I know what you’re thinking
why did I waste my time reading this stupid blog what the heck does “exegesis” mean and why did this idiot this super excellent writer use it? My apologies, but it is so crucial to an understanding of John 1.18, that I just couldn’t resist.The verse reads: No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known (ἐξηγέομαι). The word translated “made him known” means “to set forth in great detail, expound.” We derive the English words “exegete” and “exegesis” from the Greek word in the text of John here. In our current use “exegesis” means to expound or explain religious texts. In Greek it means something more general, “to explain anything in great detail.”
Jesus explains God in great detail. Why is that important? What would we know about God apart from Christ? Paul says that we would be able to figure out his eternal power and divine nature from looking at creation (Rom 1.20). We would understand his wrath against sin and his holiness from the Old Testament, but we would have little grasp of his compassion for sinners, his love, his empathy, his intimate knowledge of our weaknesses and failures, apart from seeing them in Christ. Who can not read the account of Christ meeting the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4) without having their understanding of who God is radically altered? Who is not amazed at Christ’s forbearance when the women caught in adultery is dragged before him? Who cannot help but have cinder in their eyes when Christ weeps with Martha and Mary just before he raises Lazarus from the dead?
In Christ we find a God who cares, who weeps, who loves sinners, who heals the emotionally sick just as quickly and easily as the physically sick. We discover a God who loves the individual and the crowd. We are fundamentally shaped by a God who sends his son to die in our place so that we might be restored and reconciled to him. Apart from Christ we would not, indeed could not understand any of this.
Is it important that Christ is the exegesis of God? You bet it is!