The Father is Revealed Through the Divine Presence that “I Am”
In John 14, Jesus indicates to his disciples that he is going to the Father and that they know the way and will follow him. But Thomas and Philip object:
John 14: 5 [paraphrased] Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “[the Divine presence that ‘I Am’] is the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through [the ‘I Am’ presence]”.
While this verse often brings to mind such slogans as, “one way”, and the verse, “there is no other name under heaven . . . by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12), it should be stressed, in this context, that the “name” of Jesus– i.e. the “I Am” presence –is truly universal and we dare not count anyone “in” or “out” of the kingdom based on professions of faith, sectarian bonafides, or the lack thereof. And just as this name was revealed to Moses to confirm the authenticity of his mission to liberate Israel from her Egyptian bondage (Exodux 3:13-14), so Jesus shares this name with his disciples to confirm the authenticity of his ministry– and theirs –to proclaim the good news of the kingdom and the liberation of the world from the bondage of sin and death. Thus he prays:
John 17:6 “I have made your name [“I Am”] known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything you have given me is from you;
John 17:18 As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.
And thus he answers Thomas:
John 14:7 “If you know [the ‘I Am’ presence], you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
Indeed, this also hearkens back to chapters 4 and 8, as well:
John 4:23-14 “The hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
John 8:31 Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
It is worth repeating, however, that an authentic knowledge of this name is not to be found in the mere thought, “I Am”– or in the mere verbal repetition of these or any other words or phrases –nor is the “keeping of” or “continuing in” his Word a legalistic endeavor (see Yeshua21: Chapter 4 and Chapter 7). Rather, this knowledge involves both 1) recognizing the “aware presence” or “alert stillness” that is prior to our thoughts and prior to our verbal expressions– prior to all that we ask or think —and 2) a resolve to do the will of God by abiding in that presence: *
“Surely the righteous shall give thanks to your name; the upright shall live in your presence” (Psalms 140:13)
[* cf. John 15:4-5; Ephesians 3:14-21; James 1:22; Matthew 7:26-27; John 7:17].
Such worship is not the exclusive domain of any particular church or spiritual tradition. Rather, whosoever will may come… Simply be aware of the awareness within which these words appear. Simply notice the light within which you see light and make that your first priority (cf. Psalms 36:9-10). Breath awareness and inner-body awareness are also extremely helpful. While such exercises may seem pointless to the those who are lost in the conceptual labyrinths of theological abstraction, they are widely associated with moments of clarity like the one that marked the beginning of the prodigal son’s homeward journey (Luke 15:17-19).
“If it’s so simple”, some may object, “why do we not see it sooner?” The answer is that we do see it well enough, on one level, but on another level we are not yet willing to forgo our prodigal adventures; we are not yet willing to take up our cross; and we are not yet willing to lay aside the forbidden fruit–i.e. the knowledge of good and evil that separates us from the garden of God and the tree of life. The Way it seems, is hidden from those who are wise in their own eyes, but it becomes increasingly manifest in and to those who are able to look at life simply and innocently:
Matthew 11:25 . . . Jesus said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.
Indeed, unless we becomes like little children, we cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven (cf. Matthew 18:3). And however smart we may be (however subtle our worldview), until the light of the world is seen and given precedence– until the “I Am” presence is recognized as Lord –we are like fish swimming around in search of water; we are like obtuse woodsmen who cannot see the forest for the trees:
14:8 Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” 9a Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know [the Divine presence that “I Am”]?
“Philip!”, Jesus seems to be saying, “C’mon Man! How many times do I have to say this?”
9b Whoever has seen [the presence that ‘I Am’] has seen the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that [the ‘I Am’ presence is] in the Father and the Father is in [the presence that ‘I Am’]?
The written word points to the Living Word.
If it seems, at times, that we have taken too many liberties in our paraphrasing of these texts, perhaps they can be read more conservatively without losing the cutting insight. Just keep in mind that Christ IS the Way, the Truth, and the Life — the living Word of God. We have reverence for the scriptures because they point us to Christ, but let us not become so obsessed with the letter that we miss out on the life-giving Spirit:
“You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life” (John 5:39-40).
“It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life” (John 6:63).
Let us take care, then, not to mistake the map for the territory; nor the word “water” for the substance that quenches our thirst. The primary value of the written word is its capacity to point us to the Living Word. The paraphrasing suggested above is intended for those who have read the scriptures carefully and prayerfully– perhaps even with tears in their eyes –but who remain hungry and thirsty:
“Listen! I Am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me” (Revelation 3:20).
“Let everyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift. Whosoever will may come and drink of the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17).
In John 14, we find that Jesus has, indeed, shared his knowledge of the Father with the disciples and that, while they have responded in good faith, they nevertheless remain dependent on his external guidance. He explains, then, that he must (apparently) go away so that they can, in fact, be with Him more fully:
John 14:1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.
We are tempted, at this point, to think of Jesus as a metaphysical carpenter–heading off to “heaven” to do some work there while we hold down the fort here… But we are forgetting, perhaps, that the body of Christ is the temple of God and each of us are members, in particular (I Corinthians 12:27). Perhaps what Jesus is saying, is more along these lines:
John 14:1 Let not your heart be troubled: you [trust] in God, [trust] also in [the Divine presence that “I Am”]. 2 In my Father’s house are many mansions [each of us being a unique dwelling place of God] …if it were not so, I would have told you. [Because you are so dependent on my external guidance] I go [in order to make room for the Divine presence that “I Am” within you]. 3 And if I [leave you, on the outside], I will come again, and receive you unto myself [on the inside]; that where I Am, there you may be also [as you more fully recognize and abide in the Divine presence that “I Am”].
Of course, even the idea of “inside” and “outside” is misleading, for recognizing and abiding in Him, we become one with Christ, in the Father, through the power of the Holy Spirit, just as Jesus said that we would:
John 14:16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. 17 This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you. 18 “I will not leave you orphaned; I Am coming to you. 19 In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.
Thus he prays to the Father:
John 17:18 As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth. 20 “I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will [trust] in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one…
In this way, we are not only reconciled to God, but we become ministers of reconciliation, as well (cf. II Corinthians 5:19).