How to See God (Isaiah 7:10-14)
Reflections on Isaiah 7:10-14
“What if God was one of us?
“What if God was one of us?” Joan Osborne mused in her 1995 hit song. The ruminating lyricist goes on to wonder, “If God had a face, what would it look like?” Though her song is less than two decades old, her questions have haunted philosophers and theologians throughout the generations. What does God look like?
The Face of God
Many answers have arisen to the nagging question of the divine visage. For the Greeks, God was a multitude of deities that looked and behaved eerily like humans. In Egyptian theology, the gods were forces of nature bound in animal skins. The Hebrews, in contrast, worshipped a God unbound by physical shape and unseen by the human eye. To even attempt picturing the Lord was a capital offense in their religion. God’s form transcended human understanding, and his face was too holy for mere men to gaze upon.
God With Us
As generations of Jewish theologians pondered the celestial gaze of God, a miraculous figure surprised, and scandalized, them. He came as what Greeks called the Logos, or Word. “In the beginning was the Word,” the Apostle John wrote, “and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). This Word, the philosophical means of referencing God, preexisted all and stood as the world’s sustaining principle. It was the God whose face countless theologians had pondered.
John, however, preached a presence no theologian could have predicted. “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us,” the disciple declared, “We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). In the person of Jesus Christ the transcendent God became a man. If you want to see the face of the Almighty, gaze upon Jesus. He is the beginning, middle, and end of all theology, and around him orbits our understanding of the divine. He is Immanuel, God with us.
Footsteps—putting feet on our faith
1. Why have so many people been curious about what God looks like?
2. How does Jesus show us God?
Dear God, I have spent so much time wondering about you that I forget that you’ve already shown yourself through Jesus. In his love, we see your love. In his kindness, your kindness is revealed. In his goodness, yours is displayed. Help me today to look full upon the face of your beloved Son. By Christ I pray, amen.