Posts Tagged 'Son of God'

Jesus: The Son of God


John:  Part Two

America is study of oddities.  For example, in 2004, 84% of Americans identified themselves as “Christians.”  What’s odd is that just 82% of that number believed Jesus to be the Son of God and only 79% believed in the Virgin Birth!  How odd indeed.  There is a definite disconnect between one’s claim to be a Christian and one’s belief in the most basic of Bible doctrines:  the divinity of Christ.

Part of the problem is a lack of teaching.  Far too many church-goers in America attend churches with little or no solid teaching.  Churches light on teaching may make good clubs or places for good fellowship, but they produce dismal Christians.  Another problem is that a lot of self-identified American Christians are self-taught; they attend no formal church.  There is a belief that anybody can grasp Bible doctrines; that theological education and training aren’t necessary.   Who needs a church or a pastor?  Of course, since these folk are self-taught, they obviously didn’t get to the verses teaching the necessity of regular church attendance or the fact the God gave the church pastors/teachers…

At any rate, what a Christian thinks of Jesus Christ is of the utmost importance.  Is He divine?  Is He human?  Or is He both?

1.  A great confession, John 1:45-51

The Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke) all wait until the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry to bring out the truth of His divine nature.  John, however, places this truth at the very beginning in the form of a confession from one of the disciples.

(a)     Nathanael, the doubter, verses 45-48

At this juncture in John’s Gospel, Jesus decided it was time to move on, so He crossed over the Jordan and headed to Galilee.  During the journey, He found Philip, who would become the His latest apostle.  To Philip, Jesus simply said, “Follow me,” and he did just that.

Philip was one the Twelve that was consciously looking for the Messiah to come.  And he seemed to know Jesus was He.  Excitedly, the new apostle found Nathaniel, who was from Cana, to share the good news.  Looking at the order of the words spoken by Philip to Nathaniel, it becomes obvious that Nathaniel was going to be a hard sell.  Philip begins with a declaration that he has found the Messiah, and ends with the word “Nazareth,” which is the first word Nathaniel hears!

Nazareth! Can anything good come from there? Nathanael asked.Come and see, said Philip.  (John 1:46 NIV84)

 The two ideas – Messiah and Nazareth –  were to Nathaniel contradictory ideas.  “Nathaniel” means “gift from God” is and comparable to the Greek name “Theodore.”  Nathaniel was probably the “Bartholomew” of the Synoptics.  He was obviously well-versed in the Old Testament and believed that “nothing good ever came out of Nazareth.”  Fortunately for him, Philip was very insistent and didn’t give up.

(b)  Nathanael’s revelation, verses 49-51

Then Nathanael declared, Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.  (John 1:49 NIV84)

 Philip’s invitation to Nathanael, “Come and see,” is really an invitation from Jesus Himself.  The exchange between Nathanael and Jesus is at first glance quite humorous:

When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false. How do you know me? Nathanael asked.  Jesus answered, I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”  (John 1:47-48 NIV84)

Just what did that whole exchange mean?  Apparently, Nathanael had been sitting under a fig tree doing something.  But what?  Was he taking a nap?  The clue comes from what Jesus said in verse 51:

He then added, I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.  (John 1:51 NIV84)

That is clearly a reference to Jacob’s experience  at Bethel (Genesis 28:10-17).  Maybe Nathanael had been sitting beneath the shade of the tree reading that very story; about Jacob, an Israelite who was truly filled with deceit.  To Jacob God granted great visions.  To Nathanael, who was not deceitful, would be granted even more:  a Divine revelation of who Jesus Christ really was:

Then Nathanael declared, Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.  (John 1:49 NIV84)

Where did Nathanael get that idea?  It must have come from the mind of God Himself.  This points to an important lesson.  Many people have no problem acknowledging the existence of God.  A lot of people without hesitation would answer the question, “Do you believe in God” in the affirmative.  But the real issue is not belief in God; even the Devil believes in God!  No, the question of the ages is:  “Who do you think Jesus is?”  The human mind rebels at the thought of God and Man existing in One Perfect Person.  It takes a work of grace for the human mind to acknowledge the divinity of Jesus Christ.

2.   God sent His Son, John 3:16-18; 27-36

 John 3 is a most remarkable chapter for two reasons.  First, it is a prime example of why, sometimes, chapter breaks are not put in the proper place.  The last verse of chapter 2 is really a set-up for the conversations of chapter 3:

He did not need mans testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man.(  John 2:25 NIV84)

There should be no break between that thought and the introduction of Nicodemus, a  man who he had never met Jesus, yet Jesus knew all about him.

