Restoration and Incarnation

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the idea of restoration; specifically, as it relates to the work of Christ.

My small group has been going through the book of John for the past semester, and it has been a very insightful trip through a book I have come to love. This time through, I’ve been struck by the way that Jesus works to restore people.

This is most obvious in his miracles and his discussions. One minute he’s giving sight to a man who has never seen. Another, he’s raising a good friend from the dead. One minute, he’s chatting with a pharisee about spiritual rebirth, the next with a Samaritan woman about living water. Throughout the book, he presents himself as the solution. He makes all kinds of “I am” statements (I am … Word, bread of life, living water, God’s son, the resurrection and life, the vine, etc.) which tie him to God the Father and present him as the ultimate solution for which everyone has been waiting.

But there is something more subtle afoot here.

“What is the meaning of life?” is a question that everyone asks, and that we’ve been asking ever since the garden. Chris McGarvey, my former college pastor, put the answer this way: We are meant to be reflectors. God built deeply into our DNA an aching longing to be a reflection of greatness.  Talk to anyone for 20 minutes, and this is immediately obvious.

The problem is, we’ve set the bar too low. Lucifer was the first one to do this. Isaiah 14 is terribly tragic:

12 How you have fallen from heaven,
morning star, son of the dawn!
You have been cast down to the earth,
you who once laid low the nations!
13 You said in your heart,
“I will ascend to the heavens;
I will raise my throne
above the stars of God;
I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly,
on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon.
14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.”
15 But you are brought down to the realm of the dead,
to the depths of the pit.
We followed suit by deciding to reflect ourselves. God had designed us, in His own image, to be the crowning jewel of His creation: creatures who could think, and feel, and relate, and speak, and worship like no other being ever created. He made us truly great. We turned our vibrantly lit, blazing mirrors around toward ourselves and the light went out.
Ever since then, we’ve been stacking stones, trying to get to heaven, or wallowing in the mud, looking for someone who will think we are something special.
And that’s where Jesus comes in.
Contrast the above passage with this one from Philippians 2:
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

6 Who, being in very nature[a] God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Mirror images, right? Jesus became a man and a perfect man at that. He was the image of God that reflected God’s glory perfectly. Jesus restored more than just physical and intellectual wholeness. He gave us our purpose and significance back. He healed the broken mirrors that we are, and mended God’s image within us.

Now our failures are always tempered by an undying hope. We don’t have to find significance in being perfect, or looking perfect, or winning a championship, or becoming the best in our field, or supporting our families, or being a faithful friend, or anything else. God just wants us to love and reflect Himself. That’s it. He’s already done the rest.


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