So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. 28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it…” NIV
I’m sure you’re familiar with the triangle image of the Godhead where each of the three points represents one of the three persons; God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. It’s the image of life for those who, by accepting and acting in accordance with Jesus, have been placed securely within that Perfect Triangle. My life is in that triangle. So is yours. Can you be thrilled by what a drawing can show you about how convincingly God can prove to you that your image really is just like His? Yes!
A simple straight line beginning at one of those thee points and stretching across to an opposite line to establish a connection to that Perfect Triangle always results in a brand new triangle. Something visually happened as I drew line after line always staying within the boundary lines of that Perfect Triangle. As long as each straight line began at one of the, now multiple, points to an opposite line, it always became a triangle without my doing anything more. Each triangle was a different size and had a different shape with different angles but every time I drew a straight line to make that connection three new “points” appeared. The triangles were not a perfect duplicate of the original but without a doubt they visually confirmed a likeness to that Perfect Triangle.
The creator of all mankind chose the simplest of all processes to replicate Himself in those who would be bearers of His image. The more I drew straight lines, the more I recognized how reliable that connection was. Every one of those imperfect triangles began as a simple straight line but by God’s good purpose He chose to verify that likeness even further for His image bearers as each connection was completed. I saw those three replicated “points;” God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, appear over and over as each line became a new triangle within the Perfect Triangle. That was the visual proof that thrilled me.
“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them;” God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit created within us, every time. Yes!
John15:25 But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’ [ESV]
The reference to “is written in their Law” without a footnoted citation left me searching commentaries to unravel the obscurity of that phrase. Here are some notes I made searching for clarity that became my food for thought.
• Jesus as command-giver vs mankind as command-keepers
• fulfilling the law through merit or mercy
• divine destiny
• finally this quote from an obscure commentary by Philip Schaff a “The very law of which the Jews boasted, and into which, from imagined reverence for it, they were continually searching,—in that very law they might see themselves. In such a connection of thought might it not he [Jesus] be called ‘their law’?”
√ The first note I checked off without question was, of course, the divine destiny of Jesus. That is a foundational tenet of our faith as Christians.
√ Then I went on to considering the difficulty of yielding to a command-giver when you’re a command-keeper living in a highly merit-based system. That is a foundational dilemma of human nature.
√ Finally the quote from Schaff reminded me of this foundational truth from Jesus himself in Matthew 5:17
“Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. 18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved.” [NLT]
√ Proof: ‘They hated [Jesus] without a cause.’
aPhilip Schaff (January 1, 1819 – October 20, 1893) a Swiss-born, German-educated Protestant theologian and a Church historian who spent most of his adult life teaching in America. He also served as president of the committee that translated the American Standard Version of the Bible, though he died before it was published in 1901
A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
I love advent. I love taking the time every day to think about how the story of the birth of Christ is the beginning of life for so many of us. It’s as if remembering all the long-ago events that led up to his actual birth is God’s way of refreshing us. I love Advent Calendars and wreaths. This year I’m going to create a digital version of a less-well-known way to remember these days leading up to Christmas, the Jesse Tree, the branch Isaiah 11:1 mentions. There’s a lot of information on the internet about that if you want to know more.
On this first day of Advent 2016 I can’t help but think of the effort God put into preparing what we are here to remember again this year. Isaiah is a perfect place to begin. Out of the root of that stump of a great tree that seemed seemed only to be lost, there came Jesus, the branch who began at the very moment of his birth to bear fruit that you and I are living proof of.