Christ the Son of God
© C. O. Bishop 2011 (revised 2021)
John 1:34 “And I saw and bore record that this is the Son of God.”
We have been reading in the Gospel of John, and have seen several themes, so far; Jesus has been presented as the Word of God, The Creator of all things; the Light of the World; the only source of Life, Grace, and Truth; the Lamb of God, and now, the Son of God.
We have problems with this concept of “Son-ship,” as, in our understanding, it always implies a pre-existing Father, while we have seen from the Scripture that the Son has no beginning—He is the Creator, and He has always existed. To cap our troubles, Jesus is described in prophecy as being called “Wonderful, counselor, the Mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6, 7) How can I understand the concept of a Son who is the exact same “age” as his Father, and who, in fact, IS his Father? And, to further compound my confusion, Jesus stated that (John 14:28) “…my Father is greater than I.” This is the mystery of the Trinity. I do not claim to understand it, nor do I expect I ever will, unless it can be understood in eternity.
Jesus, the Son of God in Eternity past
It seems we must understand the concept in terms of relationship, not “relative age.” Apart from understanding the Trinity, all we can do is see that the concept of the Son of God has been in place since ancient times, though dimly seen. In Psalm 2:7, God says, in reference to the king whom He shall set upon Mt. Zion (Jesus), “Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.”
We see that passage through the eyes of our experience, and think “Aha! There WAS a beginning!” But Hebrews 7:3 states, in comparing Christ to Melchisedec, that the latter had no beginning of days, nor end of life, but, made like unto the Son of God, abideth a priest continually.” I have to conclude that the Christ is the eternal Son of God…that “begotten” is not the same as “sired.” Further, in Micah 5:2, God states not only that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, but that “…His goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting!”
The Hebrew word “yalad”, translated “begotten” in Psalm 2:7, is used over 400 times in the Old Testament—but only in that specific instance is it translated “begotten”. The vast majority of the other usages are translated in the vein of the bearing of children—women in childbirth, or even an egg hatching. In no case is it consistent with the idea of siring a child.
The Greek word used, when that same verse was quoted in the New Testament, is “gennao”—it seems to carry the same idea, but is translated “beget” or “begotten” 49 times, and “born” or related words about 34 times. Most of the time, both words are used in regard to human birth—they are not special “spiritual” words, which were “only to be used in regard to Christ.”
Either way, what has been established is a real relationship. Jesus is really God’s Son…not just called so. When we are born again, we are really God’s children…not just called so.
The Son of God has existed eternally in that relationship with God the Father. The Holy Spirit has existed eternally as God the Holy Spirit. And yet, the Three are One. And yet, they are each individually distinguished from the other by name, and in some instances, by location (consider the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan, with the Father speaking from Heaven as the Spirit is descending in visible form like a dove). The nature of the Divine Trinity does not lend itself to close examination, and simple explanations. I can only tell you that Jesus is and always has been the eternal Son of God, and that he is simultaneously the Creator God who became flesh.
Some weight might be given to the thought that he is the only begotten Son of God—he is the only one so born, physically. He was the Son of God from Eternity, and so, was the Son of God when He finally was born in Bethlehem as well. Further, he is the Chosen Son: born to be King.
I am a child of God, but was not born so, physically. I had to be born again. Jesus is the only one who was born a Son of God. Incidentally, the Greek word for “Son” is “huios”, and denotes a full heir of God. The word translated “child” is “teknon”, and simply means offspring. I am currently a child of God—his legitimate offspring—but will someday be an heir; a Son of God, along with Jesus, the “firstborn”.
Though we will become sons, Jesus is the Eternal Son.
Jesus, the Son of God in Life on Earth
When Jesus was born of Mary, in the Little Town of Bethlehem, we tend to see that as his “beginning.” As we have already seen, that is not the case. That was simply the “right time” in God’s plan, for Him to enter human history as a human. It is possible that this is the day that was referred to when God said “this day have I begotten thee.” But it was certainly not the beginning of the Christ. He is called the Lamb slain from the foundation of the earth” (Revelation 13:8). We saw him appear physically to Abraham, Jacob, and others.
But the Eternal Son set aside the glory of God that had been his for all ages, left behind the worship offered him by myriads of angelic beings, and became a human child. (Hebrews 1:6 tells us that the Angels worshipped Him at His birth…this is the last time they openly worshipped Him on earth.)
He lived out his life in humble submission to the Father. He set an example for us in every way. He was a perfect human, in perfect submission to a perfect God. He had constant fellowship with the Living God. When called upon, he allowed God to work through Him, and miraculous works followed. He healed, taught, corrected, rebuked, and served. He was tired, but kept working; hungry, but fed on the Word; rejected, but not discouraged; denied, but not indignant.
According to Hebrews, Christ the Son was also the ambassador and representative of God. He is compared to the prophets, the angels, the Sabbath, the priesthood, the offerings, the Temple, and the deliverers of the Old Testament. In every case, it is pointed out that the Son exceeds all the earlier emissaries and provisions of God. Ultimately, it is pointed out that to reject the Son is to reject the others as well; and, in fact, to reject the Grace and Mercy of God completely.
