Feb29SatWhat does it mean that Jesus is the Son of God? Part 3 February 29, 2020
In part 1 and part 2 we started to look at the layers of meaning to Jesus the Son of God. We discussed the first layer, which is Jesus as the new Adam, the representative of a new humanity. We then discussed the second layer, which is Jesus as the King who reigns forever. In Part 3 we will discuss the third and final layer of meaning.
Son of God - God the Son
The final layer of meaning to Jesus the Son of God is the most obvious to Christians today, but would have been the most difficult to understand for the Jewish people among whom Jesus ministered. Jesus is the Son of God, not just as the new humanity and not just as the king, but as the Second Person of the Trinity; God the Son, eternal and equal with God the Father in every way; distinct and yet One. Jesus became Son of God in the other ways we have discussed. He became the new Adam by means of his virgin conception, he was born the earthly Messiah, and was appointed the exalted Messiah at his resurrection. But Jesus never became the Son of God in this sense. Jesus has always been God the Son. He is the eternal Son of God. The relationship of Father and Son does not speak of order of existence.
The Apostle Paul generally shows this unique relationship between the Father and the Son by calling the Father God and the Son Lord (e.g. Romans 1:1-4). Lord and God are both names for the One God of the Old Testament. When Paul calls Jesus Lord he is speaking of him as God every bit as much as when he calls the Father God. But by using different names, he is showing that Father and Son are distinct Persons of the Godhead.
Before the angel Gabriel speaks to Mary about the birth of Jesus in Luke 1, he speaks to Zechariah about the birth of John the Baptist. John was a prophet who prepared the way for Jesus (Luke 3:1-22, John 1:19-36). But when Gabriel spoke to Zechariah about him, he said, “... he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” (Luke 1:17, NIV). These words are a reference to Malachi 4:5-6; in those verses, God promises to send the prophet Elijah to prepare the way, not for the Messiah, but for the coming of the Lord himself. John the Baptist’s job wasn’t to prepare the way for Jesus as merely the Messiah, but as the coming of God to his people.
Jesus is God the Son. He is God. He’s One with His Father and the Holy Spirit. And so when he was born as a human and lived among us, he showed us who God is in a way no one had ever done before and no one ever could do. He always has been the Son of God, but by becoming a human he became the Son of God, the new Adam who represents a new humanity and he became the Son of God, the Messiah who reigns forever. By taking on humanity, he took on new layers of meaning as the Son of God. And those layers of meaning show us who God is. And that’s what Hebrews 1:1-4 is telling us. At the heart of these verses, Jesus is shown to be eternal and completely One with His Father, but surrounding that heart are the other layers of Jesus’ Sonship that he took on in his humanity that allow us to see God fully through Jesus:
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 [at the resurrection when he became the king forever]
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. [as the eternal God the Son]
After he had provided purification for sins [as the new Adam who represents a new humanity]
he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs [again, as the king forever] (Hebrews 1:1-4, NIV)
Christians have historically put it this way:
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified
under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.