The Knowing of the Son

And the Father himself which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape. And ye have not his word abiding in you; for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not.
— John 5:37-38

If Jesus said the words quoted in John 5:37-38, he meant more, not less, than lies on their surface. They cannot be mere assertion of what everybody knew. They were not intended to inform the Jews of a fact they would not have dreamed of denying. Who among them would say he had ever heard God’s voice, or seen his shape? John himself says “No man hath seen God at any time.” (1:18) What is the tone of the passage? It is reproach. The word see in the one statement (John 1:18) means see with the eyes; in the other (John 5: 37-38), with the soul. The one statement is made of all men; the other is made to certain of the Jews of Jerusalem concerning themselves. It is true that no man hath seen God, and true that some men ought to have seen him. No man hath seen him with his bodily eyes; these Jews ought to have seen him with their spiritual eyes. No man has ever seen God in any outward, visible, form of his own; he is revealed in no shape save that of his son. But multitudes of men have with their mind’s, or rather their heart’s eye, seen more or less of God; and perhaps every man might have and ought to have seen something of him.  We cannot follow God into his infinitesimal intensities of spiritual operation; God may be working in the heart of a savage in a way that no wisdom of his wisest, humblest child can see. Many who have never beheld the face of God, may yet have caught a glimpse of the hem of his garment; many who have never seen his shape, may yet have seen the vastness of his shadow; some have dreamed his hand laid upon them, who never knew themselves gathered to his bosom.