The Image of God, and the Son of Man

The Scriptures contain God’s complete revelation of Himself to Mankind; they contain everything He has revealed to us. Yet this is not to suggest that He has revealed to us everything that there is to know. When my kids were young, there was a time when I had taught them everything they knew about politics, but I hadn’t come close to teaching them everything I knew about politics. At that time, I was right in the middle of the fray, and I knew things they simply were not ready for or capable of handling responsibly. God, our Creator, our loving heavenly Father has not revealed everything He knows to us, simply because He knows things that we can neither handle nor properly comprehend; He has revealed to us what we need to know.

So, for the purposes of our exploration into the image of God, there are aspects of it that we will most likely not fully comprehend, and one of those is how a spirit can have a form which, on occasion, can be seen by a person. Yet Scripture does reveal that they do, and that God, who is Spirit, has a form and that we have been created in His likeness, as we have already seen.

As I mentioned earlier, this was a tough one for me to grab a hold of, to get my brain around, until I recalled this verse:

Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

John 14:9

Contextually speaking, this verse falls within Jesus’ final discourse with His disciples (John 14-17) on the night of His arrest. He is giving them encouragement and guidance for the trials they lay ahead, and in this particular part of the discussion, He is telling them that He is in the Father, the Father is in Him, and that He is in us, another little concept that is not easy to comprehend the mechanics of.

So imagine you are there with Jesus that night, and He says this, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father”: What do you see when you look at Jesus? (Try to picture this in your mind)

If you are honest, the first thing you will see is His physical presence, His body, but knowing who you are looking at, you will perceive much more than that, for Jesus embodied the power of God, healing the sick, making the lame whole again, giving sight to the blind, chasing out demons and bringing justice and the Kingdom to the people, and just as we cannot separate Jesus from the Word, we also cannot separate His humanity from His divinity. When Paul said that Christ was “the image of God” in 2 Corinthians 4:4, he spoke of the complete package.

Many scholars have observed, and I think rightly so, that Jesus was the Holy Spirit in a body. You and I are earthen vessels that contain the Holy Spirit, for in Christ, we have the Holy Spirit indwelling our mortal bodies, for we have been created in the image of God, body, soul and spirit, and it is the entire package that comprises God’s image and likeness.

I think I should give you some time for reflection on this, for it truly is a really big deal to be made in God’s image. I will conclude for now by simply saying that the more I think about this, the more I realize that the implications of this are beyond huge; they are profound and vast.

Do you have any thoughts? Please share them. If you are convinced that I have lost all semblance of reason and sanity, please share that too, and don’t forget to share why you think so. Have any questions? Please ask!

See you tomorrow!

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About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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28 Responses to The Image of God, and the Son of Man

  1. vw1212 says:

    Genesis 1 and 2 brings about a solid view of us in His image from recent reading…vw

  2. pipermac5 says:

    And to think that Jesus left His glory behind and became one of us, and one with us, so that we might have a restored relationship with God through His shed blood and finished work. That is mind-boggling!

    Blessings!

    Steve

  3. I agree with you, though I say it a little differently to my Muslim students who want me to prove we believe in only one God. I tell them God can put his words in anything he chooses. I recall with them that God put his words in a burning tree (Qur’an version) to talk to Moses. That didn’t mean there were now two Gods – one in heaven and one in the tree. Later, God put his words in a human body. It still did not make two Gods – one in heaven and one in Jesus’ body. Throughout human history and even the creation (John 1:1-2), every time God spoke, it was Jesus. (BTW, the Word is the Sword of the Spirit, and all “three” are interchangeable in the same way our mind, our body, and our words are interchangeable – they are all us.)

    Anyway, your discourse on the image of God is good. Yours is the only blog I have (make) time to read every day.

  4. Little Monk says:

    I definitely don’t think you’ve lost sanity or reason. I’m enjoying this greatly.

    One thought that popped in as I read was… with a phrase like “Holy Spirit in a body”, all too often “Holy Spirit” is “visualized” like the words meant “sacred ghost” or something… so an image of “Jesus” in “white misty ethereal form” may manifest to the mind’s eye.

    Took me a long time really to wrap my mind around the reality that those words “pneuma hagion”, were “Breath of God”… or “Divine Breath”. I have a friend who speaks from time to time of truth or grace “breathing” in a moment or a text. I get it now. Don’t know how to describe it or talk about it, but I do “get it”.

    That “Breath” thing came to me as I read your words. Just thought I’d share the moment.

    Grace — LM

  5. Pingback: The Image of God, and the Son of Man | A disciple's study

  6. Matt Brumage says:

    Okay, I’m late to the party, but I have to chime in here. I’ve been loving catching up, but I think we’ve sort of missed a sign post back there.

    I sense of bit of the Platonic struggle of Decarte’s “Ghost In The Machine”. The distances between Eastern and Western philosophical assumptions are often entertaining territory for me (as a Western thinker). I can’t say that I really appreciate or understand the distance, but what we are discussing as a problem (spirit and body) really didn’t present much of an issue for the Hebrew Scripture readers and participants. That in itself is probably more profitable than asking ourselves how it can be.

