By Maria Fontaine
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“He (Jesus) is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature, and He upholds the universe by the word of His power.”—Hebrews 1:31
Paul provided two descriptions of Jesus in this verse, each of which reveals an important characteristic of the one who we have been called to follow, to emulate, to become a representation of, just as He reflected the Father to us. He is both the “radiance,” the brilliance of God’s glory, and an exact imprint of the Father’s nature. But what does that mean for us?
Jesus described Himself as “the light of the world.”2 He is the brilliance of the Father that shines into our lives, manifesting the love of God, illumining our way to the Father so that we can experience all that His love provides for us, His children.
John 1 says that “In Him [Jesus] was life, and that life was the light of men.” We couldn’t live without physical light that nourishes our bodies and the physical world around us. Likewise, without the spiritual light of God, who is the source of all life, we would be lost in spirit and in “the shadow of death.” The Bible says concerning Jesus, “The people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.”3
When Jesus came to earth, He brought us the spiritual light of God that frees those who take it in, delivering them from death.4 That’s the essence of what salvation is: God sent His light to us, which is the source of eternal life, and when we take Jesus into our lives, we start to be filled with the brightness, the radiance of God.
But there’s even more. Jesus is more than the light alone, as incomprehensibly amazing as that is. He is also the imprint of God’s nature. An imprint is a visible representation of something. Jesus manifested God the Father’s nature through all He said and did. He presented God in a way that we, His human creations, could understand. As we look at Jesus and His life, we see glimpses of the very nature of God, the love of God, the expectations of God for us, and the mercy and compassion of our Father who has given us so much more than we could ask or imagine.5
We see a Father who will face even the greatest of sacrifices for the results they will bring,6 who cares enough to seek out the lost and patiently guide them into His arms.7
We see God’s nature in every miracle and in every word of forgiveness and hope Jesus spoke. We see it in His love that has an extra spiritual eye to see the good and possibilities, even when we’re at our worst. We see it in the wisdom and truth that are ours to receive from Him. We see it in His gentleness towards those in need and in His fury against evil. Discovering God’s nature is an adventure that we’ll spend eternity experiencing.
God’s radiance, Jesus, came into this world in such a small form: as a baby in a stable. So few even took notice. Yet His arrival became the greatest event to ever happen, providing salvation for all who would accept Him. As we grow closer to Jesus, we can increasingly radiate God’s Spirit in this life and ultimately throughout the universe and eternity.
When we look at ourselves, we probably don’t see the beauty of God’s imprint manifested very clearly. But then, how many could have imagined what would come from a struggling woman and her poor husband for whom everything seemed to be going so terribly wrong? Having to leave their home behind, not knowing where she would deliver her baby. Having to give birth among the animals, laying her newborn son in a feed trough. Who would have imagined that such a troubled and seemingly “unblessed” beginning for that tiny new life would usher in the radiance and the imprint of God’s life force and glory and sovereignty for all to see?
So if you feel like things have gone wrong in your life and are looking pretty bleak right now, you can still rejoice. If you have Jesus in your life, even the smallest space holds the potential for glorious things when you’re letting God’s Spirit guide you.
That’s a reason to face your day with a smile, because through Jesus’ radiant love and the example of God’s nature that lives in our hearts, your future couldn’t be more wonderful.
Originally published January 2015. Adapted and republished December 2017.
Read by Carol Andrews.
2 John 8:12.
3 Matthew 4:16.
4 Ephesians 2:4–5.
5 Ephesians 3:20.
6 Hebrews 12:2 KJV.
7 Luke 19:10.