The second reason John 3 is so remarkable is because of verse 16, a declaration that God sent Jesus, His Son.

(a)     A word for Nicodemus, verses 16-18

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”   (John 3:16 NIV84)

This is probably the most famous verse in the whole Bible, but it is really just part of a lengthy conversation Jesus had with Nicodemus.  It is also the very first mention of God’s love in John’s Gospel.  It’s a dominant theme, so it’s surprising it took three chapters to get to it!  The word to this noble Pharisee was that God was reaching out to the whole world; that God’s love is universal.  God’s love isn’t just for some, but for all people, everywhere.  This is the WHY God did what He did in sending His Son:  He loved.  The Greek word used for “love” here is egapesen, a love that does things for others with no thought for self.  It’s describes a love that would risk all for another; a love that counts no price too great if somebody else could benefit.  It really describes an absolute love.

That was the first word to Nicodemus:  the nature of God’s love.  The second word to this Pharisee is the requirement to believe.

Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of Gods one and only Son.  (John 3:18 NIV84)

We see the absolute necessity of making a conscious decision to believe in Jesus Christ.  Belief in God only gets a person so far.  Belief in Jesus Christ, with all that that entails, is what makes the difference in one’s life and one’s eternal destination.  Judgment and condemnation await all those who do not believe, but for those who do believe, those things irrelevant.

As succinctly noted by Joseph Mayfield, there is an “open door to life,” and it has three characteristics, all of which were explained to Nicodemus:  (1)  It is God’s great gift from above; (2) It comes only to the one who has faith; and (3) The alternative to life is God’s judgment.

(b)  The herald of God’s sending, verses 27-36

After the encounter with Nicodemus and after celebrating Passover, Jesus, along with some of His disciples, left Jerusalem and ventured into the countryside of Judea.  This period of ministry is unique to John – it’s not in the Synoptics – and it portrays the relationship that existed between Jesus and the man who heralded His coming, John the Baptist.  The thing about John the Baptist was that he knew who he was.

You yourselves can testify that I said, I am not the Christ but am sent ahead of him.  The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegrooms voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete.  He must become greater; I must become less.  (John 3:28-30 NIV84)

John the Baptist was resolutely convinced of Jesus’s divine nature because of where Jesus came from.  In fact, the Baptist understood a very profound thing:

For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit.   (John 3:34 (NIV84)

The ministry – the very words and teachings – of Jesus did not originate in Him, but rather God poured out His wisdom and power into Jesus by the Holy Spirit.

Furthermore, John knew that his role role in the ministry of salvation is limited, but he had the wisdom (from God) to see that Jesus’ role was limitless because to Him alone has been given power over all things.

3.  The Son gives life, John 5:19-30

 (a)  Jesus defends His actions, verses 9-23

The big problem with Jesus in the eyes of the religious elite was not that He went around healing people, but that He did it on the Sabbath.  He seemed to do this deliberately, because each time He faced such an angry accusation, He used it as a “teachable moment,” usually to discuss His unique relationship with God.

Jesus gave them this answer: I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.   (John 5:19 NIV84)

In a sense, the accusing Jews were partly right and partly wrong:

For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.  (John 5:18 NIV84)

Jesus was, in fact, making Himself equal with God!  But they were wrong in suggesting He was breaking the Sabbath.  The very fact that Jesus is the Son of God made violating the Sabbath an impossibility!

Jesus gives life because God gives life!

For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it.   (John 5:21 NIV84)

Jesus raised the dead, but that power came from God by way of the Holy Spirit.  The religious elite couldn’t debate the fact that Jesus raised the dead, but the fact that He did it on the wrong day really bent them out of shape!

The second part of this verse is the subject of Jesus’ preaching:  the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it.  What that really means is explained in the verses that follow.

(b)  Jesus preaches the Gospel, verses  24-30

I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.”   (John 5:24 NIV84)

This simple statement explains what Jesus meant when He said that He gives life to whom He is pleased to give it.  Jesus was referring to spiritual life, not raising the dead.  And He was not saying that He was pleased to give life to some but not to others.  Whoever hears the Gospel and believes, to him Jesus is pleased to give life!  This was something Paul readily grasped:

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.   (Romans 1:16 (NIV84)

The Gospel is life-giving.  When a sinner hears it, it begins a work in his heart, whether he knows it or not.  That work can be resisted.  A depraved nature can stifle the work of the Word; it can be ignored.  But it doesn’t have to be!  The Word – the Gospel – is the power of God for salvation!  Depraved man has the capacity to believe in what he is hearing; he cannot save Himself, but he can incline his ear toward the Gospel.  The hearing and the believing go together. They are always correlatives of the Word, that is, the Word is intended for the very purpose of being heard and believed.

