What is Jesus saying here? Is He making a distinction between Himself and God, the Father? And if so, what type of distinction?
I think the difference Jesus is highlighting is relationship and understanding of God. The Jews have believed in God, but they have not all known Him. Jesus said, “No one knows the Father, but the Son, and who the Son reveals Him to” (Matt 11:27). Without knowing the Son, they cannot know the Father…they can only know of the Father, which is what they do…and they know of Him as God alone.
They also cannot have an understanding of God’s true nature, apart from Jesus. Jesus is the revelation of God’s true nature; His love, wisdom, power and truth. So, without Jesus, we can’t enter into a personal relationship with God. Jesus said, “I no longer call you servants. I call you friends” (John 15:15). Because of Jesus, we can have more than an awareness of God, we can have intimacy with Him!
Jesus had to make this distinction, so that they would know that IT IS NOT ENOUGH SIMPLY TO BELIEVE IN GOD. It’s not enough to believe that God exists, or to know who God is, as the Hebrews do. You must know Him personally. You must receive Him. You must grow in intimate knowledge of Him, and that comes only by knowing Jesus, His Son, through Whom the Father is content to reveal Himself.
1. Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
2. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
3. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
4. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.
5. Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?
6. Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
7. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.
I read this section of the Bible during a Service of Songs funeral service for the late father of a friend of mine. As I read them I asked the question, that I have asked above and answered in this post: why the distinction? Are they not One and the same? Is Jesus saying that He is not God, by saying, you believe in God, believe in Me as well?
But I got the understanding I have now shared, and something more. As you read on in the quoted chapter, Jesus talks about the Way to the Father, and the Way to where He is going, Heaven. He says that the disciples already know the Way, and answers their question by saying that He is in fact “the Way, the Truth and the Life…” and the only means by which they can approach the Father, God.
We know these things. But something else that rang for me was the relevance of THE CROSS. I have recently come to see Jesus and The Cross as One and the same. The Cross is more than symbolism. It is the Wisdom of God, the Love of God and the Power of God. It is as to Jesus as Jesus is to the Word. As Jesus is the Word of God, He is also the Cross, and the Cross is Jesus.
And so, Jesus could be saying, “You believe in God, believe also in the Cross.” If you want to apply it to this section, you will see that the Cross is the Way… It is the Truth… and it is the Life we have all been called to live as followers of Jesus. The message (Word) of God is the Cross, which is foolishness to the world, but is the very Wisdom, Love and Power of God, to us who are being saved (1 Cor 1:18)!
Jesus represents the intangible unseen God (who is Spirit), who can only be known through Him! With Jesus, God has form. With Jesus, we can relate with God. With Jesus, we can know God, in all His ways. And this is God’s gift of eternal life to us: “that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3).
Photo credit: http://www.bible-lists.pw
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