My Father Also
They said to [Jesus], “Where is your Father?” Jesus answered, “You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” – John 8:19 (NRSV)
My father died in 1999 while I attended a three-month retreat at Plum Village Monastery. When I returned to the monastery after the funeral, Thich Nhat Hahn said to me, “Your father is in you. Practice breathing with your father.”
Many Christians believe Jesus is God. My view is more nuanced because Jesus never directly claimed to be God. Jesus occasionally affirmed unity with God as in the verse above. He affirmed his pre-existence when he said, “Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58), which some view as Jesus using the divine name for himself, however the Greek does not fully support that conclusion.
More often Jesus distinguished himself from God, putting himself on a lower tier. In John 14:28, Jesus said, “The Father is greater than I am.” In Matthew, Mark and Luke, a questioner addressed Jesus as “Good Teacher!” Jesus replied, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” Such passages are difficult to reconcile with orthodox views of the Trinity.
I believe Jesus knew the Father was in him. He breathed with the Father, but he stopped short of saying “I am the Father” or “I am God.”
Union with God resists easy explanations. But trust this, dear reader: The Father/Creator is also in you. Practice breathing with your Father/Creator. That is everything.
As I breathe in, I know You are one with me. As I breathe out, I know I am one with You. May we all be one.
Matt Laney is the Senior Pastor of Virginia Highland Church UCC in Atlanta, GA and the author of Pride Wars, a fantasy series published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for Young Readers. The first two books, The Spinner Prince and The Four Guardians are available now.