    I had an instructor or two teach that, for the people in Israel and Semitic peoples in general, it was inconceivable to have a living spirit without a body or vice versa. I think sometimes Paul struggled with terminology in this space between the worlds as He discussed things like resurrection, and heaven. He understood it, but wrestled with the right ways to convey that to people saturated with a strong dichotomy between the physical and spiritual. For him there was no space between, which is why he spoke so vigorously about behavior and the spiritual ramifications.

    The “Image of God”, as we conduct this reality in our lives, is both body and spirit. It has to be. To say that God is Spirit is to say “He is alive” which is the same as saying “He IS” (which is His name used by early Hebrews following Moses). The way I envision this is to see the term “Soul” (nephesh/psyche) as a circle in which both “body” and “spirit” reside as concentric circles. That’s not a perfect depiction, but I think it’s closer to understanding of the inspired writers of Scripture than the Western view of three overlapping but separate circles.

    Let’s reattach what no man should have torn asunder. Only the word of God divides soul and spirit, joint and morrow. To understand the anthropology of God, let’s put the spirit and body back together and discuss how this image of the Great I AM should be lived out.

    Sorry, didn’t really intend to go off there. I partly have so few outlets for this sort of thinking and dialogue, so I kind of over-do it when the chance appears. My bad…(but wow, is this fun!)

    • Don Merritt says:

      Good stuff Matt! You are quite right. Funny thing; every time I write a series of posts in this kind of “discovery” format, i frustrate some readers, in this case, you can take seat with Steve 🙂 If this were a seminary class, I would lead with the differences in Western and Hebrew thought, but I’m writing here for the “regular folk” who aren’t used to this sort of discussion, and are pretty bored by such things. So we discover things, see how they fit together with other things, figure out the awesome possibilities, and then talk about Western vs Middle Eastern thinking as the clincher. It’s sort of the reverse of the academic setting, but usually more persuasive in the end…. at least I hope so!

  7. Cate B says:

    These posts are so good Don! I am enjoying them and anticipating.

  8. Don, I had a feeling this is where you might be heading. This is why I asked the question the other day about different world visions and how we might “see” God. Throughout this discussion, John 14:9 has come to mind, and here in the Western World, we “see” Jesus as a silken blond-haired, blue-eyed, fair-skinned man. Why? In the Middle East, I’m certain they “see” Jesus with nappy dark brown or black hair, dark eyes and brown skin. How do they “see” him in Asia?

    I think we are only told he had no form or majesty or beauty that would make him attractive.

  9. dwmartens says:

    It occurs to me, simply put, that in making us as spirit in body and Jesus coming as the Holy Spirit in a body, God has given us a vocabulary to speak of him who is so much beyond the comprehension capacities with which he created us for this temporal part of life. 2 Cor 12:2-4; 1 Cor 2:16

  10. pipermac5 says:

    Paul wasn’t the only Apostle who dealt with this Gnostic false-duality. John dealt with it also. In the opening verses of John’s Gospel, he affirmed that Jesus Christ, the Eternal Word, was both Creator-God and fully-human. He also assaulted that heresy in his Epistles, even identifying the source of the heresy by saying that “anyone who denies that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh has the spirit of the anti-Christ”.

    My church’s previous Senior Pastor preached a series of messages on John’s Epistles. During one of our Wednesday morning fellowship group meetings on this series, the question of how we are God’s image-bearers came up, and when I mentioned that God’s image includes our physical-bodies, the leader, who is an ordained PCA Elder, visibly-cringed and immediately changed the topic. I didn’t pursue it further because I had already gotten all the intel I needed. Gnosticism dies hard, even among conservative Presbyterian and Reformed Christians. He and his wife have gotten noticeably-colder towards me since then. Did I touch a sore-spot?

    Blessings!

    Steve

  11. Lizzy says:

    You have not lost any semblance of reason or sanity. It is next to impossible for any of us to wrap our minds around this subject. It is easier to understand the physics of a warp field. When I saw Jesus during a near death experience (or more correctly, when I died) I stood in the presence of the Lord. I cannot possibly describe in any human terms what seeing the “form” of Jesus is like. Did I see a physical embodiment, or was I seeing Him only in His Spirit form? Could I have been seeing all that God is — all His attributes? His love, grace, mercy, holiness (the list goes on forever). I cannot really say for certain. But I will say this; as I stood in His presence I felt a love that no human can comprehend. God is love. And so much more. But we as humans — though made in the likeness of God — cannot understand this type of image or embodiment. I would say that is because of the fact we live in a perfect creation that has been fractured by sin. It is that sin that blinds our “eyes” from the truth of Who and what we see. I knew I was with Jesus. However, now that I am back here in this world, in a life and body that have been corrupted by sin, I cannot fully comprehend or even appreciate the Love I saw and felt. It is just not possible in this world. At least not now. But when Jesus does come for us or when we go home, be prepared for a love and understanding beyond all human comprehension. AND IT IS GOOD! SO VERY, VERY GOOD! To God be the glory!

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