“The Bible puts flesh on these bare bones of ideas by using pictures and analogies.”*
Stop for a minute and think about that. Would we understand the Bible without some of the word pictures that are in The Book. Probably not.
An analogy is the comparison of two things using like or as. A simple non-biblical analogy example is saying this about your clumsy friend Harry: having Harry handle delicate collectibles when moving is a bad idea; he is like a bull in a china shop. You get the point [comparing clumsy human to bull].
But let’s get into the Bible a bit. Packer writes about how man knows God. We know God like a son knows his father. We know God like a wife knows her husband. We know God like a subject knows his king and we know God like a sheep knows his shepherd.
As in a previous post about us having a royal as a friend, note that all analogies are what Packer calls “knower ‘looks up’ to the one known”. Also Packer calls attention to the fact that the “one known” is responsible for the welfare of the knower. It is amazing to consider what the analogies imply.
Knowing God can also be through knowing Jesus. Certainly there are Scriptures that insist that the way to know God is to know Jesus. In the book of John, famous Scriptures like “Don’t you know me…? Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father” and “no one comes to the Father except through Me” state that very fact.
For Christians living in the world today, knowing Jesus is our ticket to know God. In Jesus’ day, the twelve disciples knew Jesus directly and as they spent time with Him, they began to know He was “The Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus was the man born to be King, the bearer of “the words of eternal life” [John 6: 68]. They knew they were in the presence of someone special and that knowledge transformed their lives.
We don’t have Jesus today; we have the Gospels to tell us about Jesus and our distance from Jesus’ life is actually an advantage. Packer writes that our knowledge of the significance of the risen Christ means that Jesus is “loose and large.” I think he is really saying that Jesus came to earth on a mission and He accomplished it. He tore the veil on the Holy of Holies and made us direct communicators with God. The veil was a symbol of the separation of God from sinful mankind. It marked the boundary between God’s pure holiness and the wickedness of mankind. The veil’s being torn, by God Himself, symbolized the fact that mankind’s separation from God had been removed by Jesus’ supreme sacrifice at Calvary.
It also meant that even though we cannot have a physical relationship with Jesus, we can certainly have a spiritual one. Christians can read the New Testament and know the truth about God and the atoning sacrifice of Jesus which the original disciples grasped only gradually, over a period of years. Jesus can use “fresh words” with us by applying to our consciences those words of His that are recorded in the Gospels. In short, Jesus walks with us now through the Gospel story: Packer writes “going with Him involves going with Him, now as then.”
Jesus says in John 10: 27 “My sheep listen to My voice. I know them and they follow Me.” In 5: 23-24 He says “He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life.”
Today we don’t have the honor of being able to walk with a physical Jesus but maybe we have more. We have a perspective that the Disciples did not have and we have word pictures and analogies to help us understand His ideas.
When we accept the claims that Jesus makes and believe His promises and trust in His call, we actually “hear” Jesus. At that point He becomes our Shepherd and we become His trusting sheep. John 10: 27-28 claims “I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of My hand.”
Can you imagine a shepherd saying that to his sheep? Can you imagine a more beautiful word picture or analogy than that?
When you “hear” Jesus and know Jesus, you are saved by Him, now and in the hereafter, from the sins we all commit, from the guilt of those sins and finally we are saved from death by His promise of eternal life.
Believe the claims, serve the Lord and live the wonderful life He intended you to live.
From J.I. Packer Knowing God