I heard about a little boy who was frightened one night during a great thunderstorm. He called out to his father from his bedroom and said, “Daddy, I’m scared. Come in here.”
His dad, who had settled in for the night and wanted to go to sleep, told the little boy, “Son, it’s all right. God is with you in that room right now. You’re OK.”
There was a moment of silence. Then the little boy shot back, “Dad, right now I need someone with skin on.”
We live in a world filled with many gods.
They come in all shapes and sizes and are really impossible to wrap our minds, and our hearts, around. That’s where Jesus comes in. He was God with “skin on.”
We need to understand what makes Jesus so unique. He wasn’t a man becoming a god; that’s impossible. He was God who became a man. Sometimes we think of God as distant and unapproachable, but our God is the one who loved us so much he wanted to live among us.
So if you’ve wondered what God is like, take a look at Jesus. If you’ve wondered what God thinks about a sinner who repents and wants to be forgiven, look at how Jesus responded to the woman who was caught in the act of adultery (John 8:3-11), or Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-9), or the woman at the well (John 4:5-26). If you don’t have time to look these verses up, let me give it to you in a nutshell – Jesus lovingly reached out to and forgave each one of them.
And if you’ve wondered how God feels about hypocrisy, look at Jesus’ attitude toward the religious leaders of his day, for whom he saved his most scathing words (Matthew 3:7).
The deity of Jesus (the fact that he is God) is one of the primary themes of John’s gospel. John shows us that to know Jesus is to know God. Other religions either ignore Jesus altogether or mischaracterize Him. The Bible is clear in pointing out that Jesus Christ was and is none other than God himself. What sets John’s Gospel apart from the others is that he doesn’t start with the birth of John the Baptist or even the birth of Jesus. He goes back to the time before there was a “little town of Bethlehem,” and even before there was a garden called Eden. He even goes back to a time before there was a planet called Earth. John 1:1 tells us, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John is pointing out the fact that, even before the creation of the universe, Jesus was always there. He isn’t suggesting Jesus had a beginning, because Jesus, being God, is eternal. Rather, Jesus has no beginning. And He has no end.
There is a twist in the original language regarding the phrase, “the Word was with God.” This could be translated, “the Word was continually toward God. God the Father and God the Son were face-to-face continually.” The preposition “with” bears the idea of nearness, along with the sense of movement toward God. That is to say, there has always existed the deepest equality and intimacy in the Trinity.
It’s hard for us to grasp the Trinity, the fact that God is a triune being. How can God be Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and yet be one? It’s a question many of us have struggled with, sometimes passionately. I heard about a couple that went to a film about the life of Jesus Christ. Somehow, they got into a heated argument afterward about the Trinity. The argument escalated, and by the time they reached their home, it had turned violent. The police had to be called. Upon their arrival, the police arrested both husband and wife. The woman had suffered injuries on her arms and her face, while her husband had a scissors stab wound in his hand. The sheriff, commenting on the incident, said, “It is kind of a pitiful thing to go to a movie like that and fight about it. I think they kind of missed the point.”
So let’s put our scissors down when we discuss the Trinity. It’s difficult to understand a triune being: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. But this triune being, this Almighty God, created the heavens and Earth. Many times we read in the Bible that Jesus is the Creator. According to Colossians 1:16, “For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.” He is the hands-on Creator, bringing about all the things we see, bringing about our galaxies and our solar system.
That God and Jesus are one is not just a theological issue. It is the heart of our faith. As Christians, we believe that our Almighty Creator, the One who created the whole universe, is more than a distant, powerful God. Our God put on skin and lived with us. God did this because he is passionate about us and wants to be in a relationship with us.
Ever since humanity’s creation, God has sought to connect with us in love. We see this from the first book of the Bible to the last. In Genesis, we see God caring for Adam by giving him a partner. In Revelation, we see God issuing an invitation: “To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life.”
God is longing for fellowship with humanity. Why is that? Some would say it is because God is lonely. But God isn’t lonely. God doesn’t need fellowship with you or me. Yet at the same time, He desires it. The Almighty God is among us. Isn’t that amazing?
This column is excerpted from Greg’s forthcoming Baker book called “Walking With Jesus.”