Sunday July 21st 2019
Pastor Galen Zook
Looking Just Like Mom
How many of you have ever been told that you look like your mom or dad or grandparent or another relative? I have a brother who is 5 years older than me, and when we were growing up, everywhere we went, people would point at him and say, “you look just like your dad.” My brother would grin and smile, and then they would look at me, and they would say, “and you look just like your mom!”
As a young boy who was trying to be tough and masculine, it was really frustrating that everyone thought I looked like my mom. I would have much preferred that people thought I looked like my dad! But still to this day, people say that I look just like my mom.
Some of you may not know one or both of your biological parents, but the reality is that even if you’ve never met them, you probably bear some resemblance to them. It’s part of what it means to be a child.
And it’s not just physical resemblance either. How many have caught yourself saying things to your children or grandchildren that your parents used to say to you? Perhaps there were words or phrases that your parents used to say that you swore you would never say to your children, but in a moment of frustration or anger, the words just came out of you. Our parents and grandparents and those who raised us live on through us whether we like it or not.
Jesus, the Image of The Invisible God
In Colossians 1:15, Paul and Timothy say that Jesus is “the image of the invisible God.” Jesus, the Son of God, looks just like God. In fact, Paul and Timothy say that in Christ, “all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell” (Col. 1:19). What an amazing statement! All the fullness of God was pleased to dwell in Christ.
Now, this doesn’t mean that Jesus physically resembled God, that if we could somehow discover what Jesus looked like, then we would physically know what God looks like. When Paul and Timothy say that Jesus was the “image of the invisible God,” they’re referring to Jesus’s character, his actions, his entire being, which shows us who God is.
Jesus, the Son of God, was and is God. In Jesus God took on flesh, and came down to dwell and to live among us, to show us who God is.
In John 14:9 Jesus said, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.”
Therefore, if we want to know what God looks like, all we have to do is look at Jesus. Jesus is the clearest picture that we have of God.
Jesus not only tells us who God is. Jesus also helps us understand who we are.
New Testament scholar N.T. Wright has said,
If you want to know who God is, look at Jesus. If you want to know what it means to be human, look at Jesus. If you want to know what love is, look at Jesus. And go on looking until you’re not just a spectator, but part of the drama that has him as the central character. — N.T. Wright
Looking For God
You see, all throughout human history, people have been stumbling around trying to understand who God is, how the world was created, and the meaning and purpose of life.
As humans, we have come up with elaborate rituals and practices to try to connect with or appease the gods, to try to get the gods to bend to our will or to give us what we want. People thought that maybe if we offer this sacrifice, or maybe if we say these words, then perhaps God will be happy with us and will give us what we want.
Part of our attempt to get to know God is also an attempt to try to know ourselves as well, to try to make sense of the world, to try to figure out why we’re here.
There are a lot of things in the world that just don’t seem to make sense. Life seems so arbitrary sometimes. Some people do horrendous things yet live to a ripe old age, while innocent children die young.
Some people have so much money that they don’t know what to do with it, while other people starve to death.
Some people seem to always have good luck, while for other people, no matter what they do, it seems like the universe is against them.
And so throughout human history, people all throughout the world have used religion, science, and philosophy to try to make sense of the world, to figure out who God is, and who we are, and how we’re supposed to live in the world.
Then Came Jesus
And into the midst of this world that feels so arbitrary, where people are struggling to make sense of the world, to try to figure out who God is and how we’re supposed to live, into the midst of this world, God sent Jesus. Jesus, the image of the invisible God.
Jesus is the mirror image of God. Jesus is like an angled mirror, reflecting God to us. When we look at Jesus’s life, his teachings, his character, the way we lived his life, we see a direct reflection of God.
Not only that, but when we look at Jesus, when we truly see Jesus for who he is and was, everything else in this world makes more sense.
Paul and Timothy say that “in him all things in heaven and earth were created, things visible and invisible…all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Col. 1:16-17).
In other words, Jesus is the missing piece of the puzzle that helps us see the whole picture. Jesus is that one Christmas bulb that makes all of the other bulbs light up. He’s the piece of computer code that makes the rest of the program work. Jesus is the key or legend on the map that helps us understand what everything is and why it’s there.
We can look around at the pain and the injustice in this world, and we wonder “does God care?” But when we see Jesus hanging on the cross, we see that God does indeed care. On the cross, God’s perfect love and justice come together. On the cross God exposes the evil and injustice of the world and brings it all to a head. On the cross God deals with injustice by sacrificing himself for the sins of the whole world.
As Paul and Timothy say in verse 20, “through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross” (Col. 1:20).
Friends, the mystery of God has been revealed to us through Jesus Christ! We no longer have to wander to and fro, trying to understand who God is, living in fear that God might be angry with us, trying to appease God or win God’s favor.
When we look at Jesus hanging on the cross, we see God’s unconditional love for us, and we see God’s mercy and grace that is freely offered to all.
We see that God knows our pain, that God understands our suffering. We can rest assured God is not content to sit back and watch injustices occur. Through the cross, Jesus demonstrates God’s ultimate love and justice and that God is actively working for good in our world, to bring an ultimate end to all pain and suffering and injustice. This is what we see when we look at Jesus.
But unfortunately, even a lot of Christians don’t know that much about Jesus. And many people in our world don’t know that Jesus is the image of the invisible God.
I end with this story:
Arthur Burns, a Jewish economist of great influence in Washington during the tenure of several Presidents, was once asked to pray at a gathering of evangelical politicians. Stunning his hosts, he prayed thus: “Lord, I pray that Jews would come to know Jesus Christ. And I pray that Buddhists would come to know Jesus Christ. And I pray that Muslims would come to know Jesus Christ.” And then, most stunning of all: “And Lord, I pray that Christians would come to know Jesus Christ.”
So let us get to know Jesus more deeply! Let us learn more about Jesus, who is the image of the invisible God. And then let us go out and proclaim the love and grace of God demonstrated through Jesus on the cross to a world that is desperately trying to make sense of it all.