Col 1:15-20 He is the divine portrait, the true likeness of the invisible God, and the firstborn heir of all creation. For the Son created everything, both in the heavenly realm and on the earth, all that is seen and all that is unseen. Every seat of power, realm of government, principality, and authority— it was all created by Him and for His purpose! He existed before anything was made, so now everything finds completion in Him. He is the Head of His body, which is the church. And since He is the beginning and the firstborn heir in resurrection, He must always be embraced as the most Exalted One, holding first place in everything. For God is satisfied to have all His perfection dwell in Christ. And by the blood of His cross, everything in heaven and earth is restored and brought back to Himself— back to its original intent, restored to innocence again! (Passion Translation)
Jesus is the exact representation of God. Jesus is God. God as a man is Jesus. Jesus raised from the dead is God restored to His glory. All the fullness of God dwells in Jesus. Jesus is in us. The fullness of God dwells in us and is revealed in the love of Jesus for us. The greater we know his love the greater we know him. The greater we know him the greater we manifest him. We are becoming the love we see. That love is God since God is love.
So I’ve been hearing a lot of teaching about how to reconcile the perceived different God of the old covenant with Jesus. At first I thought this was an interesting pursuit to bring wisdom for those that struggle with this issue. I used to struggle with the apparent incongruity between Jesus and the God of Moses. I have all kind of theories in my head but there is only one truth. God is Jesus. There is no duality. If you can’t see Jesus do it then it isn’t God. So what is different between the Old Testament and the New? We are.
Adam and Eve hid from God after eating from the wrong tree. Why? The Bible says they were ashamed. Why? Awareness of self. The wrong tree brought wrong thinking. The wrong fruit brought the poison of independence. The knowledge of good and evil brought arrogance. The enemy used all that dysfunction to bring shame. Before the tree we had nothing to fear. After the tree we became aware of our inadequacies. We were deceived into thinking we were missing something that we weren’t and then steeped in irony we became aware of all we were not designed for. We stepped into independence to find we are dependent beings. In a moment we were condemned and knew it. In a moment we were smart enough to discover shame. In a moment our fierce desire for knowledge brought us fear instead of peace. We changed. God has been preparing us for reconciliation and union from the beginning.
Man has moved, God has not. God’s dealing with us has consistently been through love and mercy. Our lost Adam nature perceived God’s presence as something to fear. Fallen man saw God as an ancient man would, terrifying. Man has been making God in his image. Isn’t it a strange twist of events since man was actually made in God’s image. Our perspective has been through the lenses of shame-filled man. The word of God is inspired but written from the perspective of the authors. The record is in the context of the times. The interpretation is unique to the audience. The Holy Spirit reveals to us the truth. Jesus is the truth.
Whenever we read we need to remember the Rosetta stone we have, Jesus. The authors of the old testament did not have Jesus as a translator. So the mystery has been revealed to us but was hidden from them. The old was a shadow of Jesus (Col 2:17). Sometimes it was the darkest part of the shadow, a negative contrast as Gregory Boyd would say.
Take the law for example. The law was never intended to make us righteous. It has no power to make us righteous. Instead it reveals how impossible it is for us to make ourselves righteous. The law should bring us to the end of our self-effort and drown us with a divine humility that says “I can’t possibly live up to the standards of the law.” That defeat makes us see the law as holy or set apart. Now we can stand it up and admire it for what it is, perfect for what it was intended (Rom 3:31). It may have no power to make us better people but it is a mega-magnification mirror that reveals every blemish. Praise God for Jesus.
Now we see the cross. We see a new kind of covenant. It isn’t the law repackaged. It isn’t the power to fulfill the requirements of the law. It is a new, unprecedented covenant of grace. Jesus becomes our righteousness. God himself makes us pure. God himself removes any excuse in us or power of the enemy. God on a cross says “I do it all.” Our side of the covenant is to believe. We begin to see God in His true nature, humbled in obedience to death, death on a tree. We see God doing what we could never do. We see His heart for us that loves us absolutely apart from our actions or intentions. We see His Grace, His core nature as unconditional and undeserved favor. “How is it so?” It is who He is. It is what was intended. Even more than that He joins us in a union to be like Jesus. We become one with Him. We are changed back into our created intent plus Him inside us.
Can you see now that what you think you know about God has to be run through the Jesus filter? Can you see that even though all scripture is God breathed, it is written from the perspective of men? Even in the gospels some stories vary in synoptic versions. The writers were inspired to record the stories as they remembered events or to emphasize a particular aspect of an event. Our Bible is a love letter. It is a revelation of who God is as revealed completely in Jesus. It is not a law textbook. It is not a law manual. It is not proof text for a debate. I could prove almost anything if I used scripture out of context. The devil did it to Jesus. The new testament writers took liberty in their references to scripture. They took a passage with a very different context and revealed Jesus. We should look for Jesus the same way. It means however that we have to trust God for the truth. It means we have to listen to the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth. It means we must have a revelation of Jesus Christ and Him crucified. It means everything must run through the Jesus filter.
Here is the best news. God wants you to know Him. God died so you could know Him. God wants you to trust Him. He took away any excuses that would keep you from trusting Him. God gives you a seed of faith, a revelation of His goodness and your pursuit of knowing Him grows that seed into a giant tree. He is that good. When you find yourself blown away by His goodness then you are getting a teeny tiny glimpse of how good He really is. Whenever you forget, whenever you doubt, whenever you are deceived by a lie, look to Jesus and see God. He is right there in the love expressed in the cross.