November 27, 2023

Knowing Jesus

Sinclair Ferguson
Knowing Jesus

There is always something more to know about the people we know best. The same is true of Jesus—but how can we come to know Him better? Today, Sinclair Ferguson addresses this question.


Welcome to a new week on Things Unseen. When someone is asked, “And who are you,” there’s more than one way to answer, isn’t there? You could ask that question and be completely satisfied with the answer, “I’m the plumber.” Actually, in the United Kingdom, plumbers seem to be very difficult to get. So perhaps if someone says that to you, you’re ecstatic. But in a different situation, you might not be satisfied with that kind of reply. You might say: “No, I mean, who are you? What’s your name?” And even then, you’re not satisfied just with a name. What you really want to know is the person himself or herself. The question you’re really asking is: “What’s your character? What are you like? If I get to know you, what am I going to discover? Should I trust you? Will I like you? Will I want you as my friend?” And of course, what a person does, what his or her name is, what their character is like, all of that is involved in answering the question, “Who are you?” And then the answer tends to determine the kind of relationship we have with them and, in turn, how we answer someone else’s question, “Do you know so-and-so?”

People often ask me that question, “Do you know so-and-so?” I don’t mean to be awkward and irritating when I sometimes reply, “Well, it depends on what you mean by know.” And even when the answer is, “Yes, I know them,” I don’t know someone as well as his closest friends or his wife and so on do. And we recognize that even in the case of the person we know best, we still don’t fully understand who and what they are. That’s true even of those who are our dearest friends. And we recognize that even in the case of the person we know best, there’s still so much to know about them—our knowledge can grow.

And if that’s true in the case of our day-to-day relationships, it’s also true of knowing the Lord Jesus Christ. What do you say when someone asks, “Do you know Jesus Christ?” Now, knowing Christ is not the whole of the gospel because, to use Paul’s phrase, the gospel is “the gospel of God” (Rom. 1:1). So it’s not only Christological, about Christ, it’s theological, about God, about the Trinity. There’s ultimately no gospel without the Father and the Spirit. But knowing Jesus Christ is certainly at the heart of the gospel, the heart of the good news, because it’s in and through Jesus Christ that we have access to and come to know God.

As Paul puts it in Ephesians 2:18, it’s through Christ by the Spirit that we have access to the Father. He’s really echoing the teaching of Jesus: “No one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him” (Matt. 11:27). And of course, these words immediately precede His great invitation to all who labor and are heavy laden to come to Him and to find rest (Matt. 11:28). Knowing Jesus Christ means resting in Jesus Christ. And then, again, at the beginning of His High Priestly Prayer in John 17, Jesus says that eternal life is to “know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3). So, knowing Him, knowing Jesus Christ is Christianity 101.

And today, I think I’d just like to make one single point about this, and the rest of the week we’ll follow through on it. The single point is this, and it’s a big one: the New Testament was given to us ultimately by the Lord Jesus Himself, through His Apostles, so that we can get to know Him.

That’s what our Lord told the Apostles in the upper room just before His crucifixion, although I’m sure it was only later it dawned on them. He said He was going to send the Spirit to them, and when the Spirit came, He would glorify Jesus by showing Him to them. And Jesus said this would happen specifically in three ways. First, the Spirit would remind the Apostles of everything Jesus had taught them. Second, He would lead them into all the truth about Himself. And thirdly, He would show them the things that were still to come. We find that in John 14:26 and 16:13–14.

And if you think about it, that’s an amazing summary of the whole of the New Testament, isn’t it? The Gospels tell us what Jesus taught by word and deed. The Acts records how the Spirit led them into the truth, and the letters expound that truth. And the book of Revelation, along with some other parts of the New Testament, tells us the things that are still to come.

So, I say all this because it helps us get to the basic answer to the question, “How do I get to know Jesus?” The answer: read and read and reread and reread your New Testament. Of course, knowing the New Testament isn’t the same thing as knowing Jesus, but you can’t get to know the Author without reading His book, and that’s something that we’ll talk more about tomorrow. So, I hope you’ll join us on Things Unseen then.