KNOWING THE FATHER
"Then they asked Him, 'Where is your father?' 'You do not know me or my Father,' Jesus replied. 'If you knew me, you would know my Father also.' He spoke these words while teaching in the temple courts near the place where the offerings were put. Yet no one seized Him because His hour had not yet come." John 8:18-20 (NIV).
"If you knew me, you would know my Father also," is a loaded statement.
Of course. There are levels of knowing. Acquaintance is the first and most superficial level -- "Do you know so-and-so?" "Yes, I met him at the..." That person is no longer a total stranger. I have met him, seen his face and been introduced to him. When someone speaks of him, I know who they are talking about. I know him.
The second level of knowing goes much deeper. I get to know someone when I spend time with him. Perhaps he is a work colleague or even a friend. We talk; we share information about one another; we see one another's reactions in various circumstances and can even predict how that person will respond when this or that happens.
But not even friends know me in my home environment. I am able to conceal things from them that my family know about because they do not see me in my most vulnerable moments. My family and I live together in much closer and more intimate contact. I cannot hide the quirks and idiosyncrasies of my personality and behaviour from them. They know me and I know them.
The deepest of human knowing happens between a husband and wife. They live together in the most intimate union that humans can share. According to Genesis 2:25, it is God's intention that the union between husband and wife be the most intimate union possible to human beings. "That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife and they become one flesh." Genesis 2:25 (NIV).
The Hebrew word yada, translated know, has several different meanings depending on the context. In the context of Genesis 2:25 it means "dedicating ourselves to a person so that we can engage them with our love and affection."
Now look at Proverbs 12:10: "The righteous know (yada) the needs of their animals but the mercy of the wicked is cruel." In this context the word yada conveys the idea of the good person "understanding the needs of the people around them and taking care of them."
In Jeremiah 22:15-16 the prophet delivers a scathing rebuke on King Shallum, the son of the good king, Josiah of Judah. Shallum had acted selfishly, neglecting the poor and needy and exploiting others to build his kingdom. Here the prophet blends the meanings of the word yada into one.
"'Does it make you a king to have more and more cedar? Did not your father have food and drink? He did what was right and just, so all went well with him. He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?' says the Lord." The Lord tells the king what it truly means to know (yada) Him; to do what is right; to show mercy to the poor and needy; to exemplify good and righteous character. To know God is "faithfully to live out our covenant relationship with the Lord in every area of our lives."
Is it any wonder, then, that Jesus emphatically told these humbug religious leaders that they did not know God? How could they when they were the opposite of everything that knowing God meant? They refused to recognize in Jesus a visible replica of His Father. His goodness infuriated them. They saw Him only as a threat to be eliminated, but their hands were tied until it was His time!
Do you know God?