“He is the radiance of His glory, the exact expression of His nature.” Hebrews 1:3.
Radiant: (adj) (1) shining brightly (2) showing pleasure; beaming (3) issuing from a source in, or as in, rays.
During the First Century, many believers in the Church were having trouble understanding concepts that today are viewed as basic doctrinal tenants of Christianity. These questions, coupled with the continuing delay in Christ’s second coming, led many believers to begin migrating back into traditional Judaism.
The anonymous author of Hebrews sought to address this audience of confused believers, and also sought to convey Christ’s fulfillment of Judaic Law and traditions. The author of Hebrews wanted the readers to stand firm in their belief of Jesus as Messiah and to understand that everything prophesied in the Old Testament had, or was still yet to, come to pass in Jesus. Christ was and is the complete fulfillment of everything that was or would be.
Very methodically, the author of Hebrews explains in chapter one how God had communicated with mankind in the past through the prophets, but that His most recent–and final–revelation to mankind was through Jesus, His son. For many today,just as it was then, the concept of the Trinity–the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit– is a difficult concept to grasp. Though all three are separate beings, all three are of the same essence and all three are wholly holy and divine. An old Catholic priest once explained it like this: God is the sun that everything revolves around in our solar system; Christ is the light that radiates from the sun and illuminates the world; and the Holy Spirit is the heat that emanates from the sun and its light that reminds one of the sun’s presence. The light and heat are both of the sun, and both are different facets in which the sun is experienced.
This is very similar to what the author of Hebrews is saying. “He (Jesus) is the radiance of God’s glory,” meaning that Jesus is the physical representation of God’s glory, projecting to the world this glory in the same manner that light beams project the sun’s power. In addition to this, Jesus is the “exact expression of His (God’s) nature,” meaning that Jesus reflects and embodies God. By studying Christ, mankind can know what God is like, because Christ is God.
How does this apply to us today, in an era in which the Church is mainstream and the only apostasy most believers deal with is that of apathy? We must remember that as humans, we are God’s highest form of creation; having been made in His image. Despite mankind’s sinful and fallen nature, God desires a relationship with mankind, as evidenced throughout Scripture–from Noah to the Exodus; the giving of the Law to the plea of the prophets to return to this Law. The depth of God’s desire to have a relationship with man culminates in Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. Though man tries to fight this and push God away, God still draws close to man. As Christians, we are called to be Christ-like, literally to be imitators of Christ. As we discussed earlier, Christ radiates God’s glory and illuminates the world with it. We must reflect this light and glory to the world, just as the moon reflects the sun’s light. This is our call, and it is our duty.
What are you radiating?