catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 1, Num 8 :: 2002.12.20 — 2003.01.02


Incarnation and the image of God

Part 2 of 4

Image is everything

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them" (Genesis 1:26-27).

The making of man in God?s image was the climax of God?s creative act. After everything else was created, God made man to be kingly rulers over the earth, caretakers over creation?.like God. In the image of God, in His likeness, man was created righteous and holy. As beings made in the likeness of God, humans were to be honored and respected, not murdered or cursed.

Man?s likeness changed, however, after the Fall. When Adam and Eve ate the fruit that God had commanded them not to eat, they were suddenly ashamed to be in the presence of God. They selfishly blamed the other for their own sin. As a result of this act of disobedience, God said “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever” (Gen. 3:22). So He banished them from the Garden of Eden.

Adam and Eve?s act against God marks a shift in man?s image. Man is no longer in God?s likeness, but has taken on a different image. In the account of the genealogy of Adam in Genesis 5, it is revealed that an awful sickness has entered Adam?s line:


When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. He created them male and female and blessed them. And when they were created, he called them “man.” When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth. (Gen. 5:1-3)


Adam?s children, then, are born not in the likeness of God, but in the image of sinful man. From this point forward, all people born of Adam are alike in their sinfulness.

The repercussions of sin, of living in the likeness of man rather than of God, are manifested throughout the rest of the Old Testament story. In their own likeness, humans are unable to do good on their own. Even as God?s chosen humans, the Jews still need all the help they can get—judges, priests, prophets and kings—to keep them from falling apart as a people. Since sin keeps women and men from the presence of God, these women and men forget the Lord and His goodness.

Every human birth seems to repeat this sad story of sin. Since every birth delivers another child in the image of sinful man, the lineage of sinful people grows. Yet the promise God made in Genesis 3 that the offspring of the woman will crush the serpent?s head suggests there is hope in childbirth.

When Jesus Christ is finally born to Mary, that promise finds fulfillment. Conceived in the womb of a virgin, Christ Jesus proves to be a son made in the image of God the Father. Since no human father is responsible for Jesus? birth, the conclusion we are meant to reach is that God is the Father of this child and that out of this child a new race of people, once again made in the likeness?or image—of God, can be conceived.

In order to re-establish His likeness in mankind, God Himself had to be born as a human. Since the Fall, human beings have longed to stand in the presence of God again, to see their Maker. As the Maker who made Himself in Mary?s womb, God gives us His own image in the person of Jesus Christ. Now, because of Christ, because of the incarnation, the very image of God walks among us.


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