Revisiting the Incarnation and what it means for us.
Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to Myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I Am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also. From now on you do know Him and have seen Him.” Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “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 14:1-9, ESV)
He (Jesus) is the Image of the Invisible God… For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him… (Colossians 1:15,19)
I have heard it said, “If God were human, He’d look like Jesus.” Yes. Exactly. Jesus Himself said it: if you’ve seen Me, you’ve seen the Father… in nature, in character, in love.
“In the beginning was THE WORD (Jesus), and THE WORD was with God, and THE WORD WAS GOD… THE WORD BECAME FLESH and made His dwelling among us…”
“‘I tell you the truth,’ Jesus answered; ‘before Abraham was, I AM.'” (cf Ex.3:14)
“I and the Father are ONE.”
“Anyone who has seen Me HAS SEEN THE FATHER.”
“He (Jesus) is THE IMAGE OF THE INVISIBLE GOD…for BY HIM all things were created… He is before all things, and IN HIM ALL THINGS HOLD TOGETHER… For God was pleased to have ALL HIS FULLNESS DWELL IN HIM…”
” The Son is THE RADIANCE of GOD’S GLORY and the EXACT REPRESENTATION of His being…”
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”
To know what God is like we must see Him ‘through the lens’ of Jesus Christ. The Old Testament revelation of God must be interpreted through the person of Jesus; the New Testament revelation must be understood on the basis of Who Jesus is. It’s important to note that the whole of the Old(er) Covenant Revelation is anticipating the coming of “Messiah”, and all of the New(er) Revelation looks back to “the Christ” as the fulfillment of the Old. And the very last book of the Bible, the ‘culmination of the ages,’ is actually entitled “The Revelation of Jesus Christ.”
I know some may be thinking that I’m stating the obvious; but I don’t think so, not if you consider how some Christians (including myself) have often lived. After all, what we really believe will eventually (and always) be played out in how we live. It is crucial, then, that we ‘get this’ if we’re going to walk in a greater measure of freedom, and even intimacy, with God.
Now, I’m not talking about “Jesus Only” or “Oneness” theology, which does not recognize or accept the doctrine of the Triune nature of God.(1) Nor am I down playing the revelation of God’s character and attributes as presented in the Old Testament. But that revelation was partial, incomplete (note, I did not say ‘imperfect’), and we can miss so much of Who God is without the completion of the revelation. Jesus said to the religion scholars and theologians of His day, “You do not have His word abiding in you, for you do not believe the One whom He has sent. You search the Scriptures (the Old Covenant Revelation) because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about Me, yet you refuse to come to Me that you may have life” (John 5:38-40).(2)
So why is this so important? Why is it so important to see Jesus as central in all we know and believe about the Godhead? Well, let’s first consider the “beholding” principle (you become what you behold – 2 Cor. 3:18). Whatever you fill your heart and mind with will eventually affect and impact who you are, what you become. The psalmist says that those who worship false gods become like the ones they worship (Ps.115:4-8). And whatever we believe about God, what we really believe, will be communicated to others. If Jesus is “the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being” (Heb.1:3a), then it behooves us to see and know Jesus. The Apostle Paul admonished the early believers to be “imitators of Christ”(1 Cor.11:1; Eph5:1; 1 Thess.1:6).
But perhaps of greater significance is that this revelation will impact how we relate to and with God, and the emphasis on “revelation” is intentional. Paul prayed for the Ephesian believers “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better” (Eph. 1:17). We read in John 1:18, “No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is Himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, He has made him known.” Jesus said that eternal life is knowing the One True God and Jesus Christ Whom He has sent (John 17:3). It’s going to take more than just ‘head’ knowledge of the Bible to truly know God. Of course it starts there; this is the written revelation given to us to learn of God and His ways. But the Bible itself is clear that we need a revelation from God to know God. The religious leaders of Jesus day knew the Scriptures better than anyone, and yet they did not recognize the Coming One. Even Jesus’ own disciples didn’t fully comprehend, and they lived with Him day in and day out.
This has become important to me of late because there has been an internal struggle going on inside of me for several years that I have, for the most part, not been very conscious of… until recently; a battle between what I have believed God was like (in practice, not necessarily by confession), and the truth about God that the Holy Spirit has been bringing upon me, gently, but steadily and firmly.
So how is this accomplished? What is it that I should know about the person of Jesus that will impact how I understand Who God is? I’ll try to address some of this in another blog (Awww man! Cliff hanger?)
Until then, walk the journey in the light you have. Remember, we’re all learning along the way.
(1)I believe that the Bible teaches that God is Triune in nature. He is the Eternal God Who continually manifests Himself as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. One God, one “Substance”; Three distinct yet equal Personalities. I use the term “substance” very narrowly. God is “the Un-created Creator.” “Substance” as we normally use it implies something that is made, but it is the only word I can think of to describe the mystery of God’s nature.
(2)As an after thought, it would be a great study to search out the Scriptures that bear witness of Jesus as the Christ. Another time, another blog…