Saturday, May 15, 2010

Jesus Is the Image

When the Father spoke to the Son and Spirit, saying "Let Us create man in our image", He bestowed upon humanity a lasting grace. Alone in all of the created world, we would be chosen to carry the dignity of the divine likeness upon our shoulders; we would rule over the earth as the representatives of God; we alone would represent the First Cause in a manner that those foolish wooden, stone, and metal idols of later generations never could have hoped to image the Creator of All (Genesis 1:26; Jeremiah 10:5). Before we had our fall from grace, mankind was the image of the invisible God; the clear representation of that which is beyond representation; the icon through which the one true God is comprehended and glorified and worshiped. This is why the dark shadow that has descended upon the human spirit is so profound: we were once sons of our Father in heaven, but now we are sons of Satan who "want to do the desires of [our] father [Satan]" (John 8:44).

Incarnation: Behind Enemy Lines
2,000 years ago, in the Palestinian city of Bethlehem, a dramatic reversal was made in the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ: "Amen, amen I say to you," Jesus once elaborated, "before Abraham was, I AM" (John 8:58), implying that Jesus is the Old Testament God who declared to Moses "I AM" (Exodus 3:14) from the burning bush. If this is true, it means that in Jesus Christ, we see humanity as it is meant to be--in Jesus, we encounter a new way to be human. If we must relearn how to love what God loves, hate what God hates, desire what God desires, and live as sons of our Father in heaven, then Jesus shows us the way because He is God in human form--the true image of God. This is why, when the Apostle Philip said "Lord, show us the Father," Jesus could respond "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'?" (John 14:8-9). Truly, in Jesus, we learn what it looks like for man to be created in the image of God. Even as we worship Him in His divinity, we must be students of the human Jesus, and He must be our teacher.

Wherefore, We Shall Become Disciples
There is much to say about Jesus as the Son of God, the second member of the divine Trinity. As a man, however, there is still much that we need to learn from Him: "The one who listens to my words and does them," said Jesus at the end of His famous Sermon on the Mount, "may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock... but everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them, he is like a foolish man who built his house on sand" (Matthew 7:24-27).

  • As our flawless teacher, Jesus taught us that a life which images God is a life of love: we are to love God with all of our passions, all of our intellect, and all of our strength with which we serve Him (Mark 12:28-30; John 14:21). Second only to that, we are to love other people as we love ourselves (Luke 10:29-37), having mercy on people because God has mercy on them, having compassion because God has compassion, and making our hands strong for the assistance of our neighbors because God's 'hands' are strong to help those in need also.
  • As our perfect example, Jesus was human in every way that we are -He had parents, grew up, gained wisdom, and was tempted (Luke 2:52; Hebrews 4:14-15)- except that He was without sin. In His humanity, Jesus is what mankind was created to be: He is "the image of the invisible God" (Colossians 1:15), and it should be our goal to emulate His way of life. As John said, "Whoever says He abides in Jesus must walk the way that Jesus walked" (1 John 2:6). If we strive to imitate Christ, we will find ourselves becoming more like God in his righteousness and holiness, and then we shall find ourselves more in line with the humanity that God intended when He said "Let Us make man in Our image" (Genesis 1:26).
Jesus of Nazareth Is My Hero
A lot of people want to be like Arnold Schwarzenegger, or Lil Wayne, or Steve Jobs. Their heroes are the musicians and action stars and tech gurus of the day. I see people trying so hard to be like their favorite actor, or South Park character, or wrestler, trying to imitate their mannerisms or adopting the lifestyle of the people that they admire, that they actually become walking representations of their heroes. Do you know who my hero is? My hero is Jesus Christ. More than anyone else could, He displays for me a life that has true meaning; in His actions, I find something worthwhile to pattern my actions after. Mankind lost something important in the garden when we rejected God's will for our lives, but it is Jesus who shows us what it looks like to get that back. This is why my hope in life is to glorify Jesus the way that He glorifies the Father. My single hope is the same as that of the New Testament writer St. Paul, who once wrote these words as an anthem of Christian anticipation: "Just as we have born the image of the man of dust [Adam], we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven [Jesus]" (1 Corinthians 15:49).


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