Jesus said that we can see the Father when we look at Him (Jesus). He also said that He and the Father are one. What did Jesus mean by those statements? Does it mean that He and the Father are exactly the same?
In order to answer that question, we need to first look at the differences between the Father and the Son in the New Testament.
- Jesus had a body; the Father is a Spirit
- Jesus is the Son, submissive to the Father
- Jesus experienced human limitations; the Father has never been limited
Some say that Jesus and the Father are simply different “modes” of the same God (modalism). However, in His high-priestly prayer to His Father, Jesus describes an intimate, personal relationship that has existed throughout eternity (John 17:5, NCV).
“And now, Father, give me glory with you; give me the glory I had with you before the world was made.”
Jesus’ prayer reveals that He existed as a distinct, eternal person with His Father in eternity past. In fact, Hebrews 13:8 tells us that, like the Father, Jesus never had a beginning. “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever.”
In other words, there never was a time when Jesus Christ existed in a different mode of God or as a different person. When He took on humanity, His deity remained the same.
So, what did Jesus mean by saying that we can see the Father when we look at Him?
When we see a person (although we can’t see the mind or soul) we recognize him or her by observing their face. The smile or frown tells us what the person is thinking. We identify a person’s uniqueness by his or her face.
That’s the illustration Jesus used in John 14:9. In Hebrews 1:1-4, Jesus is spoken of as the “radiance of the glory of God, the flawless expression of the nature of God.”
“God, who gave our forefathers many different glimpses of the truth in the words of the prophets, has now, at the end of the present age, given us the truth in the Son. Through the Son God made the whole universe, and to the Son he has ordained that all creation shall ultimately belong. This Son, radiance of the glory of God, flawless expression of the nature of God, himself the upholding principle of all that is, effected in person the reconciliation between God and man and then took his seat at the right hand of the majesty on high—thus proving himself, by the more glorious name that he has won, far greater than all the angels of God.”
In this passage, Jesus is called, “the flawless expression of the nature of God.” He is also the one through whom God created everything, and is called “far greater than all the angels of God.”
Later in Hebrews 1:8, Jesus is actually called, “God” by His Father.
So, is Jesus another God than the Father, or the same God? Jesus never claimed to be another God, but He did claim to be God on several occasions (See “Did Jesus Claim to Be God?”)
Jesus also said that He and the Father are one (John 10:30). Some say that what Jesus really meant by that statement is that He and the Father are in agreement with each other. However, in context, that can’t be Jesus’ meaning.
His audience, the Jewish religious leaders would have welcomed Jesus being in agreement with God. But when Jesus claimed to be one with His Father, they became incensed and tried to kill him. Their anger reveals that Jesus was claiming to be God.
So, how do we answer the question, “Are Jesus and the Father the same?”
Although they are different persons, they are one in their deity. Jesus and the Father share the following attributes (Philippians 2:5-11 tells us that Jesus limited Himself while in his human body):
- They are both eternal beings
- They both were involved in creation
- They are both holy in character
- They are both called God
- They both are infinite, omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent
- They are both called “Yahweh,” “Alpha and Omega,” “The First and the Last,” “The Beginning and the End,” “Savior,” “Lord,” “King,” and “Eternal Father.”
The Bible teaches that Jesus and the Father are distinct persons, yet one God. This is a mystery we must accept by faith. Paul writes of it to the Colossians (1:15-17, NCV).
“No one can see God, but Jesus Christ is exactly like him. He ranks higher than everything that has been made. Through his power all things were made—things in heaven and on earth, things seen and unseen, all powers, authorities, lords, and rulers. All things were made through Christ and for Christ. He was there before anything was made, and all things continue because of him. He is the head of the body, which is the church. Everything comes from him. He is the first one who was raised from the dead. So in all things Jesus has first place.”
Jesus promised that all who put their trust in Him will live forever. If you would like to know how to receive eternal life, read “Is Jesus Relevant Today?”.