Section 4: Jesus
Week 2: Jesus Is Fully God
Day 5: In Jesus We See God Most Clearly
We saw earlier that the beginning of John’s gospel is reminiscent of the beginning of Genesis: “In the beginning was the Word.” In part, that is to remind us that Jesus, as God the Son, has always existed. But why does John call Jesus the Word? The Word of God is often closely connected with God speaking to us in Scripture. So when John calls Jesus the Word, it implies that Jesus in some way is an intimate part of God’s revelation.
But the Word of God was also the means by which the universe was created. So, when John calls Jesus the Word, he wants us to understand that Jesus is the one through whom the world was created. John’s use of “in the beginning” signals this because those exact words are used in the opening of the book of Genesis, which describes the creation of the universe. That Jesus is the one through whom the universe was created is then made explicit in John 1:3. “Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.”
Now you might be asking, “What does creation have to do with God’s revelation?” It’s important to realize creation is not merely an arbitrary act of God. Creation is part of God’s revelation. In creation God has communicated something of himself to us. That’s why Paul says in Romans, “Since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made” (Rom. 1:20). So by beginning his gospel by telling us that Jesus, as the Word, was the one who created the universe, John is announcing that Jesus is the one through whom God has been revealing himself from the very beginning.
That’s why John later describes Jesus as the one who has made God known (John 1:18). By framing the opening of his gospel this way, John is trying to drive home the fact that in Jesus we have the preeminent revelation of who God is.
In fact, Jesus so perfectly reveals God that he can later say, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” That’s why John says in Jesus we have seen God’s glory (John 1:14). We typically associate glory with praise. But God’s glory is also closely associated with God’s presence. In the Old Testament, no one was ever allowed to see God as He is. Rather, God manifested himself to his people in spectacular displays that gave them a sense of his majesty and splendor. At Mount Sinai, for example, God displayed his presence in a magnificent display of thunder and lightning. But that’s all. They weren’t able to truly see him (John 1:18). As one scholar puts it, in the Old Testament, the most anyone saw was God’s afterglow.[i]
In Jesus, though, we don’t just have the afterglow of God’s presence; we have God himself right in our midst. That means, if we want to know what God is like, we need to look no further than Jesus. What we see Jesus doing and saying, God himself is doing and saying. In Jesus we get to see God up close and personal.
Read John 1:1-18 again.
When we see Jesus in the Gospels, we are looking at God himself. Does that knowledge make God feel more personal to you? Do you think your relationship with God would be different, if he hadn’t become human? If so, why?
[i] D.A. Carson, The Gospel According to John (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. 1991), 134.