UIOU TOU THEOS: JESUS AS SON OF GOD

JESUS AS SON: PART 4 “ENTER THE DIVINE KING”

“The beginning of the Gospel…”

-Mark 1:1

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The understanding that I am about to discuss briefly below is a debated one. Although I hold on to the classical belief of Jesus’ deity, I have my reasons. Truly, it is my sincere desire that this post will help show why classical Christianity has taken up this belief; the belief in Jesus as God. May those of you seeking truth find it…

The Gospels. There isn’t much one can say about them as they are already widely known as the accounts chronicling the life, and teachings of Jesus. Apart from serving this crucial role, the problem then arises of why 4 accounts? [Notice how tackling this particular issue is essentially a textual problem]. The accounts, as theologians have come to see, provide a specific insight into how the divinity of Jesus was necessary and sufficient to carry out the roles of Servant [Mark], Son of Man (a human being) [Luke], King [Matthew] and Divine Authority [John]. In other words, the divine nature of Jesus is the cream of the cake as far as the texts are concerned as it serves as the over-ruling ingredient in his presentation in the Gospel accounts.

Jesus introduction in the accounts as being ‘a gospel’ immediately notified the early/first readers of the Gospel accounts to the fact that it was making a radical statement. You see, at the time, rulers of Rome, specifically Caesar referred to the reports of their enthronement as embodied deities as gospels/good news. But you see, the Gospels take it a little bit further for Jesus; they claim that Jesus’ birth is good news as seen in the events surrounding his birth. Jesus’ incarnation as man through birth was big and hence, unlike Caesar, he also has the title of Immanuel/Emmanuel ‘God with us’ (as seen in Luke’s account).

Apart from Caesar being known as the ‘Embodied God’, he also went by another title, “Son of God”. Now, in the Roman sense, Caesar was attributing his authority as an earthly ruler to the fact that he (according to Roman belief) was descended from the gods. Now, Jesus, on the other hand is an equally peculiar figure. He went on stating that his kingdom was ‘not of this world’ and that his ‘father was God’ making himself equal with God. I hope that at this point some of you have begun to see the trend and relationship between godhood/deity and kingship because in the ancient world those two things played an enormous role together. Their roles were almost inseparable.

This tie in with the Jewish belief of the day shed light to Jesus’ work and to why communicating him to the Jews as well as the Gentiles [as seen in the Gospels] was made relatively easy. Actually it is in this same light that the Sanhedrin questioned Jesus, asking him if he was ‘the Son of the Blessed’ (i.e. God). Jesus’s answer? “Yes”. What else followed after his reply? “And you shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Father in heaven coming in the clouds with great power and glory”. What did those who heard it do? They rent their clothes shouting ‘BLASPHEMY!’.

So, the people back then knew that what Jesus was talking about was a big deal indeed. Caesar who had also crowned himself kurie et dieu ‘Lord and God’ did not know that Jesus went by these very titles in his day and age. As peculiar as this information must be, it must also be understood that as of this particular point in time the Jewish rabbinic teachings from the Babylonian Exilic Period did include something of a “Two-Throne in Heaven” theory. This theory stated that according to the prophets such as Daniel, the Messiah is shown to have a throne by Yahweh’s side. This problem perplexed the rabbis for centuries as it raised questions about the identity of the Messiah as being more than a human being reigning with God.

Some scholars turned to such texts as Psalm 45 that spoke about the Messiah as ‘God’; other texts such as Isaiah 48:16 that spoke about ‘the Lord God and his Spirit have sent me’; other texts like ‘the Lord said to my Lord, sit at my right hand’ (Psalm 110:1, Matthew 22:44) were used by Jesus to hint at his divinity. What’s most shocking though is that the Bible goes on to say that once Jesus put out that argument to the religious scholars of the day, ‘no one even dared question him again’.

But what makes things very strange about Jesus is his claim to be the “I AM” of Exodus 6 as witnessed in the Gospels (mainly John) as well as the rest of the New Testament. It is clear that Jesus ‘lowered himself and took the form of a servant’ according to Philippians 2, but that was not all. The text continues to say, ‘he humbled himself even to the point of death, even death on the cross’ and ‘therefore God has exalted him giving him him the name that is above every other name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord…’. The text in Philippians supports Jesus’s claim to be I Am of the Old Testament when the text applied to God is applied to Jesus in the book (i.e. Isaiah 45: 23-24). God as Yahweh God, the covenant name for the Israelite God made this claim; and Jesus is revealed to be he thus making his equality with God all the more interesting (especially if seen through  how it is portrayed in Philippians chapter 2).

