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Monday, December 24, 2012

The Vision Thing (2): Seeing God through Jesus

No one can have God's vision without first gaining a vision of God. But there's a problem: no one can have a vision of God, not a full and unobscured one anyway. God "lives in unapproachable light, whom no human has ever seen or is able to see" (1 Tim. 6:16). "No one has ever seen God," says John. But the good news is that "[t]he only one, himself God, who is in closest fellowship with the Father, has made God known" (John 1:18). "We saw his glory—the glory of the one and only, full of grace and truth, who came from the Father" (v. 14, emphasis mine). Whose glory? Jesus', the Word become flesh.

As "the radiance of [God's] glory and the representation of his essence" (Heb. 1:3), the Son's glory is the glory of the Father. In fact, it might be appropriate to say that the Son himself is the glory of the Father. But because of the incomprehensible fact of the Son's incarnation, we are able to see the Son even though the Father is hidden from us in light. Because the Son is exactly like the Father and represents him perfectly—all that is true of one is true of the other except that the Son is fathered by the Father—when we see Jesus the Son, we see God the Father. "[T]he one who sees me sees the one who sent me," Jesus said (John 12:45). "The person who has seen me has seen the Father" (14:9).

But a great difficulty appears. It seems impossible that we who cannot see Jesus with our eyes the way Jesus' twelve disciples did are able to see the Father. But after Jesus ascended to heaven God made a way that all people could see his Son. "God, who said 'Let light shine out of darkness,' is the one who shined in our hearts to give us the light of the glorious knowledge of God in the face of Christ" (2 Cor. 4:6). God implants the face of Christ, the radiance of God's glory, inside people's psyches so that even though they don't see him with their eyes, they see him just the same.

Furthermore, everyone who sees the Son not only sees the Father but also sees the Holy Spirit, and vice versa. "[T]he world . . . does not see him or know him," Jesus told the Twelve, but they saw and knew him, because he was with them in Jesus "and will be in you" (John 14:17). So the person with the Spirit within "sees" the Spirit, by seeing him sees the Son, and by seeing the Son sees the Father who cannot be seen.

Therefore, anyone who wants true vision, who wants to see things the way God sees them, has to begin by fixing their eyes on Jesus, because this is the only way to see the God who is the beginning and the end of all true vision. And steadily viewing Jesus is not possible without the knowledge that comes by the Holy Spirit.

So how does one get the Holy Spirit? That's easy—you just have to ask the Father! But I believe it's important (more for yourself than for him) to specify just what you're asking for. You are not asking for the Holy Spirit so that you can have a vision of what to do. You must ask for the Holy Spirit to give you a vision of the Son of God, the Word, so that in him you would see the Father. When the sole vision you crave is a vision of the Father, he will give it—and with it much more vision besides.

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