Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Matthew 11:27b (Holman) “No one knows the Son except the Father,. . .”
Jesus, having talked about the method of salvation, now moves far beyond details in order to begin discussing the deep richness of the personal relationship He and the Father enjoy with each other. Christ claimed no one but the Father fully knows, totally understands, the innermost essence of the Son’s personality.
No one has ever understood God the Son as well as God the Father does, not Mary or Joseph, not John the Baptist, Peter, or James, and yes, not even John the Beloved, who leaned against our Master’s bosom at the Last Supper (JN 21:20).
In a way, Jesus was utterly alone in this world. He was questioned by John the Baptist, scorned by the religious establishment, and rejected by His neighbors.
What was Christ’s consolation? He realized His true identity was known by the Father. Jesus’ truest companion resided in Heaven. The same is true for us.
Most Jews, feeling they understood what Messiah’s nature would consist of, believed the Christ would be a human being, endowed with supernatural powers.
Jesus, though, was no mere human. Had Jesus been only a man, even the greatest ever, the claim in our text would have been ludicrous if applied to Him.
Jesus was conscious of the fact He was living a life more than human. His resurrection confirmed He was correct in what He perceived and said of Himself.
Christ’s personality, His innermost being, remains one of history’s puzzling enigmas. I enjoyed my doctoral seminar on the Person of Christ. I learned much history and what theologians think, but after the class, I had to admit I may have learned in it nothing more about Jesus’ essence. He possessed in Himself a depth of being and personality fathomable only by the One who ordained it, the Father.
Matt. 11:27c “. . .and no one knows the Father except the Son. . .”
Only the Father fully knows the Son, only the Son fully knows the Father. Jesus knew the Father in a way no one else has, not Moses or Abraham, not Noah or Daniel. Prophets knew a little, angels know more, the Son comprehends all.
No one understands the depth of the Father’s being except the One who has shared it. The Son reclined in the Father’s bosom from eternity past (JN 1:18).
Jesus asserted that ultimate, full knowledge of the Father is limited to the Son. By saying only He totally knows the Father, Jesus bluntly claimed to be God.
Jesus contended He had a mind equal with the Father’s, and was able to think God’s thoughts. It would be hard to conceive any way Jesus could have used words more forcefully to make a stronger claim to equality with the Father.
Jesus is the radiance of God’s glory (HB 1:3a). God is light, His essence ablaze with a splendor too bright for people to see and yet live. To protect us, the Father has to hide Himself, but because He loves us, He wants to reveal Himself to us, and sought how to do this in a way safe for us. Using Divine ingenuity, the Father created a way to transform His brightness into a light we could safely see.
Father released a beam, an outflowing from His innermost essence, bright enough to be recognized as God, but veiled enough to not be fatal to human eyes.
Jesus, the ray that visits us, proceeds from God’s central core. Son brings Father to us, within the limits of our abilities. Nature provides an illustration. In three ways, the Son reveals the Father to us much like a sunbeam reveals our sun.
First, a sunbeam and the sun are distinct from one another, each has its own identity. This is true of Father and Son. Neither is the Other. Both are distinct.
Second, a beam is never separate from the sun, and the sun never without a beam. Similarly, Father and Son co-exist. Neither is ever separate from the Other.
Third, the sun can be seen solely by a beam. The sun communicates itself to us only through its rays. Likewise, the Father has hidden Himself except for what shines forth in Jesus. The Father can be seen only by looking at the Son. Apart from Jesus, people are clueless, totally in the dark, with regard to knowing God.
Jesus is the exact expression of the Father’s nature (HB 1:3b). The Son is an engraving made from an original mold, the Father, even as a stamped coin is an exact counterpart of an original die. Nothing could be more like the mold. Each carries precise features of the other. I have never seen the Lincoln penny dies, but I know exactly what they look like. I’ve never seen the Father, yet I know exactly what He is like because I know Jesus, “the image of the invisible God” (CL 1:15).
In Jesus “the entire fullness of God’s nature dwells bodily” (Col. 2:9). The Son has brought to us the unsearchable hidden nucleus of the Father. Jesus is God’s very self revealed. In His personality, His words, His deeds, His emotions, and all else, Jesus perfectly represents His Father’s essence. Every attribute and feature in the personality of the Father is present in equal measure in the Son. Jesus is as loving as the Father, as wise as the Father, as eternal as the Father, etc.
Philip requested from Jesus, “Show us the Father, and that’s enough for us.” Philip blurted out mankind’s deepest spiritual craving. It is the cry of orphans spiritually adrift, desperately seeking parentage. Our hearts are as much drawn to belief in God as a flower is attracted to the sun. People innately long for God.
Our heart may not always be conscious it is after Him, but it reaches out, longing for a fullness of life only Jesus can satisfy. People often try to fight this native instinct for God. They may damage it and suppress it, but can never totally destroy it. Subduing it must be constantly reinforced or it will eventually surface.
Atheism is neither natural nor normal. It is an aberration, a distortion which has to be transplanted from outside us, carefully nourished, and constantly fed.
How did Jesus answer Philip? “The one who has seen Me has seen the Father” (JN 14:9). Words like these never fell from the lips of a prophet or angel.
Jesus was disappointed with Philip’s question, sad that twelve men who had known Him and labored with Him daily for three years still knew little about Him.
Jesus felt the discouragement of teachers who labor long and hard to teach, but students do not learn. Resistance from a pupil can easily dishearten a teacher.
The Twelve learned slowly, but Jesus wouldn’t quit. If they misunderstood, He started teaching all over again. He refused to be soured by any slowness or scantiness of response. He kept teaching, teaching, teaching, and kept reaching, reaching, reaching. Jesus has the patience of Job–NO! rather, the patience of God.
Jesus is God. This belief, Christianity’s bottom line, is either a revolting lie, and should be scorned universally, or revolutionary truth, and His birthday should be the world’s largest celebration, for His birth was the Creator visiting our planet.