The Image of the Invisible

What does Jesus have to do with God? The question is age old, asking two things: Who is the identity of Jesus, and what does He have to do with God, if God exists? Believe it or not, I personally believe that there are Christians who do not know how to answer this question.  Many people have different views of who or what Jesus is. Some people say that Jesus is a god, part of a pantheon of three gods. Some say that He is a higher person than us, but still human. Some claim He was real, but just a good teacher.
            But the question still remains: What connects Jesus to God? As Christians, we believe that Jesus is the Son of God and is God Himself, the God that was revealed and told of in the Old Testament, who goes by the name Yahweh. This gives us first an image of who God is, which is important to who Jesus is. We have to throw out of our personal views of who God is and look at the Biblical explanation of who He is. Isaiah 44:6-9 states this: “Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and His Redeemer, the LORD of Hosts: ‘I am the first and I am the last; beside me there is no god. Who is like Me? Let Him proclaim it. Let him declare it and set it before me, since I appointed an ancient people. Let them declare what is to come, and what will happen. Fear not, nor be afraid; have I not told you from of old and declared it? And you are My witnesses! Is there a God besides Me? There is no Rock; I know not any.” That is a great picture of who God is. He is God alone. In the Old Testament, God is shown as:
  • Unique-being the Only God and viewed apart from other gods in different belief systems (Genesis 1:1-2, Exodus 3:1-6, 13-14, 20:3, Deuteronomy 6:4, Psalm 46:8-11, Isaiah 42:8, 43:10, 45:18, Malachi 2:10, Job 9:4-13, Zechariah 14:9)
  • Specific-Not leaving Himself open for interpretation, identifiable. (Genesis 1:20-27, Exodus 3:3-6, 1st Kings 18:20-26, 30-38, 19:11-13, Psalm 95:6-8, Isaiah 45:21, 46:9, Joel 2:27)
  • Omnipotent-All powerful, having unlimited power in all aspects. (Job 29:1-5, Isaiah 40:3-8, 54:10-11, 55:6-9, Jeremiah 33:3, 51:15-16, Micah 6:1-6)
  • Personal-Wanted and desired contact, held humanity in affection. (Psalm 19:14, 100:3, 107:1-9, Jeremiah 29:11, 3:33, Hosea 6:6)
These four were, in one way or another, engrained into the minds of the Jewish people at the time. When Jesus lived, in Roman occupied Palestine, they had been looking for the promised Savior. They knew exactly what the scriptures said about Yahweh God to the point where they had it memorized. When He started speaking, what He said was not accidental. In the minds of His fellow man, Yahweh, refered to as Adonai, meaning the Lord, was highly, highly, highly revered, to the point of near separation with man.   He was Holy and for Him to be equated with a man proved to a blasphemous statement, so when Jesus makes His  “equating statements” (Matthew 3:13-17, 4:5-7, 12:3-8, Mark 14:61-62, Luke 22:66-71, John 8:48-58, 10:30-33, 34:36) it draws huge reactions from the people. They want to stone him to death, but it also points out something. Jesus wasn’t just saying he was a prophet, like many claim, or that He was the same as the father in purpose. He was claiming to be literally one with the Father.
            C.S. Lewis, the author and theologian, speaks to that point: “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of thing Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic-on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg-or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse.”  Jesus cannot fit within the framework of other belief systems and be honestly whom He was, even those who find their origin within the actual Christian worldview. He cannot be simply added to a pantheon of gods from another belief system.
            When Christ Himself claimed that He was God in those passages, He knew the implications of such claims and their effects on the people of His culture. He also had to fit within that framework. Since we, as Christians, have been shown that Christ is who He said He was, we know who He is and we know the grace He brings and the peace He embodies.  This falls on our shoulders to be honest and clean cut about who He is and what He said. We cannot couple up what He said with another faith system.  Christ plus Karma cannot work, it’s not a Christian, or even Judeo-Christian concept. Christ plus Good Works cannot work (John 5:24, Romans 3:28-30, 5:1-5, Galatians 2:20-21, Ephesians 2:4-8, Titus 3:4-7) and be a logical, coherent belief system. Christ plus “All roads lead to heaven” cannot work (John 3:16-18, 15:6-7, Acts 17:18-29, Romans 3:21-24) and be a logical, coherent belief system. If Christ is being honest about who He is, we must put our own ideas away and look at who He presented Himself.  We cannot just conjure up an idea and say that what He is. We have to look at the records, the Scriptures, on who He was.
Jesus is much more than idea, a person. He is a turning point. He is God. Not “Sort of God,” “Little God.” In the book of Colossians, chapter 1, verse 15, a beautiful picture is painted about who Christ is. “The image of the invisible God.” That is nothing to be taken lightly. To be the image of what is invisible is to be the viewing point for the unseen. What that means is that it is that Christ is the bridge between us and something far, far greater than us. In all of Christ’s ways, He mirrored the Father, both in action and in word. There is a concept of a person, an unchanging person. When I was a child, I watched Thomas the Tank Engine. I loved it. I have changed as I have grown up, and now I do not watch Thomas the Tank Engine on a regular basis, but when I speak of a concept of an unchanging person, God fits into that. That’s a fifth identification of God, an unchanging nature (Numbers 23:19, Psalm 33:11, 102:25-27, Malachi 3:6, Isaiah 44:6, James 1:17, Hebrews 6:17.)  All five of these identifiers exist within the person of Christ.  All of this points to who Jesus is, not only who He was, but is, and who He will be.
In this, we are given the picture of who Jesus is.
We are given a glimpse at who love is, who justice is, who mercy and compassion are, and who our hope is.