Each year we choose one day in special recognition of fathers. As I reflect upon this day, familiar phrases come to mind. These include: He’s a chip off the old block; the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree; or like father, like son. All these indicate how certain traits or characteristics have seemed to be passed on from one generation to the next.
I would sometimes hear my father’s voice coming through in mine, such as in words he chose or the way he said them. I would find myself doing things my father would do. At times those would rub me the wrong way, as I sought to be my own individual. Most of the time I considered what a great model I had for my life. If only I could be like him, at least in most things.
Similarities are evident in mannerisms, in speech, in attitude, and in appearance. We know that Jesus is the Son of God, but do we recognize how much he is like the father? Hebrews 1:3 records these words: “The Son (Jesus) is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.” (NIV translation). The word used for radiance can refer to ray of light from an original body that forms a similar light body. At his transfiguration, Jesus’ appearance became radiant. It is the sunshine in relation to the sun. What we see when we see Jesus is more than reflection, like in a mirror. We see the very essence of God.
The other phrase that catches our attention is the Jesus is the “exact representation” of God’s being. The word that is used in reference to the cutting tool used by engravers. This was the mark or image that was made upon a coin that determined its value. It is the die made to reproduce each characteristic feature of the original. Jesus casts a visible expression of his Father. Colossians 1:15 states “He is the image of the invisible God” or as J.B. Phillips translated it, Christ is the visible expression of the invisible God. What form did this visible expression take? We have no portraits or photographs. His life expressed God’s purpose to put things right in this world. His miracles were demonstrations of God’s restorative power. He sought to restore health and wholeness, to heal brokenness in this sin-cursed world. His words, his teachings amazed people, as he taught with authority, not as their teachers of the law. He did not do this on his own initiative. Jesus himself said in John 5:19 “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can only do what he sees the father doing, because whatever the father does, the Son also does.”
Through his words and through his actions Jesus demonstrated the very essence and the purpose of his Father. This does not mean that Jesus had no choice, but that he chose to radiate and represent the nature of the Father through his life. At the same time, his relationship with his Father, his Abba, was so intensely close that he knew what his Father wanted him to do, he knew what his Father wanted him to say. He became obedient to God in all things – even to death on the cross. His obedience even on that issue came down to Jesus choosing to obey. The struggle in the Garden of Gethsemane shows that Jesus had the choice, but prayed, “Not as I will, but as You will.” His death on the cross brought God’s purpose to fruition, as purification was made for sin. He expressed God’s love, grace, and mercy while maintaining God’s truth and righteousness. The Father honored him by exalting him above all creation and seating him at the right hand of the throne in heaven. Being seated means that the work has been completed.
Jesus is continuing to carry out the Father’s expression. He is sustaining all things by the power of his word. He is also visible in the world through his body, the church. We ourselves are image-bearers of Jesus, fashioned to represent him as he represented his Father in all things. May we be obedient in all he wants us to be and do, that he might be exalted in our lives.
— Andrew Wade is pastor of the First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) of Logan and a member of the Logan Ministerial Association.