james ray johnson

It’s the holiday season and the Christmas cards are already coming.  Many are glossy flat cards with pictures of happy families on the beach in Cozumel.   Just what I need as I suffer the murky, bone chilling winter weather.   Oh well, its great to see the faces of family and friends, though they be tanned.

Maybe God ought to send a glossy of Himself.  He has always had an image problem!   He can’t be seen and has seldom been heard which has, therefore, generated a lot of conjecture about what He might be like.

An ad agency in ancient Philistia came up with the Dagon campaign which presented God as a statue – half fish / half man.   (think like mermaid except merman.) The Philistines were big into fishing and probably thought they needed a fish god to get their limit, but their lame attempt did God a disservice.

Other cultures have miscommunicated His character. There was the god who teased men with lightning bolts, and another who chased the skirts of earth-bound babes.  And then there was the bizarre many-breasted god of fertility.  (no comment)

The Jews of Jesus day contributed to the chaos by putting forth a God of stifling legalism.

There have been a tiny few who got a passing glance at God – and they regretted it.  He appeared at the burning bush and, “Then Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.”  (Exodus 3:6) I had a blind date back in high school who reacted the same way when she first saw me.

The prophet Isaiah got a glimpse of God and said, “Woe to me! I am destroyed, for my lips are contaminated by sin, and I live among people whose lips are contaminated by sin. My eyes have seen the king…”  (Isaiah 6:5)  

God was too great, too mighty, too holy, too scary – just too much God for an ordinary human being to take in.

Somehow God needed to bridge the gap and show up in a way that we could perceive and appreciate.

One Christmas season He did exactly that.  He sent us a Christmas card with His picture on the front.  But, instead of sunny Cozumel, the background was a dimly lit, drafty, stable surrounded by livestock. 

On that day, God took upon Himself human flesh in the person of Jesus.  There are multiple reasons why, the first of which was to help us understand what God is like.   

The apostle John wrote, “No one has ever seen God. The only one, himself God, who is in closest fellowship with the Father, has made God known.” (John 1:18) This is to say, that when a person looked upon Jesus, He saw God. 

To listen to Jesus was to hear the voice of God and to sense His heart was to feel the pulse of God. To understand God, one only needed to understand Jesus.

I met someone for the first time who said to me, “Oh you must be Jordan’s father.”   I said, “I am.  How did you know?”   She said, “I hear him in your voice, and see him in your face and your mannerisms.”  Wow!  I felt like I needed to call and apologize to my son.  My point, however, is that a son can communicate his father. 

Jesus communicated both the power and the compassion of God when He fed the 5,000.   He sobered us with the wrath of God when He overturned the tables in the temple, and He made God approachable when He gathered the little children to Himself.

Knowing God through Jesus makes a difference.  When He attended the wedding at Cana and catered it with wine, He gave us the freedom to enjoy our lives.  He gave us a taste of His mercy when He said to the woman caught in adultery, “Go and sin no more.” 

But keep in mind.  Jesus was more than just a Son.  Jesus was, “God with us.”   He was and is God – a God who is comfortable with us – so that we might be comfortable with Him.   

Jesus chose 12 disciples.  Why?  Mark wrote, “He appointed twelve so that they would be with him…”   (Mark 3:14)   I love that.  Jesus was God with us, so that we could be with Him – comfortable with God.   

You are sure to get a Christmas card this season with a manger scene on the cover.  Just for fun, take a marker and write on top of it, “From God with Love” and hang it with the rest of your cards – and be ready to explain it to your visitors.

All biblical references are from the NET Bible ®


Bonus: Check out the guitar Carol below

O Come All Ye Faithful: guitar arrangement: Jim Johnson