Alfred Place Baptist Church

10:22 Knowing God through His Son

Luke 10:22 “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No-one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no-one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

The whole of Christianity hangs upon the claims of Christ. For example, he claims that before Abraham was he himself existed. He claims that he will be the Judge of all mankind; men will receive their eternal destinies from his lips. He claims that there is no way to God other than through himself – none whatsoever. He claims that if men have seen him they have seen the Father. He claims that he and his Father are one. In our text he claims, “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No-one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no-one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” These are startling words. You might think they are foolishness except that they are made by the preacher of the Sermon on the Mount, which is a discourse of the highest wisdom, intelligence and morality. There is nothing like it in the whole world. The words of our text are spoken by the one who also performed the most extraordinary miracles, healing every single person who came to him, no matter how serious was their condition. Even the winds and waves obeyed him. Again, we see that the claim of Jesus in our text is found in the context of a galaxy of other similar statements which are found in the New Testament, and what is more this particular claim is repeated, it is found also in Matthew’s gospel chapter 11 and verse 27. But then you read something similar in John chapter 3 and verse 35 where our Lord says, “The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands.” You are going to meet these claims as you read through the Bible at home, and so you will be delighted to hear them declared, explained and applied by a preacher whom you trust, that is, someone who believes they are true, when you meet in church with all God’s people on the Lord’s Day.

These are either the words of a megalomaniac, or they are the words of the Son of God. In 1859 a Methodist minister named Humphrey Jones declared that the Holy Spirit would descend in bodily form in Aberystwyth in the Wesleyan Methodist chapel in what was then called Queen Street, and that that event would initiate the millennium. The place was packed as you would expect; people waited a long time past the time Humphrey Jones had announced the Spirit to appear, but nothing at all happened; Mr. Jones then had a breakdown and did not preach for the next four years. In almost every awakening there are excesses like that. Is this claim of our Lord Jesus a similar excess, something totally out of character with his meek and humble character? Is it one that discredits him as unworthy of our trust? Did he go insane and these words are a mark of his insanity, or is this claim true? If it is true then we worship him. He is our God. We pray to him and ask him to reveal to us today and all our days the one living and true God who is his Father. If it is true then he becomes our Saviour and we go to the new heavens and new earth to spend our eternity with him. If his claim is false then the preacher of the Sermon on the Mount, the man who prayed for the forgiveness of the people driving nails through his hands and feet, the sinless, loving Jesus – he, we must conclude, is the greatest deceiver the world has ever known, the most evil of men causing millions of people to trust in him, and hundreds of thousands to endure horrible torture and lay down their lives for his sake, when in fact he is a rogue, a liar, a charlatan and a blasphemer. That is the issue before us, and so let us look at the claims he makes.

1. EVERYTHING HAS BEEN COMMITTED TO THE SON BY HIS FATHER.

“All things have been committed to me by my Father” (v.22). Here is a man who claims that he is no self-appointed spokesman for God. He has not thrust himself into the limelight. He did not seek fame or notoriety, and he is no amateur Saviour. He has been officially delegated and appointed to his vocation by none other than the living God. That is his claim. When there’s a heavy snowfall we try to help our neighbours, clearing the steps or paths of old folk, going to the shops for them and clearing the snow from their cars. But there are limits to what we can do as private citizens. We can’t require our hill to be cleared of all its cars, but there are authorities that can demand that this be done. If the street is going to have a new road surface laid on it then all the cars must be removed. Local government has authority demanding that this be done. They have functions to discharge; this is their business; it is not ours. The men who push letters through your doors saying, “Please remove your cars from the street next week,” have been given authority requiring your action by the powers that be.

So what has been committed by the Father to the Son? Not his divinity. There never was a time when he was not the eternally begotten Son of God, as there was not a time when there was not God the Father. Jesus was in the beginning with God the Father as God the Son. This is how God is, without beginning or end of days, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. There was never a lesser being who had to be upgraded by the Father so that he became infinite, eternal, unchangeable in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth. He was the Word who was God in the beginning and was with God. But God the Son, the Word, became flesh. He took the form of a servant. He made himself poor. The act of becoming a man was deliberate, voluntary, sacrificial and dynamic. In all of that, he did not change his identity. He remained the eternal Son of God. He continued to possess all the attributes of God, performing all the functions of God, exercising all the prerogatives of God. Do you understand? He did not change himself into a man. Dr. Hyde might have become Mr. Jekyll in the story book, but in reality the Son of God never renounced any of his deity. In the work that Christ did he had to continue to be who and what he always was. He became a man without ceasing to be God. He became what he had never been before; flesh, tempted, despised and rejected, forsaken, dead while remaining the eternal Son of God. The incarnation was addition not subtraction.

