To Know Jesus Is To Know God
- 2002 3 Apr
Last year a young female singer rocketed to fame by combining a contemporary melody with an old question: "What if God was one of us?" Her lyrics provided an apt summary of the confusion that abounds as men and women seek to answer the questions, "Who is God?" and "How is He known?"
Since the Reformation, when God was understood to the creator and sustainer of life, the way men and women view God has been in sharp decline. He is regarded as a cosmic principle - the ultimate energizer battery - but not as a sovereign person. God has become a name for whatever a person thinks or feels Him to be. Consider the comic-tragic response of a high school freshman when asked about God: "I have lots of gods. I have like a baseball pitching rotation. I do one, one day, and the second the next day, like that. I have four gods and two goddesses, but I left two of them out because I don't think they were doing their job."
HE IS THE LIGHT.
In direct contrast to this product of an over fertile imagination, John introduces us to Jesus. Into the darkness has come God himself, the light and life of men. Mankind's preference for darkness is seen, not only in the intellectual confusion which rejects any notion of a morally binding objective source of authority, but also in the moral perversion which accompanies wrong thinking. We have lost the ability to be shocked. Our society has grown so accustomed to the darkness that we don't even realize that the lights are out! This can be seen by noting what C. S. Lewis pointed out. "The greatest evil is not done in those sordid dens of crime that Dickens loved to paint. It is conceived and moved, seconded and carried and minuted, in clean, carpeted, warmed and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails, and smooth-shaven chins, who do not need to raise their voices."
This is not unique to our age. In the fourth century, Chrysostom described his culture: "Like men with sore eyes, they find the light painful, while the darkness which permits them to see nothing is restful and agreeable."
It is into this darkness, says John, that the light has come. And it has not come, as some might have wished, as a philosophy to be pondered and applied. Nor has it come as a political ideology to be embraced. Instead, God has disclosed Himself in the person of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Hundreds of years before His coming, Isaiah described the scene. "The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death, a light has dawned." Isaiah 9:2. What John describes in his prologue, Jesus declares in His person: "I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness." John 12:46.
But what of the others who have walked across the stage of human history? What makes him different from, say, Mohammed who was born in 570 and at the age of 40 emerged from a month's solitude in a mountain cave near Mecca to introduce his new religion of Islam? The uniqueness of Christ is seen in the fact that unlike Mohammed, or any other prophet, Jesus was expected! Hundreds of Old Testament prophecies find their fulfillment in Jesus.
Jesus is also, without beginning! John introduces us to the mind-stretching truth of the eternal relationship of the Son with the Father. Before the world came into being, Jesus shared the Father's glory. And so what we find in Jesus is, "Our God contracted to a span, incomprehensibly made man." The implications of this are far reaching, not least of all in our conversations with friends who are caught up in the cults or are proponents of new-age ideas.
THE LIGHT IS THE LAMB
After 400 years of silence since the voice of the last Old Testament prophet was heard, we are introduced to "the Baptist-John" who has been commissioned by God to announce the arrival of Christ. He was clear as to his identity and role. "He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light." John 1:8. "I am the voice of one calling in the desert, 'Make straight the way for the Lord.'" John 1:23.
As John the Baptist stands with his disciples and sees Jesus coming towards them, he declares the truth at the heart of the Gospel. Namely, that the very Word of God took flesh for man's salvation. In pointing those around him to the Lamb of God, John sounds a note that swells into a symphony as the story unfolds. We are to discover that the life and light are intricately connected to the death of this "one and only from the Father, full of grace and truth". In being grasped by this, we bow in wonder. In grasping this, we recognize the depth of wonder that is contained in the truth we proclaim. Let us be on the alert - prayerful and sensitive and quick to hear the bleating of the many lambs without a shepherd.
From the lips of a female Hollywood film producer comes this cry, "I don't even know what my soul is. I can't make a connection to God. It's a hopeless feeling that I'm all on my own. It's been this way for 20 years. I'd just like to know for one day what it feels like to hand your life over to God and say 'whatever will be, I accept.'"
Where better to begin that with a thorough knowledge of the things that were written so that men and women might come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and by believing discover life in His name.
(This article was written by Alistair Begg and was published in the January 1997 issue of Tabletalk magazine.)