“No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.” John 1:18
Christ came at Christmastime, tumbling into our world within the arms of Mary and Joseph in that obscure little town of Bethlehem. After the angels heralded Jesus’ long-awaited arrival, the shepherds found him swaddled in a manger with animals as neighbors. Later when the magi made their way toward Jesus, these wise men from the East presented Christ with expensive gifts worthy of his distinction as king.
But long before he “became flesh, and dwelt among us,” long before we saw “his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth,” (John 1: 14) God revealed glorious glimpses of his Son through Scripture. Like any father delighted at the prospect of his beloved son’s arrival, God intertwined individuals, scenes, and circumstances throughout his Word that point to the wonder and the glory of Jesus the Christ, the perfect Son of God.
Right there from the beginning “God said, ‘Let there be light’” and “God separated the light from the darkness” (Genesis 1:3-4) brilliantly foreshadowing Jesus as “the light of the world.” Jesus himself declared, “Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life,” (John 8:12) and his testimony echoes back to the genesis of the world where God designed light to dispel the darkness that overcomes us all.
After the fall God clothed Adam and Eve in “garments of skin,” and we trace that redemptive act to John the Baptizer’s reverent title for Christ as “the lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). Noah is commanded to build an ark of gopher wood as refuge from the total destruction of the flood because “all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth” (Genesis 6:12). Jesus hanging on a wooden cross became our ark of salvation, our own divine refuge from the flood of wrath which our just God poured out for sinful mankind.
Obedient Abraham ascended Mt. Moriah to surrender his only son. When Isaac questioned the absence of a sacrificial animal, Abraham’s answer hurtled us directly to the cross: “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son” (Genesis 22:8). God supplied a substitute sacrifice on Abraham’s behalf and undeniably recorded what he would eventually do at Calvary on our behalf.
Joseph, the beloved son of Jacob sold into slavery by his brothers, was forced to endure grievous hardship in the foreign land of Egypt. The favored son was wrongfully accused and imprisoned, suffered enormously, refused to retaliate, and mercifully forgave his perpetrators. Almost in the form of a mirror image, God illuminated how our Savior would be rejected, mistreated, and ridiculed and how he, too, would respond.
These parallels are drawn from the first book of the Old Testament only. No wonder, then, after his resurrection Jesus comforted the two discouraged disciples on the way to Emmaus with an extraordinary Bible study where “beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27).
With each glorious glimpse, the Father previewed the beauty and majesty of Christ for us. And all the while, as we gaze at the Son and come to experience him, we are allowed to see and know the unseen God. He opens the door for us to become intimately acquainted with his beloved Son, and we walk inside and discover the Father as well.
Elizabeth Karram Mitchell