For those of you who have pursued in depth Bible study, the term exegesis is one that you are familiar with. When applied to interpreting biblical text, exegesis is the means by which we “draw out of the text” what is contained within it, or, the way we are led through a text into an accurate understanding of its meaning. Exegetical interpretation involves seeking to understand the original intentions of the author and the meaning he attached to those things he has written. In short, exegesis is intended to get us to the truth. Okay, now before I lose you and you “click” out of here; let me tell you something cool about this exegesis thing: Jesus is the only one who can give us an accurate exegesis of God. John tells us, “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.” (John 1:18) Interestingly enough, the “has made him known” part is the Greek word ἐξηγήσατο or exēgēsato Do you see it?
In a culture that is all inclusive and proclaims that all religions are the same, leading to the same God, and so forth; John’s assertion that Jesus is the only means by which we can gain the correct “interpretation” of who God is stands in complete contrast. Now we may not agree with what John states in the prologue of his gospel, but there is no doubt as to his meaning: Jesus alone reveals who God is. Like a Bible student “exegeting” a biblical text, Jesus is the one who explains God and leads us to the proper understanding of who God is.
The common euphemisms of, “Well, if that’s the way you see it, it’s true for you.” and “There are all kinds of truth, great that you have found yours.” are the battle cries of both subjectivism and contemporary existentialism. According to these mindsets, one does not have to remain fixed upon any reality or even his own personal reality. “One must be willing to declare himself against his previous opinions”, as Nietzsche has stated. Or, as Kierkegaard said, “The thing is to understand myself… to find a truth that works for me… the highest truth attainable for an Existing individual [is simply] an objective uncertainty held fast in the most passionate personal experience.” Well, this may sound attractive and truly liberating, but how do these mindsets stand up against John’s claim that only Jesus reveals God?
It is also popular today, in our postmodern society, to claim that we do not even have the capacity to comprehend truth, reality or much less God himself. Before a person can be made to accept John’s claim that Jesus is the only one who reveals God, he must first be convinced that the truth about God and reality (including morality and religion) can be known and that reality itself is not subject to one’s own personal perception. C.S. Lewis said, “The consequences of subjectivism and relativism of truth are destructive… to intellectual honesty and to life. For if truth is objective, if we live in a world we did not create and cannot change by merely thinking, if the world is not really a dream of our own, then the most destructive belief we could possibly believe would be the denial of this primary fact.”
Beginning in grade school, facts and figures are communicated through teachers that are, for the most part, accepted without question as truth. In their book I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be An Atheist, Norm Geisler and Fran Turek insist, “We also expect to be told the truth when we pick up a reference book, read an article, or watch a news story; we want the truth from advertisers and politicians; we assume road signs, medicine bottles, and food labels reveal the truth.” It seems that in every area of life, truth and reality are looked for and expected. We accept as truth that one plus one equals two, Columbus discovered America, and so on; however, when it comes to God, truth is defined as relative or even unknowable. Why this contradiction? If a consistent paradigm is to be maintained one would have to acknowledge that just as the reality of mathematical equations and historical facts are knowable, the broader scope of reality, religion, morals, and even God can also be truly comprehended. Perhaps Augustine was right when he said that we love the truth when it enlightens us, but we hate it when it convicts us.
The gospel of John claims that Jesus is the only way to truly know who God is and come into relationship with him. As I previously said, we may not agree with John’s assertions, but it is indeed what he says. John’s statements are either true or false. There is no middle ground. So, what do we do about it? Come to Jesus, receive him, believe on his name, and you will know the truth about who God is. I like how the Apostle Paul put it, “See to it that no one takes you captive by means of philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells in bodily form…”