As Jesus foretold of His departure to His disciples, Thomas voiced a concern that probably many of them were feeling, “We don’t understand where you are going, and how will we get there?” Jesus had just finished saying He was going to His “Father’s house” which we understand clearly to be Heaven. If Thomas had known that Jesus was talking about Heaven, he could have asked instead, “How can I go to Heaven?” Jesus answered Philip’s question by giving one of the most exclusive statements of the entire Bible, “I am the way…no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” Jesus left no wiggle room for any to think that He was simply “one of the ways,” no, He claimed with confidence that He was the only way.
Philip then asked Jesus to show him signs that demonstrated that Jesus was in fact from God and that this was true. After following Jesus for nearly three years, through this question we can see that there were still some disciples who had not fully understood the truth about Jesus. Now, Philip asked Jesus to show him how that Jesus was God. Lovingly, Jesus would take the time to teach Philip that he didn’t need Jesus to demonstrate anything.
The time for demonstrations was over. Jesus went on to teach Philip a great truth about his reaction to the claims of Jesus. In verse 11, Jesus says, “Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake.” Philip expected to see the deity of Jesus in this moment, but Jesus explained that Philip should already be past seeing and what he really needed was faith in what he had already seen. But why didn’t Jesus just do something spectacular to convince Philip in this moment?
Jesus had already done unbelievable things: healing the lame, healing the blind, raising the dead. This was not the time for more demonstrations, the demonstrations were done, now was the time for belief. Philip’s request was laced a thread of disbelief that if he had voiced more clearly would have sounded something like this, “I know you raised Lazarus from the dead and have power over a raging storm, but show us that you really are God.” What else could Jesus do? What else did Jesus need to do? It wasn’t for lack of evidence that Philip asked the question, it was because of his lack of faith in what he had already witnessed Jesus do.
In the end, Jesus made a promise that extended to His Apostles, “the works that I do, you will be able to do.” We will eventually see these same faithless disciples filled with faith accomplishing the miraculous in the name of Jesus. Having understood the truth and believed it, they became signal bearers of the same, carrying the truths of Jesus throughout the entire world to the glory of God and of Jesus.
Food For Thought: What did Jesus tell Thomas was the only way to get to the place that He was going? Why didn’t Jesus do a massive demonstration of divine power for Philip? What was Philip lacking?