An image of the invisible God

An image of the invisible God

By REV. DR. RICHAR... | 3 September, 2016

Jesus makes God visible and tangible. The Bible affirms that Jesus is the “image of the invisible God” (Col 1:15) and the “exact representation” of God (Heb 1:4). The function of an image and exact representation is to reveal, which can only happen if there is hundred percent similarity. Therefore, we can conclude that Jesus is the human face of God.     

The insight that Jesus is the visual image of God has enormous implications for Christian living. When Philip expressed human desire to see God, Jesus replied, “He who has seen me has seen God the Father” (John 14:6). When we focus our thoughts upon Jesus, we pass through a window and reach the living God. 

The Bible tells us that Jesus is the image of God, and we are meant to act upon that knowledge. It is not as if we have decided to treat Jesus as if He were an image of the invisible God. Jesus helps us visual God in a manner of which God approves. The love of Jesus for the outcaste, poor, sick, disabled and helpless mirrors the love of God for people who are often marginalised. When we look into the face of Jesus, and see there the very face of God, we know that we have not seen that face elsewhere and cannot see that face else how. 

Once, a follower of Christ presented a crucifix, a carving of Christ upon the cross, to his sick friend. Offering comfort to his friend, he said, “I have brought you the image of your Creator and Saviour. Look at it, and be strengthened.”

The image of Christ upon the cross has been a gateway to a series of meditations on the goodness and love of God, and God’s overwhelming generosity and courtesy to His wayward people. God’s love revealed in Jesus Christ is poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit. Are we following Jesus’ example and representing God’s love?

There are 3 Comments

It is a shallow sentimentality to harp on Jesus being a friend or helper of the poor, the sick, the disadvantaged. Throughout the history of Christianity Jesus has been recruited to serve material, political power. In 323 A.D. Constantine made Christianity the state religion and Christians almost immediately began to ill-treat non-Christians in ways worse than what they suffered in earlier times by the Romans. In 975 AD Jesus got a golden Crown for the first time in the Holy Roman Empire which the Pope established in 800 AD in order to combat the influence of the Eastern Byzantine Church. The golden crown signified Jesus in alliance to the exercise of absolute imperial or monarchical power and as an ally of Wealth. Jesus blessed slavery, colonialism, South African apartheid, and is actively brought to support every form of fascism. With the help of the American Catholic Church authorities the Vatican succeeded in suppressing the movement based on "Jesus de los Pobres" of South American socialists. The Jesus-God talk is only a cultural, not a universal, thing. It is valid only for the Western culture. Indian Christianity failed, and fails, to adapt the notion of divine immanence to the Jesus story. That is why it has remained, as Arnold Toynbee convincingly argues, a fossilised Christianity. To imagine Jesus as a face of God is only to delude oneself with an Object of thought, a reified concept, of the same order as the table, or the chair, or the chicken, can be images or objects of thought. Not as a living presence "within" the essence of the individual.Indian Christianity missed and still misses the bus by its inability to develop a mystical Christianity of the Holy Spirit. The Mother Teresa did not think about it. The Greeks have 3 words for Love: philia, eros, agape. On what love did Mother Teresa built her reputation and her post-mortem ability to perform miracles?

The many ways that sinful people have misused the name of Christ, in no way invalidates His claim. Who did Jesus the Christ claim to be? Find it in John's Gospel.

The English word image may render doubts in the minds of people in the Indian context, for there are many idols or images that are considered gods, and are yet not gods. You have pointed correctly in you post that Christ is an exact representation. The Greek word εἰκών (eikón) makes it clear for us to understand, that eikón means "...mirror-like representation" and "...assumes a prototype, of which it not merely resembles, but from which it is drawn" (R. Trench).

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