I typically get a destination-based answer whenever I ask many Christians….Jesus is the truth about going to heaven…being saved from hell. He certainly is that, but this is not what the writers were trying to tell us about Jesus. I see two more meaningful aspects of this truth.
Jesus is the truth about God.
For the apostolic writers, Jesus redefined God. He revealed God, as He truly is, for the first time in human history. The Jesus revelation of God totally took His own people by surprise and the writers understood this. Consider the following passages (emphasis added):
18 No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him. (John 1:18 NASB)
3 And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. (Heb. 1:3 NASB)
Also consider what Jesus said about Himself:
27 “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. (Matt. 11:27 NIV)
7 If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.” (John 14:7 NASB)
Basically, this is saying that no one ever really knew God. And, except through Jesus, we won’t know Him either. This “not knowing” must include all our heroes of the faith before Christ. And whatever we thought about God that’s not like Jesus is not like God. It was a projection of our own orphan-hearted imaginations, associating the attributes of God’s true nature with our corrupted understanding. And this includes what was often written about Him in the biblical text. (For further explanation of this point, you can read my posts on the “Jesus Hermeneutic” here.)
You will find in the Old Testament revelation that God is loving but you won’t find that He is love. This theological axiom was revealed through Christ.
Before Jesus, God’s people saw Him as exacting, retributive, vengeful, and militant. Jesus redefined Him as gracious, enemy-loving, restorative, and reconciliatory. Israel saw Him as a transcendent, untouchable, and distant deity. Jesus revealed Him as an intimate father who is nearer to us than our own breath.
The Old Testament relationship to God was based in fear and separation; the New Testament relationship to God is based in love and intimacy. Not that God was different back then; He has always been the same. We were the ones who needed to change our thinking about God (called “repentance”). Jesus is the truth of this theological paradigm shift.
Think about this for a moment…King David said he wanted to dwell in God’s house all the days of his life (Psalm 27:4). What an awesome thought. But Jesus reveals a Father who wants to dwell in our house all the days of His life! (John 14:23)
You can imagine the stir this God-shift created in the minds of His covenant people. Unfortunately, many believers still aren’t seeing this truth today, which brings us to the second aspect.
Jesus is the truth about us.
Paul called this the mystery of the ages…Christ in you the hope of glory (Col.1:27). The truth about Jesus is that He has forever bound Himself to us. So much so that whatever is true about Jesus is true about us! Consider the following passages (emphasis added):
9 For in Him the whole fullness of Deity (the Godhead) continues to dwell in bodily form [giving complete expression of the divine nature].
10 And you are in Him, made full and having come to fullness of life [in Christ you too are filled with the Godhead—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—and reach full spiritual stature]. And He is the Head of all rule and authority [of every angelic principality and power].(Col. 2:9-10 AMP)
17 In this [union and communion with Him] love is brought to completion and attains perfection with us, that we may have confidence for the day of judgment [with assurance and boldness to face Him], because as He is, so are we in this world. (1 John 4:17 AMP)
This may sound strange, even blasphemous to Western ears, but almost all the early church fathers said something similar to this about the incarnation: God became man so that man could become (like) God. Here are a few examples (emphasis added):
For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God. (Irenaeus – c. 115 – c. 202)
God became man so that man might become a god. (Athanasius – c. 296 – 373)
God was made man, that man might be made God. (Augustine – 354-430)
The early church fathers weren’t saying that we literally become God; they were simply restating Peter’s declaration that we are partakers of the divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4). They called this cooperative process theosis. I wrote about this in my post, “The incarnation of Christ – Part Five” so I won’t belabor this point here. Paul said it this way:
18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. (2 Cor. 3:18 NKJV)
What the New Testament writers discovered, what the early church taught, and what we should know, is that we are so inextricably linked to Christ that His relationship with God is our relationship with God.
The truth is in Jesus. He is the glorious truth about God and the glorious truth about us. Amen.
1:18 Until this moment God remained invisible to man; now the authentic begotten son, the blueprint of man’s design who represents the innermost being of God, the son who is in the bosom of the father, brings him into full view! He is the official authority qualified to announce God! He is our guide who accurately declares and interprets the invisible God within us. (Col. 1:18 MIRROR)