If you had one wish what would you ask for? Money? Health? Long life? Love? Power? More wishes? A wish is a common trope in movies and stories and culture: rubbing the genie’s lamp for three wishes, magical wish-granting fairies, even a once a year secret wish on the candles on your birthday cake. Wishes make us think about what we want most in life, what is the greatest desire of our heart. And as those stories and movies about wishes, like Aladin or It’s a Wonderful Life or Pinnochio, often show us, getting what we wish for doesn’t always go as expected, doesn’t always work out easily, doesn’t always satisfy. 


Christians don’t believe in magical fairies or genies but we do believe in prayer. We do believe in asking for things from a God who will hear us and answer us. And in our scripture this morning, Philip asks Jesus for one thing and promises that just that one thing will satisfy him and all the other disciples. 


Our scripture this morning comes from John chapter 14 verses 8 through 11 which you’ll find on page 877 of your Bible and I encourage you to turn there and read along. This Lent we’re looking at the words of Jesus on the night that he was betrayed, the night before his death. At this point Jesus has been explaining where he is going and comforting the disciples with promises of the dwelling places he has prepared for all who believe in his Father’s house. Jesus has assured them that he is the way to the Father and that they know God the Father through him. And then, Philip makes his wish. Listen to John chapter 14 verses 8 through 11. 

Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, but if you do not, then believe because of the works themselves. 


Philip asked Jesus for one thing: show us the Father and we will be satisfied. And Philip gets an exasperated answer from Jesus full of rhetorical questions: Have I been? How can you say? Do you not believe? Jesus is frustrated because Philip has been with Jesus and so has seen the Father, because Jesus and the Father are one. Philip has asked Jesus for something Jesus already gave him. And Philip is not alone in this. All the time as Christians we find ourselves asking God for things he has already given us. We all want things, we all have things we wish would happen, desires that are burning deep in our hearts, prayers that we want God to answer, but maybe he already has. 


This text from John is about our wishes and God, and we’re going to look at this through three angles: what we want, what God has, and what God gives. 


Let’s start where the passage does, with what we want. Philip tells Jesus what he wants: Lord, show us the Father. And Philip adds on a little condition to his request, show us the Father and we will be satisfied. Show us and that’s enough. Show us and we won’t ask for anything else. 


And we often do this when we pray, don’t we? I’ve heard it a lot, and I’ve said it a lot, “God we just ask for your presence” “God we just ask for your healing” “we just ask” just just just. That word ‘just’ implies that we just want that one thing, that we just need one thing and we’ll be satisfied, no more, we’re not asking for much. 

And we do this when we ask people for things too, not just when we pray. Can I stay up past my bedtime just this one time? Can I just have this day off? Can you just make an exception for me? And we all know how those requests work in the end. It is never just once, the one late night, one day off, one exception, always turns into more late nights, more days off, and more exceptions. 


When I was growing up my brother and I used to go to Subway to get sandwiches. And whenever my brother would go through the line and get to all the veggies and toppings, when they asked him what he wanted he would say “lettuce... and tomatoes.... and cucumbers... and onions... and peppers... and spinach.” He would say each topping as though it were the last topping, as though he was just asking for that and no more. That way, they would give you more of each topping because it seemed like you were just asking for that much.


We all love to ask for just one thing, but really to want more. And it’s the same when we pray, we ask God to just do this thing, and then we ask for more. We ask for God’s presence... and healing... and blessing... and comfort and on and on. And prayer is good, we should ask God for things, but let’s not fool ourselves or try to fool God by just asking for one thing, as if one thing would satisfy us. 

And that’s what we’re doing when we say just this one thing will satisfy us, we’re fooling ourselves just like Philip did that night saying “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” 

Because that one thing we ask for never really, never fully satisfies us. And once we get what we want, once we get just that one thing we really want so much, we aren’t satisfied, no: we move right on to wanting the next thing. 


