The Truest Human... Jesus
Well that’s when Jesus steps on the scene. Jesus walked around speaking and teaching on the Kingdom of God. In fact, this was easily Jesus’ favorite topic. Jesus preached the coming of the Kingdom of God, the coming of God’s new rule and reign in this rebellious world. His teaching focused on what living within this coming rule would look like: The last would be first. Loving the enemy would be top priority. The unlikely would be blessed. Those who wanted to lead must serve. In his time on earth, Jesus demonstrated what true ruling and reigning looks like. As the King of kings, Jesus ruled immensely different from other kings. In his establishment of the Kingdom, Jesus invites humans into a new way, the original way, of being human. When we follow the ways of Jesus’ Kingdom, we follow the path to true humanity.
When Jesus entered the grave and defeated death three days later, he exited the tomb with a path to restoration. Through his resurrection, Jesus initiated the curse-reversal of creation. The world that had been damaged by human failure is now being renewed to its original intention (check out Romans 8 for Paul’s reflection on this). In doing so, Jesus became the great priest, not just by his perfect sacrifice, but also by his restorative care of what humans were meant to tend to. His victory sets people free from the idols in our lives that we have given our image over to. No longer are we slaves to the things we were originally meant to rule over. Through him, all of creation is being brought to new, so that his followers can be the caretakers and gardeners of the created potential.
Now when we get to the end of the story, we see a very similar beginning. Through Jesus’ restorative work in the world, his followers are now described as “priestly kings.”
“You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
and they will reign on the earth.” – Revelation 5:10
The broken pieces of the divine mirrors will be put back together. Revelation envisions the day that God’s “Image Restoration Project” is brought to completion. In the ending scene of the Bible, the human followers of Jesus are back in a garden (but now it’s much bigger!), and they are there “serving” and “reigning forever,” just like Adam and Eve were to serve, rule, and reign over creation.
“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him… And they will reign for ever and ever.” – Revelation 22:1-3, 22:5
The opening chapter of the Bible invites us to reimagine the human life. Amidst our flaws and sinful actions, there is an invitation from Jesus to join a new way of living. You were made for a purpose. You were made to reflect someone who is infinite and limitless, which means there is plenty of uniqueness and creativity to go around. You were made to take what God has given you and do amazing things.
So what have you been given? What are you called to rule and reign over under God’s provision? What are you called to tend to and take care of (a job, a child, a spouse, a friend)?
Are there things you have given your image-bearing nature over to? Are there idols that you are serving and letting rule over you?
Do the things God has designed you to do in the world he’s created. Rid your life of the idols that are not made in his image. Tend to the things that have been given to you, for you are made in the image of God.