Today’s full reading is John 1:14-23
“No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.”
Let’s look at this verse together and walk through what it means. Keep it in front of you if you can as we go.
The statement contained in this verse is linked to the statement about grace and truth mentioned in the previous one. The law, we’re told, came through Moses whereas grace and truth came through Jesus. It’s interesting to note that the arrival of grace and truth, in the way it’s written here, reads as though it is comparable to the promise made by God in Moses’ day. The word that’s often used for this promise is ‘covenant’ which means ‘binding promise’. In the way that John introduces the idea here it seems that grace and truth is not just a nice concept it’s a new covenant, a new binding promise between man and God. It’s a covenant based not on the written law but on the character of God, the one abounding in grace and truth.
The Father’s side.
The word used here for ‘side’ can also be translated as ‘bosom’. Elsewhere it’s used in the parable of Lazarus and the rich man (Luke 16:19-32). When Lazarus dies it is said that he is taken by the angels to Abraham’s side, a euphemism for the place of rest and peace after death. To be at someone’s side seems to have that meaning attached to it. It’s an intimate place of identification and belonging after death.
Now, let’s focus on the Father.
Here, in verse 18, the Father is described as one who is able to be known by and because of the Son. The Son is full of the same stuff as the Father (v14) and has come from the place of intimate nearness to him (his side), to make him known (this otherwise unseen God). So the Father, it can be said, is seen in the Son and because of the Son. This reveals a Father who is familiar and tender, allowing the Son to reside in his bosom. The image that springs to mind is of John (the writer of this gospel) reclining at the table with Jesus at the Last Supper, his head resting on his chest in an intimate expression of friendship and acceptance.
This is what God the Father is like. He is someone who, though unseen and invisible, sent his Son from the place of intimate friendship and nearness to be with us in order that we might see him and be drawn to him and his side, just like the Son is.
Do you relate to the Father like that, as one you can be affectionately familiar with? The sheer fact that the Father has a ‘side’ at all reveals an aspect of God we may not be too used to relating to. If you’re a Christian then you can approach him confidently (Heb. 4:16) today and enjoy friendship with him.
Why not express that boldness today by jumping into random moments of praise and thankfulness at regular intervals in the day. Why not set an hourly alarm (on your watch or phone perhaps) and every time it goes off (or vibrates in your pocket!) thank the Father for something from the hour just past and ask him for something you need help with.
Father, thank you that you love me. Today I want to know you more, delight in you more and grow in friendship with you more. Help me to remember you and enjoy your company throughout the day today.