During the last extended period of teaching that Jesus had with His disciples, He revealed that He is the only way to the Father (John 14:1–6). He is the only path to reconciliation with God, the one mediator between God and human beings (see 1 Tim. 2:5). Yet, as we see in today’s passage, Jesus is not merely the way to God, but in Him the Father is fully and finally revealed. If we want to know the Father, we must look to Jesus.
First, Jesus said that if His disciples “had known” Him, they “would have known” His Father as well (John 14:7a). The sense here is that the disciples have known Jesus but have not yet truly realized that in knowing Him they know the Father. This is all about to change, for the disciples will soon enjoy a new realization that knowing the Son necessarily means knowing the Father. “From now on you do know him and have seen him,” our Savior says (v. 7b). This refers to our Lord’s impending atonement and how it will make plain to the disciples the kind of God they serve. In the giving up of the Son for our salvation, the disciples will see God for who He truly is—the God who holds nothing back in order to save His people but who even sacrifices His Son to redeem us. The Father does not spare His own Son, and the Son freely offers Himself up for our redemption, showing us the lengths to which He is willing to go for us and, therefore, His perfect mercy (Rom. 8:31–32; 1 Peter 2:24).
Although the disciples are about to realize that Christ is the full and final revelation of the Father, there will still be a delay before they achieve this understanding. We see this in the response of Philip, who asks Jesus to show them the Father (John 14:8). Jesus answers with a mild rebuke, reminding him that whoever sees Him sees the Father because He is in the Father and the Father is in Him (vv. 9–10a). This is a point Jesus made earlier in His ministry (10:38), and He repeats it to Philip and the other disciples for their benefit.
Jesus’ response to Philip is important for understanding the Trinity. Augustine of Hippo, in a sermon on today’s passage, notes how Jesus identifies Himself with the Father while distinguishing Himself from the Father. By saying that He reveals the Father because the Father is in Him, Jesus does not mean “that He who is the Son is also the Father, but that the Son in no respect disagrees with the likeness of the Father.” To put it another way, the Father and Son are identical in essence but They differ with respect to Their personhood.