When I was a little kid, when I was, say in 2nd grade like Josh, there were few things I wanted more than to grow up, to be big and strong and important and responsible and smart, to be one of those big grown up 5th graders like Tessa. And we all know once you’re a 5th grader like Tessa, you want to grow up and be a cool high schooler, maybe with a driver’s license, or on the basketball team, maybe a job, a little money, you want to be like Abigail and Aldric. And when you’re in high school, you just want to move on to college and not be stuck in school 7, 8 hours a day; you want to be like Ridge. And when you’re in college, studying, paying tuition, you want to finally be done with school, get a job, get married, like me. 

And when you’re my age you want to be really settled in a job for the longhaul, in a house, with a family, no more moving, like the Scotts or the Pierre-Pauls. And when you’re working and raising kids, you want the kids to grow up, move out, get jobs, get married, so you can retire, you want to be like the Cheynes. And once you’re retired you want to stay healthy, to be active and sharp into your nineties, like one of our elder members. And when you’re in your nineties, I bet there’s nothing you would want more than to be a kid again, to start over in the second grade like Josh. 


We want things in life and we think once we get it, once we get just that one thing we will be satisfied. But the truth is, however good we have it, we always want things, we always want something more, we’re never fully content or satisfied with the things we’ve been given. 

Think of Philip. What did Philip have? Philip had a personal call from Jesus. Philip was just sitting around in Galilee one day, Jesus came to Galilee, found Philip, and said to him “Follow me.” And then Philip goes and tells his friend Nathanael, who Jesus invites as well. Philip even gets to follow Jesus with his friend.

Philip had personal experience with Jesus. He walked with Jesus for years, seeing how he talked, how he acted, how he lived. Philip saw Jesus turn water into wine, saw him heal the sick, saw him feed five thousand, saw him walk on water, saw him raise Lazarus from the dead. 

Philip had heard the promises of blessing and fellowship and eternal life not from a two thousand year old book but from the mouth of Jesus himself. And mere moments ago, just a few verses before this, Philip heard Jesus’ assurance that the disciples should not be troubled because he was going to prepare a place for them in heaven, that he would bring them to the Father, that he was the way and the truth and the life. And after all that Philip asks for just one more thing. 

And Philip has the audacity, the chutzpah, the gall, the total lack of self-awareness, to after all that ask for one more thing and then he will be satisfied. But we’re all like Philip; we all want things. However much we have we still want more. It’s part of our fallen human nature, our brokenness, our sinfulness, to want and not be satisfied. But these unsatisfiable desires don’t just have to do with us, they have to do with God. And that brings us to our second point: what God has. 

And to understand what God has, let’s consider what it was exactly that Philip asked for, he said “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Show us the Father. The Father here refers to God the Father, the Almighty God maker of the heavens and the earth. And we know, and Philip knew, from the Old Testament that God the Father had shown himself many times through wonders, miracles and signs. 

God had shown himself in a flood and in parting the Red Sea, in sending down Manna and fire from heaven, in giving the Israelites victory in battle and in letting them be defeated by their enemies. God had shown himself through his prophets who healed lepers, predicted the future, controlled the weather, and raised the dead. And most of all God had shown himself, had shown his glory, to Moses on the top of Mount Sinai in a vision so glorious that afterwards Moses’ face glowed with light so that he had to cover it with a veil. 

Philip was not asking for something impossible or unthinkable or even unlikely. Philip was asking to see God. And that’s a good thing to want. And it was especially a good thing to want considering the circumstances. In chapter 13 Jesus had just warned that he would be betrayed and that even Peter would deny him three times before the rooster crowed that morning. The disciples were troubled and Jesus was trying to comfort them. And as Jesus tries to speak to them words of assurance, about how the disciples will be with him in the Father’s presence. 

But clearly these words of comfort aren’t working. Thomas is still asking questions, we heard that last week. And now Philip enters into the conversation and tries to redirect Jesus, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Enough of this talk, look I know what will work, just show us the Father and we’re good, we’re satisfied, we’ll calm down. 

And on the surface level, Philip was right: If God had appeared right then, had shown himself in glory, it would have calmed the disciples down, would have calmed their hearts. But it wouldn’t have lasted. After all, not that long ago, in John 12, when Jesus had said “Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The disciples had heard a voice from heaven, a voice like thunder, the voice of God the Father, and the disciples were already troubled again. 

Signs and wonders and visions didn’t satisfy, they didn’t last. The disciples always wanted more. Whatever worldly things God did, wouldn’t last. 

