Damariscotta Baptist Church
Monday, July 16, 2018
Growing personal relationships with God and community

Son of God/Son of Man

These weeks up to Easter we are looking at different names for Jesus. We looked at the title “LORD”, and last week we reviewed the name “MESSIAH”. This week we are going to look into the titles, “SON OF GOD” and “SON OF MAN”. Jesus claimed to be both.

The simple explanation for these two titles is to demonstrate that Jesus was both “human” and “divine”. The title Son of Man, demonstrates his humanity and title the Son of God demonstrates his deity.

Two natures, one person.

The historical insight of the term “Son of Man” comes from the book of Daniel, chapter 7, where Daniel is prophesying about the Messiah, as the son of man, with authority, and exalted. This is the nuance that Jesus was leaning towards when he referred to himself as the “Son of Man”. You see Jesus spoke in terms that Jews would understand, if they had “ears to hear”. Jews at the time of Jesus would have been familiar with the book of Daniel and understood the correlation Jesus was making.

Jesus knew the concept of Messiah the Jewish leaders had established was from their interpretation of Daniel’s prophesies which had developed into the opposite of the Messiah God had in mind. Remember, Jesus turns everything upside down. He also had a plan, and in his plan, he was not going to reveal exactly who he was until the time was right. Mainly when he was on trial for his life, and he was asked, "Are you the Christ, the Son of the living God?" and Jesus answered, "I AM, and you will see the Son of Man coming with great power and glory." So he confessed his open deity and his humanity right at the point where he knew he would be crucified for it. So as you can see the term “son of man” has a double meaning, the humanity of Jesus as a fulfillment of Daniel’s prophesy as the exalted heavenly Messiah.

This takes us to the Son of God, the name that openly reveals his deity.

On the front of today’s bulletin you will find a symbol that has been used since around the 2nd century A.D. This symbol and representations of this symbol have been found in the Roman catacombs, where it is thought that Paul and Peter are buried. The Greek letters are an acronym for the words “Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Savior”, (Iesous Christos Theou Yios Soter). Early Christians wanted to share their faith in Jesus Christ. And so they came up with the symbol of a fish with this acronym inside.

There are different proposals for why the fish was chosen as a symbol for Christians. All of them are based on references to Scripture – the time when Jesus miraculously feeds 5000 people with fish and bread; Jesus and his disciples are recognized as “fishers of men” and another is the reference to the “sign of Jonah”, just like he was in the belly of a big fish, so Christ was crucified, entombed for three days, and then rose from the dead.

What did it mean to name Christ “the Son of God”? I think this is an important question because if we take it literally and for what the words mean, Jesus claims to be the son, of God, which takes us back to Bethlehem where the Holy Spirit came to visit Mary and the Father of Jesus is the one and only God almighty, since Mary was a virgin, which then leads us to the Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Now I want to step away for a moment and give you some insight on the art of sermon preparation. I believe it is 50% perspiration and 99% inspiration. Which if you add these totals up, I know it equals more than 100%, but with God things often turn out greater than 100  I say this because this week I have gone back and forth on the theme of “The Trinity” or the theme of “God’s Love”. I have chosen the latter, not because of any divine revelation, but suffice it to say, the theme of the Trinity would take more time than I had left to give it justice. So, be assured, I have placed it in the recesses of my brain and will definitely be presenting a message on the Trinity at some point. And I encourage you to be thinking on your own, what your concept of the Trinity may be, it is a challenging concept to have “Three in One” one God, who comes in three different persons.

So to continue with one of those persons today, we are going to focus on, the Son, person.

In order for us to understand what this means, we need to understand what it meant for those who heard it and said it while it was being said. We need to remember the earliest Christians were Jews and they would have been familiar with at least two distinct applications of the term “son of God”

 

1.     The term had a general application to all Israelites

In Exodus 4:22-23 Moses says to Pharaoh, when the Israelites were held in bondage, “Thus says the Lord; Israel is My son, My firstborn. So I say to you, let My son go, that he may serve me.”

 

Through the years, Yahweh loved, protected, comforted, and chastened Israel, just as a loving parent would nurture and discipline children.

 

2.     The second usage of the term “son of God” was more cultural and specific. Historically, the term had a royal connotation for many nations of the Ancient Near East. It was commonplace for Egyptian, Babylonian, Canaanite and Roman rulers to be called “sons of god”.  For example, Roman Emperor Augustus referred to his relation to his deified adoptive father, Julius Caesar, as a “son of a god”. This royal connotation was well known in Israel, too, although they did not deify their kings.

