power that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead (Eph 1:19-20). The good works that you walk in, the acts of generosity and compassion you do and the way you fight sin are all things that point to new life in Christ and are expressions of God at work in you and through you. 

Second, we get to participate in Christ with how we pray. Jesus desired for his disciples to pray with boldness and encouraged them to pray in his name. As God shapes our desires we get to respond by praying for what would honor and glorify him. Jesus promised to hear those kinds of prayers and respond to them boldly, “If you ask anything in my name, I will do it!” (John 14:14). That is a pretty shocking statement for many of us and maybe hard to believe; but Jesus desires for us to pray for things in his name, which is to pray for things that would bring him glory and honor. We should not be quick to think about how that can be used selfishly, instead we should see it as Jesus pulling his disciples out of a mindset that would think that God was distant or reluctant. Remember, God desired to reveal himself which is why he sent his Son; that same heart of God is expressed here in this passage as he teaches his disciples to pray knowing that he is generous and not distant.

So, just as God the Father is in God the Son to reveal his glory, so too as you follow Christ you are invited to participate in God’s mission and work in the world. 

At your community group:

Take 15-20 minutes to share about how God has been at work in your life, prayer concerns and pray for one another.

How did God speak to you through the scripture and the sermon this week? 

Discussion Questions:

Why does Jesus comfort his troubled disciples by teaching them that he is in the Father and the Father is in him? Does this teach us that God the Father and God the Son are the same? If not, what does this passage teach us? 

How does Jesus reveal God the Father?

The study guide said that “the fact that God sent his Son teaches us that he wants to be known and experience his love.” Why does God sending his Son teach us this? What are some of the reasons that many Christians can often treat God as distant and impersonal?

Read John 12:12-14. What do you think Jesus wants us to know with this teaching on prayer? How does this encourage your prayer life?