In the Image of God

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weakness, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are, yet is without sin.”

“For in order to be a suitable high priest, He had to be made like His brethren in every way, sin excepting.”

“He is the image of the invisible God.”

“He is the radiance of His glory and the exact imprint of His nature.”

“’Let Us make man after Our image, in Our likeness.’ So God created man in the image of God; in the likeness of God He created him.”

The Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Son, Word, and Image of the Father was incarnated and became man, in the womb of a virgin by the power of the Holy Spirit. Many thousands of years earlier, God made Adam out of the dust of the earth in His own image.

The Son is the Image of the Father, and man and woman are created in the image of God. The Son – the Image of the Father – became man, a creature made in the image of God and likeness of God. This Son of God, this Eternal Image of the Father, Jesus Christ, is the only perfect Man who ever lived: in a way, you might say, He is the only real Man who ever lived, and the only way to really be human is to share in His humanity, for the image of God has been broken by sin in all the rest of us. He is more than the perfect, ideal, and ultimate Man, for He is the God-Man, but He is not less. That He is not less, is a part of what is meant when it says that He is like us in every way, except for sin. To sin is to fall short of the glory of God, to sin is to fall short of the purpose of your creation, to sin is to fall short of what you were made. To sin is to fail to be human – after all, to sin is to try to live on yourself, as God lives on Himself, it is to try not to be a creature, and while it is impossible to cease to be a creature and yet to remain in any kind of existence, yet it is possible to fail to be the creature you were made and were made to be. So, Jesus alone is the perfect, the real Man, the only example of what it really means to be a Man, the only fulfillment of humanity – and to the extent that we are these things, it is because we have them from and in Him.

It is really an amazing thing, for in the very beginning humanity – and all creation perhaps! – was made as a reflection of the Son, this Jesus. For, the Son is the image of the invisible God, He is the radiance of His glory and the exact imprint of His nature, in His Deity, before the world began: and in Eden, when God said, “Let Us make man after Our image,” He was making man and woman to be like the Son. Now, after the Incarnation of the Son, the purpose of the Christian life – indeed, of all human life, as it was planned since before the beginning – is to be Christlike, to be included in Jesus Christ, to share the resurrection life – and it is a human life, for it is in His humanity that Jesus died and rose again – of God the Son. It is only because He lived a perfect human life that we can be saved, that we can share His perfect life. It is only because He died – as a Man! – that He can take away our sins. It is only because He rose from the dead – as a Man! – that He can restore us to the right relationship with God for which we were created. Salvation is not external – it is in Jesus Christ, in His Incarnation, in His Passion and Death, in His Resurrection and Ascension. Because He is Man, He can help men and women. Because He is Man, He can die our human death – and by His human suffering and death, and His resurrection – change it for all time, so that for those who have been raised in Him, it is no longer the condemnation of sin, but the way of resurrection, the gate to Heaven, the following in His footsteps – what glory, to die with Him, as is the privilege of all who are alive in Him! Because He is Man, He can rise again and raise us to new life in Him with God.

To be Christlike and to be human are the same thing. To act like Jesus and to act like a human means the same thing. This is why it is mistaken when people say, meaning some imperfect action, some sin, something that really should not have been done, some expression of the terrible fall from the glory of God that is the curse of our race, “It’s just human,” or “all too human.” No! It is not human! It is defective. It is fallen. But it is not human. It is human to live in the glory of God. It is human to be an image of God. It is human to act like God – in the ways appropriate to a creature. It is human to be Christlike. It is human to share in the life of God. Anything less is to fail to be human, and it is a horrible fall, for it is a fall from an unfathomable glory, an inconceivable privilege, an unspeakable grace.

God is the Image of God. God made humanity in His image and likeness (– could it not read, God made man in His Image, or, God made man in His Son, in His Word, in Jesus Christ? Indeed, later, it says so much. “In Him all things hold together.” “Through Him all things were made, and apart from Him was made nothing that was made.”) God became Man. To be human is to be like the Man who is the Image of God.


Copyright 2018 Raina Nightingale

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