Recently, as part of my job duties at our local public library, I was certified as a Notary Public. The main function of a notary is to verify that a signature on a document was made by the person who is represented by the signature. Typically, that is done by the signor showing me a photo ID and signing the document in my presence.
When a notary is satisfied that the person signing a document is who they say they are, the notary signs an affirmation of that fact and stamps the document with an embossed seal. The image carved into the seal is thereby imprinted on the paper to legitimize the authenticity of the notarization.
In Hebrews 1:3 (NASB), the writer avers that Jesus is “the exact representation of (God’s) nature.” The Greek word used there is charakter, which in Greek has two meanings: a seal and the impression that a seal leaves on wax. It is the same word for both the seal and the impression, because the impression has the exact form of the seal.
Just as when you look at a notary stamp embossed on a document and see exactly what is carved on the stamp, when you look at Jesus you see exactly what God is like. John Wesley said, “Whatever the Father is, is exhibited in the Son.” It isn’t God the just and Jesus the merciful; it isn’t God the wrathful and Jesus the kind. Jesus is the exact representation of God’s nature.
Because Jesus is the exact representation of God’s nature, He could tell Philip, “The one who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). In the introduction to his Gospel, the Apostle John wrote, “No one has seen God at any time; God the only Son, who is in the arms of the Father, He has explained Him” (John 1:18). God, who is as the hymnwriter said, “in light inaccessible, hid from our eyes”, revealed His character to us through Jesus, who is the exact representation of God’s nature.
The Apostle Paul said that we look at the glory of the Lord as in a mirror as we “are being transformed into the same image” (2 Corinthians 2:18). Paul also proclaimed that we were “predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29). It is clear that this journey of salvation is intended to transform and conform our character with the character of Jesus.
Jesus prayed for us in His great High Priestly Prayer that “the glory which You have given Me I also have given to them, so that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and You loved them, just as You loved Me” (John 17:22-23). Jesus wants us to be like Him, because He is like the Father. And so when the hope of Jesus’ prayer is a reality in our lives, the world can look at us and see the image of Jesus, who has the image of the Father. When we are conformed to that image that we were created to be, the world may know who the Father is.
O to be like Thee! O to be like Thee!
Blessed Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.
~ Thomas O. Chisolm ~
~ Matt Kinnell, NHIM Board Chair