Over the past year, I’ve periodically circled back to various Scripture passages (Ephesians 1, Philippians 2, Colossians 1:15-20, Hebrews 1:1-4, John 1 and it’s correlation to Genesis 1) in an exploration of how Jesus’ divinity and humanity combine to redeem both heavenly and earthly realities. There is much here to explore, and each time I have tried writing it out I am stunned by the vastness of the dimensions and nuances Scripture displays. In the meantime, however, perhaps an illustration would suffice; one that comes to mind whenever I reread these passages.
One of the most endearing aspects of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series are the depictions of various magical novelties: wands, invisibility cloaks, animated paintings, floating staircases, hats that judge you. Like so many others, I found these to be quite a bit of fun. But the one that amazed me the most was the wizarding tent.
When Harry arrives at a tent-city for a Quidditch tournament, he is led to a quite average-sized pup tent. After several of his sizeable friends enter the tent, Harry approaches cautiously, concerned about space. Upon entering the magical tent, however, he delightfully discovers the inside is much extravagantly larger than the outside. Its greater length, width, and depth give mindboggling dimension to the deceptively modest canvas exterior. In addition to its spaciousness, simple luxury adorns the interior—cushioned armchairs, coffee table, curtains, bunkbeds, woodstove, area rugs, a kitchen with tables and chairs, plants, and a bookshelf. The atmosphere is perfect for allowing the friends to relax for joyful interaction and celebration. Awed by all this, Harry comments “I love magic!”
The Christological idea I am attempting to draw from this illustration is that though Jesus’ incarnate fleshly form is utterly average, within lies a magnificent multi-dimensional majesty that welcomes us in to what feels like home.
Interestingly, this imagery may not be without comparative Scriptural precedent. In the beginning of John’s gospel, the apostle writes “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
The root definition for the Greek word dwelt means to live in or pitch one’s tent. In essence, God pitched a tent and lived among humankind through the fleshly form of Jesus.
This imagery may be additionally supported by Jesus’ “x-ray-like” transfiguration where, in Luke 9, his appearance becomes splendorous, gleaming like lightning, as he walks gloriously with Moses and Elijah.
What’s more, when the LORD’s glorious presence was originally revealed to the people of Israel, God dwelt in a tent (Exodus 40:34-35).
There may have been a time when the LORD’s glory was shielded from Israel; and there was a time when Jesus told his disciples not to talk about him and the things they saw. But no longer. Jesus now definitely wants us to pay attention to the GOD behind the curtain.
To borrow Paul’s famous prepositional phrase, by abiding “in Him” through belief and obedience, we come to learn that Jesus’ inside is much greater than his outside.
Through his external nail-pierced hands, we learn “in Him” how to extend our own hands in blessing. Through his dust-covered feet, we learn “in Him” to leave peace in the paths we tread. Through his dry tongue that still deliberately spoke on the cross, we learn “in Him” to lace our language with grace and truth.
“In Him” all reality finds renewal as new creation is taking shape. “In Him” we find a vast community that now constitutes his body. “In Him” the Church body demonstrates to the world a better way of being and doing. As we abide “in Him” creation catches a glimpse of the redemption it will one day enjoy. “In Him” is an entire world of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and continence. Within the person of Jesus, we are being restored to wholeness.
These ideas are not merely the study of Christ. They are an exploration of “inside-out living”. In Christ we are learning to live out his inside through our outside. We are the physical correlation of his divine reality. It’s not magical; it’s miraculous. In view of his incarnate and transcendent majesty, our lives can enter into a perpetual wonder that marvels “I love GOD”.