He that hears and believes receives eternal, and this life literally flows from God, it is grounded in God, it joins the redeemed soul to God, and it leads to God (10:28). The very second a sinner receives this life he is made alive, literally born again. And the really exciting thing is this:  the physical death we will all one day experience only leads us into a fuller measure of this life.



The letter to the Hebrews is different from all other New Testament letters. For one thing, it is anonymous. With respect to the KJV, the apostle Paul almost certainly did not write it. The simple fact is, we have no idea who is responsible for writing this most remarkable letter. However, as we read it, we realize that while the human agent may be unknown, the Holy Spirit is clearly behind each and every sentence.

We also don’t know who the intended recipient or recipients were. The salutation is non-existent. Based on the content of this letter, we can be sure that the author is writing to Hebrew Christians; but beyond that, we don’t where they lived, when the lived, or where they went to church. However, given the nature of this letter, it could easily have been written to any group of believers, in any location, at any time in history. Hebrews transcends time and space. This is the dynamic, spiritual quality of the Word of God.

The first four verses constitute a powerful introduction of the Person and work of Jesus Christ. The author points to Jesus as being superior to all heavenly beings. In the Greek, these four verses are one, single, powerful sentence designed to show the difference between the old, partial revelation from God through His prophets and the new, complete revelation through His Son.

1. The God who spoke, 1:1-2a

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways…

It is significant that the subject of the very first verb is “God.” In this letter, God is continually on the mind of its author. He uses the word 68 times in throughout the letter, which is an average of about once in ever 73 words. No other book in the New Testament mentions God as often.

As was mentioned, the author dispenses with the usual greetings and salutations and dives right into his subject. With this first phrase, the inspired writer refers, not to a general revelation to all people, like God revealing Himself through nature or man’s conscience, but to a special revelation, given to specific men (prophets) of the nation of the Hebrews.

In Genesis, the first thing God is seen doing is creating the material universe. Here in Hebrews, the first thing God is acknowledged as doing is speaking in a variety of ways. How did God communicate to His people? Consider:

Moses and the burning bush, Exodus 3;
Elijah in a still, small vice, 1 Kings 19;
Isaiah in a vision in the Temple, Isaiah 6;
Hosea in his family circumstances, Hosea 1;
Amos in a basket of fruit, Amos 8

In the Old Testament, in the days before Christ, God spoke in a variety of ways to individuals. He may have spoken in dreams and visions, through angelic visitors in the night, through the Urim and Thummin, through symbols, or through nature. There seemed to be no end to the variety of ways God used to get His message through to certain individuals so they in turn could give it to the nation of God’s people.

When the author uses the term “prophets,” he isn’t necessarily referring to only to those who preached and prophesied, but also to those who wrote the books of the Old Testament and those who read them. Moses, David, Ezra, and Nehemiah would be included, along with the likes of Jeremiah and Malachi. What God said through Moses to the Israelites in the desert, He also spoke to Ezra and Nehemiah and their people through the Books of Moses as they were read aloud.

God spoke in the past, then, through what the Old Testament writers recorded in written form as history, psalm, proverb, and prophecy. As far as the writer to the Hebrews was concerned, the “prophets” were simply all those saints, called by God and anointed with His Spirit to speak and write the Word as a progressive revelation that pointed toward the coming of Christ, thousands of years later, as God’s final and complete Word to all mankind. Peter echoed a similar sentiment over in the New Testament:

Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things. (1 Peter 1:10-12)

…but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son… (verse 2a)

“In these last days” is a striking contrast with “In the past,” signifying that though the days or times may have changed, God has continued to speak to His people. God’s revelation, in other words, cannot be disassociated from the history of the world. In fact, the opposite is true: the events of history served to buttress the truth of God’s Word.

And even though “in these last days” God has effectively stopped speaking the way He did “in the past,” both parts of God’s revelation–the old, fragmented part and the new completed part–constitute one, single unit of revelation because there is but one Revealer. There is ONE God, therefore there is ONE revelation. The Word spoken by God to the forefathers in the past does not differ in essence from the Word spoken to us by His Son. There is a continuity between the Old Testament and New.

There is, however, a difference. Jesus Christ is seen throughout Hebrews as the complete and culminating revelation of God to man. He is God’s full and final Word to all men. Everything prior to Christ is partial and preparatory. Every word after Christ is merely the restatement or clarification of what God spoke through His Son.

But it wasn’t just through the verbal teachings of Jesus that God spoke; it was through all the remarkable events of our Lord’s life and ministry: His virgin birth, His sinless life, His work of redemption, His death, resurrection, and ascension. Jesus Christ’s whole existence, His whole reason for being, was to deliver, personally, the full revelation of God to man.