And God did have what would satisfy, what would satisfy Philip, satisfy the disciples, satisfy anyone. God has everything. Money, power, health, happiness, all these things are within God’s control. Whatever it is we’re wanting, we’re longing for, wishing for, God could give it to us; it’s within his power. He’s God the creator and sustainer of the universe he does what he wants. But however many of those gifts he gives us, however much wealth and power and health he gives, it’s never enough. We still want more. 

But here’s the deeper sense in which Philip was right: God himself is the one thing that could satisfy the disciples. Every worldly thing that we want, that we seek after doesn’t fully satisfy, but God does. God is the one thing that fully satisfies us because we were made for God, that’s what we’re designed for, to be in relationship with God, to glorify God and enjoy him forever. As the great Christian Augustine said of God: You made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you. 

God made us for himself, and our heart is restless until it rests in him. God has what we need: himself, his presence. It’s how we’re wired, how we’re made, to be in relationship with God, to be in his presence, and if we aren’t in relationship with God, we are not satisfied.


A couple months ago, I saw one of those cute animal clips that make the rounds on the internet all the time. It was a baby beaver at an animal rescue center in Chelmsford. They let the beaver out of her cage to stretch her legs and what did she do? She put a stick in her teeth and carried it towards the doorway. She dropped it and grabbed another stick, and another and another, piling them up one on top of the other. 

And as she went back to get the sticks she was hopping like a rabbit, throwing her feet up and running around. She was having the time of her life and she was building a dam in the doorway of the room. 

There was no river, no pond, no water, no nothing, just a room with some sticks for the animals to play with, but she was building a dam. Why? Because she’s a beaver and that’s what beavers do, they build dams. It's their identity, their nature, their purpose. And no beaver is satisfied without a dam. 

And no human is satisfied without a god. Human beings are made in the image of God; we’re made to reflect God’s glory and to rule his creation with loving care as he does. And unless we are doing the thing we were made to do, we’re not satisfied. And that’s what God has, God has the thing we are longing for, the thing we all need deep down, himself. 


What does this mean for Philip’s request? For when he said “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Philip was asking for everything a human has ever wanted, for what we all long for, for God himself. He only wanted everything. That’s it. Just everything and he’ll be satisfied. And we’re no different from Philip; the only thing that can satisfy us is God. Some people in life will try to say things like “I only ever wanted a quiet life” “I only ever wanted to have a good time with my family” “I only ever wanted to be happy” “I only ever wanted a meaningful life,” but we would be more honest if we said “I only ever wanted everything.” I only ever wanted to know the God of the universe face to face and to be loved by him and to glorify him and to serve him, because that’s what we’re made to want and that’s what we were made to do. 

What does God have? God has everything. And that leads us to our third point: what God gives. When Philip asks “Lord, show us the Father,” that is not what happens. 

God does not appear Old Testament style with a voice from heaven or a pillar of fire or an earthquake or a flood or a vision of heaven or a terrifying light. No, instead we hear this from Jesus “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, but if you do not, then believe because of the works themselves.”

Philip has already seen the Father because Philip has seen the Son. Philip has already been in God’s presence because he has been in Jesus’ presence. Philip has already known God because he has known Jesus. 


God has made a way for us to come into his presence, for us to know him, for us to be loved by him, for us to obey and serve him, and that way is Jesus Christ. Jesus is one with God the Father and through Jesus we have seen the Father. 

Jesus’ words show us God’s truth. As Jesus said, The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Through Jesus we know what God is like, what he requires of us, how much he loves us. 

Jesus’ miracles show us God’s power. Jesus gives sight to the blind, makes the lame walk, opens the ears of the deaf, frees the tongue of the mute, casts out demons, feeds the hungry, walks on water, calms the storms, and raises the dead. Through Jesus we know that God has total control over the universe he created. 

Jesus’ compassion shows us God’s love. When Jesus saw the crowds of people seeking him, he was moved way down his gut with pity because they were like sheep without a shepherd. When Jesus’ friend Lazarus died, he wept with grief. Through Jesus we know how much God cares for us. 

