“Don’t you know Me, Philip, even after I have been with you all this time?”
John 14:9 (common English Bible)
Philip asks Jesus for a glimpse of God. We are not told why Philip wants to see God but we can certainly imagine. There is present in Philip’s day, as in our day, difficulties, pain and brokenness that challenge the notion of a loving God. Philip’s mood ceases to be his alone and becomes ours. If we could only catch a glimpse of God then, perhaps, we may have some clarity about why the world is in such a state. We want to know something about God – to be assured that we have not been left alone in a world that daily seems to be coming apart.
Perhaps our difficulty arises from the fact that we have never ceased to create God in our own image. Each of us has certain notions of how God should be God. We fashion in our minds the ideal image of God – how God behaves and works – and expect God to conform. When God fails our expectations, we question God’s goodness or God’s existence at all.
This makes us no different than the folks who celebrated Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem with palm branches. Palm branches were used by the Romans as symbols of victory in warfare and athletics. The palm branches that were placed before Jesus as He rode into Jerusalem may well have demonstrated the people’s expectation that Jesus would overthrow the Roman government. He did not. And when God fails our expectations, we become not only disappointed, we become angry. There exist little wonder why only days later the people now celebrated Jesus’ crucifixion.
What appears to distress Jesus most was that Philip failed to see God’s character and purposes as it is embodied in Jesus’ own life. Philip has been given more than a glimpse of God. He has experienced the character of God through daily contact with Jesus. Many today become impatient, as Philip seems to have done, because they fail to grasp that in Jesus Christ God discloses Himself. “Don’t you know Me, Philip, even after I have been with you all this time?”
Perhaps what is necessary for us today is that we spend less time fashioning the God we would like to have and more time in the Bible learning of the God we get. That God is discovered in the person of Jesus. It shall then be that we see God more and more through homes and people and friendships that pay attention to Jesus and seek to live in Jesus-like ways.