IT’S THE QUESTION OF THE WEEK.
It comes from a gent who’d like to remain anonymous. He wins a free book for his trouble.
Here’s his question:
Why do most Christians say Jesus is God when the Bible uses the phrase “son of God”?
There’s nothing divine about being God’s son.
Bible writers tagged plenty of human beings with that title—anyone with a unique relationship to God. Often a leader: king, a righteous soul, even the Jewish nation.
- Israel. “This is what the LORD says: Israel is my firstborn son” (Exodus 4:22, GWT).
- King. “The Lord declares, ‘I have placed my chosen king on the throne in Jerusalem’….The king proclaims the LORD’s decree: ‘The LORD said to me, “You are my son”’” (Psalm 2:6-7, NLT).
- Righteous people. “The righteous man is God’s child” (Wisdom of Solomon, 2:18, NRSV). This is a book in the Apocrypha, which isn’t in most Protestant Bibles, but is in the Bibles of Catholic and Orthodox Christians.
When the disciples spoke of Jesus as God’s son, they probably thought of him as a human—at least until he came back from the dead.
Even Peter may have thought that when he made his famous declaration: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God!” (Matthew 16:16, GWT).
Peter certainly didn’t seem to think Jesus was God Almighty after Jews arrested Jesus.
Peter denied having any association with Jesus.
He denied it three times: “I don’t know the man!” (Matthew 26:72, NLT).
Jesus, however, presented himself as more than human—though it seems to have taken the Resurrection to convince his followers. And their reluctance to believe him seemed to tick him off:
“Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So why are you asking me to show him to you?… Just believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Or at least believe because of the work you have seen me do” (John 14:9, 11, NLT).
The entire Gospel of John was written for one purpose: “So that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God” (John 21:31, NLT).
John wasn’t talking about some human whom God loved like a son. He was talking about:
- “His only begotten Son” (John 3:16, NKJV).
- “He existed in the beginning with God” (John 1:2, NLT).
- In the beginning was the one who is called the Word. The Word was with God and was truly God” (John 1:1, CEV).
No one seems to understand how Jesus could be with God and yet be God.
Or how a person can look at Jesus and see God—unless Jesus and God are one entity; which they don’t seem to be.
If they were, Jesus was talking to himself when he prayed the night before his crucifixion, “Father, if it is possible, don’t let this happen to me! Father, you can do anything. Don’t make me suffer by having me drink from this cup” (Mark 14:36, CEV).
Though Christians don’t understand how Jesus could be Jesus—and yet God—they believe it because they read it in the Bible.
One early Christian scholar put it this way, expressing the majority opinion of scholars at the time:
“We don’t confuse Father, Son, and Holy Spirit with each other. Instead, we believe they are distinct. We don’t understand the mystery of how this can be, or what causes it. But we trust the evidence of this truth.”
—Ambrose (about AD 340-397), archbishop of Milan, Italy.