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Lesson 8: Seeing the Invisible *

Introduction: Have you ever said, "Those characters in the Old Testament had a real advantage over me because God spoke directly to them." Do you sometimes feel that your faith could use a real boost by having God speak to you directly? Would you like some tangible proof of God's presence? How about actually seeing God? The "faith chapter" of Hebrews (Hebrews 11) starts out "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." True faith, it turns out, is built on a lack of visible proof. Is there a way to see the invisible? Let's dive into our study to learn more about "Seeing the Invisible!"

  1. How to See the Father

    1. Read John 14:1. Jesus is speaking to His disciples at the "Last Supper." Why should they be troubled? (In the prior chapter, John 13, Jesus told them that He would be betrayed by one of them and that He was leaving for a place where they could not follow (at least not right now). John 13:21,33.)

    2. Read John 14:1-3. What is the cure for the disciples' fear? (Trusting Jesus. He will come and take them to the home of His Father so they will all be together.)

    3. Read John 14:4-5. Thomas is concerned about getting confused over the directions and getting left behind. Why should he be concerned? Didn't Jesus say ( John 14:3)that He would "come back and take you to be with Me?" (Jesus also said that they "knew the way" and Thomas is not going to be quiet about his ignorance on this important point.)

    4. Read John 14:6-7. Is this an answer to Thomas' question?

      1. Jesus said that He was going to His Father's house. Thomas responds "We don't have that address - we need it to be sure we get there." Does Jesus give His Father's address? (Yes. In John 14:6 Jesus says the only way to the Father is "through Me." Jesus teaches them that if they know Jesus, they know the Father. The "way" to the Father's house, the way to know the Father, is to know Jesus.)

        1. What do you think of Jesus' answer? Thomas is asking for a physical address: "At the 29th palm tree, turn left and proceed to the watering hole. The house will be on the left." Is Jesus giving Thomas that kind of answer? (We begin to understand "seeing the invisible." Jesus is physical (they can see Him), and His Father has a physical location (heaven), but physically getting there is not like turning left at the 29th palm.)

    5. Read John 14:8. Philip joins Thomas in this questioning. He wants to see the Father. But, he thinks he has a lesser request: "You don't need to give me the Father's actual address (unlike Thomas), just let me meet Him and that will be enough." Is Philip asking for less?

    6. Read John 14:9-11. Has Philip seen the Father?

      1. Is Jesus annoyed with Philip's question?

      2. Going back to "seeing the invisible," is Jesus showing them "the invisible?" (Jesus says that if they "know" Jesus, seeing Jesus equals seeing the Father. Seeing Jesus is the same as seeing the invisible Father.)

        1. How does that work? Jesus refers to the Father as being separate, but says seeing one is the same as seeing all. How would you explain this? (Read John 14:10-11 again. Jesus is not talking about an image, He is talking about something greater than that. God had made Himself known in Jesus. God revealed Himself in Jesus.)

        2. How much does a mere image tell you about someone? Show me a picture of your girlfriend, your boyfriend, your husband, your wife, your children. How much does that reveal?

          1. What if you lived with someone who wore a mask for two months? What if they wore a bag over their head and gloves so their whole body was covered? How much would you know after living with that masked person?

          2. Do you see what Jesus means when He says, "If you have seen Me you have seen the Father?"

  2. Obtaining the Brushes and Paint for the Picture

    1. Read John 14:12-14. Jesus tells us that the two of them (Father and Jesus) are one. Thus, Philip has seen the Father and Thomas knows how to find the Father. Why does Jesus point (v. 11) to miracles as evidence of His connection? (Because only God could do them.)

      1. In this context Jesus says "I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father." When Jesus says "whatever you ask" does He mean "just anything?" Want a new Mercedes? Just ask! (The whole theme of this series of conversations is the relationship between Jesus and the Father. The theme is "seeing God." That makes me think "anything" means "anything" that promotes the human understanding of God. Anything that promotes trust in God. Indeed, that sentence continues "so the Son may bring glory to the Father.")

    2. Read John 14:15. I thought Jesus just got through saying that we could "command" Him - just ask, and our wishes are His commands. Why is He now talking about us obeying His commands? (This is further proof of my theory: Jesus is not saying "I'll give you anything." He is saying that if we are working together with Him to promote the Kingdom of God, that He will give us whatever we ask to promote that end.)

  3. Painting a Picture of God

    1. Read John 14:16-17. What kind of relationship are we to have with the Holy Spirit?

      1. Is it the same relationship that Jesus has with the Father? (Jesus puts it in much the same terms. Compare John 14:10-11.)

      2. Why does the "world" not accept the Holy Spirit? (Because it neither sees Him or knows Him.)

        1. Isn't this the very problem we have been discussing - seeing God? Having faith in the invisible?

        2. What is the solution for the world's inability to see the Holy Spirit? (Notice the parallel! Jesus tells His disciples that they have seen the Father and they know the Father by seeing and knowing Jesus. "I am in the Father and the Father is in me." ( John 14:11) Jesus then says that we can have the same relationship with the Holy Spirit ("He lives in you and will be in you." John 14:17.) The purpose for this is so the world can see God. They see the invisible through you!)

    2. Read John 14:18-21. What kind of relationship can we have with Jesus? (He says the same thing about our relationship with Him: "you are in me, and I am in you.")

      1. Why is this discussion about our relationship with the Trinity and our role in making visible the invisible interwoven with these references to having and obeying God's commands? (Christians who are saved by grace and who (therefore) believe they have no obligation to obey the law are really missing the message! The "world" sees God through you. How could the world possibly get a clear picture if you pay no attention to God's rules for living? The world will see something alright, it just won't be the invisible God.)

    3. Read John 14:22. Good question! Why is it that God depends on us to give the world a picture of God? (Read John 14:23-24. We are obviously the "advance agent" working with the Holy Spirit to bring the world a picture of God. God will reveal Himself to all who come to Him.)

  4. Help With the Portrait

    1. Is the thought of your role in promoting the Kingdom of God overwhelming? Is it beyond your ability? Read Isaiah 41:13. What offer does God make to us?

    2. Read 1 Peter 5:7. What cure does God offer for our anxiety?

    3. Friend, just as Jesus revealed His Father, so we are to reveal the Trinity. This is not a work we have to do in our own strength. Jesus provides the Holy Spirit and He offers to hold our hand. The question is, will you undertake the task? Will you study God and His commands so that you can portray an honest picture of God?

  5. Next week: A Life of Praise
* Copr. 2007, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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