Perhaps there is some irritation in Jesus’ response to Philip, “Have I been with you all this time and you still do not know me?!” Yes, Philip’s insatiable need for one more revelation, one more experience, one more glimpse of God, does not alienate Jesus. His ignorance, slowness, and confusion does not disqualify him. Jesus encourages him to believe and tells him what to focus on ... and eventually tells him that those who believe will do ”greater works” than he has done.
Which Sola do you find in this part of the encounter? I find Sola Gratia, through grace alone. Philip is encouraged and helped despite his lack of faith and understanding. In Christ, God meets, calls, blesses, forgives, and encourages the unprepared, the unknowing, the underwhelmed, and the unworthy.
Are you patient with the slow and the confused? Thank God for his grace.
In a previous series we discussed the ongoing relevance of the great “Solas” of the Reformation. Our theological tradition identified five singularities that shape our reading of scripture and our understanding of the Christian life. Sola is Latin for “alone,” meaning without anything additional or supplemental. The five Solas are Solus Christus, Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, Sola Scriptura, and Soli Deo Gloria. (We live by faith alone, in Christ alone, through grace alone, to the glory of God alone) One powerful way to read scripture is to ask, “Where are the Solas?”
Jesus responds to Philip with the most important one of these ideas. He says “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” Nothing qualifies or adds to the knowledge of God given in and through Jesus. No subsequent prophet, named Joseph Smith or Mohamed, can be supplemental, let alone superior. Indeed Islam and Mormonism are backwards movements, going before Jesus toward elements of the Old Testament which he supersedes or reshapes.
Philip here is taught the first and supreme theological principle. Look nowhere else for knowledge of God except in the works and deeds, the life and death, and resurrection of Jesus.
Do you hear exasperation in Jesus’ response?
The Solus Christus principle frees us from the cacophony of voices demanding allegiance and gives us a standard for evaluating every truth claim. Do you agree?