This is the one who is speaking in our text who says that all things had been committed to him by the Father, the incarnate Son of God who, thirty years or so earlier, entered upon a whole new range of experiences and relationships: “He experiences life in a human body and in a human soul. He experiences human pain and human temptations. He suffers poverty and loneliness and humiliation. He tastes death. He becomes son to Mary and Joseph, brother to James, friend to Peter and John, neighbour to the residents of Nazareth, adversary to the Pharisees. Before and apart from the incarnation, God knew such things by observation. But observation, even when it is that of omniscience, falls short of personal experience. That is what the incarnation made possible for God: real, personal experience of being human” (D. Macleod, The Person of Christ, IVP, 1998, p. 186). It is to this Messiah, the God-man, that all things were committed by the Father.

The God-man experienced all the processes of embryonic development in the womb of his mother; the God-man was born – he entered the world via the birth canal; the God-man was baptized; the God-man was tempted; the God-man was transfigured. It was this eternal Son of God, who has taken bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh, who beheld the city and wept over it. He is the one who agonized in Gethsemane. The God-man was betrayed, arrested and condemned. The Son of God was flogged, immolated, crucified, dead and buried. God the Son rose from the dead. He reigns now with authority in heaven and earth. He will come again. The God-man will judge the living and the dead. It was his blood shed, his the body broken, his the life poured out. The Son of God is our propitiation. He is our ransom-price. He is the revealer of God. He is our Saviour and our salvation. In him God acts, speaks and suffers for our redemption. In him God provides the atonement, and he becomes the atonement. In his flesh God dealt with our sin.

He is a true man, and his humanity is the reason God has to commit to Christ all the things he did and said and promised during his incarnation. In him God has added human being to his divine being, and human experience to his divine experience. In him God lives a truly human existence. This is the heart of the miracle of incarnation; veiled in flesh the Godhead see! Hail the incarnate deity! He took on all the qualities of human nature, createdness, dependence, mutability, development, embodiedness. Simultaneously he also possessed every divine attribute and prerogative; creation, providence, salvation and glorification. He could raise the dead; he could judge angels. He is to be worshipped; he is to be prayed to; he is to be loved with all your heart and soul and mind and strength. But he is no rival to God because he is God, and the Father has chosen to commit to his incarnate humbled Son all things. He never does anything as a man which his divinity does not also do; he never does anything as God which his human nature does not agree with. God has committed all things to him and so God himself speaks when this man speaks; God himself acts when this man acts; he suffers when this man suffers, and God himself triumphs when this one triumphs as a man.

As a man the Lord Jesus was filled with light and wisdom to the utmost capacity of a creature, but all he said and did was because the Father had committed all things to him. What are some of these things committed to our Saviour?

i] All people have been committed to him. He is “King of kings and Lord of lords.” So under whosoever’s banner you march please understand that that leader is under the authority of Christ and must answer to him, just like you also must. He will do what he wills amongst the armies of heaven and the inhabitants of earth. Where is the king’s heart? It is in King Jesus’ hands. Your boss’s heart, your teachers’ hearts, the heart of the policeman or the tax official or the man interviewing you for a place at university or for a job, or the people wanting to buy a house when you are selling yours, or your social worker’s heart – whoever it is – God has put his heart or her heart in Christ Jesus’ hands. That person lives and moves and has his being in Christ, and our Lord can move his heart in the direction that he wills, and to Christ he will answer in the great day. Islamic, or Russian, or American, or Chinese leaders – they will all stand before him, because the Father has committed us all to Christ, and that is the reason you are where you are today.

ii] The gates of hell have been committed to him. The phrase ‘gates of hell’ is a figure of speech for the attacking powers of Satan, the god of this world. You see the picture? It is of vast gates, behind which are all the hordes of the pit. They are slowly creaking open and a vast army comes storming out, principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this world, devils and demons, Beelzebub and Lucifer, all with blood-thirsty and cruel lust seeking to attack and destroy all whom they can find. But Jesus Christ is the one who opens and closes those gates and all the marauding hordes appear and go as he decrees and he rules them with a rod of iron. The Father has committed even all of them into Jesus’ hands. He has made his Son the gate-keeper of hell.

