“If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all”, is a phrase usually used to mean they’re all the same, there’s nothing special about them, nothing to distinguish them from any other of the genre. For example if you’ve seen one rom-com film, you’ve seen them all*. (*this may or may not be a belief I subscribe to!)
Here that is given a slightly different spin. Again, jumping ahead slightly to next week and Trinity Sunday, Philip asks Jesus to show them The Father:
8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father. That is all we need.”
9 Jesus replied:
Philip, I have been with you for a long time. Don’t you know who I am? If you have seen me, you have seen the Father. How can you ask me to show you the Father? 10 Don’t you believe that I am one with the Father and that the Father is one with me? What I say isn’t said on my own. The Father who lives in me does these things.
11 Have faith in me when I say that the Father is one with me and that I am one with the Father. Or else have faith in me simply because of the things I do. 12 I tell you for certain that if you have faith in me, you will do the same things that I am doing. You will do even greater things, now that I am going back to the Father. 13 Ask me, and I will do whatever you ask. This way the Son will bring honor to the Father. 14 I will do whatever you ask me to do.
The Holy Spirit Is Promised
15 Jesus said to his disciples:
If you love me, you will do as I command. 16 Then I will ask the Father to send you the Holy Spirit who will help you and always be with you. 17 The Spirit will show you what is true. The people of this world cannot accept the Spirit, because they don’t see or know him. But you know the Spirit, who is with you and will keep on living in you.
Jesus replies that seeing him is the same as seeing the Father. They are not poor imitations of one another, or just totally predictable copies of each another – they are as seeing each other because they are as one. When they see Jesus and what he does, it is what God would do and is doing because he is God – here amongst them. There is absolutely no difference between them, apart from Jesus being the physical personification of God.
Yet Jesus goes on to promise more than that,
if you have faith in me, you will do the same things that I am doing
Those who follow Jesus are invited to join in the work. Wow! Now that is quite some task. How can we even contemplate doing what Jesus did? What God does? We are mere fallible human beings with all our failings, misunderstandings, half-cocked ideas and foibles. How can we share in doing God’s work?
Jesus tells us how – by he and the Father sending the Holy Spirit to be with us always and help us.
Jesus is God living as a human being in the world, the Holy Spirit is God living in us, equipping us for all that we are asked to do. I don’t know about you, but I need that…