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In Jesus’ time on earth he made some really audacious statements. But the one that got him in trouble the most and angered the religious leaders eventually leading to his death was that He was the “Son of God”. For Jesus, this was key to understanding who he was and his mission on earth but for the Jewish religious leaders of his day, it was blasphemy of the highest order deserving of death. But what are the implications of Jesus being the son of God and how does it fit into the gospel narrative? That’s our focus in today’s post. Let’s jump right in.
In today’s world many of us Christians refer to ourselves as children or sons of God without giving any thought to the statement. Over the years the statement has lost the weight it carries but not so in the days of Jesus. To the Jewish mind, God is transcendent. By this I mean God is so different and “infinitely other” that humans even lack the language to properly speak about and describe God. He is beyond comparison and exceeds and even shatters all of our existing categories. At best we can speak about him in metaphors and analogies but even those fall short of His Glory. This is what the scriptures mean when they constantly affirm that God is HOLY. As such although the nation of Israel viewed themselves as a special group in the sight of God because of the covenant they had with him, they saw themselves as servants of God and not necessarily sons. The thought would not even occur to them in the first place. Also they were quite philosophical in their thinking. For them to claim God as father meant you were claiming to be of one substance and essence with God. I hope you’re beginning to see why they would oppose such thinking from any individual. This was what led to the conflict they had with Jesus. In John chapter 5 Jesus heals a paralytic at the pool of Bethesda on the Sabbath day. In the conversation that ensues between Jesus and the religious leaders we see their thought pattern a bit more clearly.
But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the Sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.
But it wasn’t just directly calling God father and referring to himself as the Son that got him in trouble. It was his actions as well. He constantly did and said things that were only reserved for God. For instance in Mark chapter 2 when a group of friends broke through the roof to bring their friend to Jesus for healing, He turned to the sick man and said; “Your sins are forgiven”. Right on cue the alarm bells rang in the ears of the religious leaders seated around. Who can forgive sins but God, the one who against all sin is committed (Mark 2:1-12)? Also his changing of Peter’s name from Simon to Peter. At first glance this act seems quite mundane but not so to a Jewish reader. They believed that names were given by God through parents and if at any point a name would be changed it would require God himself to make the change. I’m sure by now your mind is taking you to the change of names of Jacob to Israel and Abram and Sarai to Abraham and Sarah respectively. Additionally he had mastery over the forces of nature. He walked on water and in one instance spoke to a raging storm and it became silent. To this his disciples exclaimed, “What manner of man is this?”
So you see everything Jesus said and did was tied to his identity as the son of God and it was the exact same thing that landed him in trouble and eventually led to his death. But what did Jesus have to back such an outlandish claim? He couldn’t really be the Son of God could he? First Jesus pointed to the miracles he performed. The apostle John in his typical fashion called them signs. For him the miracles Jesus performed were signposts pointing the keen observer to the fact that Jesus was no ordinary individual. But Jesus did not just rely on his miracles. On several occasions. When asked what sign he had to show for all his claims, he pointed to his death and subsequent resurrection (huh? Yeah you heard right). Even his disciple who had seen him perform mind blowing miracles couldn’t believe what Jesus was saying. Mind you this group of disciples had seen him bring a man 4 days dead back to life. But for Jesus himself to die, who was going to bring him and how was he going to do it.
Just as Jesus had predicted, the religious leaders had him arrested, tortured and crucified. When he had breathed his last, he was taken off the cross and buried in the tomb of one Joseph of Arimathea. The religious leaders had the tomb sealed and guarded to prevent the disciples of Jesus from coming to steal his body and claim he had resurrected. However in spite of all this three days later, true to his word Jesus rose triumphant from the grave. You don’t just have to take my word for it. The bible is replete with statements from eyewitnesses of the resurrected Christ. For instance after his resurrection, he made a public appearance to his disciples but at the time of his appearance one particular disciple, Thomas, was absent. When Thomas came back and was told that Jesus had resurrected and appeared to them he doubted. Let’s face it most of us would doubt too. Thomas said until he saw him for himself, felt the scars he saw inflicted on Jesus in his arm and in his side there was no way he was going to believe. Well after eight days Jesus appeared to the group again and this time guess who was present; Thomas!!! After Thomas saw the risen Christ and felt the scars of the wounds he exclaimed my Lord and my God!! (Hold this thought, we’ll return to this expression later). You can follow the story for yourself in John’s gospel, Chapter 20 from verse 19-31.
What made Jesus’ resurrection so unique? What set it apart from the resurrection of Lazarus and the son of the widow of Nain? You see when Lazarus and the widow’s son were brought back to life they eventually died again but not so with Jesus. After his resurrection from the dead he never dies. He lives on forever. He has conquered the great leveler. Death has a way of leveling the playing field for all. It is an inevitable end for all men. It is the price we pay for sin in the human race. But Jesus the Son of God, the one who claimed to be one with God beat the great leveler. His resurrection vindicated his claim. He was no ordinary man, He was God. And that’s why Thomas exclaimed My Lord and My God. The man they had been following was God in the flesh. The word Lord means master and legitimate owner. He is the owner of the universe. The one to whom we are all accountable and the one before whom we would all stand one day to be judged. In his miracles he showed he was Lord of matter. He who made water could change its molecular structure to make wine. He who made the eyes could restore sight to it. He who made the feet could give strength to lame and he from whom all life came could conquer the grave and death. He is the son of God in power!!!
But how does the deity of Jesus Christ affect my salvation? To put it another way, how important is Jesus being God to the message of the gospel?
First it shows the immense love that God has for us. For God, maker of the universe and owner of all things to condescend to our level to pay the price for sin is the greatest show of love. And now he calls us his sons (think about it again).
Secondly Jesus being God, means his sacrifice carries eternal value. To get this point across let me borrow the words of one famous theologian, Dr. Paul Enns.
“An attack on the deity of Jesus Christ is an attack on the bedrock of Christianity. At the heart of orthodox belief is the recognition that Christ died a substitutionary death to provide salvation for a lost humanity. If Jesus were only a man He could not have died to save the world, but because of His deity, His death had infinite value whereby He could die for the entire world”.
Today we present to you Jesus Christ; the promised seed of the woman, the hope of the prophets, the royal seed of David and The son of God in power. The one who paid the price for humanity’s sin and calls us to faith and obedience in his name so he may grant us life and show us what it truly means to be human.
If you’ve read this series and want to commit to a lifelong journey with Jesus but do not know where to begin, we ask that you contact us through our website or any of our social media pages and we have a team of counselors to lead you and help you make this all important step.
Thank you and God bless you for reading.
Presenting Everyman Perfect!!!