Jesus, the Son of God in Death
When Jesus came to live as a Man, though he accomplished many things, he actually came for one specific purpose: He came to die. We see (in Hebrews 10:5-7) that he came in fulfillment of the scriptures, “Lo, I come! In the volume of the book it is written of me.” He further said, “A body thou hast prepared me”, in reference to the sacrifice he was to bring.
Consider the Old Testament figure, Isaac: He walked with his Father, Abraham. There was no dispute between them, but a real love relationship. When God called Abraham, in Genesis 22, and commanded that he sacrifice Isaac as a burnt offering, Abraham did not hesitate. We wonder about that, but in Hebrews 11, it states that he simply assumed he would be raised from the dead, since the promise of God had already singled out Isaac by name, stating that he was the promised seed, through whom the progeny of Abraham would come, and through whom, ultimately, the Savior would also come.
So the two of them walked together, toward Moriah. They left the servants behind (Abraham told them, “I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and return unto you.” and just the two of them approached the place of the sacrifice. Isaac was no dummy—he saw the fire, the knife and the wood, but no lamb. He asked his father Abraham about that lack, and Abraham stated that God would provide the Lamb. So the two of them walked on together, we are told.
When they arrived at the place, Isaac evidently rested from carrying the wood (enough wood to burn up a body) while Abraham built an altar. Then Abraham arranged the wood for the fire, and turned to Isaac. Isaac was no weakling—he was not a little child, but a strong, vigorous young man. Had he not been in complete fellowship with and submission to his Father, he could certainly have outrun him, or overpowered him. But he allowed himself to be bound, and to be lifted onto the altar. Who knows what thoughts he may have had? Isaac was simply a picture of Christ, without protest at his crucifixion. But at the moment Abraham lifted the knife, God stopped him, and “in due time” (Romans 5:6) the substitute was seen and implemented. The Ram was the substitute for Isaac. The Lamb of God was and is the substitute for the world. There is no substitute for Jesus. He is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
Jesus demonstrated full submission to the Father. In Philippians 2 we are told that he set aside his position as God, and became a servant, specifically a man, a poor man at that. He lived in full submission to the Father, and was obedient unto death, even though it was a demeaning, agonizing, shameful death usually reserved for criminals. He died as a criminal, in place of a race of criminals. We do not like to think of ourselves in that way, but God states in Romans 5:10 that we were all enemies of God.
Jesus the Son of God in Eternity Future
As you know, Jesus was resurrected. His resurrected body was no longer subject to death, nor even to the physical laws of nature. He could transport himself, vanish at will, and yet He was physical…he could be touched, handled, and seen. He could eat if he chose.
He spent forty days reassuring and teaching his disciples before leaving to ascend back to heaven. But they were told that he would return in like manner (literally, physically, bodily, and visibly), and as we read the scriptures we realize that the Old Testament accounts of his coming are frequently in specific reference to that coming—the Second Coming—not the first. He will come in victory and vengeance, not meekness and grace. He will set up his kingdom on Earth and will judge the nations. He will reign for 1000 years on Earth, and then turn over all things to the Father. Then eternally, he will be the light of the City of God…and, eternally, the God-Man.
Jesus the Son of God in Us
We who have received Jesus as our Savior are in him, just as Noah was in the ark…and we are eternally secure in that position. He is also in us as a King is in his kingdom, but, he is not always allowed to reign. We do not always subject ourselves to his rule. He is resident there, but not president. He is seated on the throne, but we rebel frequently—perhaps constantly.
If we are to truly follow his example and allow him to rule, we must submit ourselves to Him, as he submitted himself to the Father. We must set aside our own agendas and embrace the agenda of God. We must drop our own priorities and choose the priorities of God.
What are the priorities of God? Consider Jesus at the well in Sychar of Samaria (John 4:1-42). When the disciples begged him to eat of the food they had purchased for him, he stated (seeing the crowd coming to him) that there were higher priorities—in fact, that there was a higher food—he said, “…my food is to do the will of Him that sent me, and to finish his work.” I would like to be able to say that my priorities are set that way, as well, but I am too frequently caught up in what I want to do or accomplish, not what God wants to do and accomplish. Can there be a balance? Yes, I think so.
God knows what we need to live—and in most of our experiences he has provided the means for support, but it requires our work to bring it to fruition. We use our time partly to reach out to the lost around us, and partly to meet our physical needs. There is nothing wrong with that. Had Jesus felt otherwise, the disciples would not have been off in Sychar, looking to buy food. They could have simply waited with Him. But they had gone, with his blessing. However, confronted with two choices—the opportunity to win souls or fill his belly—he chose to win souls. Therein we see the priority of God.
There was a woman at Cornell Estates some time ago, Helen Meade, who had lived her life with those priorities. The deacons in her church were men whom she led to Christ as small children when she hosted “Good News club” in her home. She continued to reach out to others with the good news of salvation as long as she was able, at Cornell Estates, and involved other believers, saying “Come! There’s work to be done!” She was still doing so at one hundred years of age, and beyond.
There is nothing preventing us from doing as she did. We can embrace the priorities of God and pray for opportunity and the wisdom to see it. We can share with others, as she did.
We can watch the Son of God as He walked in scripture. We can observe Him as He walks among us in other believers; and, finally, we can imitate Him as we walk with Him.
Jesus the Son of God still lives. He invites us to become imitators of Him and live our lives in submission to the Father.
So, how will we respond? Let us respond with joyful obedience.