The Purpose of Advent, Part 3



To Reveal the Father


There is one, four-fold purpose Jesus came to us the first time. Our Lord came to us in the first Advent to destroy the works of the devil. The works of the devil include all the things that separate man from God, that cause disunity and disharmony on earth, that cause violence, sickness and disease, injustice, poverty, pain, war, and death. Jesus came to to do away with all those works. He is slowly unwinding all the devil’s accomplishments until the day He returns when the devil and all his works will be completely and forever banished from this planet. Second, since the Fall, sin had been rampant on earth, corrupting and destroying everything it touches. Jesus came to free man from its clutches. Sin is still reigning on earth today, but for all who have found Jesus to be Lord and Savior and are born again, sin no longer reigns in them! 


The third reason for the Advent is found in a very simple declaration of our Lord’s, found in the fourteenth chapter of John’s Gospel.


Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. (John 14:9 | TNIV)


John 14 records the last hours of Jesus with His closest friends. The evening began in chapter 13, where He washed their feet, ate with them, taught them, and prayed for them. As Jesus was talking to them, the disciples interrupted Him no less than four times.


First came Peter:


Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?”  (John 13:36 | TNIV)


While our Lord was answering Peter, Thomas, the doubter,  jumped in:


Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” (John 14:5 | TNIV)


Then Philip came along, and while Jesus was dealing with Thomas’ question, asked:


Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” (John 14:8 | TNIV)


Barely answering Philip’s question, the unfortunately named Judas (not Iscariot), said:


Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”  (John 14:22 | TNIV)


It must have been a frustrating evening for Jesus. Here He was with His closest friends, trying to give them some very important last minute teachings and instructions, and He patiently deals with their confusion, objections, and fear of the future.


Philip’s interruption, though, was due to the fact that he understood that Jesus had some kind of special relationship with God, the Father. He had walked with Jesus for three years, and had heard Him talk about His relationship with the Father; He had heard Jesus, over and over again, refer to God as, “My Father.” His question was an important one, but you can sense our Lord’s frustration with him.


Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?  (John 14:9 | TNIV)


That verse is paradoxically the simplest, and at the same time the deepest answer to Philip’s profound request. Philip and all these men gathered with Jesus this night had spent three years of their lives with Him. They listened to His teachings over and over and over again to the point where they had those teachings memorized and would later repeat those teachings as they evangelized the world.


In answering Philip’s request, Jesus declared with absolute clarity that He and the Father not only had a special, close relationship, but that the two were inseparable, literally. And that’s the setting of the third reason for Advent: Jesus came to reveal the Father.


What did man know about God before Christ came?


Before the Advent, God had been slowly and patiently revealing Himself to man through a variety of means. We’ve looked at this before – how God used nature, His Law, angels, prophets, and supernatural interventions into our world to show man something of Himself, His thoughts, and His expectations for His people. 


And as you read through the Old Testament, you can see how man’s intellectual understanding of God had grown. There is a clear progression of man’s understanding of just how holy and righteous and loving God is. But at the same time, while man’s knowledge of God was growing, there was gradual and clear regression of his morality. The more man could know of God, the worse man got in terms of his personal morality. 


You’d think the opposite would be true, wouldn’t you? And yet, the apostle Paul saw this and he gave us the reason for it.


Well then, am I suggesting that these laws of God are evil? Of course not! No, the law is not sinful, but it was the law that showed me my sin. I would never have known the sin in my heart-the evil desires that are hidden there-if the law had not said, “You must not have evil desires in your heart.” But sin used this law against evil desires by reminding me that such desires are wrong, and arousing all kinds of forbidden desires within me! Only if there were no laws to break would there be no sinning.  (Romans 7:7, 8 | TLB)


It’s a quirk of man’s sinful nature that when he learns he can’t have something, that’s the one thing he wants more than anything else! God’s Law did that in man. It wasn’t God’s fault, it was man’s fault that God’s perfect Law resulted in more sin and not less. 


And that was the state of the world before Advent. Man’s knowledge of God had been steadily increasing. But sin and the effects of sin were increasing all the more. Incidentally, this is the shortcoming of all rule-based religions. You can’t force people to become moral people. 


