Hebrews: Jesus – Son of God, Son of Man

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 “But we see Jesus . . .”

Surprisingly, after speaking of Him from the opening of his message – after identifying Him as the Son of God, the eternal King, the Creator, the Lord – this is the first time the author identifies Jesus by name. But there is no doubt that the recipients knew exactly whom he talking about. There is only one Son of God who was also “the Son of Man.” There was only one who could fill every role perfectly. “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because He suffered death, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone” (Hebrews 2:9).

Adam was God’s special creation, His pièce de resistance. He was meant to carry the image of God and give his Creator glory. He was meant to rule the created world in peace and productivity. But he fell from his lofty status and brought chaos and rebellion and condemnation to the human race. There should have never been wars or poverty or abuse or neglect or hatred or corruption. There should have never been earthquakes or hurricanes or tornadoes or enmity between man and animals. There should have never been sin and death. But there is. Everywhere we look we see repercussions of Adam’s sin. But, thanks be to God, we also see Jesus who was God’s answer to man’s dilemma before man ever existed.

Jesus, who was “made a little lower than the angels” in a human body. Jesus, who willingly bore all of mankind’s sin and shame. Jesus, who “suffered death” – but only for three days – He only “had a taste” of it. Jesus, who rose from the dead and ascended to heaven. Jesus, who is now and forever “crowned with glory and honor.” We see Jesus, the Creator who became a man to redeem His creation, to set right what Adam turned upside-down. Why?

“To bring many sons to glory . . .” Beloved, the struggles in your life, the pain and heartache, are all the result of your fallen condition as a human being. That’s not to say that everything is necessarily your direct fault, it’s just part of living in a sinful world. But it wasn’t meant to be this way. You were meant to bear God’s image and bring Him glory. Jesus came to give it all back to you. Will you let Him?

The Image Bearer of God

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I have often said that there was nothing in me worth saving, and that’s true when it comes to myself. But God brought something to me in prayer this morning that made me correct myself. But first, let’s go back – way back – to creation. “God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness’ . . . So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:26-27). I hope you noticed that 3 times the Scripture says that man was made in the image of God (four if you count “in our likeness”).Without trying to delve into deep theological waters, the image of God can be understood as a certain essence of God imbued in man at the time of creation. It’s what sets us apart from the rest of creation. Even your beloved pets do not bear God’s image. How it works, I cannot tell you – theologians and scholars have debated it for centuries, but the Imago Dei was the most important part of man. And then came sin. Sin did not destroy the image of God, but it did diminish it. The best explanation I’ve heard is that God put a covering over His image to protect and preserve it. Did you catch that? God determined to preserve His image in man. Why?Let me step into this story. I am born with a sin nature – (psst – so were you). Yet through the covering, God still sees His image in me, and that is worth saving.  It is the only thing worth saving, and I have nothing whatsoever to do with it. But God’s love determines to save me along with His image. And in saving me He begins a new work in me, conforming me into the likeness – the image – of His Son (see Rom. 8:29). He is working to uncover and reveal the Imago Dei in me. He is working to make me complete again, just like in the Garden before sin.I know – this is not a warm fuzzy devotional. But I share it because it is filled with hope. God didn’t save me because I was worth saving. He saved me to restore His image in me. You don’t have to be “worth saving” Beloved. None of us are. Yet He wants to save you and make you His image-bearer in a world that desperately needs to see Him. Be who you were created to be.

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

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“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them” Genesis 1:27.

I have a beautiful old mirror that I rescued it from an abandoned church that had become a “relief station” for transients (yes, I got permission to take it).  The room was filthy and the mirror reflected (pun intended) the condition of the room.  It smelled so bad I took it home in a doubled plastic bag and set it on the porch to let it air out a little.  After a couple of weeks I examined it more closely.  It was covered in grime and tar from cigarette smoke.  The felt backing had rotted away and there were scratches to the silver on the back, but the Art-Deco design on the front was still intact, so I cleaned it up the best I could and hung it in my study.  It wasn’t useful at all as a mirror, but it was a pretty piece that added a touch of character to my room.

A friend came by one day and saw the mirror, and after I told her to story, she recommended someone she said could possibly restore it.  I took the mirror to him and left it in his care.  A few weeks later, he called to say my mirror was ready, and he thought I would be pleased with the results.  He underestimated my reaction.  My mirror was beautiful!  He had cleaned it better than I ever could, restored the silver and recovered the back with new felt.  He had refreshed the paint in the design and polished the whole thing up until it more than shined – it glowed!  Most of all, it was restored to its original purpose, an instrument of reflection.  I re-hung it by the doorway and checked my hair and makeup everyday as I left for work.  It was truly a mirror now, not just an interesting decoration.

You and I were created to reflect the Imago Dei – the image of God.  In His original design, God could look at His human creation and see Himself in us.  But just as that mirror had been covered over with filth and no longer served its purpose, sin has covered over the beautiful image of God in mankind and we no longer act as the reflection of our Creator.  We are stained with the filth of the world in which we live.  We are useless as the image bearers of God, and we know we are not living up to our divinely ordained purpose, so we try to clean ourselves up – just as I tried to clean up that mirror.  I did my best, but my efforts fell far short of bringing my mirror back to its original condition.  It took a professional restorer to finish the task.

