In rubbing shoulders with humanity, Jesus would be able to describe God in understandable ways.
Jesus used various images to communicate with us concerning the relationship God wants with us—helping us to understand what God’s kingdom is really like.
You would think that after the way humans mess up the whole communication process because of their inherent selfishness and obsession with self-preservation, God would give up on that approach. But there is something to be said for the effectiveness of the human touch, especially when it’s done right. We relate much better to people like us—to those who can speak our language, who know what it’s like to be us, who live where we live, who experience what we experience.
The Jews even had God appear visibly in a cloud, in a pillar of fire, thundering His voice to be heard. They saw God intervene miraculously to divide the Red Sea, providing a way of escape from the pursuing Egyptians. God showered them with food and water to keep them alive in the desert. God even caused the sun to stand still so their armies had more daylight to battle their enemies. Talk about powerful visible manifestations of God! But even those revelations wore off, the impact wore thin, and they eventually turned a deaf ear. There must be a better way.
So God decided to pull out all the stops. Here’s the way one author wrote about it: “Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son” (Heb. 1:1, 2, NLT).
The author is describing an ascending level of communication significance and importance. God begins in the early days by communicating through special messengers called prophets. Their role was to continue giving messages from God to the people in order to encourage them to follow His plan and His leading. As it turned out, the people often turned a deaf ear to the prophets’ appeals.
So then God decided to send His own Son as His primary spokesperson. If anyone knew God well enough to communicate Him to people, it would be God’s Son. Here’s the way the above author continued: “The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God” (v. 3, NLT). Who better to communicate God and what God is really like than the One who knows God best, His own Son, the One closest to the heart of God?
So into the scene of human history comes God Himself through his Son. And how did this work? Here’s the way the author John described it: “In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him” (John 1:1-3, NLT).
You see described here a fascinating process. The One called “the Word” is with God and in fact, has the very character of God. The Word is the agent of creation and of life. In other words, when the Word is around, life happens, life is full and abundant. And with the coming of the Word, darkness is dispelled. Darkness is often a symbol of ignorance or misunderstanding or lack of clarity. So the Word is portrayed as giving clearer meaning and understanding to life and to God.
Who is this Word that gives life and light to people, that dispels ignorance and lack of clarity about God? John continued: “So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son. . . . For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. But the one and only Son is himself God and is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us” (John 1:14, 17, 18, NLT).
How did it happen? “The Word became human and made his home among us.” What a concept! God’s ultimate self-revelation came about by becoming human and, as one author put it, “moving into the neighborhood.” (John 1:14, The Message) God knew that the only true way to become known was to become one of us, to live like us, to look like us, to talk like us, to feel what we feel, to experience what we experience, to truly enter into the human world in every way. And in rubbing shoulders with humanity, He would be able to describe God in understandable ways. People would be able to relate to Him and, therefore, to the God He came to reveal. “God with us,” Immanuel, is one of the Hebrew names of God given to Jesus.
Jesus lived out His life with that purpose in mind. So that before He died, He said to one of His disciples who had asked to see God, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don’t know who I am? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father!” (John 14:9).
And what did Jesus’ life say about God? Jesus’ life centered on going to great lengths to love and embrace people, especially the marginalized and disenfranchised, the ones considered by others as living under the curse of God or rejected by God. Jesus touched them, accepted them, and restored their dignity by associating with them and eating with them. He went out of His way to include everyone in His life and to communicate that they belonged to God, too. It was a radical and revolutionary mission. It was God’s ultimate attempt to reveal Himself to humanity in the clearest way possible.And then, in an act of complete unselfishness and self-sacrifice, in the final demonstration of complete love, Jesus gave up His life on the cross. He was executed for His radical life of inclusion and refusal to compromise love, even when it butted heads with the establishment and institutions of His day. What more could a person do to prove their love than to say, “I will lay down My life for you no matter what! If embracing you and lifting you up leads to My death, so be it! I want you to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I’m committed to you at all costs! You are worth it all!”*
* Adapted with permission from the iFollow Discipleship Resource, ©North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.