“Here am I, the servant of the Lord;
let it be with me according to your word.”
He is the image of the invisible God…
Imagine living in first century Rome, Colossae, or little Bethlehem, and wanting to know what Caesar looked like. You would not have to go far. Reach into your pocket and there on a coin would be an image of Caesar. Wherever you looked in the market, public baths, temples, or at decorative items in homes, you would see Caesar’s image. Talk about successful corporate branding! Everywhere you looked you would get the message: “Don’t mess with Caesar!”
It was a bold and risky gospel message that launched Christians across Caesar’s far-reaching empire. They could not keep God’s astonishing good news to themselves. Fishermen, farmers, tax collectors and housewives went out celebrating the resurrected Jesus as “the image of the invisible God.” Anyone wanting to know what God was like would only have to consider Jesus who makes God visible.
Elsewhere the apostle Paul proclaims the Gospel as “the glory of God in the face of Jesus” (2 Corinthians 4:6b). We see in the Babe of Bethlehem the glory of God revealed. The New Testament book of Hebrews declares Jesus as “the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being” (Hebrews 1:3). Look at Jesus welcoming sinners or praying for His tormenters, and you see God’s heart revealed. Jesus mirrors the eternal God “…who has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see” (1 Timothy 6:16).
The incarnate Son of God crosses the “unbridgeable gulf between the invisible world and God on the one side and visible creation and humanity on the other.” (James Dunn, The Epistles to Colossians and to Philemon)
No wonder wise men journeyed far to worship Him and heaven’s angels sang His praise! For Jesus is “the image of the invisible God.”
But Jesus not only reveals God to the world, He also reveals what God intends us to be. Jesus was “conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary” (Apostles Creed) so that He might become one of us and restore to us what the first man lost. Through sin the first man, Adam, marred the image of God in which God created humanity (Genesis 1:26-27). We see the tragic results of that all around us. But the Gospel of Christmas is that it was God Himself who came down from heaven to restore in us the very image of God. God is lovingly and patiently going about His purpose to make us like Jesus!
Later in Paul’s letter to the Colossians he writes about the new people God is making as we are “being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator” (Colossians 3:10). As we behold Jesus, the perfect image of God, we see what God intends us to be. Elsewhere Paul assures that by keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus “we are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (2 Corinthians 3:18). We know that one day when we see Jesus face-to-face, we will be what God always intended: like Him (1 John 3:2). The Bible tells us that what Jesus is by nature, we are becoming by grace; sons and daughters of God, sharing in His eternal life and glory!
“He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:5-6).
Famed artist Pablo Picasso asked writer Gertrude Stein to sit for a portrait. He saw things in Stein that others did not see. So when others complained about Picasso’s portrait of her, Picasso simply replied:
“Everybody says that she does not look like it but that does not make any difference, she will.” (Gertrude Stein, Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas)
God sees things in you no one else can see. God sees what you will be, His eternal idea of you! This is revealed in Christ, the image of God: True God From True God.
- While we often talk about Jesus revealing God the Father, how does Jesus also reveal what we will be?
- Based on today’s reading, what is God’s purpose for your life?