(To listen to the audio version of this lesson, please click AUDIO. Please also forgive any stammering or stuttering. It’s the result of my Parkinson’s Disease. That’s for your grace!)
In our last two studies, we’ve learned the benefits of following Jesus Christ. In this, the third part of our study, we discover the third benefit – how to see the face of God. Verse 18 continues with what at first seems a disappointment to the Christian heart. John says, “No one has seen God at any time.” But is that true? Didn’t Moses see the afterglow of God’s glory as He passed by? Yes, but he didn’t see the face of God. In fact, there’s some question as to whether or not the face of God the Father can ever be seen. As Jesus said to the woman of Samaria, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” 1 Timothy 6:16 adds further, He “alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.”
Does that mean that you and I will never see God? No. John clarifies it in verses 18. He says, “No one has seen God at any time,” but then immediately adds, “The only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.”
Phillip worried about this too. Hearing Jesus say, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father but by Me,” he begged, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us!” Jesus replied, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me?’” To see Jesus, is to gaze upon God’s face and see the most glorious sight human eyes can behold.
But you argue, “How can Jesus reveal God to us?” Let me give you two reasons: 1) He is the Son of God who is forever “in the bosom of the Father.” That’s a Hebrew expression referring to a son who is especially close to and loved by his father. Think of Isaac, the son of Abraham, whom he loved with all his heart. That same phrase is later used of John, Jesus’ closest friend who leaned on his bosom at the Last Supper. From that, John calls himself “the disciple Jesus loved.”
But here it’s used of Jesus of whom the Father announced two times from heaven (first at His baptism and later on the Mount of Transfiguration), “This is My Son the Beloved One, in whom I am well pleased,” because everything Jesus did and said was a perfect reflection of who His Father is and was.
2) But even more important is the second reason John gives. He is “the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father.” You may notice in the margin of your Bible that some of the more recent manuscripts read, “Only begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father.” And if they’re correct, that no poses no problem for us, for in Hebrew thought, a son shared his father’s attributes, meaning that just as God the Father is all-powerful, eternal, all-knowing, and every-present, so is Jesus the Son, for He and the Father are and forever have been two Persons sharing the One Divine Essence.
And if you don’t like that explanation, don’t let it bother you because what the oldest and most reliable manuscripts say is “only begotten God—“the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father.” For just as bird begets bird, lion begets lion, and man begets man, what God begets is God. So that Paul can say without hesitation, “He is the image of the invisible God,” and “in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form!” So that when you see the face of Jesus one day, what you’ll be gazing at will be the face of God, the most glorious sight human eyes can see, and that will change you immediately and forever!
So let me ask you as I draw this study to a close, would you like to share God’s glory, be a recipient of His grace, and gaze upon His glorious face? Then meet Jesus, the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father. How? You don’t get it by believing harder or doing lots of good works. It comes to you as a gift of His grace. “For by grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God not works, lest anyone should boast.” So stop trying and start trusting. Call out to Him in helpless childlike faith. Little children are helpless to care for themselves, aren’t they? So are you when it comes to God’s glory and grace. So call out to Him with me right now in helpless childlike faith, and His promise is: “Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.”
(To download a written copy of this study, please click WRITTEN.)