The quest for God is and has been a human pursuit in all cultures in all times. This pursuit takes many forms. Deep within us is the sense of the supernatural. There is a need to search for the transcendent. This encompasses not just the idea of a force or an intelligence beyond ourselves, but for the personal and the intimate. We are searching for God. This search is not only about knowledge, but is about relationship. We want to know about Him, but even more, we want Him.
1 Kings 8:27 (CSB)
27 But will God indeed live on earth?
Even heaven, the highest heaven, cannot contain you,
much less this temple I have built.
John 1:14-18 (CSB)
14 The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We observed his glory, the glory as the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John testified concerning him and exclaimed, “This was the one of whom I said, ‘The one coming after me ranks ahead of me, because he existed before me.’”) 16 Indeed, we have all received grace upon grace from his fullness, 17 for the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God. The one and only Son, who is himself God and is at the Father’s side— he has revealed him.
Many people find God distant. People struggle less with Jesus. They can follow Jesus, but God is a different story. God is distant. Jesus seems near. Is this the correct view? This passage in John’s gospel sheds light on this common struggle.
There is a thread running through the Bible that tells of incidents where God and His glory are present here on earth. The knowledge that God is in heaven is true, but heaven is distant. Is He near? We see God as dwelling on earth in the Garden of Eden where He walks and talks with Adam and Eve. We see Him appear to Moses in the burning bush. We see His presence appear at Sinai. We see Him dwell in the cloud and fire in the desert, in the tabernacle, and in the temple. These are places where God reveals His presence in a place that is nearer to us. Interacting with God in these settings required adherence to specific limitations. His presence is holy and not available to all persons.
John has declared Jesus as the Son of God, present from the beginning and the agent of creation. (You can refer to previous posts for explanation.) Here, in this passage, John further develops this theme. Jesus left His heavenly home and came here to earth to dwell among us. This is the next step in God’s presence manifested here on earth in our world. They would have been familiar God’s presence dwelling in the temple. Now He was walking and talking with mankind again. He dwelt on this earth for approximately 33 years before going back to His home in heaven. The next installment of God’s presence here on hearth is in the person of the Holy Spirit.
For those who feel God as distant, elusive and incomprehensible can take heart. John tells us that Jesus has come to explain the Father. Later he will tell Philip “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father.” If you wonder what God is like, you can look to Jesus. If you want to understand more about God, you can to look to Jesus . Not look to Jesus instead of God, but through Jesus to see God. That is a theme John wants you to understand and will continue to develop as we walk through the gospels.