Stranger still, Jesus is revealed not to be the spoken word of creation at Genesis but the Speaker of the word by the Father himself in Hebrews 1. Jesus is established to be creator who ‘by the might of the word of his power not only created but sustains all things’. It is he as Caesar was to the Romans who has absolute authority as the pantokratos (i.e. supreme ruler) to judge his citizens; but Christ’s is a wider scope, i.e. everyone ever created (John 1) ‘he came to the world-to his own, but his own did not receive him’. Evidence for this is seen in Jesus’s claim in John that, “the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgement to the Son.

Finally, his revelation to John echoes the points stated above. His vision of Christ is the amalgamation of all his roles. He is seen possessing the head and hair that is reminiscent of Daniel’s vision of the Ancient of Days (i.e. God); his gold sash and long robe reminiscent of the garments of the high priest (note the lack of the urim and thummim as well as the ephod—indicatve end of the previous error of priesthood that was still a picture of the veiled mysteries to come but in Christ have now been made manifest; and the single sash of gold as representative of one people and not tribal as we saw in the old testament); his flaming eyes as Judge of All the Earth (reminiscent of Abraham’s conversation with Yahweh before Sodom and Gomorrah’s destruction); his voice like the sound of rushing waters (indicative/reminiscent of his authority and identity as God–ref the prophets for more e.g. Isaiah, Ezekiel…); the sharp double edge sword proceeding from his mouth (reminiscent of Hebrews’ reference of Christ upholding all things by the power of his sheer utterance–another fun bite is the fact that it alludes to Jesus’s divine authorship of the Scriptures as a whole-as his book! as seen at the end of Revelation in chapter 22:6,16); his face shining in all his brilliance is indicative of his holiness as well as his divinity in his mortality/human form (is also a reference to 1 Corinthians 11:3 ,Ephesians 5:23 and 2 Corinthians 4:1-6).

All hail the King “eternal, immortal, invisible, the only true God…”

Maranatha Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

 

 

 

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YESHUA BAR ELOHIM: THE ENIGMA OF JESUS AS SON

JESUS AS SON: PART 3 “JESUS AS EMBODIED ISRAEL”

When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. The more they were called, the more they went away; they kept sacrificing to the Baals and burning offerings to idols” (vv. 1–2).

– Hosea 11:1–7

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Another aspect tied to the title of Son of God, is that of the identity of the nation of Israel. As Hosea points out in the verse, Yahweh actually refers to Israel as his own beloved child, and as his son. Although it should be noted that Moses is the first to point this out in Exodus, but he isn’t permitted by God to speak of it. This particular identity is historic in nature; implying that it is tied to the Jacob, the father of the 12 sons of Israel. Now, what’s even peculiar about this is that Jacob who was given a new name by a divine stranger was called ‘Prince with God’. This identity ties well with the identity of the Messiah as Prince of Shalom (as the true Prince/Ruler with God).

Jesus exercises his authority as the ultimate Patriarch that will redefine the world by selecting the 12. Now, if this isn’t made clear enough, Jacob’s name literally meant liar; Jesus intentionally revealed his name as ‘The Truth’. There’s not only that revelation but the continued allusion to his very being as the ‘Vine’ and his followers as the ‘branches’ as seen in John 15. This identity is essential to Jesus’s teachings as he anchors his church to his identity as the sole source of teaching. This is how God’s working in the messiah manifests its weight; God has revealed that he redeems by redefining and replacing the old in a manner that only he could.

The kingdom of God is unlikely to be formed unless Jesus lived the life that Israel was to live in all its history, and that is a righteous, devoted life to Yahweh alone; this is based off Deuteronomy 6:6. So, the theory goes, that when Jesus lived the perfect sinless life, his very life was made capable of enveloping all who were going to fall under the umbrella of his name as Son. It is in this very belief that the generational gap that stretched over for centuries is now reduced because Israel Incarnate has truly become Immanuel. He is our direct connection to God the Father as he is also now our Elder Brother as the book of Hebrews tells us.

So, you see, there’s quite a lot going on here with Jesus’ title of ‘Son of God’. Each of these implications are reflected in Jesus’ teachings as well as the doctrines surrounding him in the entire New Testament. What then does all this mean for us today? I have 3 main ideas:

a. Jesus identity as Israel gives us direct access to God and as such we can approach him directly (not relying on traditions as the Pharisees did).

b. We are assured of a genuine cover of our lives when we submit to him; Jesus is capable of understanding us “at all our points of weakness” because he himself was tested but yet without sin as the book of Hebrews tells us.

c. Jesus has given his followers a new identity as the members of the divine city, we have become, in him true Israel; if we remain in him we continue to be true Israel according to John 15.