 

For Jesus to claim he was the Son of God, we must also look at the times when Jesus referred to God as “His Father”.  Now the Jews also saw themselves as sons and daughters of God, so this wouldn’t have bothered them. The problem was that Jesus seemed to be making a unique- and seemingly blasphemous- claim of sonship.  You see, in Mark 14:36 Jesus addresses God as “Abba, Father” in prayer. This is the word a Jewish child would use to refer to his or her “original person of reference” (mother or father). This would have been an unheard of closeness between Jesus and God. When we examine the life of Jesus we notice that he demonstrated this closeness throughout his life. Jesus, again we need to remember the concept of the Trinity – was God – incarnate – and yet the Son of God – who became a Son of Man – like the created – to reveal who God was – the truth about God – in doing so - in changing the divine law by turning things upside down as the Jewish leaders had come to understand the Law, by forgiving sins, and specifically being the one through whom others could have an intimate relationship with God. Unheard of! In the Jewish culture, God was Almighty, not a familiar figure, one you could converse with like your earthly father.  

For Jesus to be given the title of “Son of God” he was declaring he was “united in essence but distinct in person”.

 

Let’s look again at the Scripture that was read earlier, 1 John 4.

 

Verse 15 – If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God.

 

Verse 16 – and so we know and rely on the love God has for us.  God is love.

 

This is where we come in. It is the concept of Son of God, and the act of total obedience Jesus demonstrated by being crucified, that allows us to also become a child of God.

These verses say we have to do something –

“If we acknowledge that Jesus is the Son of God” part of the Trinity- God will live in us, and we live in God. It means we have the right to call God “Abba, Father” we have an intimate relationship with Him.

When this happens, the next verse says “we know and rely on the love God has for us”

 

Do you know the love God has for you?

Do you rely on the love God has for you?

What kind of love is God?

Unfortunately the English language has only one word for love. I can say I love chocolate and I love my family. Both of those statements are true, however, the definition or extent of my love is quite different. I’d defend my family to the death if need be, but if you really want my chocolate I am more than willing to share. No fight from me. So when we read the word love in the Bible it is important to understand which type of love is being considered. The word “love” in this instance is the Greek word “AGAPE”

Agape means:

selfless,                 sacrificial,              unconditional love,

the highest of the four types of love in the Bible.

Agape perfectly describes the kind of love God is and has for us and demonstrated through his son, Jesus Christ.

It also demonstrates the type of love Jesus has for us by being selfless, sacrificial and without conditions.

“While we were still sinners Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

This love was demonstrated by Jesus’ willingness to be crucified on a cross, so that each of us could have the option to become a son or daughter of God. Paul put it this way in his letter to the Ephesians, chapter 1, verses 4 & 5. I am reading from the Message, by Eugene Peterson,

4 Long before he laid down earth's foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. 5 Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!)

Do you get the picture? Let’s just take a human example of this. A family decides they want to adopt a child. They get it in their mind that they want to focus their love and their family will be made whole by sharing their love with a child who does not have parents to love them. Do you think the day they are finally able to pick their child up and take them in their arms and call them their own, they are not taking pleasure? I am not sure there are words that can describe that emotion.

Okay, now, if humans are capable of this emotion, let’s look back at this verse and re-read it with the mind-set of how God feels about it.

Long before God created the Earth – He had us, He had me, and you, and you, all of us, in mind. He had settled in His mind that each of us, that includes, you, as the focus of His love, to be made whole and holy by His love. God’s love,

 agape,                            the selfless, sacrificial, unconditional love,

was long, long, long, ago the reason God decided to adopt us into His family, through Jesus Christ. And all of this brought Him pleasure.

And through this adoption we have the right to call him “Abba, Father”.

Because we too are seen as “sons and daughters of God”.

Unconditionally.

I don’t know about you, but the concept of belonging to a family with God as the Father and Jesus and the Holy Spirit as brother and sister, is overwhelming. I am not even sure I have a true understanding of what that really entails. You see my earthly family has some problems, just like all families made of humans, because we fail each other. There is no “perfect” family. There are times when we transfer our experience of our earthly family to our heavenly father and I am telling you today, it’s not the same. So don’t.

God’s word it true, and God took pleasure in planning his family, and He wants you to be included, and to feel his selfless, sacrificial and unconditional love for you.

Then, when you have a grasp on that, He wants you to demonstrate His type of love to those around you, especially to those who least deserve it. Is there anyone you know that fits that definition? You see, none of us deserve this kind of love. It is a free gift from God. I employ you to give it away. I encourage you to give it away to everyone you come in contact with this week. You can start with those you already like and love, and then I want you to really demonstrate the AGAPE love of God, in you, by loving someone who doesn’t deserve it. Be like Jesus, and turn the love thing upside-down and choose to give love to someone you think deserves it least. You may just be surprised. Regardless of what happens, you will be able to say, “Abba, Father, thank you for loving me unconditionally, and allowing me to be like you, by loving those around me, unconditionally”

Tough task,             but with Christ in us, anything is possible.
Let’s pray:

Abba, Father, Daddy, we love you. We thank you for loving us. For being love. For being selfless, sacrificial and unconditional with your love. Help us to be just like you. AMEN.