Answer #2 – His Life Makes Known the Unknowable
A second fundamental answer to our question is that Jesus came to reveal God to us. If you try to fully understand God from just the Old Testament, you are going to find it very challenging. I sometimes feel a bit schizophrenic from my study of the OT. On the one hand, I see much about God’s grace, but even more about his judgment – a judgment that at times seems quite harsh.
On the other hand, studying the life of Jesus helps us understand God in a much better way. He made it clear that one of his primary purposes was in fact to reveal God to us. Here are some good passages addressing that purpose.
John 1:18 – “No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.”
John 14:6-9 – “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.’ 8 Philip said, ‘Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.’ 9 Jesus answered: ‘Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?”
One of the most thrilling descriptions of this purpose of Jesus is found in Colossians 2:9, which reads: “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.” This means that Jesus was God in the flesh, both fully God and fully man, a truth that is still beyond our comprehension in many ways, but the revelation of this truth in the Bible is unmistakable. Jesus shows us God in a way that he could never have been known otherwise, and that was surely one of his key purposes in coming to earth.
God’s Nature Revealed
Certainly Jesus came to reveal God, and to reveal much about God. In our efforts to grasp the nature of Deity, what is one thing that we cannot afford to miss? The Apostle John expressed it quite clearly in 1 John 4:8: “God is love.” Love is the normal English translation of more than one Greek word. Phileo is the word for friendship type of love. Thus we call Philadelphia the “City of Brotherly Love.” Although it doesn’t live up to its billing too well, that is its meaning.
The greater word for love in the original language is agape. This type of love goes far beyond friendship love, for it is a love that describes much more than simply a feeling, but rather a serious commitment to the good of the object of that agape love. It is this word that is used in John’s description of God. Paul uses this same term in what is likely the most famous love passage in the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. If we substitute the name of Jesus in this passage, it would look like this:
Jesus is patient, Jesus is kind. Jesus does not envy, Jesus does not boast, Jesus is not proud. 5 Jesus does not dishonor others, Jesus is not self-seeking, Jesus is not easily angered, Jesus keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Jesus does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 Jesus always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Jesus never fails.
How does this passage read to you if you substitute your name in each of these descriptions of what love is and is not? Doing that will give us a very good idea of the areas in which we need to grow if we are to imitate Jesus and represent him to the world. That would be a good exercise for all of us on a regular basis at some interval – perhaps once a month, and then spend the rest of the month working on the areas in which we are not like Jesus.
Paul Harvey, a radio commentator of yesteryear, used to tell a fictional story every year around Christmas. As the story went, a couple lived in a part of the US where the winters were pretty brutal. The wife was a believer and the husband was not. He wasn’t opposed to her involvement in church, but he just didn’t want any part of religion himself. One particularly cold and snowy day, she left him at home in front of the fireplace while she went to a church service. As he was enjoying the cozy fire, he heard an unusual sound at his front door. Out of curiosity he went to see what was making the sound. He discovered a little flock of birds huddling in his doorway, trying to escape the cold. It appeared that they were freezing in the weather.
At first, he just shooed them away and went back to his rocking chair. In a few minutes, they were back at the doorway once again trying to find some escape from the snow. His sympathy kicked into gear at least a little, and he decided to try to move the birds along the ground and into his tool shed in order to protect them. The birds, of course, had no idea of what he was trying to do, and they scattered in all different directions.
Once again, he found his way to his warm, comfortable rocking chair, consoling himself with the fact that he had at least tried to help. A few minutes later, the birds were back and he repeated the process of trying to help them – with the same results. Finally, the thought popped into his mind that if he could have just become a bird for a short time, he could have led them into the shed. He then had a much more profound thought. He realized that this imagined process was exactly what his wife had been telling him about why Jesus became a man – to lead us otherwise lost beings into a safe place. Thus, Jesus not only leads us to safety, but became one of us in order to make it possible. The true story is much more amazing than the imagined one, is it not?