This Wednesday, November 10th I have the pleasure of teaching the Bible study at Wake Cross Roads Baptist Church (http://www.wakecrossroads.com/). I am teaching in Colossians 1:15-20 on the preeminence of Jesus and wanted to share just a snippet of it with you. I will post the notes later in the week.
What does it mean to say that Jesus is in the image of God? In his letter to the Colossian church Paul said, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were creatd through him and for him” (Col 1:15-16). I just want to focus on one word, “image.”
Robertson states, “Jesus is the very stamp of God the Father as he was before the Incarnation (John 17:5) and is now (Phil. 2:5–11; Heb. 1:3).” After Jesus had ministered to the disciples for some time, Philip asks Jesus to show them God so that they may be reassured of their belief and Jesus says, ““Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” (John 14:9). What Jesus was saying was that he is the exact representation of God so much so that when one looked upon the face of Jesus…He looked upon the face of God Himself.
This is a different likeness then the one used to describe humans in the image of God. Vaughan describes Jesus as the image of God using two words: likeness and manifestation. Jesus is the likeness of God as our reflection is our likeness; identical in every way. Jesus is the manifestation of God because God’s nature is perfectly revealed in him. We should be understood as having the impression or fingerprint of God while Jesus is God…exactly, to the very core of His existence.
We call Jesus “God incarnate” because Jesus is literally God in the flesh. The invisible God moved outside of His metaphysical realm of existence into the physical realm of flesh and blood or physical realm of existence and became visible in Jesus Christ.
Now for the convicting reality of the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ…The people who threatened to stone Jesus were threatening to stone God. Those who slapped Him in the face were slapping God. Those who spit in His face, laid a crown of thorns on His head, flogged Him with whips, and ultimately nailed His beaten body to a cross were doing these things to God. Now when we find ourselves nodding in agreement over the sinfulness of the heinous actions of those who murdered God we are reminded that we might as well have been the torturer, the Pharisee, or the scoffer. It was for our sins just as it was for theirs that Jesus was sacrificed.
Isaiah says, “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:4-6, ESV)
It is only when we truly understand the identity of Jesus Christ as God that we understand the grace and love that was exhibited for us on the cross!