Jesus’ life shows us God’s holiness. When Jesus was tempted by the devil, he didn’t give in. When people insulted Jesus he didn’t insult them back. When Jesus was beaten, he didn’t respond with violence. When Jesus was treated unjustly and falsely accused, he responded with mercy and forgivensess. Through Jesus we know that God’s holiness cannot be sullied by any of the temptations of this world. 


Jesus’ death shows us God’s mercy and justice. When Jesus suffered and died on the cross, he took the punishment we deserved for our sins. God tells us that he is a forgiving God but that he will by no means clear the guilty. God leaves no injustice unrepaid, no crime unpunished. God remains merciful and just even to the point of taking punishment onto himself in the person of Jesus Christ so that we might be forgiven, Jesus who was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities, who carried our sorrows on his back in the cross up to Mount Calvary where he died for them. Through Jesus we know the depth of God’s mercy toward us and his justice towards sin. 


And Jesus’ resurrection shows us God’s abundant life. When on the third day after the crucifixion Jesus rose from the dead, he proved that life is stronger than death, that he is truly God, and that God will give new life to all who believe in him. Through Jesus we have proof of God’s promised gift of eternal life for all who believe. 


What Jesus asks Philip to believe, is the same thing Jesus asks us to believe, is the same foundational belief that makes a person a Christian or not today: Believe that Jesus is God. And belief in Jesus will satisfy.

Belief in Jesus gives us the relationship with God we were made for. Belief in Jesus gives us a purpose in our life. Belief in Jesus gives us a moral compass to tell right from wrong. Belief in Jesus gives a family of fellow Christians we can be a part of. Belief in Jesus gives us hope that someone is watching out for us. Belief in Jesus gives us confidence that when we die, we shall not perish but shall have everlasting life. Belief in Jesus satisfies. That’s the main point of the sermon so I’m going to say it again: belief in Jesus satisfies. 

And if you don’t believe me. Try it. Try taking that first step of belief in Jesus. Or try taking that next step of giving over more of your life to God, of listening to him not just on Sunday mornings but all through the week, of praying and reading scripture and obeying God’s call to love others all through our life. Just try that next step and see what happens. See if  belief in Jesus will satisfy. 

And for those of us who do believe, Jesus’ answer to Philip has lessons for us today about how we should live. Jesus’ answer to Philip shows that we must be careful about our studies, our speech, and our spirit. 

Jesus says to Philip “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Philip did not know Jesus as well as he should have, because he did not realize Jesus and the Father were one. And because he didn’t know that, Philip was troubled and made an ignorant request. And Philip didn’t know that despite walking alongside Jesus for years. 

However long we have been following Jesus, we need to study him, to get to know him. We all have things we know well, whether it’s the roster of our favorite football or soccer team, the names of our favorite actors and actresses, how to fix a car or maintain a building or cook a good dinner. We ought to know Jesus just as well as our other fields of expertise. And that means reading the scriptures which speak about him, studying our Bibles, speaking to Jesus in prayer. We need to study Jesus so that we really know him. 

Second, Jesus says to Philip “How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” Jesus questions Philip’s speech because his speech revealed what he was truly thinking. Our speech reveals our character, reveals our heart. And therefore we should be very careful about what we say and how we say it. Jesus said that on the day of judgment we will have to give an account for every careless word we utter. Our words can break others and they can build others up. Our words can bring others closer to Jesus and they can push others away. Our speech is powerful and we must be careful how we use our speech. 


Third, Jesus says to Philip “Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?” We must be careful with our spirit, careful about what we believe. Philip had made a mistake because he did not have the right beliefs, and Jesus’ one command here is that he would believe and would believe whether because Jesus said so and or because of the works Jesus had done. 

Christianity is a belief about Jesus. And from that belief, from that posture of our spirit, God comes into our life and transforms our actions and our emotions and our whole person. Everything follows from our beliefs so we must be careful that we believe in Jesus and that we believe the right things about him. 


And that belief will not only transform us but satisfy us. Belief in Jesus satisfies. And Jesus has promised so much to those who believe in him. And Jesus has prayed saying “as you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us.” Jesus longs for us to be one with him and God, even as he and the Father are one. And that is a beautiful gift which God has given us. Let’s pray.