The Father’s Face | John 1.14-18
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. John 1:14-18 | ESV
Yes, this passage is so crucial, we get it twice this week. “The Word became flesh and dwelt (literally, “camped” or “tented”) among us.” It’s the pivot upon which everything turns. And what does this pivot reveal? The glory of the Father. Moses asked to see God’s face and was told that no one can because to do so meant death. “You can see my backside,” God tells Moses. So God passes by, covering Moses’ face as he did so until he had passed, and Moses saw only God’s “hinder parts.” Hindquarter revelation. That about sums up the Old Testament. That was pretty much as good as it got. John quantifies it by saying that “the law was given through Moses.” Paul would chime in, “Yeah, and it killed us. Again, and again, and again, and again.” It didn’t communicate life – and it didn’t show us the Father’s face. Ah, but “grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” In Jesus we finally see the Father’s face. Jesus embodies the Father’s face. Crossing from Old Testament to New is more than crossing from one legal arrangement to another. It is passing from shadow to substance, from guilt to forgiveness, from law to grace, from backside to face. Jesus didn’t just have facts to share or tasks to perform. He came to “make known the Divine Name,” as he puts it later in John’s Gospel – which means more than pronouncing the unpronounceable four letter name of God in the Hebrew Scriptures (YHWH). He breathed the essence of Divine Reality upon his disciples (and us!) by embodying grace and truth. Truth isn’t codified doctrine in any book. Books are simply an effort to capture in deficient words the reality of the Word which is “in the bosom of the Father.” And that’s so much better than “at the Father’s side.” To be in someone’s “bosom” was to be in the closest, most intimate, most heart-to-heart place around the dinner table; the place in which one could lean back on a friend’s chest and whisper sweet nothings with mouths and faces inches apart. That’s intimacy. And that’s Jesus with his Abba. And from that place of great intimacy Jesus was able to “make known” the Father – literally to “exegete” or explain him. The words exegesis and explanation can have a theoretical, analytical, distant, even cold feel to them. But Jesus only spoke of the One he knew. All true, healthy exegesis springs from deep intimacy. Jesus doesn’t explain God to us. Our heads would explode if he had tried. In becoming flesh he simply turns around and shows us His face.
How often do you feel that God is at arm’s length – or worse? When have you experienced being “in the bosom of God”? How did you get there? How can we find such a place of intimacy with God?
Abba Father, open my eyes to see your beauty in the face of Jesus; and seeing it there, to be empowered to see your Face of grace and truth everywhere. Through Christ.
For all of this week’s resources for this new series on Spiritual Disciplines including this week’s DG video, check out the Vineyard website.