Day 12: God Unwrapped

No-one has ever seen God; the only-begotten God who is in the embrace of the Father, that one – Jesus Christ – has unwrapped him. (John 1:18)

Happy Christmas![1]

A couple of years ago, I visited an exhibition called Living with the Gods at the British Museum. There was also a whole Radio 4 series devoted to it.[2] It was fascinating to see the diversity of ways in which people visually represent that which they believe to be sacred or divine.

John writes that “no one has ever seen God”. Before Jesus came, no-one had ever fully seen God. Moses himself exemplified this: he asked to see God’s glory but was told by God: “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live” (Exodus 33:20). When Moses spoke with God, he had to do so through a veil (Exodus 34:25; cf. 2 Corinthians 3:7f.).

Yet, now in the light of Jesus’ coming, which we celebrate today, the situation is different. We can see God through Jesus Christ, since He is “the only-begotten God”. Jesus is God: here depicted intimately as being from the bosom or embrace of God. If we want to see God, it is to Jesus, the living Word, and the Bible, the written Word, to which we are called to turn.

Today many of us will have the privilege of unwrapping presents. Maybe we will also go to church and hear the Word of God unwrapped. The last words of the prologue are emphatic: “the only Son … has made him known” (NIV). The Greek verb is exēgēsato and I believe that “unwrapped” captures its meaning well: by unwrapping, what is inside becomes known. Our word “exegesis” – critical explanation of a text – comes from it. As my friends Will and Gill Briggs once warned me, there is a danger that dry exegesis can lead to “exit Jesus”. Yet, the Incarnation and the true meaning of Christmas is all about “enter Jesus”.

I pray today that we will know the intimate love of God as we unwrap gifts, and that we might also make time to unwrap Jesus and see him enter more fully into our lives in the days and months ahead.

[1] Particularly if your Christmas Day has got a bit boring and this is your first time reading one of these. If you have been reading all or many these posts, you frankly deserve a medal…!

[2] https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p05jmwcf/p05jmwcl

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