“God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,“
For us Christians, Jesus being the son of God is central to our faith. It is at the heart of all orthodox Christian beliefs. But what today seems like an overlooked truth was not always readily accepted. In fact, this very statement was what infuriated the religious leaders of Jesus’ day and eventually led to his crucifixion. What does it mean for Jesus to be the son of God and how does it all tie into the image of God language? Join us as we explore all this and more in today’s episode; Christ, The Perfect Image.
When most of us think about the idea of sonship, we conceptualize it in the context of the familial bond. Sons/daughters are connected to their fathers by way of familial relations. In Jesus’ day, the concept of sonship was broader. It had embedded in it the idea of representation. Sons were not only connected to their fathers by blood, but they also represented their fathers. The actions of a son represented the actions of his father. If your father was a carpenter, you were 99% of the time going to end up as a carpenter. The honor that a son’s actions brought ascribed honor to the father and also vice versa. To see a son was to experience his father. When Jesus appeared on the scene and referred to himself as the Son of God, this was exactly how He expected to be understood. Yes He had a familial bond with God His Father, but more than that, He was the embodiment and representation of the Father. This is what the Apostle John meant when he said; No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known. (John 1:18).
In John chapter 5, Jesus heals a paralytic man at the pool of Bethesda on the sabbath day. When He was quizzed by the Pharisees and religious authorities on why He was breaking the sabbath, this is how He answered, “….My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.”(John 5:17). For Jesus, His act of healing was a mirror reflection of the actions of the Father. And consistently, this is how Jesus spoke about His actions. The religious leaders understood the implications of Jesus’ statement. In fact, we are told that it was at this very moment that they began to plot his death.
Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.
Not only did He see His works as a reflection of the actions of God, His Father, He went about doing things that were reserved for God alone. For instance in Mark chapter 2 we see Jesus forgiving a man’s sins. In a feat reminiscent of God at the dawn the early dawn of creation, Jesus speaks to a raging storm and the elements obey Him. His disciples, perplexed at his actions, began to ask themselves; what manner of Man is this?
One would have imagined that at least the disciples of Jesus would have caught on to what was happening by now, but that’s not what transpired. In John 14 we read a conversation between Jesus and Philip just some a few days before His death and subsequent resurrection. In John 14:8-9 we read;
Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.”
Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
Philip wanted to see the Father and Jesus said you’ve seen me. To see Jesus is to see the Father. To experience Jesus is to experience the Father. Jesus is the perfect image of the Father. As God’s perfect image, He embodies for us what it means to walk in our original calling as God’s images. Several times in Jesus’ life He was faced with the choice between His will and that of the Father’s and in all instances He chose the will to do the will of the Father. Even in the face of the most gruesome of deaths, He chose to submit to the Father and die on the cross for you and I. Such was Jesus’ devotion and commitment to God’s will. In fact in John 4, Jesus describes the will of God as the food that sustains and energizes Him.
Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.
Where past representatives failed in their calling as God’s image, Jesus Christ stands victorious. In Hebrew 4:15 we read;
For we do not have a high priest (Jesus) who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.
At several points in Jesus’ earthly life, He faced the temptations that all humanity faces. Our wills against God’s will. Early in His ministry, Jesus was tempted by the devil to turn stones to bread, worship him in exchange for the kingdoms of the world and to cast Himself off the pinnacle of the temple to validate His claim to being God’s Son. In all of these instances, Jesus replied the devil with the words of God. His commitment was to the work and will of God rather than His personal reputation. Also, right before His death, with the weight of crucifixion and separation from the Father in view, He still submitted His will to that of God. And “although he was the son of God, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him (Hebrews 5:8-9 emphasis added).