Monday, January 3, 2011

You know Jesus but have you seen Him?

Which is more intimate – to know someone or to see someone? Many of us would answer to know someone.

Know Him

As I work on my next book, Everything We Need: God's Path to Know Him Better, I am learning that we translate many different Greek words into English as “know.” For example, the Greek word ginosko is based on external knowledge and outward appearances. If I held up a picture of Oprah Winfrey, George W. Bush, or Brad Pitt, you would probably know them immediately. But I’m guessing you don’t really know those people – their dreams, likes, dislikes, shoe size, etc. You only know them by their external appearance. A different Greek word is used for a more internal knowledge.

John used the word for external knowledge in John 14:7. We are to externally know Jesus and the Father. But we live in the 21st century; we’ve never seen Jesus. So how do we have this kind of knowledge?

Well, I immediately recognize a picture of former President Bush. I’d never confuse it with one of Brad Pitt. Likewise, when I read or hear a new spiritual teaching, I should also recognize whether that teaching is consistent with God’s word.

I recently read the following, “In this season of hope and inspiration, we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, to honor the message he brought to this world.”

So far, so good; I recognize this as a Christian teaching, consistent with God’s Word.

The paragraph continued, “His message awakens us to the God Spirit within us. The God Spirit is in every living person equally and abundantly and provides for us everything we need to live a comfortable and fulfilling life.”

Whoa! This may have certain characteristics that are consistent with a teaching of God but I quickly see it is not. It is dressed up in spiritual, Christian-type words but because I know God’s word, I know this isn’t consistent with His teaching.

See Him

John 14:7 says we not only know the Father, but have seen Him. This may seem like a regression of intimacy, but a look at the original words reveals the opposite. Like “to know,” there are multiple words for “to see.” I want to compare two of them – blepo and horao. Blepo may sound more like a children’s game but it means the physical sense of vision. It is a purely outward sense. Horao, however, not only means to see with the eyes, but to see with the mind’s eye and to become acquainted with by experience. If I showed you a picture of your loved one, such as a parent, spouse, or child, you would not only know them as you did the picture of Oprah Winfrey, but you would also know them by experience. You could probably tell me their favorite color, the last book they read, or what they ate for breakfast. You may even be able to add their greatest fear, their biggest dream, or their most personal hurts. You see them intimately and know them by experience.

Horao is the word used in John 14:7. We see the Father with the eye of our mind and become acquainted with Him by experience.

How does this play out in our 21st century lives? When I see a teaching, because I not only know Jesus outwardly(ginosko), but also see Him inwardly (horao), my experiences tell me it is true. Here are a few examples that quickly came to mind:

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him,
who have been called according to his purpose.”
(Romans 8:28)

“And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”
(Philippians 4:19)

“But he said to me,
‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses,
so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
(2 Corinthians 12:9)

I am acquainted with each of these teachings by experience. I have seen God work for my good, I have seen Him meet all of our needs, and I have seen His power perfected in my weaknesses. Each time this happens, I have seen the Father.

Don’t just know Him on the outside – see Him on the inside.


  1. Kathi - I love learning the true meaning and intricacies of the Bible. How limited our knowledge is of the Word if we base it upon our own understanding of the English language.