I came across a verse the other day that really challenged me to consider how deeply I know Jesus, and to confess that there’s so much more intimacy with Christ available to me than I have yet experienced.
“I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.”
It’s easy to pass over because He says it so simply. Jesus said “My Own know me just as I know the Father.” That is an unfathomable statement. I can know Jesus every bit as well as He knew His Father on earth?!? When I consider how deeply He trusted the Father, how confident He was in His nearness, how assured He was of His will, I’m overwhelmed to consider that that’s exactly how Jesus wants me to know Him.
How did He get to know His Father that well? Certainly, He studied and knew the scriptures, even from His youth! But it was much more than that: He was always looking at Him, always listening to Him, always running to Him, taking refuge in Him, obeying Him.
And I see that’s how I will come to know Jesus as well: as I come to (Hebrews 4:16), look at Him (Hebrews 3:1, 12:2), listen to and obey Him (Matthew 7:24), I will come to know Him every bit as well as He knew the Father. It’s so easy to think of the time I spend reading the Bible as the time that I get to know Jesus, and certainly, I do; but what I am seeing in the life of Jesus is that’s just the tip of the iceberg! He knew His Father because He was always coming to Him and drawing strength, power, and life from Him. All true knowledge of God starts in His Word, and is founded upon His Word; but that knowledge grows exponentially — as it did in the life of our Lord (Hebrews 5:7-9) — only as we see every moment that we come to Him as an opportunity to grow in our knowledge of Him.
As I have considered this, there’s one incident in Jesus’ life which really showed me how He came to know His Father so deeply.
“The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center of the court, they said to Him, "Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?" They were saying this, testing Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him. But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground.”
John 8:3-6 NASB
There have been many speculations as to what Jesus was writing when He stooped down. It has blessed me to consider that perhaps He was simply listening, not afraid to look socially awkward because He didn’t know what to say next yet. He didn’t mind waiting on His Father until His exact instructions were clear. And we see the blessing that flowed, in one of the most powerful statements in Jesus’ ministry:
“But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, "He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her."”
John 8:7 NASB
As much as it touched me to see the power that flowed from Jesus’ willingness to listen, I was especially surprised to see that He stoops down again! I’d never noticed that! “Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground.” (John 8:8)
And I was wondering, “why stoop down again?? You’ve already answered the accusers!” Yes, He’d answered the accusers, but He hadn’t answered the accused yet. And just as He needed wisdom to respond to the woman’s accusers, so also He sought God’s wisdom to respond to the woman.
“Straightening up, Jesus said to her, "Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?" She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said, "I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.”
I had always assumed this outcome was automatic for Jesus, that this is the conclusion He knew from the beginning, but it blessed my heart to see that perhaps that wasn’t the case.
Perhaps when the Father spoke the first instruction, “let the One Who is without sin cast the first stone,” Jesus wondered, “I am without sin. Am I supposed to manifest My perfection by being the only One allowed to obey the Law, here? Father, do You want me to demonstrate Your hatred of sin in this moment, or Your mercy and compassion?”
Jesus depended on His Father for a Word for the accusers, and then immediately cried out again for a word for the accused! It’s a wonderful picture of Jesus living by every word which proceeds from God’s mouth (Matthew 4:4). Not only did Jesus’s willingness to stoop save this woman’s life, it has provided an example to us through all generations. Both of two of Jesus’s most memorable and encouraging expressions — “let him who is without sin throw the first stone,” and “I do not condemn you. Go and sin no more” — are the result of His willingness to stoop. What an encouragement!!
It’s easy to assume that when it says, “God wakens my ear morning by morning to listen as a disciple (Isaiah 50:4),” it means that if I’m faithful in my “morning devotional,” then I’ll automatically have a word for any circumstance which comes up that day. Like a software download or something. But the Lord has challenged me through Jesus’ example: don’t think that way. Keep stooping to listen, many times throughout the day.
It’s also a wonderful example of not caring what others thought — how strange to stoop down and write in the middle of a conversation... twice! You can imagine the grumbling of the Pharisees as they impatiently waited for an answer: “Doesn’t this Guy know His stuff?” Such criticisms meant nothing to the One Who only lived before God’s face. This dependence is what pleased His Father, and with His Father pleased, Jesus was completely unconcerned with what anyone else thought. In fact, He was more than happy to have another opportunity to depend upon His Father.
That’s why I should rejoice in the face of everything that drives me to Him: being driven to Him, running to Him, taking refuge in Him IS THE ACTUAL WAY that I come to know Him intimately. Not just reading the Bible; cherish EVERY moment for its potential to draw me near to Him, to know Him more.
I have found myself praying, “I know that the way to truly know You is not merely to study Your Word, but to be a doer of Your Word, and to be one who keeps looking unto You and listening to Jesus throughout the day. You have taught me to cherish the moments that I spend with You in secret, alone, reading Your Word. And as much as I treasure this love, I also see the danger of thinking this is the only place I know You; nothing could be further from the truth! So I pray that You would also teach me to cherishevery moment of the day as an opportunity to draw grace from You, and draw near to You, and come to know You, every bit as much as I do in that quiet early hour.”
The question may come: How much can I expect Him to show me of Himself? If I can know Him even as He knew His Father, then the answer must be I can expect Jesus to show me as much of Himself as Jesus expected His Father to show Him:
“For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and the Father will show Him greater works than these, so that you will marvel.”
That’s my longing: that Jesus would show me all the things that He is doing. And even as doubts creep into my heart, as to whether such intimacy is possible, the Lord reminds me, "Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?" (John 11:40) Lord, I believe.