“Gates of hell can never ‘gainst that church prevail;

We have Christ’s own promise and that cannot fail.”

(Sabine Baring-Gould)

iii] All blessings have been put at his disposal. The Father has committed them to his Son. I long to be more kind and patient. That blessing is in Jesus’ hand to give. I long to be more contented. That blessing can come to me from the ascended Christ. I long to more prayerful. He can give that to me too. I long to be a wiser man, more self-controlled, stronger and a better counsellor. The Lord Christ has those blessings from his Father to give to me also. I long for deliverance from temptations. They attack me invariably when I am preparing my sermons, and then I say to myself that the devil cannot be liking this sermon because of these nasty distractions. Christ can deliver me from them too when they get over-distracting. Evangelistic zeal – how I need that grace. The fulness of every grace is in Jesus Christ, vast, unmeasured, boundless, free. The Father has put the faucets of heaven’s fulness in his Son’s hands and from the midst of the throne of God he can pour down upon you such blessings that your life has not yet received. You have not. Why? Just for one reason, you ask not. Every virtue we possess, and every victory won, and every thought of holiness all come to us through Jesus Christ because the Father has committed all things into his hands. Ask and it shall be given to you. Ask that the spiritual life of the beatitudes should be seen in you. Ask that the fruit of the Spirit shall be more fully apparent in you. It is in your beloved Saviour’s remit to give it to you.

iv] Our times have all been committed to him.

“All my times shall ever be ordered by his wise decree.

Times the tempter’s power to prove; times to taste the Saviour’s love;

All must come, and last, and end as shall please my heavenly Friend.”

(John Ryland, 1753-1825).

Childhood, marriage, raising children, empty nest syndrome, old age, the death of the one we love most and then our own decease – all come to us from the midst of the throne of God and he who sits upon it. Think of the runaway slave, Onesimus, and the different times of his life – a free man, a slave, a runaway, a convert, a friend of Paul, and finally a slave again working for Philemon. All those times coming to him as ordered by his heavenly friend. We will never experience any period of our lives that is not under the control of Christ, times in hospital, times in prison, times in a dead end job. All our times have been committed to Christ.

v] The building of the church has been committed to its Head. “I will build my church.” So Christ knows what he is doing in raising up Christian families and individuals and binding them together in congregations. You find that great picture of the miraculous expansion of the church on the day of Pentecost in Acts chapter two, and the love and zeal of all these new converts. Then the chapter ends with that great sentence; “And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47). Who is the Lord mentioned here? It is not God, it is the Lord Jesus. He is the one who is adding to the church every day those whom he is saving. He was adding them then, and he adds still, and he has told us to pray about this and not faint, “Your kingdom come!” May his reign of grace expand and expand. With all our evangelism, our clear faithful sermons in contemporary language, and with all our urgent appeals, ultimately it is the Lord who must add to our number year by year. So the first great claim of Jesus is that the Father has committed all things to the God-man Jesus Christ. If it is true then rejoice in it!

2. NO ONE KNOWS THE SON EXCEPT HIS FATHER.

Who knew the Son of God when he was in the very beginning as the Word who was with God and was God? Only God the Father and God the Spirit knew him then. There was nothing else but the delight of inter-trinitarian love. There was never a more loving Father and never a more loved Son. Before a single angel was created, before there was any dimension of space or time there was nothing but Father, Son and Holy Spirit, with no secrets from one another. The Father only, glorious claim, the Son could comprehend. When they talked together and said, “Let us make man in our image and our likeness” there was no one else save the Spirit of God with them. When the Son came and appeared to Adam before he defied God he walked with Adam in the cool of the day in Eden and the Father looked on in delight. The Father shared some knowledge of him with Adam.

Or consider his incarnation and the two natures that must be his ever after. Think of Christ from the very beginning when the egg of Mary was somehow overshadowed by the Holy Spirit and the little Lord Jesus was begotten. Even at that very moment there was the divine nature and the human nature present in that one cell that was Jesus the Christ as it began to multiply and multiply. In that cell, too small to be seen by the naked eye, our God was contracted to a span. Only the Father, in all of heaven and earth, knew the true identity of that unborn child, loving and caring for that little one infinitely more than Mary herself.

