Show us the Father

Why did Yeshua tell his disciples that they will see the Father when the Torah says, “No man may see my face and live!”?

Image illustratting concept of concealment. (Photo by Adrian Dascal on Unsplash)

In the Messianic Era, God will be revealed to all people. The knowledge of God will cover the earth. The prophet Isaiah says, “Your Teacher will no longer hide Himself, but your eyes will behold your Teacher” (Isaiah 30:20). In that day, everyone will know the LORD, and the revelation of God will be universal.

The departing Messiah said to the disciples, “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him” (John 14:7). The disciples had not completely failed to know Yeshua, but their questions suggest that they had not yet pierced the deeper mystery of His identity. Yeshua predicted that “from now on,” that is from the hour of the Son of Man’s glory—His death, resurrection, and ascension—they would know Him. They would know Him as the way to the Father, the true revelation of the God, and vivifying life of the Almighty, and they would come to the Father through Him.

Philip of Bethsaida took the offer and said, “Master show us the Father and it is enough for us.” Philip requested a mystical revelation on the order of a divine vision. Similarly, Moses said, “I pray You, show me Your glory” (Exodus 33:18), but the LORD answered, “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!” (Exodus 33:20).

Rabbi Yeshua replied to Philip with a gentle rebuke, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip?” (John 14:9). The Master used the misunderstanding to hint toward a deeper aspect of His identity. He said, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).

The prologue to the Gospel of John explained, “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father” (John 1:14), and “No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him” (John 1:18). The term “only begotten” alludes to the Abraham and Isaac story. In Genesis 22:2, the LORD tells Abraham to sacrifice his “only son” Isaac. According to the Talmud, Isaac looked exactly like Abraham:

God made the features of Isaac’s face like Abraham’s so that [everyone who saw him] cried out, “Abraham begat Isaac!” [They looked so much alike that] whoever wanted to speak to Abraham would speak to Isaac, and whoever wanted to speak to Isaac would speak to Abraham. (b.Bava Metzia 87a)

The Master seems to have alluded to the same story about Abraham and Isaac when He told Philip, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). Just as Isaac looked exactly like Abraham, the apostles beheld the glory of God in Yeshua of Nazareth. As a son is the image of his father; the Son is the image of the Father.

Not even Moses could see God. God is not man that he might be seen as a man. He is not part of the created order of things. He is completely removed from the reality that is our universe of perception. He is beyond what we can know, feel, touch, taste, smell, hear, or see.

Yeshua, on the other hand, is a man. He is tangible in the same sense that we understand reality. The disciples could see Him, and He told them, if you have seen me, you have seen the Father. His physical appearance was irrelevant. Yeshua revealed God’s character and truth.

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