January 22, 2023
Does it ever feel like you’re missing something? You look around and there’s people all around you who seem to have really found the secret to life. They seem to be happy, content and fulfilled. And you wonder, am I missing something?
Garrison Keller tells a story called “A Day in the Life of Clarence Bunsen, “about an older man who realizes the years have slipped away and his life has missed something. So one day he goes to see Father Emil at Our Lady of Perpetual Responsibility for some advice. Normally Clarence goes to the Lutheran Church, but today he wants a second opinion. When that doesn’t help, he walks past his old school and climbs the hill overlooking Lake Wobegon, where he and his friends played as kids.
While reflecting on his life, Clarence hears some kids coming up the path. For some strange reason he runs ahead of them and climbs an old tree. They know he’s around somewhere but don’t think to look up. Clarence knows that if he drops down on them or yells, “Ha!” they’ll jump out of their shoes. He watches them, full of excitement and life and begins to think to himself:
“I wish I could be like that. I just seem to go through life with my eyes closed and my ears shut. People talk to me, and I don’t even hear them. Whole days go by, and I can’t remember what happened. The woman I’ve lived with for 36 years, if you asked me to describe her, I’d have to stop and think about it. It’s like I’ve lived half my life waiting for life to begin, thinking it’s somewhere off in the future, and now I’m thinking about death all the time. It’s time to live, to wake up and do something.”
And so he jumps – “Hayee!” And those boys scatter like birds. “Haah!” He yells, then, “Ouch! Ouch!” At this the boys come back to see who startled them and ask, “You alright Uncle Clarence?” “Yes. But go need to go down and tell Mrs. Brunsen to bring the car up– I’ll meet her at the mailbox.” So ,the wounded Clarence crawls the hundred yards over to the road and Mrs Brunsen picks him up without every asking what happened.
This is an interesting story. Since we too can be like Clarence, going through life with our eyes closed and our ears shut. Just drifting along waiting for life to begin, wondering if you’re missing something. Do you ever feel that way?
Do you ever feel like you’re missing something, especially when it comes to living the Christian life? Unfortunately, that’s where many Christ followers find themselves today. Oh sure, they’ve done what most Christians do. They prayed to receive Jesus. They make it a point to come to worship most Sundays. They occasionally read their Bible. They give, they serve, they pray. But sometimes they feel just like Clarence, like they’re missing something.
Have you ever wondered what that is? Have you ever wondered if you’ve somehow missed the point of following Jesus? Well, if you have, then you’re in good company. For that’s what was going on with Jesus’ disciples in the Upper Room, once they heard Jesus was leaving. They’re thinking: We’ve done everything you’ve asked of us. We’ve left everything to follow to you. Now, you’re leaving. What’s the point Jesus? Why did you have us follow you if you’re now leaving us? Well, if you’ve ever found yourself asking that question, then what Jesus has to say today is meant clarify the whole point of following Jesus – the whole point of Christianity. So, if you’d like to hear what that is, then let me encourage you to open our Bible to John 14:7-14. It is in this passage that Jesus clarifies the whole point of Christianity. He begins by letting us know that…
Christianity is about knowing the Father The whole reason Jesus came is so that anyone who wants to know who God is, can learn who God is by looking to Jesus. Let’s pick up the story where we left off last week, beginning in verse 7. Jesus says, ”If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know Him and have seen Him.” Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? John 14:7-9 Here’s the crazy thing about Philip. Philip had been with Jesus from the very beginning. He was the very first person Jesus sought out and said to him, “Follow me!” And the first thing Philip did after Jesus called him was to go and find Peter to tell him that he’d found the Messiah. So, Philip’s had some kind faith in Jesus from the beginning. Not only that, but Philip was at the Wedding in Cana when Jesus turned the water to wine. And later Philip was the one Jesus asked, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” To which Philip replied, “Two hundred denari wouldn’t be enough to for each person a bite.”
So, Philip had witnessed almost every miracle, every teaching, every encounter with the Pharisees. He spent three and a half years with Jesus. So, if anyone would KNOW who Jesus is, it’d have to be Philip. He had a relationship with Jesus. He’d witnessed Jesus kindness and compassion. He knew how patient Jesus was. He knew his words were full of truth and life. He believed He was the Messiah. But he had missed the point of His coming. And what was the point? Jesus says it right here: “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.”
Jesus isn’t talking about physical sight. He’s talking about spiritual sight. And spiritual sight is tied to faith – to believing. So, Jesus speaks to this, asking Philip a very pointed question: Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does His works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me,or else believe on account of the works themselves. John 14:10-11
Up to this point, Philip believed Jesus was the Messiah. But did he believe Jesus was actually God in the flesh? After all, we’ve heard Jesus make this claim throughout this gospel: When Jesus said to the Pharisees: “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working” John 5:17, he was making Himself equal with God. When He calls himself the bread of God that comes down from heaven to give life to the world, he was claiming to be equal with God. And when He told the Jews that “before Abraham was born, I am!” John 8:58, he was claiming to be equal with God. Philip heard Jesus says these things, yet, Philip was still confused of Jesus’ divine origin.
