When Jesus states that he and his father are one, what does that mean?
There are many people who have different answers to this question. Some answers are very complex, some not. The truth is usually simple. However, a con-artist will be a cunning liar. He will attempt to persuade his victims with what sounds like a believable but complex story that is interwoven with bits of truth. However, the true answers are usually the simplest. Don’t take my word for it. Let us see how Jesus prayed about this, in a simple manner, to his Father:
“20 Not for these only do I pray, but for those also who believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one; even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that you sent me.”
To “all be one,” denotes unity. The phrases, “in me,” “in you,” “in us,” or “one in,” also denote unity among the Father, Christ, and true followers. They have the same objective and beliefs. It can be taken a step farther by saying that once they all would have the spirit of God, this would greatly assist them in their “oneness” with Christ and his Father:
“15 If you love me, keep my commandments. 16 I will pray to the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, that he may be with you forever,— 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world can’t receive; for it doesn’t see him, neither knows him. You know him, for he lives with you, and will be in you.” Italics and bold added.
Notice that this “Spirit of Truth” was “living” with Jesus’ disciples but yet had to be in them. This is because Jesus had God’s spirit. Notice verse 25 shows how it would come to them:
“25 I have said these things to you, while still living with you. 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and will remind you of all that I said to you.”
Some say that because Jesus said that he was, “in the Father” and that “the Father was in him,” that would denote that somehow they were of the same entity. That is incorrect and confuses many, because it is not based upon logical reasoning. Jesus prayed that his followers be “in them,” also (John 14:17). The true followers are not some mysterious part of the Father and neither is Jesus. The truth is usually simple and straight forward. Unity is prayed about here, between Christ, The Father (Yahweh), and true followers. To have God’s Spirit, only made the unity stronger.
With that being said, other scriptures that use similar wording, make more sense:
“19 Yet a little while, and the world will see me no more; but you will see me. Because I live, you will live also. 20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.
“10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? The words that I tell you, I speak not from myself; but the Father who lives in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me; or else believe me for the very works’ sake.”
Just as John 14:20 shows, Jesus’ followers were “in” him just as he was “in” his Father. That could not be literal but spiritual unity.
However, Jesus did have “the Spirit of God.” John the baptizer had testified that he saw God’s Spirit, as a dove, come down and remain with (or in) Jesus. He also exclaimed that Jesus was God’s chosen one, God’s Lamb, to take away the sins of the world (John 1:32-34; Luke 3:21-22; Matthew 3:16-17; Mark 1:9-11). This did not mean that Jesus had a literal dove on him. He had the Spirit of God settle on (or in) him.
Notice the phrase, “the Father who lives in me does his works.” The statement, “lives in” denotes the spirit of his Father in him. This does not literally mean that “the Father” is Jesus, but it is figurative. As an example, in Matthew 12:43-45, the man is called a “house” from which an unclean spirit went out of and came back to dwell. Just because the man had an unclean spirit living in him, did not mean that he was the unclean spirit. But it is not hard to imagine how that unclean spirit could cause him to act! Conversely, Jesus had God’s spirit in him. It is no wonder why he did what he did! But it did not mean that he was his Father. It did not mean that God was literally in Jesus either. This spirit is a force from the Almighty. Jesus prayed for God’s Spirit to be with his disciples too. This goes to show that God’s Spirit is not an individual but a force. Some things are personified in scripture too. The quality of wisdom is personified, as a woman, in Proverbs 8. Jerusalem was personified, by Jesus, in Luke 19:41-44, referencing Zechariah 9:9. Similar to today, people give names to ships and refer to them by name or “she.” Just because something is personified, does not mean that they are a real being. Would it be too far of a stretch of the imagination to think that Jesus could have personified God’s Spirit? Although it is not written, imagine if Jesus told his disciples that they would receive Wisdom and that she would greatly help them? This is just an example of personification.
4 Remain in me, and I in you. As the branch can’t bear fruit by itself unless it remains in the vine, so neither can you, unless you remain in me.