Revealing GodDecember 5th, 2013 by Anthony Bosman
What do you think about God?
As I’ve studied at various universities with peers of various worldviews and backgrounds, I’ve been interested in learning their responses to this question.
You might expect to find quite a bit of skepticism on a university campus. And certainly that is true, but I’ve discovered that doubt in the existence of God isn’t the most common response. Rather, doubt in the goodness of God is.
God is distant. God must not really care about us. God is self-interested. God is unknowable. Afterall, no one has ever seen God.
Which is precisely where John begins his gospel account: “No one has ever seen God…” (Jn. 1:18). It appears the first century, under the influence of Greco-Roman thought, was just as stumped on the God question as my generation is today.
Yet John continues: “No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is at the Father’s side, has made Him known” (Jn. 1:18). The gospel acknowledges that from our perspective God may sometimes appear distant/cruel/unknowable, but then goes on to claim that One has come who knows Him best to reveal what God is really like. The rest of John can be seen as an unfolding of this revelation.
Thus, Jesus, the Son, goes around saying things like, “Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father” (Jn. 14:9).
Perhaps this is why the first half of John is devoted to recording the miraculous signs of Jesus. These signs aren’t just revealing who Jesus is–the divine Son of God–but they’re also revealing who the Father is–compassionate, loving, and intensely interested in the wellness of others.
Also in the teachings of Jesus we see this as the central theme. At the end of his ministry, he tells his disciples, “I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father” (Jn. 16:25). Then he goes on to explain, “The Father himself loves you” (Jn. 16:26).
But the life and teachings of Jesus only whisper God’s love in comparison to the shout of His death. As Jesus put it, “Greater love knows no man than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (Jn. 15:13). If Jesus’ lifework was to reveal a clear picture of God to us, than the cross sends a powerful message: God would rather die for us, than live without us.
All of our questions about God’s chief interest vanish when we encounter the cross. We recognize that God isn’t distant and self-interested, but has entered human history in the person of Jesus to communicate His supreme love for us.