Or consider the two natures and their relationship with one another. He was one person, and he was divinely conscious that he was the eternal Son of God, and yet he also had a human consciousness of that same fact and the human and the divine communicated to one another by the Holy Spirit, and yet he is just one indivisible man. “I,” he always says, “But I say unto you . . .” never “we.” God alone knows all the interfaces of two natures in one person. As a man he must flinch from pain and flee from even the thought of nails being driven through his hands and his feet. He must pray, “Father if it is possible let this cup pass from me.” He must pray like that as the son of Adam, and yet as God he knows that he must go to the cross and despise the shame. His fears and longings are communicated to his Father and to the Spirit and to his divine nature, and Father and Spirit and divine nature comfort and strengthen the man Christ Jesus – his Father even sends an angel to cheer him. Who can fathom that? In vain the first born seraph tries to plum its depths.

He is tempted to sin, and the temptations are real, and only with strong cryings and tears can he resist them, but is God able to sin? It’s impossible for the Son of God to sin, and yet he is really tempted. How can any of us understand that? God only knows.

Or when he hangs on the cross what did it entail for him, the God man, the God who is light, in whom is no darkness at all, to be made sin for us, to enter the anathema of his own Father’s undiluted wrath against sin. Here is God smiting sin and condemning it in the flesh of his own Son. We often raise the question in the words of Lucy Bennet,

“O teach me what it meaneth, that cross uplifted high

With One the Man of Sorrows condemned to bleed and die”

What could it mean? Not an angel can comprehend what was happening to the God-man as he hung on the cross. We have the slightest grasp of the accursed tree. We sing,

“That wrath would have kindled a hell of never-abating despair

In millions of creatures, which fell on Jesus and spent itself there.

‘Twas justice that burst in a blaze of vengeance on Jesus our Head;

Divinity’s indwelling rays sustained Him till nature was dead.”

(Joseph Swain, 1761-96).

Who can know all the pains that he endured? God alone knew when infinite justice was eternally satisfied and infinite atonement made. No man knows the Son but the Father. Not one man anywhere . . . anytime. Not Albert Einstein. Surely Isaac Newton and Michael Faraday knew more than he did because they both believed in the Lord, but the wisest man with the highest I.Q. in the world has no more knowledge of Jesus Christ than a dunce has. The king and the beggar are both on the same level of ignorance about God the Son. Of two blind men one may know many things more than the other but as regards the knowledge of colours and shades each will be as ignorant as the other. Some of you are smarter than your neighbours – of course you are – but if you refuse to get to know Christ then your very wisdom is folly. Does a fish know the flight of a bird? Does a worm know the mind of a sheepdog? So the natural man knows so little of the Lord Jesus, his divinity, his two natures, his three offices as prophet, priest and king. He knows as little of him as he knows the man in the moon.

Even the angels in heaven and the glorified saints who behold so much of his glory are seeing only a small part. They are merely creatures with all the limitations of a creature, a creature’s brain and mind and understanding, while the Son of God is infinite and immeasurable. They cannot know him as he is. We shall never, never know the Son of God exhaustively; there will always be more to know of God. He comprehends us, yes, but we cannot comprehend him. A child will walk up to the sea on the beach with his bucket and he will take back as much as his bucket will hold. He can only receive the capacity of the bucket. So it is with ourselves and Christ. We are filled with his fulness until we can hold no more, but his glory and power and wisdom are infinite and immeasurable. No one knows who the Son is except the Father. How wonderful that he has been pleased to show us so much of himself, loving, weeping, sweating blood, dying. O what matchless condescension has God displayed to reveal these things to sinners!

