The first known use of the English phrase “spitting image” was in the 1901 novel Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch by Alice Rice. In her book a character says, “He’s jes’ like his pa—the very spittin’ image of him!” But what does “spitting image” mean? For centuries, versions of the phrase evolved, all involving spittle as a measure of likeness. The earliest versions suggested one person was so like another, it was if he was spat out of the other’s mouth—meaning almost identical.
The Bible uses less earthy, but no less intimate, terms to describe Jesus’ likeness to His own heavenly Father: “all the fullness of the Godhead” dwells “bodily” in Jesus. All of God was present in Jesus’ physical incarnation. There was nothing of God that was not manifest in Jesus. That is an even greater likeness than a human child who looks and acts “jes’ like his pa.” The writer to the Hebrews used different terms: Jesus is “the brightness of [God’s] glory and the express image of His person” (Hebrews 1:3).
This likeness is critical to Christian theology and experience. If it is not God who has saved us, we are unsaved. We thank God for Jesus being God in the flesh.
The fear of the Lord was a lovely grace in the perfect humanity of Jesus.