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Seeing the invisible

Jesus replied, “Philip, don’t you even yet know who I am, even after all the time I have been with you? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So why are you asking to see him?” — John 14:9

Not many years ago, airliners would often be grounded due to lack of visibility. Now, through satellite technology, it is possible for them not only to know exactly where they are when they are flying blind, but also to be capable of “seeing” an airport shrouded in fog and hidden from view. It isn’t quite a case of seeing the invisible, but it is certainly a matter of being able to see what is hidden.

Jesus made many remarkable statements about His relationship with the Father. One day, in response to Philip’s request to be shown the Father, Jesus stated, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father!” (John 14:9). The significance of this statement is seen when we remember that John, in the introduction to his gospel, said, “No one has ever seen God” (1:18).

This was certainly true of Moses, who asked the Lord, “Please let me see your glorious presence” (Exodus 33:18). Moses was told, “You may not look directly at my face, for no one may see me and live” (33:20).

Ezekiel, in his strange visions of God, never actually saw the Lord, only “a figure whose appearance was like that of a man” (Ezekiel 1:26).

Even Isaiah, who wrote, “I saw the Lord,” gave a limited description of what he saw: “He was sitting on a lofty throne, and the train of his robe filled the temple” (Isaiah 6:1).

These privileged men were unable to see God face-to-face in a clearly defined and describable way.

Then came Jesus, announcing, “Only I, who was sent from God, have seen him” (John 6:46). Up until that time, God’s “invisible qualities,” such as His “eternal power and divine nature,” had been shown in creation (Romans 1:20). But now Jesus had arrived to reveal in His own person, using language understandable to humans and in ways decipherable by fallen humanity, what God is really like.

For example, Jesus showed humans, who have a limited idea of love, what love really is.

Creation could not do that. Jesus did not appear shrouded in mystery, as the Father had appeared to the prophets, giving tantalizing and terrifying glimpses of Himself. Instead He carried children in His arms and wept at the tombs of loved ones. In so doing, He showed us that God, whose power is seen in earthquakes and hurricanes, has compassion that can soothe the broken heart.

And in going to the cross, Jesus stretched out His arms and welcomed all who will ever come to Him. What a sight!

For further study: John 14:1-14

Content taken from The One Year Book of Devotions for Men by Stuart Briscoe. Copyright ©2000. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.