It takes Someone far more capable than you and me to restore us to our original purpose.  It takes a Savior.  It takes a great sacrifice – a divine sacrifice – to clean off all the world’s filth.  It takes a great power – Holy Spirit power – to bring the Imago Dei back to its original condition.  Beloved, you and I were not meant to reflect the world around us, we were fashioned to reflect the God of the Universe, our Creator.  Will you trust yourself to God and allow Him to restore you to the beautiful purpose for which you were created?

Holy Father, I could have left that mirror in that filthy place, but I saw the beauty under the grime.  You see the hint of Your own image in us, and You have given everything to rescue and restore us to our original condition.  Thank you Lord.  I surrender my life to You – cleanse me and make me once again a reflection of You.  Amen.

What He Sees in Me

“What is man that You are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” Psalm 8:4

This is a personal testimony, and I share it because I believe with all my heart and soul that is true for every person. Please prayerfully read it and let God speak to your own heart.

I’ve always believed there was nothing good in me, nothing of value. That’s been a persistent feeling for most of my life.   The thought comes to me and I just accept it and agree with it and take it as part and parcel of my identity. Recently, that same old impression came to me – “There is nothing good in me – nothing worth redeeming.” Then came the thought, “No – that’s not entirely true.” So I went to God in prayer and posed a question. “God what is the truth here? You saved me through the cross of Christ – but why? What did you see in me worth redeeming?”

I wondered, is it some innate gift or talent He’d given me? I’m a pretty good writer and teacher – maybe that is what He saw. I’m generous and loyal (sometimes too loyal) and helpful – those are good qualities worth redeeming.   I have a heart for God and His Word – that has to mean something. But I knew that all these were not the answer. And then God painted a scene in my heart that was a true revelation to me.

Go with me, back to the beginning to Genesis and creation.

Genesis 1 tells the story of the creation of the universe, the heavens and the earth, plants and animals and God’s premier creation: man. Please take a moment and read Genesis 1:26-27. Both verses record the creation of man in the image of God, the Imago Dei. What does that mean?

Without trying to delve into much deep theological theory, the creation of man in the image of God can be understood as a certain essence of God imbued in man at the time of creation. “The image is something in the very nature of humans, in the way in which we were made. It refers to something we are rather than something we have or do.”[1] “The image of God is what makes us human”[2] Humans are created as body, soul and spirit.[3] It is within this trichotomy that we bear the image of God. How it works, I cannot tell you – theologians and scholars have debated it for centuries, but the Bible says that it is part of every human.  Consider Deuteronomy 6:5 which says: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart [spirit] and with all your soul and with all your strength [body].” We share a body – a physical shell – with all creation. The body houses the soul – the seat of reason and emotion. But what truly sets us apart from all other creation is the spirit – the part that enables us to commune with God – it is somewhere in the realm of the spirit that the most distinctive image of God is found.  However, while the Scriptures tell us that we are made in God’s image “there are no direct statements in Scripture to resolve the issue.”[4] This is one of God’s mysteries and we can only accept it and rejoice in it, for this image is what God sees in man that calls out to His heart for redemption.

God saw His image – the Imago Dei in me, and that was worth saving.   So He pursued me – me, who’s never been pursued in her life – and drew me to His Son. He saved me through the cross of redemption, through the blood of His Son and in saving me He imparted His Spirit to me, [5] and His Spirit brought my spirit to life. [6] He brought Image and Spirit together to create a perfected being – perfected, meaning completed, as Hebrews 10:14 says – “by one sacrifice He has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.”  (Perfect – teleioo – to perfect, complete, finish, to reach a goal, be fulfilled, made complete.)  He restored me to God’s original design – complete in Image and Spirit.

Now God sees in me His completed design. He does not see my faults and failings, my shortcomings, my weight, anxieties, character flaws, temper or  impurities – because of Jesus – He no longer sees my sin. He does not see this worthless perspective I’ve always held of myself.  He sees a completed, beautiful and whole person. I don’t know what that means to you, but it means the world to me. In Christ I am made complete.

Ah, but that’s not all there is! There is coming a day – a grand and glorious day – in the resurrection when I will receive my spiritual body,[7] and the total transformation is gloriously accomplished and I will be fully perfected – body, soul and spirit.

This can be your testimony too. You were made in the image of God and the redemption of Jesus Christ is available to you – just receive this wonderful gift – it is given freely. Will you be complete in Christ?

Holy Father, I don’t pretend to understand all of this with perfect knowledge, You left it a mystery. But one thing I know – “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing” (Psalm 16:2). But with You I have everything-I am made complete!

A word of thanks to Rev. Michael Shockley for his theological assistance.  Love you “Dad!”

[1] Millard Erickson, Introducing Christian Doctrine, 2nd Edition, (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001), 176.

[2] Gerhard von Rand as quoted by Erickson, Introducing Christian Doctrine, 171.

[3] See 1 Thessalonians 5:23

[4] Erickson, Introducing Christian Doctrine, 175.

[5] See Luke 11:13, John 7:39, Romans 8:16, 1 Corinthians 3:16,

[6] See John 6:63, 1 Corinthians 6:17

[7] 1 Corinthians 15:35-54