“Over the past few weeks, we’ve listened to Jesus describe God and himself in ways that his listeners might be able to better know and understand God. The images he uses, the bread of life, the vine and the branches, and the Good Shepherd, offer glimpses into the nature of God. For those who heard these illustrations for the first time, Jesus’ metaphors would’ve been both familiar and challenging. Familiar in that many were already spoken of in the Psalms or other texts of the Old Testament; challenging in that the images often pushed the limits of people’s vision of God.
Yet what is striking about these images is that throughout salvation history we’ve come to know God not through visions of God but rather by what God has done in human history. We know God not by sight, but by the way God relates us to us. While we are inclined to cultivate images of God, those images fail to fully convey who and what God is. In fact, all images of God fall short of the real thing. St. Paul makes this point even more bluntly when he tells us that “we walk by faith, not by sight.” (1 Cor. 5:7)