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Summary: We find our image in the servanthood of Jesus.

“It’s All About Image”

John 12:23-26

Be honest. What others think about you is important to you, isn’t it? Most of us will admit that we spend an inordinate amount of our time on building and maintaining our image. That’s why we spend so much time and money on cleansers, make-up, combing and styling hair, shaving, manicuring, buying the ‘right’ clothes, and a host of other activities. We want to project the right, the popular image so we will be accepted and liked. So my question is, do you know your image? Is it really a good one, worth spending all that time on?

The Bible teaches us that if we would spend less time on building our image and more time on living out the image God has given us, we would experience the acceptance and blessing we so desperately seek.

To begin with, we can rejoice that WE HAVE A GOD-GIVEN IDENTITY. The deepest roots of our identity go all the way back to Genesis where we learn that we have been created in the image of God; all people live by His divine, creative breath. The Psalmist, in Psalm 139 emphasized it by writing (13-16 MSG): “Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb.” But then, in Exodus 4:22, God said, “This is what the LORD says: Israel is my firstborn son…” God’s people have an even more special relationship with Him. WE POSSESS THE RIGHTS AND PRIVILEGES OF THE FIRST-BORN SON. The firstborn son shares the father’s name and lives on the father’s identity; he is the next in line to the family power and blessing; he is the inheritor of all the riches of the father. So the people of God share the Father’s name, live on the Father’s identity, and receive all the riches of the Father!

This means that OUR VALUE COMES FROM GOD. Think about a mother who just gave birth to her firstborn. Suppose that as she held her baby in her arms, someone came up to her and said, “How much do you want for the child?” Not only would the mother show no interest, but she would be offended at the thought that this precious child could be bought. Suppose, however, the stranger persisted and offered ten thousand dollars, then a hundred thousand, even a million dollars. Any mother in her right mind would turn and walk away, saying, “My baby is not for sale. She is worth more to me than all the money in the world.” Now, why would she say that? Is it because she’s looking forward to countless sleepless nights, thousands of dirty diapers, hundreds of thousands of dollars in costs directly related to raising a child, or to endless worries about safety and protection of her daughter? No! It’s because her child is a reflection of her, an extension of herself; this child is a part of her. The child’s value is wrapped in the mother. So our value comes from and is wrapped up in God.

What a blessing! Listen to Isaiah expound on the privilege (43:1-4 NLT): “But now, O Israel, the LORD who created you says: "Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I gave Egypt, Ethiopia, and Seba as a ransom for your freedom. Others died that you might live. I traded their lives for yours because you are precious to me. You are honored, and I love you.” Did you catch that? “Others died that you might live. I traded their lives for yours because you are precious to me.” Jesus comes to mind! He traded His life for ours- because we are precious and honored and loved! “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us…” The privileges of the first-born!

In reality, WE ARE THE IMAGE OF GOD. We are the image of God to the world. That’s part of what the New Testament means when it states that Jesus Christ is within us! That’s what Pentecost was all about – through the Holy Spirit, God in Christ dwells within us! We are in the process of becoming like Him – Paul wrote that every moment, in every experience, we are being transformed from one degree of glory to another. WE BEAR HIS GLORY There was a “Frank and Ernest” cartoon in which Frank and Ernest were leaving church wearing less than spectacular clothes. One said to the other, “The way I understand it, though our clothes may be plain, we have famous-maker bodies!” and we do! As the second commandment tells us, we are not to make images of God because we His image in the world! It’s all about image – and we have a God-given identity.

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