Seeing God the Father
No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. – ESV
[No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.- KJV]
This verse is not saying that no man had ever seen any sort of manifestation of God. The Bible records several instances in which God had manifested himself to prophets in certain ways. Yahweh had told Aaron and Miriam about Moses, “With him I speak mouth to mouth, clearly, and not in riddles, and he beholds the form of the Lord” (Num. 12:8), and the Bible says repeatedly that the Lord spoke to Moses “face to face, as a man speaks to his friend” (Ex. 33:11; Deut. 34:10). Yet, even then God would not fully show the glory of his face to Moses (Ex. 33:18-23). Isaiah also saw the Lord and feared for his life because of it (Is. 6:1-7).
Contextually, John is talking about Jesus, the Word “who is God” (John 1:1). While others like Moses and Isaiah had seen various forms of God which he allowed to be shown to them, it would be Jesus who would make God known as never before. Christ the Son of God, being “the only God, who is at the Father’s side,” had not been made known before…but now is known through Jesus. Moses, Isaiah, and the other prophets taught the people what they had heard God speak to them, his creation…the Creator talking to the creation. Jesus, on the other hand, taught the people what he knew of God as his equal, and thus was able to give a greater understanding as to God’s nature.
It is for this reason that he would say to Philip, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9), and later that same evening pray to his Father, “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world” (John 17:6) while speaking of “the glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24). Paul would say of Jesus, “He is the image of the invisible God…” (Col. 1:15). The writer of Hebrews perhaps put it best:
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.
Jesus knew God more than any of the prophets who came before him, and when we read about him and how he was in the gospels we are seeing God revealed as never before. It is for this reason that it is impossible to truly know God without first knowing Jesus (John 14:6).
Not only that, but consider this also. As followers of Jesus, we must strive to be like him (Luke 6:40)…and by becoming more and more like him, we are becoming more and more like God, because Jesus is God and reveals through his own teaching and character how God truly is more than anyone else. It was God’s plan from the beginning that we be “conformed to the image of his Son” (Rom. 8:29), in other words, that people would see Jesus in us.
Are we allowing that to happen?