“She looks just like you!”
That’s the usual, almost automatic response we give to any new parent holding their baby. Sometimes its only an unfounded nicety since most babies really look like, well…babies.
But for our newest granddaughter its not just a nice thing to say when you first meet her.
She looks like her daddy…a lot!
We try really hard to find our beautiful daughter in that tiny new face, but when Flora looks back at you, even Lauren says “all you see is Chase.”
She is his mini-me; his doppelganger. Or as my wife likes to jest, “he’d never be able to deny she was his!”
My mom would have said it this way: “she’s her daddy’s spitting image“.
I know, its a really weird phrase. But it has a unique origin, starting as “spit and image”–spit being an old English word for perfect likeness. The phrase then evolved through “spitten image” to the modern “spitting image”.
Interesting rabbit trail, but its the definition we’re after here. It means:
- Undeniable resemblance
- Exact replica
- Mirror reflection
I thought back on this phrase as I began brooding over Advent while enjoying Thanksgiving with Chase, Lauren & Flora. Looking into the sweet countenance of this tiny daddy-duplicate, I was reminded of another Baby who looked just like His Dad.
The Apostle Paul, who was unceremoniously dismounted when he met Jesus face to face, said this about that family resemblance:
- “The Son is the image of the invisible God.”
- “God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him.”
- “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.”
Referencing this same reality, the Author of Hebrews recorded these words: “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being.” (Hebrews 1:3a)
These verses make one fact clear and undeniable:
Jesus was the spitting image of His Father.
These New Testament writers were really just echoing what John reported Jesus so often saying.
“If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” 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.“ (John 14:7-9)
Jesus seemed obsessed with making sure His followers understood this idea. Check out what else John recorded from Jesus’ teaching:
“The Word was God.”
“No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son who…has made him known.”
“Whatever the Father does the Son also does.”
“I know him because I am from him and he sent me.”
“If you knew me, you would know my Father also.”
“I and the Father are one.”
“The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me.”
(See: John 1:1, 14-18; 5:19-21; 7:28-29; 8:19; 10:28-30; 12:44-46.)
So why does this matter? What’s the big deal?
Since the first Advent, we no longer have to guess what God is like.
All the misrepresentations of God–the grotesque caricatures from both secular and religious cultures–are cleared up when God shows up as the Baby in the Manger.
Jesus looks just like His Dad!
But you can also flip the script.
The Father looks just like His son!
To know what God is like, look at Jesus.
- He is from God.
- He is with God.
- He is God.
God in high definition so we’ll stop painting unfocused images of a God we don’t know.
What’s more, Christmas declares that He brought that exact image of God and deposited it in the exact image of man. Herein is the essence of Advent.
It even has a name: Immaunel–God with us.
Jesus removes the projections and presumptions of our limited human understandings about God. He is God in our dialect…God translated so we can “get” Him.
Jesus is quite simply what God looks like when He looks like us.
It’s kind of funny. Christians don’t have much trouble saying “Jesus is like God” but we sometimes swallow hard before saying “God is like Jesus”.
This uncertainty comes from a silly (and nearly heretical) separation between the “God of the Law” and the “God of Grace”…God of the Old Covenant and God of the New.
It’s like God has a split personality. He can be at one time the angry God of exclusive judgment in the Old Testament while simultaneously being the adoring God of inclusive grace in the New Testament. This dichotomy pictures Him like the bi-polar deities of the ancient Greeks.
Therein lies the need for Jesus to show up so He can clear up the matter.
If you ever held that dualistic view of God, here’s a V8 moment for you: God is NOT schizophrenic!
Truth is, either the Father actually has a personality disorder or Jesus authentically reflects the whole picture of God at every level!
Jesus is just like God. God is just like Jesus.
Sure they exist as Trinity with the Holy Spirit–and that is super important! But there is no division of purpose, passion or posture between the three. They have one face…and that face can be seen…
…in the face of Jesus.
Oh, and one more thing we should never forget.
Jesus is also what we look like when we look like our Father.
The spitting image!