From “Theology for the Community of God” by Stanley J. Grenz
At the heart of the movement from a functional to an ontological understanding of Jesus’ unity with God is the Christian affirmation of his revelatory role (John 14:9-10). Jesus is the revealer of God. This affirmation facilitates the transition from functional to ontological Christology, because the statement “Jesus is the revealer of God” transcends the demarcation between function and ontology.
Revelation, of course, marks a functional connection between Jesus and God. The task of revealing God is a divine activity which Jesus carries out, for he is revealing the essence of God. But the task of revelation also carries ontological implications, insofar as the revealer cannot be separated from what is revealed. As a consequence of this connection, Jesus participates by necessity in the essential nature of the one he reveals. He must be ontologically one with God and share in the divine essence which he exemplifies.
The declaration “Jesus is the revealer of God” can actually carry two meanings. We may interpret it objectively. Hence, “Jesus is the revealer of God” means that in Jesus we find the essence of God pictured before us. In him we see God. Even if the picture is partial, it is nevertheless an accurate portrayal of God’s essence. Jesus, then, is the embodiment of the divine essence, and therefore he is ontologically one with God.
As the revealer of God, Jesus mediates an objective picture of God throughout his entire earthly life and ministry. Each dimension of Jesus’ sojourn is revelatory. His teaching informs us about God; his character shows forth the qualities of God; his death reveals the suffering of God; and his resurrection vividly declares the creative power of God.
The central content of the picture Jesus mediates is that God is love. Through his life, teaching, death, and resurrection, Jesus shows us this dimension of the divine essence. Further, his life describes the qualities of that love. Above all, the divine love is salvific: it seeks the lost, suffers with the afflicted and redeems the fallen. God’s love is likewise jealous, as is evident in the picture of Jesus as the righteous Judge.
Not only may we interpret the declaration “Jesus is the revealer of God” objectively, it also has a subjective aspect. It means that Jesus is the one who seeks to introduce us to God (Matt. 11:27; Luke 10:22). He desires that the divine character or godliness become a vital reality within and among us. This forms a link between the work of the Son and the Spirit. The activity of the Holy Spirit makes evident in our lives the qualities or character which Jesus vividly revealed to us as constituting the character of God. In this sense, Christ, the revealer of God, must be “formed” in us (Gal. 4:19). As this transpires, we truly become the image of God.
The declaration that Jesus is the revealer of God carries an important implication concerning God’s relationship to creation. It suggests that God is now the revealed God. Jesus’ coming inaugurated a qualitatively new state of affairs. Because Jesus has come, the veil has been pulled aside and the hidden God is forever manifested for all to see. Hence, he brought about the era of the revealed God.