2. The Incarnate Son, 1:2b-3

a. His mission, verse 3d

…he had provided purification for sins…

Note how the author states what Christ’s mission was: He provided purification for sins. Jesus Christ did it; He did not attempt it. The mission of Christ is an accomplished fact. The word “purification” comes from the Greek katharismos, and usually means “ritual cleansing,” but here it refers to the complete and absolute removal of sin. Not only that, the idea of cleansing cannot be ignored. Sin stains. Sin corrupts the sinner. Christ’s work of cleansing not only removes the sin from the sinner, but it cleans the sinner! As if that’s not enough, the verb “provided” is in the aorist tense. The cleansing done for every repentant sinner is based on a past action: Christ’s action, once and for all.

b. His Person, verses 2b-3

These Hebrew believers needed to understand that the humiliation of our Lord was but a brief interlude between His preexistent glory and its resumption after the Ascension. While these Hebrews were undoubtedly Christian converts, they were in danger of drifting back into their old way of thinking. Remember, to the Jew, the Cross was an offence; it was a sign of weakness and defeat instead of victory and power. These Hebrew believers needed to be reminded of what the Cross really meant in terms of Jesus Christ. So, just who is the Son of God?

First, He is seen as the agent of God’s awesome power, verse 2.

…through whom also he made the universe…

As “the heir of all things,” Jesus Christ is the lawful owner of every created thing in the universe. The power and significance of this thought cannot be overstated. As the lawful owner of all creation, Jesus did not come to negotiate with Satan, but to defeat him.

While God may be the Creator, it was through His Son that He created all things. The word translated as “universe” is tous aionas, means literally “the ages.” What a staggering thought. Jesus Christ, the originator of time, and all the things that fill it. Jesus Christ, the eternal Logos–the eternal Word–that proceeded from the mind of God.

He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. (John 1:10, 11)

Second, the Son is the expression of God’s Person, verse 3a

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being…

The word “radiance” is useful word and may be translated in different ways. Perhaps a better way to understand it is “reflection.” Jesus Christ is the very reflection of God’s glory. The moon receives its light from the sun and we see that reflected light here on earth. The moon itself doesn’t generate light, it has no light apart from the sun. Similarly, we may picture Jesus Christ as the radiant light coming from the Father as sunlight comes from the sun. In other words, we see the glory of God in the Son of God.

But even more than that, Jesus is the exact representation of God’s being. This is much more than the image of God in which man was created. The word for “exact representation” is an rare and unusual Greek word, charakter, and it refers to the image stamped on a coin, for example. The RSV translates charakter in such a way as to bring this out:

The Son…bears the very stamp of his nature…

The Amplified Bible renders the phrase:

He is the perfect imprint and very image of [God’s] nature…

Third, Jesus Christ, the Son of God is the Sustainer of all creation, verse 3c

…sustaining all things by his powerful word.

Not only is Christ the great Architect of the ages, He literally holds it all together; He is the superglue that keeps all the atoms from blowing apart! The word “sustaining” really means “to carry forward.” In other words, the Son of God holds the universe together and is carrying it to its designated end. What’s truly remarkable is that Jesus does this work simply with a mere utterance. The mighty Son of God, ruler of the universe, says one word and all things listen in obedience to His voice.

As awesome as that thought may be, the final phrase speaks of the the greatest work of the Son:

After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.

The redemptive work of Christ is the main theme of this letter. It is through this work that the Son of God has made God’s nature known to man. Through the ministry of Jesus, we see God’s unparalleled love, grace, mercy, justice, holiness and righteousness. Thanks to the work of Christ on the Cross, all sin is purged from all creation; our personal sins and all creation is purged from sin. This amazing work was done once, for all. Our Lord accomplished it by Himself.

The last phrase of verse 3 affirms the Son’s Lordship. “Sitting at God’s right hand” signifies far more than rest. It is a way to illustrate enthronement. Jesus took the seat of honor and authority after His work was finished. Having completed the work of revelation and redemption, He assumed His rightful place of honor and authority that was His from all eternity.

And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began. (John 17:5)

Today, there is a lot of “God talk.” North Americans are obsessed with a kind of pseudo-spirituality and a “generic faith” in God. But believing in God is not sufficient. Anybody can believe in God. If belief in God was enough to get you into heaven, then Jesus wasted His time. The fact is, the measure of anybody’s faith in God is their response to Jesus Christ. The burning question of this age is one that Jesus asked over 2,000 years ago:

What do you think about the Christ? (Matthew 22:42)

(c)  2011 WitzEnd

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