© Wendy Clark, December 2021
Son of God
Hannah, my youngest, my late-in-life child, born after I had cancer and chemo, after we stepped out to adopt unsuccessfully twice, after many miscarriages, after I surrendered to God saying, “If I’m not going to have any more children, I’m okay with that, God,” that child–has always been beautiful, loved by pretty much everyone she spends time with, smart, funny, and unusually profound. Even when she was little, sometimes we would be sitting in a room full of adults, and Hannah would say something that would be so interesting, that the room would go silent, and everyone would turn in her direction. Here’s one memory of that, related to Christmas.
Hannah must have been no older than about four, and our homeschool group was making manger scenes. Hannah made three baby Jesus figures for her manger scene. I said, “Hannah, you know there was only one baby Jesus, right?” She said, “Yes, Mom, I know that, but there is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, three in one, and I didn’t know how else to show that.”
If you’ve missed that somewhere along the way, don’t miss it this Christmas, that Jesus is God made visible to us. “Son of God” doesn’t describe an act of God the Father, birthing or creating Jesus, but the intimate relationship that God the Father shares with Jesus. Look at how the writer of Hebrews explains this:
In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word” (Hebrews 1:1-3).
Jesus is “the exact representation” of God the Father, the best way for us to see what God is like. God the Father, made the universe through Jesus the Son. Jesus was present at creation and participated in creation. The Apostle John explains this just before he begins to write the account of Jesus’ ministry. It is important to John, who lived and traveled with Jesus, that you understand who Jesus really is.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made” (John 1:1-3, NIV). “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14, NIV).
The “Word” in the Greek means “the expression, the utterance that flowed out of God’s mouth.” Jesus is God and pours out of God. Think about that for a few minutes. When God spoke the universe into existence, Jesus was that expression, the words that flowed out of his mouth. The Holy Spirit is described as the very breath that God breathed, so that when God breathed life into Adam, that life was by the Spirit of God.
God and his Word and his Breath–three in one–perhaps beyond our ability to understand.
Maybe it’s easier for us to comprehend the relationship of father to son and the spirit that moves between them, connecting them and making them one, and yet all three also separate and distinct in their identities and their roles. The Bible makes it clear that there are three separate persons–with a shared will, perspective, and purpose–separate and distinct from each other, and at the same time, completely unified.
Many have tried to explain this. Maybe it’s like an egg that has a shell, a white part, and a yolk and is still all one egg. Maybe it is like water than can be water and steam and ice and still be essentially the same thing. These descriptions fall short of what the Bible teaches about God as three in one.
Jesus doesn’t explain how this works; he simply states that it is. Every time Jesus says “I AM,” He uses the expression that God uses when he speaks to Moses and Moses asks for God’s name.
Moses said to God, ‘Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”
God said to Moses, “I AM who I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ (Exodus 3:13-14).
What did God just say to Moses? God’s name translates to something like this: I am the one who has always existed and who will always exist. I exist in myself, by myself. There is no other like me.
Jesus uses this same expression of God’s name to describe himself, which is why the Jewish leaders become so enraged against him and also why it is impossible to view Jesus as simply a good man; good men don’t go around claiming to be God.
Here are seven of these statements just from the testimony of the Apostle John. In each of these statements Jesus identifies himself as God, I AM GOD who is . . .
“I AM the bread of life.” (John 6:35, 41, 48, 51)
“I AM the light of the world.” (John 8:12)
“I AM the door of the sheep.” (John 10:7,9)
“I AM the resurrection and the life.” (John 11:25)
“I AM the good shepherd.” (John 10:11, 14)
“I AM the way, the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6)
“I AM the true vine.” (John 15:1, 5)
Jesus also says, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30), and those who oppose him pick up stones to try to stone him to death and “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).
If you have never heard that Jesus actually taught that he himself is God and the Son of God, not just a prophet of God or a good man sent by God . . .
If you were taught that Jesus was just a man . . .
If you’ve never really thought about Jesus much at all . . .
Consider this particular conversation that Jesus has with his disciples:
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 16:13-17, NIV)
Jesus refers to himself as the “Son of Man” and then commends Peter for recognizing that he is also the Messiah and the “Son of God.”
If you aren’t sure about all of this or even if you are sure but haven’t given it much thought lately, I encourage you to take some time before Christmas day and read through the Gospel of John, the Apostle John’s account of his encounter with the Son of Man/ Son of God.
As you read, ask and answer these questions: What does Jesus say about himself? What does he do? What does he ask his followers to do? If all of this is true, what implications does it have for my life?
Next time . . . more about the Son of Man.