"Die" : a stamp; an engraved device used for making an impression of a design on a softer material
Easter is coming. It is a special time of year. There will be special services and music, sermons and messages. We will feel again the passion of Christ at His entry into Jerusalem, the betrayal and arrest, the beatings and mockery, the condemnation and crucifixion. We will hear in song and voice of the glorious resurrection of the Son of God. We'll see the Cross and find the Way to salvation.
But apart from salvation, has the Cross impacted your life? Has Jesus made an impression on you?
The Apostle Paul once wrote to believers in Thessalonica. After praising their strong faith, love and endurance, he said, You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. (1 Thessalonians 1:6-7)
Some Bible translations use "model" as you see here. Others use "example", "ensample", "type" or "pattern". But they all come from the same Greek word... Tupon , which generally refers to a mark or impression made by a die or stamp, a resemblance or copy of an original. So what Paul is saying is that through their imitation of Christ and godly people, these early believers had themselves become a model for others because they carried the impression of Jesus Christ. Jesus was their spiritual die and the impression of His life had been stamped onto theirs.
The same should be said of us. Easter is an important time for us to remember what happened long ago, but if it is just a memory, then we have failed. If people cannot look at us and see the very imprint of the Son of God, Easter becomes little more than a holiday. Are we committed only to a memory? As you think about that, here's something else significant about Paul's choice of words.
To create a Tupon , a man would often take the engraved metal (the die), hold it against the other material, and strike it hard with a mallet. What received the impression was being dealt a blow, but not just any blow. Tupon comes from the word Tupto which means to strike with repeated blows. So Paul was painting an image of an impression being formed through repeated, direct blows to something not as strong or resilient as the original. But if Jesus is the spiritual die, where do the blows come from?
They spit on Him, and took the staff and struck Him on the head again and again. (Matthew 27:30) Again and again they struck Him on the head with a staff and spit on Him. (Mark 15:19 And having blindfolded Him, they struck Him on the face and asked Him, saying, "Prophesy! Who is the one who struck You?" (Luke 22:64)
"Struck"...again and again...this is the word Tupto . It is the will of God that we become Christ-like. But the blows...those repeated blows...come from the world. The blows leave us broken, yet useful, for then and only then can the Father mold us into the people He wants us to become. And only through this process can we more fully carry the impression of Christ. Even Jesus did not exempt Himself.
When the other Disciples said they had seen Jesus alive, Thomas refused to believe until he had seen and touched the marks left by the nails in Jesus' hands. A week later Jesus appeared, showed Thomas the marks, and said, Stop doubting and believe. (John 20:25-27) The word John used for "mark"...the proof for Thomas that Jesus lives...is Tupon .
Jesus is alive! He carries the mark He received from the blows of man to show the world how much He loves us. And we...who commit to follow Him and become more like Christ every day...we, too, have received and likely will continue to receive blow after blow from an unbelieving world. Some blows may be physical, others may be emotional. Like Jesus we may be struck and spit upon, or we may meet disappointment, frustration and betrayal at every corner. But these blows drive the image of Christ deeper into our lives and, if we will allow it, everyone who sees us will see His image.
Has Jesus made His impression on you?
Take care and be God's,Chuck