No man has seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared him.
We have here -
I. CHRIST AS THE REVEALER OF GOD. "He hath declared him."
1. He brought much that was known of God into a clearer light. In this respect his revelation
(1) was confirmative, confirming people in their notions of God as far as they were right.
(2) It was corrective - correcting the false notions of heathenism and Judaism, so that the God of Christ is very different from and far superior to that of the heathen and even that of the Jews.
2. He revealed much that was new, which was not known before. Such as:
(1) The spirituality of God.
(2) His fatherhood.
(3) His gracious will to fallen humanity in the great scheme of redemption which Christ came, not only to reveal, but to work out in his Divine-human life and death.
(4) The way of access to and reconciliation with God.
(5) His spiritual reign in his people on earth, and they with and in him for over in heaven.
II. CHRIST AS A PERFECT REVEALER OF GOD. "He hath declared him."
1. Perfect in the character of his knowledge.
(1) His knowledge was direct. Not borrowed or derived; but as the Son of God, and God himself, it was relationally direct and personally intuitive. He was not only the Channel, but the Fountain.
(2) His knowledge was absolute and exact. In this respect he was the truth itself. He could speak, not about something he had seen some time, but about what was actually present to him then; was not dependent upon memory and association, but on his present vision and personal consciousness.
(3) His knowledge was full, covering his subject in all its vastness and meaning, its fathomless depths, its dizzy heights, and boundless breadth.
2. Perfect in his revealing qualifications. In a perfect revealer of God to man there must be:
(1) Oneness of nature with both parties. Mere man or angel would be deficient. But Christ is perfectly qualified in this respect, being the Son of God and the Son of man, the Eternal Word which was God, but which "became flesh." An inferior mind cannot interpret a superior one. The bed of a brook cannot contain the Amazon. Christ being equal with God, and having assumed human nature, was in a position to reveal God perfectly to the human race; being God-Man, he could speak of God as man to men, in their nature and language.
(2) Intimate fellowship with both parties. Christ was in the bosom of the Father - a position of the most intimate fellowship; and not merely "he became flesh," but also "dwelt among us," lived in the closest fellowship with the human family, and was most intimately acquainted with all their wants, weaknesses, peculiarities, and difficulties.
(3) Thorough sympathy with both parties. This Jesus pre-eminently possessed. Being "the only begotten Son in the bosom of the Father" - a position, not merely of the closest fellowship, but also of tenderest affection and mutual sympathy - his heart and will were tenderly sympathetic with the heart of God, and with the saving purposes of his love with regard to the human family. And as the "Word made flesh," he was in tenderest sympathy with mankind - with all their spiritual wants and aspirations; the faintest sigh for God would find in him a most ready and helpful response.
3. Perfect in his mode of revelation. Think of:
(1) Its clearness. It is clearly simple and simply clear, so that a child can understand it, and the blind almost see it. He would talk of God with the same ease and simplicity as he would talk of an object really present to him.
(2) Its suggestiveness. It stirs up the latent aspirations and powers of man to seek for and receive the knowledge of God.
(3) The prominence he gave to his subject. He declared God in all he said, kept him continually before the minds of his hearers; he kept himself in the background, and, as a Teacher, made himself of no reputation, that God his Father and our Father might be known.
(4) Its exemplification. He declared God, not only by precept, but by example. He used homely illustrations from nature, but found the homeliest illustration of God in his own Person and life, so that he could say, "He that hath seen me," etc. And he shirked not even from dying in order to declare God, so that in his. tragic death on the cross we have the most striking and convincing illustration of the love of God to a guilty world.
4. Perfect in the scope of his revelation. "He declared God" - as much as God wished and man required. Less would not do; more would be unnecessary and perhaps injurious. While curiosity is not satisfied, the wants of faith are met; so that God can now be known, "which is life eternal."
III. CHRIST AS THE ONLY PERFECT REVEALER OF GOD. "No man hath seen God," etc.
1. To declare God fully he must be seen. A full vision of him no man ever had, not even Moses, therefore could not fully declare him. Man's knowledge of God at best is limited and imperfect, and therefore incapable of being the medium of the full and essential revelation of God to the world.
2. Christ alone saw God, and he is the only perfect Revealer of him. His position is unique, He stands alone, he occupied a position in relation to God which no other one could occupy - "the Only Begotten," etc.
3. His revelation is infinitely valuable. Because:
(1) Supremely important. All knowledge is valuable, but, compared with the knowledge of God, every other knowledge fails into insignificance. Our eternal well being hangs upon it.
(2) Most reliable. It comes from the highest source, through the highest and most suitable medium, and in the most intelligible and convincing manner.
(3) It is most rare. It is a revelation which we could never get in any other way or from any other source - a revelation which God alone could give, and could only give through his Son.
1. We should hold Jesus in the highest esteem as the Revealer of God to us. No one else could reveal him as he did. We should magnify his grace in making known to us, at an infinite sacrifice, his Father's character, will, and purposes.
2. The gospel is an absolute truth. For what is it but the Son's revelation of the Father? - what he had seen and heard and experienced of him, and been sent to declare: his gracious purposes of grace towards the fallen human family?
3. As such the gospel should be accepted in implicit faith and burning gratitude. To reject is the greatest sin, to receive is the most urgent duty. "It is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation," etc. - B.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.