The face of God in a manger

Photo by Carlos Martinez on Unsplash 

By Schulter Etyang

John makes this claim about Jesus 

John 1:18 (BBE)

No man has seen God at any time; the only Son, who is on the breast of the Father, he has made clear what God is.

Was he right? Yes, he was.

Not even Adam and Eve? The idea seems plausible. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve heard the sound of the Lord God walking about in the garden. The scripture is not ambiguous about this. If Adam and Eve had seen God, the writers would have indicated so. Jenny and I live in a double storey flat. When she is upstairs I can hear her moving around. I could write about hearing her walking in the room upstairs but that doesn’t mean I see her. 

Who is this Lord God? Throughout the Old Testament we read He is a voice, fire, rock, water, cloud, angel of the Lord, wind, serpent on a rod, ark, tabernacle, glory, animal sacrifices, bread, quail, etc. God was in essence abstract and impersonal. 

Familiar with Moses’ story at Mt. Sinai? Exodus 33:12-22. He desired to see God’s glory. But God told Moses that no man would see His face and live. Moses then stood on a rock, and God covered him with his hand while he passed by. God only showed Moses his backside. 

Every major figure in the Bible speaks to or is spoken to by God but what they only hear is his voice. The face of God was unknown to them. The face of God was hidden throughout the Old Testament. Imagine what a blind person goes through. He hears voices but he doesn’t see faces. All of the Old Testament saints are “spiritually” blind people who get to hear only God’s voice.

The face of God was hidden throughout the Old Testament

God decided enough is enough. I want to be known. I want to be seen and heard. I want to be personal. So, what did God do? God became flesh, was born a baby in a peasant’s house with little or no fanfare. This is strange because kings and rulers weren’t born in this manner. They were usually born in pompous palaces and exclusive hospitals surrounded with family and military personnel. Recently, we saw the births of Prince George of Cambridge and Princess Charlotte of Cambridge who were both born at the prestigious and exclusive St Mary’s hospital in London. Their births made international headlines. But not so with Jesus. Jesus came with no such fanfare. He was born in the presence of Joseph, Mary, and Joseph’s relatives in a house that played host to humans and animals.

Can you imagine all of them peeping into the manger where Jesus lay? Can you see the kids in the room peeping in to see the newborn baby? Did Mary giggle back at God while she nursed and played with him? Did the animals hear the cry of the one who would rescue them from what Paul calls the bondage of corruption?

I wonder what his face looked like? I wonder what they saw. What did they see? Compassion, tenderness, innocence, laughter, rest, assurance, security, joy, or love perhaps.

Just like Joseph and Mary peeped into the manger and saw the face of God, Christmas is the time when we peep with childlike faith and wonder into the manger to see the face of God. We see the face that radiates compassion, tenderness, innocence, laughter, rest, assurance, joy, and love for us.

We Charismatics (a group within the Pentecostal Church) preach and sing about longing to see the face of God. Someone needs to tell us that the face of God came. In Jesus, God’s face is revealed.

In Jesus, God’s face is revealed

I think that every Christian represents the face of God to the world. The world gets to see what God looks like when they see us.

I hope that my face mirrors the face of a God that’s compassionate, tender, joyful, rested, assured and loving.

I hope that the my nearest and dearest see God’s face in my face because I have seen His face in the manger.

I hope that this Christmas you saw the face of God.

That’s what grace looks like



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Husband | Orthodox Charismatic Christian | Leads The Life Place | Enjoys meeting new people, reading, cooking, traveling and exercise | Loves Jo’burg

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