Philip has walked with Jesus, heard the teachings, and witnessed lives transformed. He has been as close to God incarnate as anyone could hope to be, but he still needs a sign as Jesus prepares the disciples for life after his departure. “Show us the Father,” Philip says. “And then we will understand. You will not need to do anything else. We will believe” (ap).
When I read this passage, I half expect the next verse to be, “Then Jesus rolled his eyes.” Instead, Jesus again makes the case for his identity and his mission. “How can you demand to see the Father,” Jesus asks, “when all that I have done has pointed you in the direction of the Father? I have shown you the Father. And if that does not work for you, Philip, believe simply because of the works I have done in my Father’s name” (AP).
I like to think that I would have been the good disciple who paid attention and kept notes, the one who would have believed without requesting proof. Unfortunately, I know that is far from the truth; I would have merited many an eye roll. Though the Spirit has wooed me and testified to me about God’s presence, I have demanded evidence even when I have witnessed the work of the Spirit right in front of me.
How often have I seen relationships restored when I was certain that there was no way through the division? I may have prayed, but did I dare to hope for healing, remembering that the Spirit always is seeking reconciliation? I simply would not believe in the Spirit of love’s ability to penetrate a hardened heart and a closed mind, especially my own. But as Jesus’ ministry among his disciples pointed toward his Father, the Spirit’s movement toward restoration has always pointed to the undeniable existence of a loving God.
O God, I acknowledge my unbelief as I seek you today. Amen.
In preparing for Pentecost, we focus again on the work of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2 recounts the famous story in which the disciples are miraculously able to speak in other languages in order to preach to the crowds in Jerusalem. The psalmist states that God creates and renews creation through the Spirit. According to Paul, if we are led by God’s Spirit, the Spirit confirms that we are children of God. In the Gospel of John, Jesus promises to send the Helper, the Holy Spirit, who will teach us how to love him and to keep his commandments. In some branches of Christianity, fear of excess causes hesitation about the Holy Spirit; however, we must never forget that the Spirit is central to God’s redeeming work.
Read Acts 2:1-21. The miracle of Pentecost is not only in the multitude of languages but also in the act of listening. How can you experience worship in many languages or offer deep listening this Pentecost?
Read Psalm 104:24-34, 35b. How do you witness God’s experience woven through all of creation?
Read Romans 8:14-17. The author reminds us that spirit also means breath. When have you felt led by the breath of God?
Read John 14:8-17, 25-27. How has fear kept you from trusting God?
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