It was into this darkening world that the angels heralded a solution.


But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”  (Luke 2:10 – 12 | TNIV)


No wonder the angel called it “good news!” You and I can’t imagine the hopelessness of humanity during this time. Through the Advent and the ministry of Jesus, one generation would change the course of the world. Think about it for a moment. Jesus had just three years to teach a dozen men, minus one, everything they would need to know to evangelize the world and turn it upside down. And they did! It was to this rag-tag group of evangelists that Jesus spoke those fateful words, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.”


What effect do those words have on the individual? Let’s take Philip as our example. It was his request, after all. Let’s look very closely at the words Jesus said in response to the apostle’s request to “show them the Father.”


Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?”  (John 14:9 | TNIV)


Basically, what Jesus told Philip personally was that he personally had seen enough of Jesus to come to the conclusion that Jesus was exactly what he was asking for. But just what had Philip seen? What was Jesus referring to? 


Let’s take a quick look at four times we encounter Philip in the Gospel of John, and then you’ll know precisely what Jesus meant.


First, Philip was the very first man Jesus called to follow Him. He was the first one called, not the first one to actually follow Jesus. There were, in fact, two men who preceded Philip, but they approached the Lord first, then followed Him. But it Philip who was the very first man Jesus personally  approached.


The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.”  (John 1:43 | TNIV)


Jesus found Philip and he was the first man to whom our Lord used the “Follow me” formula. Philip’s response is, to me, extremely interesting.  


Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”  (John 1:45 | TNIV)


Don’t love it? Philip’s response was to leave Jesus for a minute to go and find Nathanael! The first thing Philip saw in Jesus, according to his own words, was that he had found the One who embodied all the ideals of Moses and the prophets. In other words, Philip found the one Man who fulfilled everything written in the Law and prophesied by the prophets! It’s amazing that in a moment of time, Philip saw all that in Jesus.


Second, the next time we run into Philip, it was just before the hungry crowd was miraculously fed.


When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “It would take almost a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” (John 6:5 – 7 | TNIV)


Jesus didn’t need Philip’s help, or anybody else’s for that matter, but He was testing Philip. Because we know the events of John 14, we now know why Jesus was testing him! At this point, as far as Philip was concerned, feeding all those people was impossible. But that didn’t stop him for doing what Jesus told him to do.


Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there).  (John 6:10 | TNIV)


Philip and the others had everybody – 5,000 men plus their wives and children – sit down in an orderly fashion and Philip watched as Jesus miraculously fed all those people, with food left over! What did Philip see? He saw Someone who had the resources to satisfy the needs of hungry people. What’s more, Philip heard Jesus’ teaching that went beyond physical hunger to spiritual hunger and His ability to meet that need: I am the Bread of Life!


The third time we see Philip is in the 12th chapter.


Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus.  (John 12:20 – 22 | TNIV)


Just why Philip found it necessary to tell Andrew is unknown. But Jesus’ response to these Greeks is so profound, it echoes down to this very day.


Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Those who love their life will lose it, while those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me. Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” (John 12:23 – 28 | TNIV)


That was Philip’s third vision of Jesus; the vision of One acting in complete harmony with the Father; bending His will to His Father’s.


And lastly, we see Philip in the Upper Room with Jesus, just hours before Jesus would face the Cross, alone. When Jesus looked at Philip and replied:


“Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?”  (John 14:9 | TNIV)


But Philip hadn’t seen. Not really. He was there, he saw and heard the things we just talked about, but they didn’t make sense to him. Philip saw it all, yet he saw nothing until the work of Christ on earth was finished and He sent the Holy Spirit, and then all the things that Philip saw and heard suddenly came into sharp focus and he finally realized that he had, in fact, seen the Father because he had seen Jesus.

Before the Advent, God the Father was a mystery. The very concept man had of a God in heaven was very different from what we know today. The way people thought about God was vastly different from the way you and I think of God today because we have Jesus!  We have seen Him, and because we have seen Jesus, we know what God the Father is like. 






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