He that seeth me seeth him that sent me— Joh_12:45
Utterances of Transcendent Importance
That these words are of profound importance we may gather from two considerations. The one is that our Savior cried them (Joh_12:44). As a rule our Savior did not cry. lie did not cry nor lift up His voice in the streets. But now and then, in some exalted hour, the Gospels tell us that He cried (Joh_7:37). And in every instance when He cried, we have words that take us to the very heart of things. Also, remember that in these verses we have our Lord’s last public sermon. From the beginning of chapter thirteen onwards our Lord is in seclusion with His own. And we may be certain that every word He uttered in His final and farewell discourse would be of infinite significance.
Does God Meet Man’s Need?
We recognize that infinite significance when we face the problem of our faith today. Our problem is not to believe there is a God, but to be sure that He answers to our highest thought of Him. We may justly and seriously question if any man be really an atheist. Some think they are, in moments of recoil; others assert it on street corners. But it seems to me that the thought of God is intermingled with our deepest being, as the sunshine is intertangled with the daffodils which are making the world beautiful. Our difficulty is not to believe there is a God. The atheist has been replaced by the agnostic. Our real difficulty centers in His character—is He equal to our highest thought of Him? For when life is difficult, and ways are shadowed, the soul can never have quietness and confidence unless the Rock be “higher than I.”
Is There Any Cruelty in God?
This difficulty is profoundly felt in the modern study of the world of nature. “I find no proof in nature,” wrote Huxley once to Kingsley, “of what you call the Fatherhood of God.” Nature is quick with whisperings of God as every lover of her knows. That was one reason why our Savior loved her and haunted the places where the lilies were. But no one can seriously study nature without finding there elements of cruelty, and at once the thoughtful mind begins to ask, “Is there, then, cruelty in God?” If there be, He may be still “the Rock,” but He is not “the Rock that is higher than I.” We never can trust Him in an entire surrender if there be a shadow of cruelty in His nature. And that is the difficulty of many students now, not to credit the existence of a God, but to believe that He is higher than our highest.
Is There Any Injustice in God?
Or, again, we turn to human life, eager to find God in human life. That is a perfectly reasonable inquiry, for “in Him we live and move and have our being.” Now, tell me, when we turn to human life are there not things in it that look like gross injustices — injustices that do not spring from character nor from any harvesting of sin? And if man be not responsible for these, at once the thinking mind begins to ask, “Is it God, then, who is responsible for these?” Granted that He is, God may still exist. Atheism is an illogical conclusion. But granted that He is, how can we ever love Him with our whole soul and strength and mind? If in Him in whom we have our being there be the faintest suspicion of injustice, we never can trust Him in utter self-surrender. Take everything you find in life and nature and transfer it to the heart upon the throne, and how extraordinarily difficult it is to believe that the Rock is higher than ourselves. And yet unless it be infinitely higher, there is no help for us when the golden bowl is broken nor when the daughters of music are brought low.
God Is What Jesus Is
And then we hear the word of the Lord Jesus, “He that beholdeth me beholdeth him that sent me.” Or, as He said to Philip only a little later, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” We are not commanded to take all we find in nature or in life and carry it up to the heart upon the throne. “What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter.” But we are commanded, over and over again, to take everything we find in Jesus, and by that to read the character of God. Just as a little moorland pool will reflect all the glory of the heavens, so Christ, in the limits of His humiliation, is the mirror of the heart of God. That is what the writer to the Hebrews means when, at the beginning of his magnificent epistle, he calls Christ the “reflection of His glory” (Heb_1:3). That is a very splendid act of faith in this seemingly unjust and cruel world. But that is the act of faith which marks the Christian. We by Him do believe in God (1Pe_1:21). If he who hath seen Christ hath seen the Father, then we can trust the Father to the uttermost, and leave all other difficulties to be cleared when the day breaks and the shadows flee away.