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All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:27-30

When you look up at the night sky and see the Milky Way Galaxy or consider the hundreds of billions of other galaxies, do you wonder what God is like? Or, as you look at the inscrutable complexity of the human body or the other 8.7 million species of life, are you taken aback at the marvel of God? It is my frequent wondering about what God is like that moves me to especially appreciate a story told by the late esteemed theologian Thomas Torrance. He served as an army chaplain in Italy during World War II when he came upon a dying soldier, barely 20 years old, who looked pleadingly at Torrance asking, “Padre, is God really like Jesus?”

Torrance said that he happily assured the dying youth that God really is like Jesus. Then Torrance prayed with him, commending him to God as the soldier died. That pleading question launched Torrance on a long career dedicated to telling people that God really is like Jesus.

Today’s scripture points us to Jesus as God’s revelation to the world of what God is really like. The last lines in this scripture about an easy yoke and light burden are often quoted without the lines before them, in which Jesus asserts: “no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” People are of many opinions as to what God is like, but only Jesus who comes to us from “close to the Father’s heart” can reveal Him to us. (John 1:18). People have ideas about God’s power, His wisdom, and His love, but only Jesus really knows God the Father, and makes Him known to us.

Here is where the Good News gets really good as Jesus reveals in today’s scripture those people to whom He reveals the Father: all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens.” These are the “all” welcomed by Jesus and finding Him “gentle and humble in heart.”  God chose to reveal Himself in the lowly manger and cross as gentle and humble of heart. That really is what God is like!  Theologian Karl Barth writes about God as He is revealed to us in Jesus our Savior:

“God shows himself to be the great and true God in the fact that He can and will let His grace bear this cost, that He is capable and willing and ready to for this condescension, this act of extravagance, this far journey. What marks out God above all false gods is that they are not capable and ready for this. In their otherworldliness and supernaturalness and otherness, etc. the gods are a reflection of human pride which will not unbend, which will not stoop to that which is beneath it. God is not proud. In His high majesty He is humble. It is in this high humility that He speaks and acts as the God who reconciles the world to Himself.”

(Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics, IV, 1)

What comfort for a dying soldier, or for any of us today who wonder what God is like! Yes, the psalmist is right, the heavens above do declare the glory of God (Psalm 19:1). But God’s greater glory is revealed to us in the manger and the cross as Jesus pours out His life for us (John 12:23, 27-28). The anonymous hymn writer is right in his rejoicing:

“Fair is the sunshine,
fairer still the moonlight,
and all the twinkling starry host:
Jesus shines brighter,
Jesus shine purer
than all the angels heaven can boast!”

Just some thoughts for you today as you wonder what God is like. Yes, He is just like Jesus!

A fellow traveler,

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