I never paid much attention to verses 8-11 in our passage today. In fact, I can’t say that I had ever really noticed them. But Christ’s interaction with Philip, his response to Philip, stands out today. At this point in the Gospel of John, we’re more than halfway through the book. Jesus has just washed the disciples feet and he has just instituted a new command to love one another. Here, before his crucifixion and death, he’s giving them hope and assurance. “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” The disciples, as they do, go back and forth asking questions. Right before this passage Peter asked, ”where are you going, why can’t I follow you now?” Then Thomas asked, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” And then Philip, does not ask, but makes a statement. A statement I hear as a plea, “Lord, show us the Father and we will be satisfied.” To which Jesus replies, I’ve been with you this whole time, do you still not know me? And follows with an amazing show of grace. He says to Philip, “Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me: but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves.” And its that sentence that I cannot shake. “Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me: but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves.” Jesus wants Philip to believe, to trust. And Jesus also knows, that belief may not be easy. “Believe me that I am I the Father and the Father is in me: but if you do not…” It doesn’t say why Philip might not believe or what’s going on there. But Jesus doesn’t chastise or scold him, he simply gives Philip another option. “But if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves.” It’s like Jesus says, Philip, if for whatever reason you don’t believe what I am saying, then believe what you have seen with your own eyes and have experienced yourself. You’ve been there, you have seen God at work. If nothing else, believe in what you yourself have experienced.
And I think those verses grab me so much, because in Philip’s plea I hear the pleas of so many people. People crying out, where is love, where is grace, show me hope, care, compassion, peace, justice, and forgiveness. And Jesus tells the world its here, its right here, believe it. But if for whatever reason you can’t. If whatever you’ve been through, whatever you’re going through, if something is blocking you from believing that God is right here with you, then believe in the work of God that is my people. Believe in the work of God that is my people. Believe in the love, kindness, care, compassion, and justice you see in and through them.
We have the opportunity to be thing that shows people God’s love. We have the opportunity to be the thing that shows people the Father. We have the opportunity to be the thing that shows people Christ. We have the opportunity to be the thing that shows people grace, love, forgiveness, compassion, care, and justice. To quote the saying attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, we have the opportunity to preach the gospel at all times and when necessary use words. Your life can be the answer to Philip’s plea, “Lord, show us the father.”
And yes, we are still human, we are going to make mistakes, we are going to mess up, and that’s ok. All we can do is try and each day try to be a little more loving, a little more compassionate, a little more justice seeking, a little more forgiving. The goal isn’t to change the world all on your own, its just to do our part.
St Teresa of Avila once wrote:
Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.
This week, may your life reveal the father. May your life reveal Christ. May your life reveal justice, care, compassion, and love to a pleading world. Together all the people say, amen.