There was one person that God did more than just indwell; in him, he incarnated himself. This man was called the Holy One of God. Even demons recognised him for who he was. In Luke 5, Simon Peter is out fishing but cannot catch anything. This man says to him, "cast your net on the other side." As a result, they pull in an enormous haul. Simon comes ashore and approaches this man, he approaches the presence of the Holy. What happens? The same thing that happens to Isaiah, Habakkuk, Job; the same as for all who enter the dimension of the Holy. He falls to his knees and like Isaiah says, woe is me, I am undone. His actual words were, "depart from me Lord for I am a sinner." I am too common, too ordinary, too profane; I don’t deserve to be so near the holy. Who is this man? He was the very incarnation of the holiness of God, the very redemptive incarnation of Yahweh—his name is Yeshua.
In language that is shocking to Jewish ears, Paul makes a remarkable claim about this man in Colossians 1:15, "He is the image of the invisible God." We can translate it like this, he is the exact likeness of the image of God. Listen carefully to this text. Develop a listening ear when you read Scripture, don’t read it like you would a newspaper, or a novel in which you are just trying to get to the action. Savor it like you would hard-rock candy, swirl it around a little bit in your mouth, taste it on your palate, savor the subtleties of the flavour. Listen to the text. Does "he is the image of the invisible of God" evoke any biblical images for you, any responses in you? Don’t you just feel the creation account rising up? How about this account in Exodus, "you shall not have any graven image." Paul goes on to say that "in Christ all the fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily." The fullness of the invisible power of this universe dwells in the body of the man Yeshua! Selah.
Do you remember we talked about the scandal of particularity for the Jewish people? How can God the Creator of all the earth and all land take some kind of special interest and be specially related to one little parcel of it? My friends, for us as Christians this is our scandal of particularity. How can God, who made all men, be somehow uniquely related to and incarnated in just one? It is a stumbling block, something your mind trips over. Paul says it is a mystery how the infinite became finite; how the Spirit became flesh. And believe me, it is a difficult thing for anyone to understand. But for a people who understood that God was holy, holy, holy (kadosh, kadosh, kadosh), it would be almost impossible to comprehend. How can the one who is wholly other—transcendent, different, distinct from everything else—how can you possibly say he dwells in this man? After all, isn’t this Joseph’s son, that little kid from Nazareth? Are you telling me the fullness of deity dwells in him? It doesn’t compute, it is a stumbling block. And much like the particularity of Israel itself, Yeshua as God's Son, Israel's Messiah and true King, is a matter of faith.
* This is an audio transcript, listen to the original message here.
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This study is from a professionally produced transcription of the audio recording. It was edited for readability by the team at JC Studies.
Dwight A. Pryor (1945-2011) was a gifted Bible teacher of exceptional clarity and depth who earned the friendship and admiration of both Christian and Jewish scholars—in the United States and Israel—as well as the respect and appreciation of followers of Jesus around the world. His expertise in the language, literature, and culture of Israel during the life and time of Jesus and the early church yield insights that nourish every area of faith and practice.
Dwight founded JC Studies in 1984 to edify the people of God. Click here to explore over fifty of his audio and video seminars.