So, what Jesus asks Philip is very pointed: “Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?” At this point Jesus is saying is that He is of one essence with the Father. He is saying, that when you look at me, you see the Father in me, because the Father lives in me. He is saying, is that when you see me, you are seeing the Father. He is saying that when you believe in me, you’re believing in the Father. So, He’s telling Him, and He’s telling us: if you know me, you know the Father.
I don’t know about you. But what must it have been like to be Philip at this moment?All his life he longed for the Messiah. But Jesus is telling him now that He is more than that. He is God in the flesh. This is where Christianity begins: When you come to know Jesus, you come to know God.
Here’s where this encounter gets very practical. Most people go through life without knowing who God really is. He seems distant to them. He’s some impersonal power or force. He’s not someone you can actually know personally, like you know your spouse. And yet, what Jesus says here is that He has come to make God knowable. This is the heart of Christianity.
This is the point of Christianity: God wants you to know Him. God doesn’t you to spend eternity separated from His love and goodness. So, what did He do to make His love for us unquestionable? What did He do to open our eyes to this love? The Father, in His infinite wisdom sent His Son, who is the radiance of His glory – so we might see what He is really like – and in the seeing Him, come to trust in Him, so we could be made right with Him, and know Him forever.
This is what Jesus is trying to get Philip, and us, to see in Him this morning. That when you see Jesus, you see the Father. And when you come to know Jesus, you come to know the Father. That’s the good news found in Jesus Christ. For the moment you trust in Jesus, you enter into a personal relationship with the Father. You become His child and you begin to know His love. This the point of Christianity. Jesus has come to show us the Father so we might come to know Him through faith in Jesus. So, let me ask you: Has Jesus shown you the Father? Then put your trust in Him.
Now, one aside before we move on to a second point about Christianity, and that is this: There’s a reason we have the four Gospels. In these pages we have all the words and works of Jesus that reveal the word and works of the Father. If you want to help someone come to know the Father, invite them to read one of the Gospels with you.
You see, sometimes we think we can convince someone to believe in Jesus by having them look at our lives. And sometimes they may see something of Jesus in us that might convince them to believe in Jesus. But wouldn’t it be better to have them look at Jesus’ life? For He says it right here: Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.
Ok, so now once someone believes in Jesus and enters into a relationship with the Father, is that it? Do you just sit back and rest in His love and spend the rest or your days getting to know Him better? Yes and no. Yes, for the rest of our lives we want to follow Jesus and learn from Him what the Father is like. But one of the things we soon find out, is that Jesus wants us to learn how to live and love like Him. That now leads to the second point that flows out of our relationship with Jesus, and that is this:
Christianity is about doing the works of Jesus Listen now to what faith in Jesus is meant to produce in our lives. He says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. John 14:12 What were the works of Jesus? They were miraculous works of God. Jesus turned water into wine. He healed the lame. He walked on water. He fed the five thousand. He gave sight to the blind. He raised the dead. Jesus did some great works. But every work Jesus did was meant to show us something of what God is like. They were meant to show us that God is a God of mercy and of restoration. He sent Jesus to show us that He wants to redeem what is ruined; restore what is broken, and rescue what is enslaved. You see, it’s not about us doing miracles. It’s about us joining Him in His work of redeeming a lost and broken mankind. So how are our works to be greater than the works of Jesus?
That’s simple. Up to this point, Jesus was doing works of physical healing, social restoration, and even personal resurrection – raising the dead. Those were great works. But there is one work greater than even raising the dead to life. That’s what Jesus is referring to here. For after Jesus dies on the cross, raises from the dead, and ascends to heaven, He will give His Holy Spirit to anyone who believes in Him. And once Jesus puts His Spirit in you, you can join Him in a whole new work: the work of raising the spiritually dead to eternal life.
Here’s the point Jesus is making: The greater works Jesus has for us is helping people move from spiritual death to spiritual life by helping them come to faith in Jesus Christ.
This is the greater work Jesus calls every believer to participate in. And it’s easier than you may’ve every realized. It’s simply begins with sharing how Jesus Christ worked in your life to give you eternal life. Therefore, if you know Jesus, you have a story to tell.
Mine is pretty simple. For 25 years I lived the mantra: eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow you may die. Then one day I walked into a party with all the same friends, doing the same old thing. At that moment I saw something that shook me to the core. For the first time I realized that life was meaningless and all my relationships were shallow. And I began wondering what’s the point? Why am I here?” And it sent me searching for meaning and purpose for my life.
