While reading through the gospel of John, I came across John 5:37, which I probably have read hundreds of times. I was prodded to stop, and think about it more deeply. The scripture reads as follows: "And the Father who sent Me, He has testified about Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form" (John 5:37 NASB). Well, God is Spirit (John 4:34), and doesn't have form. Or does he?
In the Old Testament, we read that Moses saw the back of God (Ex. 33:20-23), and Jacob encountered and wrestled with God (Gen. 32:24-30). Jacob struggled with God, and saw him face to face. "Face to face" is a metaphor. It's a better, deeper, and more authentic relationship. Moses, and Jacob had a revelation of what was to come in Jesus. They saw shadows that point us to Christ; when God would come to us in Jesus - Emmanuel, God with us. As John the Baptist said, "No human eye has ever seen God: the only Son, who is in the Father's bosom - He has made him known (John 1:18 WEY). Brad Jersak tells us that "Jesus is the image of the invisible God, and the exact likeness of God's nature."¹ God is invisible, except that he is revealed in Jesus (Col. 1:15). As I like to say, the only true God is revealed in Jesus Christ. There is no other God, but the God revealed in Jesus. Yes, God is triune, but Jesus is the only revelation of God. We can't find God. God has chosen to reveal himself in Jesus.²
When Philip asked Jesus to show them (the disciples) the Father, Jesus said, "If you've seen me, you've seen the Father" (John 14:7-9). When Jesus told his contemporaries that he was one with the Father (John 10:30), they picked up stones to stone him. Most of the people of Jesus' day rejected Jesus; who is the "face to face' encounter with God. We do too, when we replace the God of love revealed in Christ with a more "holy" God, an angry God, and a God of vengeance. The true God is revealed and encountered "face to face" only in Christ. He is the [true] image of the invisible God.
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1. Brad Jersak, "Of Heretics, Kings & Foxes," CWR Magazine, October 2021.
2. John Crowder often talks about this in his "Inner Sanctum" webcasts.