by John MacArthur December 6, 2021
Just as the sun’s rays illuminate and warm the Earth, so Christ is God’s glorious light that shines into the hearts of mankind. That is the point that the writer of Hebrews makes when he describes Jesus Christ—God incarnate—as “the radiance of [God’s] glory” (Hebrews 1:3).
“Radiance” literally means “to send forth light,” indicating that Jesus is the manifestation of God to us. Jesus Christ is the radiance of who God is, and He affirmed that fact during His earthly ministry: “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life” (John 8:12). Christ transmits that light into our lives so that we can radiate the glory of God to others. God sent His glorious light, in the person of Jesus Christ, into a morally dark world to call sinners to Himself. No one would ever be able to see or enjoy God’s true radiance if it weren’t for His Son and those who know Him.
It is truly a blessing to know that Jesus Christ can indwell your life and impart the spiritual light necessary to see and believe God. Jesus’ radiance points you to salvation, which in turn results in forgiveness, reconciliation, peace, joy, and genuine fellowship for all eternity.
Hebrews 1:3 goes on to declare that Jesus Christ is “the exact representation of [God’s] nature.” Jesus possesses the essential nature or being of God the Father. That is, He has all the attributes that are indispensable to who and what God is, such as immutability (unchangeableness), omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence. He is the exact stamp or replication of God. In the words of the Nicene Creed, Jesus Christ is “very God of very God.”
The apostle Paul likewise teaches us in Colossians 1:15, “He is the image of the invisible God.” Here, unlike Hebrews 1:3, the Greek word translated “image” is eikōn, from which we get the English term “icon,” meaning a precise copy or reproduction. But both verses communicate the same truth. Christ possesses the very nature of God and perfectly manifests all of His attributes. The incarnate Son of God displays the essence of God to everyone who sees Him.
Whenever people talk about the baby in the manger, they speak of none other than God Himself. And next time, we’ll consider Christ’s sovereign role in sustaining creation and saving sinners.
(Adapted from God in the Manger)