Saturday, April 16, 2016

Jesus as the Son of God in the Fourth Gospel

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John 20:30-31 "Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name."

Introduction: How the Son of God's incarnation as Jesus of Nazareth can be illustrated by a rose
While growing up as a boy, I recall my mother's cultivation of roses and various flowers. In the middle of spring the roses would begin to bloom. She had given them ample plant food, which in turn produced beautiful, bright and capacious blooms. The scent of the roses would fill our entire yard and the various red and purple hues were easy to spot from the road. The petals on the roses were frail, whilst the aroma emananting from the plant could not be stopped nor easily ignored. The flowers were visible and easily tattered. The scent was invisible and yet able to draw people to take in the smell and sight of the source. We could say that the aroma of the roses and their petals were indeed distinctive phenomena (one visible the other invisible). To separate either from the plants would had rendered them no longer roses. Scent and petals were together in one plant and yet clearly different realities. Truly my mother's roses were royalty among the flowers in the yard.

When we think once again of Jesus and His title "Son of God", we find His true Deity impossible to ignore. His power, majesty and Sovereignty suffuse the entire known universe and heaven itself (see Colossians 1:13-16). At the same time, when the eternal Son stepped from eternity into history, He took unto Himself the frailty of humanity. The humanity of Jesus of Nazareth would convey the eternal Deity of the Son and the Eternal Deity of the Son would find its chiefest expression through the humanity of the Nazarene Carpenter. The Person of the Son ever remained that eternal, immortal, unending life which had and always will express Himself with the Father and Spirit in eternal union. When the Son came into this world, He through the virgin Mary and by the agency of the Spirit and will of the Father united His Person to a second human nature. As a human being, the Son would experience birth as the infant Jesus, live, mature, go to the cross, die, rise from the dead and then ascend into heaven. In a figurative way, the Song of Solomon ultimately refers to Jesus when by Solomon's pen we see Him as "The Rose of Sharon" (Song of Solomon 2:1). 

 John's Gospel and the title "Son of God"
We come to the fourth Gospel, whose very goal is to present Jesus as the Son of God. John himself writes in John 20:31 of how he wrote what he wrote so that those who believe may also know that Jesus is indeed the Son of God. The most familiar Bible verse - John 3:16 - includes this title by virtue of the phrase "the only-begotten Son of God". In the above illustration of the rose, I think of John's words in John 1:14, wherein we read of the Son of God (The Word) being made flesh. As the eternal Son came to be Jesus of Nazareth, He lived among men as a man to be seen by men who knew he was so much more than just a man. 

John's Gospel can be divided into two halves - what scholars call "the Book of Signs" (John 1-11) and "the Book of Glory" (John 12-21). The "signs" or miracles Jesus did pointed to His identification as the Eternal Son in human flesh. The glory would entail His true Deity ever increasingly seen and demonstrated through His true and undiminished humanity. 

In one episode, Martha confesses to Jesus in John 11:25-27 "Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She *said to Him, “Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world.” Notice how the use of this name performs the same dual role we witnessed already - namely indicating the Divine, heavenly, eternal essence and origin of the Son and at the same time His earthly mission as the Incarnate Son who would provide redemption. As William Lane Craig notes in his book "Reasonable Faith", page 313 - "(W)e may conclude that Jesus thought of himself as God's Son in an absolute and unique sense and as having been invested with the exclusive authority to reveal His Father to men."

Closing thoughts:
Today's post aimed to explore a little bit as to what John's Gospel had to say about Jesus Christ as the Son of God. He is the Rose of Sharon whose title "Son of God", like the three other Gospels revealed, points to His:

1. Heavenly Majesty
2. Earthly Ministry
3. Your need and my need to experience His life in our own

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