About six weeks later the girl I was dating invited me to go with her to church. I went. I heard the Pastor speak the word of God. Somehow, I knew he was simply bringing out the truth of the text. It made sense. It sounded right and true. That same day Pastor Doug Hepting asked if anyone would like to know more about Jesus. I raised my hand. Three days later, he walked me through the Gospel. He showed me how God created me for a relationship with Him. But there was a problem. I was a sinner – how my sin separated me from life with God and I couldn’t save myself. I didn’t argue with him. I knew I was a sinner. And for the first time in my life I understood that I needed a Savior. So that night, I got down on my knees, and asked Jesus to not just save me, but to lead me. I surrendered to God and put my trust in Jesus. And at that moment, I knew I was forgiven and God’s peace flooded my heart. At that moment God changed me. I was a new person. I was now spiritually alive to God. I now knew God because I knew Jesus.
Since then, I’ve had the privilege to help many people come to know God through faith in Jesus. And I can assure you there is no greater privilege, no greater joy, and yes, no greater work, than helping someone come to know God personally through faith in Jesus Christ! And that’s the point Jesus was trying to make this night with His disciples. The point of Christianity is coming to know the Father through faith in Jesus Christ, and then sharing what you know about Jesus with others, so they can know Him too! And the good news from this passage today is this: Jesus wants to help us do this greater work! That’s the third point of this text:
Christianity is about bringing glory to the Father Listen to what Jesus’ promise here: “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. John 14:13-14 The point of Christianity is knowing God. So, Jesus came to make the Father known. The point of Christianity is to do the works Jesus is doing: Helping to make the Father known. And now Jesus tells us He wants to help us. For when He helps us, He knows that He will bring glory to the Father.
This is what Jesus is trying to accomplish through His followers – through His disciples then, and through His followers today. That’s why He promises to help us do what He calls us to do. Helping people become friends, family and followers of Jesus has always been Jesus’ calling for His followers. This was the work Jesus was preparing his disciples to continue then. This is the work He calls us to continue doing today. And the good news is that we aren’t alone in this work. Jesus wants to help us – if we just ask in His name.
What does it mean to ask in His name? What does it mean to ask in Jesus’ name. Is this some spiritual formula that will get God to work for us? Or is it something else. Listen to how Pastor Matt Carter explans this. He says, “To pray in Jesus’ name is not to recite a magical incantation but to pray in line with His will. It’s to pray with the understanding that request you bring is the one Jesus would sign His name to. It’s a request that, if answered, would show the world who God is and what He cares about.”
Hudson Taylor, the faithful Missionary to China, once said, “I used to ask God to help me. Then, I asked Him if I might help Him. Finally, I ended up asking Him to do His work in me and through me, if He would be so pleased.” That’s the idea. God invites us into a partnership with Him. He wants everyone to know Him as their Father. That’s why He sent Jesus. Jesus shows us what the Father is like. Jesus makes the way to the Father. And now Jesus wants to help us make Him known so that others can know the Father. And all we have to do is ask Him, and He will do it.
This is an amazing promise. We have no power to change a life. We have no power to make someone go from unbelief in God to belief. But we do have someone who has that power – Jesus! Do you realize what this means? It means you and I have the potential to help anyone who doesn’t know God, to come to a place where they can know God. I think that far too often, myself included, is that we meet people who are far from God, who don’t have an interest in Jesus, who don’t know Jesus and don’t seem like they’ll ever darken a church door – and so we are reluctant to do anything or say anything to help them come to know the very God who sent Jesus to make Himself known. But when I look at this prayer – this invitation to pray in Jesus’ name, and Jesus promise to do what we ask, now opens the door to the possibility that anyone we meet, no matter how far from God, can come to know God. If we simply ask Jesus to do what we so often falter at doing.
Here is the key to unlocking our potential to helping people come to know God: It’s our access to the Father through prayer in Jesus. For many of us here today, this is what’s been missing. You know Jesus and want to make Him known, but you’ve struggled knowing what to do. You’ve tried sharing your faith, but you’ve gotten nowhere. If that’s you, then perhaps it’s time you learned Jesus’ promise, but not just learn it, pray it. Ask Jesus to bring glory to the Father through your unrepentant neighbor. Ask Jesus to bring glory to the Father by bringing your friend to faith in Jesus. Ask Jesus to make a way to show your friends that Jesus is the way. He wants to do for you what you can’t do. “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” John 14:13-14
That’s the point of following Jesus. The point of following Jesus is so you can know God personally. The point of following Jesus is so you can now do the work of Jesus in making the Father known. And the point of following Jesus is bringing glory to the Father, by asking Jesus to help you do what He’s called you to do.
So, let’s not miss the point! Jesus wants us to open our eyes to see the Father. Jesus wants us to open our hearts to share what He has done for us. And to open our mouths and ask Him to help us bring glory to the Father. This is our calling. This is what He has saved us for: to make the Father known. Let’s pray.