“Philip said to Him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, cause us to see the Father – that is all we ask: then we shall be satisfied.’”
John 14: 8
God’s Gift of Understanding
Day 1: Gaining an Understanding of God as my Father.
“The Father is our fount and origin, in whom our life and being is begun.”
John of Ruysbroeck
What mental picture do I have when I hear the words: “God the Father?”
“More than a projection of the qualities of earthly fathers, (God the Father) is a name that demands its own definition, by the Father Himself, through His Son.”
Lloyd John Ogilvie
“Jesus replied, ‘Have I been with all of you for so long a time, and do you not recognize and know Me yet, Philip? Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father.’”
John 14: 9
It was a Thursday evening when Jesus met with His disciples at a Passover event we call “The Last Supper.” During this time together, Jesus revealed some of the most profound insights about His Father’s relationship with His children on this earth, as seen through the life of Jesus.
We find, in John 14, there was a specific request made by one of Jesus’ disciples, Philip, that a clearer picture of the Father be shown to them. Jesus responded by informing Philip and the others in the room that the Father was presented as He is, in the life of the Son.
I find this to be not only a comforting thought but an illuminating one. For often in our lives, we project the qualities of one individual onto another. In the case of a father, if our relationship with our own father has been a healthy and loving one, calling God, “my Father,” carries no destructive baggage with it.
However, if the conduct of my father has been abusive and I am left with painful emotional or physical scarring, calling God “my Father” not only floods my mind with painful memories, it can also be downrightly frightening. As a friend once said to me, “I like Jesus. He’s the nice one. God scares me to death.” And for many individuals the sentiments of my friend are a shared experience. God sends the hurricanes, the earthquakes, the floods. And if you don’t believe me, just look on your insurance policy under “acts of God.”
As one final point of clarification, Jesus looked at the disciples who had been with Him for over three years, and He underlined this fact: “If you know me and have seen Me, you know and have seen My Father.” In other words, the essence of the person Jesus was – the gentle, compassionate, forgiving, loving person – was the essence of the person God is.
Why is this so important to you and me? Because knowing that God is love…knowing that my Heavenly Father is love helps supersede and remove the misconceptions I may project into my spiritual relationship with my Heavenly Father because I had a bitter and destructive relationship with an earthly father.
This is why Jesus repeatedly, in His ministry, used recognizable stories – parables – to portray the true nature of a Father He came to reflect here on earth. In no other story is the picture of the person the Father is, more clearly shared than in the story of the Prodigal Son found in Luke 15.
I like what some individuals have said about this story. “It’s all about the ‘Father.’” Let’s look at the characteristics of the “Father” as laid out in this parable.
First, even though the son had no authority to request his inheritance, the father respected his right to make his own choice. The father wasn’t some control freak who demanded unwavering allegiance. Instead, the father let his child have the freedom to choose.
Second, the father never gave up or forgot about his wayward child. This boy was always in the forefront of the father’s thoughts, to the point that the dad watched and waited, always looking and hoping that one day his lost boy would return.
Third, when the boy recognized what a mistake he had made and returned home, the father forgave, accepted and reinstated him into the families’ life as if this boy had never rebelled in the first place. To say the father “forgave and forgot” would be an understatement.
Fourth, the father protected the child who had returned from the criticism of others. He sheltered the son and never threw up the boy’s past in his face.
So what characteristics are seen in this father? He was loving, compassionate, respectful, patient, long-suffering, forgiving, protective and redemptive. A father who was unwilling that “any should perish.” A father who, “tosses sins into the depths of the sea.” A father who places tears “in his bottle.” A father who “knows the number of hairs on our heads.” A father who never lets go. A father who is love. This is “Our Father.” It is the Father that Jesus told Philip, “When you see Me, you see Him.”
God the Father. Someone I don’t have to fear. Someone I don’t have to hate. Someone I can love, no matter what my earthly father has been to me – God is and will always be the loving Heavenly Father I want and need.
“See what an incredible quality of love the Father has shown us, that we should be called and counted the children of God!”
I John 3: 1
“Lord our God, Father of all,
You guard us under the
and search into the
depths of our hearts.
Remove the blindness that
cannot know You and
relieve the fear that
would hide us from
The Liturgy of the Hours
“(She) that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in Him will I trust.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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