3. NO ONE KNOWS THE FATHER EXCEPT THE SON AND THOSE TO WHOM THE SON CHOOSES TO REVEAL HIM.

The very same is true of our knowledge of the infinite God. Each of us has this extraordinary brain; it would fit into the palms of your hands. What knowledge it can contain with a trillion links from one cell to another. But it has limits because it is a created object. God, on the other hand, is infinite; he has no dimensions. He is limitless, measureless eternity. How can we know exhaustively our Mighty Creator? Our very finite creaturehood renders the whole enterprise impossible. It is not that we know nothing about him. We know his power and glory and Godhead through his creation. The heavens declare the glory of God. We know he is a God who hates evil and loves what is good because he has made us in his image and has given each of us a conscience. We know of him through what he has told his servants the prophets, Moses, Samuel, David, Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel and the other writing prophets. He has chosen to reveal himself to us through them, and then in the fulness of time through his Son Jesus Christ and through his apostles in the New Testament. The catechism asks us, “Where do we learn about God?” And it answers, “In the Bible.” So we have knowledge of God that is true and utterly sufficient for anything that can happen to any Christian now and until the end of time. We will never suffer because God has not given a word more. The Scriptures can thoroughly furnish us to do every good work that God will require of us, and they can make the man of God perfect. So we have a revelation of God that is full and comprehensive, but it is not an exhaustive revelation of all that God is. It tells us that God is triune, that the Father is God and the Son is God and the Spirit is God and these three are one God but it does not explain how God can be three different persons and yet one God. We do not know how that can be.

The Lord Jesus alone can comprehend God. There is nothing about God that is hidden from him. The Father holds no secrets from the Son. You hear people say that though their fathers lived until their seventies they regret that they really never knew their fathers. Their fathers were very private quiet men who did not have much to say. How sad! It is not like that with the Lord Jesus; he knows his Father exhaustively. There is not one private file locked away in a safe in heaven to which no one has any access except the Father. He keeps nothing back from his Son. He knows the infinite, immeasurable, invisible, eternal Father through and through and through. No one else knows him like this, not Abraham, not Moses, not Isaiah, not Paul, not Peter; the Lord Jesus Christ alone knows the deep things of God.

So when he speaks to us what authority he has in what he says. He is not guessing! He is not using his vivid imagination. He knows what he is talking about; he has authority to speak to us and cry, “Behold your God!” He can diagnose our condition. He can tell us what is wrong and what needs to be put right, what we must do to inherit eternal life, what behaviour we must turn away from and what a new lifestyle we must live. Christ has the authority of God to speak to us and bind our consciences to listen and to obey. “Do not be ashamed of me or my words,” he says. He has come to the earth as an ambassador from heaven. He has been entrusted with a message and he delivers it perfectly adding nothing and omitting nothing. He says exactly what God has given him to say and God is delighted and tells him so – “You are my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”

When Jesus says, “Come unto me all you who labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest,” then all the yearning love of God the Father is behind those words. And when you begin to understand them, and are awakened to their promise and find a beginning of longing rising in your heart then you know that what Jesus speaks of in our verse is becoming real in your experience. Listen! “No-one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him” (v.22). The Lord Jesus has chosen to explain these things about redemption and grace and his cross work and the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit to you in particular, so that your curiosity and experience of the magnetism of Jesus is the result of his drawing you to himself – this is Jesus revealing his wonderful Father to you. Christ has been given authority by his Father to deal with rebel sinners. He knows how we may have just fleeting initial interest and that this may not endure. He knows about the pangs of a guilty conscience. He knows how Satan can get cracking as he sees you slipping out of his sphere telling you it is all emotion, or that it is untrue, or whispering to you that you would never have the wit to keep going in living the Christian life. So the Lord Jesus is not only a wonderful preacher he also can open our understanding and show us the true nature of God. “Let me tell you about my Father,” he says. So that is why he has brought you to read these words today. What an encouraging indication of his love for you that he has chosen to reveal all that you have read now and it is all that you might be saved, that you might know God.

We all have many disappointments and some of them are self-inflicted and others come from the sadness of this groaning world. We see people who have no time in their lives for the living God prospering and prevailing, doing so much better than we are, taking advantage of us and abusing our Christian convictions for their own end. How do you handle it? You say to yourself, “But I know God. The Son of God has revealed his Father to me and I know him, and knowing him is eternal life.” So we say to you today. Know God! Go to him through his Son Jesus Christ. You cannot go any other way. If you try to go to God directly then God will say to you, “Come to me by my Son, Jesus Christ.” Go to him! It is a movement of your heart and mind as the Spirit leads and enables you, and do not stop until you know that you know him and then grow in that knowledge all you days. That is the true God and life everlasting.

21st March 2010 GEOFF THOMAS