“Let us make man in our image, after our likeness”
The reason for the Cross
A recent question that is so common when things go wrong in life, “Why has this happened to me, or what did I do to have such terrible things continue in my life?”
If God is so loving and promises nothing but good in heaven, then where was he when 9/11 occurred where there were many church going people who lost their lives? Or where was God when all the school shootings happened and so many innocent children were massacred? Where is he?
What does it mean when God said in Genesis “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness?” Image, a very profound term to describe something or someone that we might pattern our future or goals on. The Grand Canyon is an image of vastness that we can only look and admire God’s creation. Look at the sky on a clear night and scan the endless space of a universe that is brilliant with light from so far away. It becomes an image of the reason humanity will reach out for in the search for understanding how great God is and all this for us.
Think of the masters of music and art, how each one dreamt and created for our listening or viewing masterpieces that we can only dream about, but in some way attempt to emulate ourselves. Why should we not yearn to follow this image of greatness?
See a grieving mother who tragically lost her son and can not understand why God allowed such a disaster to occur in her life. “If he is a loving God why did he not stop this when my son had so much to offer?”
When God created the world, he prepared an existence for his greatest creation; man! Everything was peaceful, serene and beautiful. But then, sin entered the world and wanted to take from us all that God, in his loving hands, gave to mankind. Sin became the nemesis to take back from us the serenity that God gave to you and me. So why can we not overcome this evil? What happened that our urge to accept evil keeps this future oasis just out of reach?
Does the gift of free will ring a bell? We need to understand why God gave this gift to everyone. Even the angels have this same gift. Satan and his faithful followers where banned from heaven because they used free will to turn away from God. Without free will we would never seek or come to God of our own choice, therefore never appreciating who God is and the wonderful creation he has prepared for those who love him.
One of the stigmas that will take our free will and twist it is jealousy. Cain became angry that God gave more attention to Abel than himself over their respective tasks. Cain’s free will allowed him to commit murder and the sin of jealously controlled his rage. Thus, a great gift of free will was turned to blindness of hate and revenge.
If you feel devastated when a child dies, or you lose your spouse or sibling, remember God had a son whose life was taken by a raging and disrespectful generation. Do you think God also did not grieve? To put grieving into perspective, God felt the pain of the nails at Calvary. Jesus, the second person of the Holy Trinity is two natures in one person. Pain was not absent. Jesus cried twice, as scripture recorded, both natures felt sadness. Jesus showed grief when Lazarus was in the tomb. Both natures shared that sense of grief. Do you not know that what Jesus felt was always felt by all three persons of the Holy Trinity. Yes, God feels in a special way our grief as well.
Because of the Incarnation we can not separate Jesus’ humanity from his divinity. Neither can we separate Jesus from his Father. Jesus responding to Phillip; “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Phillip? Who ever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say “Show us the Father” Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?” (Jn. 14: 9-10a). Therefore, what Jesus feels physically the Father does as well.
Sin entered the world and forever would challenge the words of “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” Man sinned but could never repay the love and care God gave him.
So God, in his likeness (love) took the place of making the payment for sin, and became the ransom that would forever free us from eternal death. Jesus suffered on the cross, his Father grieved over the sin of mankind. Jesus died on the cross, his Father felt the loss of his Son. Jesus rose from the dead, his Father now shares in Glory His only Son. Here at the Cross we will find the image and likeness of God.
Ralph B. Hathaway, February 2020