If God were to wait on your living room sofa for you to get home, what would you see when you walked through the door? A room filled with smoke and fire? A typical, handsome-looking American Jesus?
In ancient times, a person couldn’t look at God and live. God’s glory and holiness were too much. So when God appeared to people, he took an earthly form—as a cloud for the Israelites in the wilderness, as a weary traveler at Abraham’s doorstep, as a thug picking a fight with Jacob.
But God wanted us to see the real God and not die. So he took on human nature, while totally remaining God. Full glory, but covered up by flesh. Jesus.
One of Jesus’ disciples said, “We have seen his glory” (John 1:14). God appeared. People saw him, and nobody died. Well, except God. That’s why he came. Jesus—God the Son—took on human flesh that would be beaten, nailed to a cross, and killed. That saving and sacrificial act for us paid the price for our sins. Now we can look at God and live.
There’s a reason that believers around the world represent God with a cross. It’s the best answer to these questions: What does God look like? What is the purpose of pain? Can I trust God? Does God forgive me? Where is God? Can I look at God and live?