And, to make things even more interesting. The New Testament would paint Jesus’s life in the same way as the Israelite journey, especially Jesus’s Flee to Egypt, his Baptism, His Period in the Wilderness for 40 days, His Temptation, His Passion and the eschatological aspect of Israel; His Resurrection. The Resurrection is blanketed over mankind and over all creation for those who believe in him. This is why John 1 would tell us, “those who believed in him he gave the power to become sons of God”. Paul the Apostle on the same note would say, “As he is, so also shall we be”.

“Do not fear, I have overcome…behold I was alive, and was dead and now I am alive forever more”

-Jesus to John

YESHUA BAR ELOHIM: THE ENIGMA OF JESUS AS SON

JESUS AS SON: PART 2 “ENTRANCE OF THE KING”

I will tell of the decree:
The Lord said to me, “You are my Son;
    today I have begotten you…

Kiss the Son,
    lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
    for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

-Psalm 2

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It may come as a surprise to some of you reading this series that one of the implications of Jesus’s title as Son is that of royalty. In fact it’s even more peculiar that the 2 Psalm identifies the king as the Anointed, sound familiar? It’s actually at this point that the message of the Gospels comes clear. Jesus is portrayed as the King, that is the ‘Anointed’. Now, there’s a little more to this that’s revealed in the book of Deuteronomy where the role of the king of Israel is revealed.

The king in the book of Deuteronomy is revealed to be the ‘son’ of Yahweh, the one who would serve under him and be taught/instructed by him. This is pivotal to making sense of what’s going on in the Old Testament/Tanakh. There are of course many stories whose implications may not fully be grasped and as such may cause the biblical texts to be misunderstood. But do not worry, we are here to walk through this together. It is possible to gather some understanding through study.

I hope that the full implications of this understanding of Jesus as Son sheds some light on why Herod was so threatened in the Gospels? And why the New Testament’s adamant stance regarding Jesus’ exclusive claims to sonship are unrivalled? It is a difficult thing to compress in blog form but it is my hope that the essence of the meaning is being fully communicated. This is also fundamentally why Jesus’ message-the Good News/Gospel-is that of God’s Kingdom Come.

All the kings of Israel in the Old Testament were evaluated based on their willingness to submit to Yahweh and be taught by him. This is why, whether the kings were successful in building the nation and making it prosperous or not, it did not take away or add to Yahweh’s judgement. The minute they departed from his counsel, they were judged harshly. Now, what does this understanding have to tell us living in today’s world?

There are several implications but I’ll select a few;

a. The King has enlarged his territory over the world, not just geographical Israel as seen in Acts 1.

b. The extension of the kingdom does not exclude the original recipients of the Revelation of Yahweh’s word, i.e. the Jews as seen in Romans 9.

c. The new Israel formed by Yahweh is as wide as the whole world and as far reaching as the periods in time when other followers of Jesus lived as seen in Genesis 12.

d. The new people formed are proof of God’s power invading the world to transform it, “the old has gone, the new has come” as seen in the book of Revelation.

e. The life Jesus lived as submitted to God, yet being fully God is an example set for his followers as seen in Philippians 2.

f. This is why belief in Jesus automatically makes the believer an ‘heir’, or better yet, a ‘co-heir’ with him of the kingdom.

g. The belief in Jesus also automatically makes those called by his name to become the ‘kings and priests/ kingdom of priests’ that the Torah/Law of Moses speaks about. This is evidence of a government structure in the Anointed’s agenda as revealed in the New Testament.

BORED-TESTAMENT: WHY THE TANAKH/OT IS EXTRAORDINARY

“Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai echad!”

-Debrayim 6:6

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The Old Testament is a fascinating library of books. A common misconception categorizes the Old Testament/Tanakh as a single book which-as many bible scholars world over, from both Jewish and Christian traditions would say, is a gross error. Although it is tackled as a unified whole, it was not compiled during a single period of time, but over several centuries, as the Gideons’ Bibles would rightly put it at the preface, “[The Bible] was put together by people from diverse backgrounds, places and time periods” (my summary). It is this single point that is vital to understanding the Bible as a library in and of itself. And although it does impact the world today after so many years of being in existence, it still wasn’t written to the world as the immediate audience.

Mystery still lies behind this phenomenon as it has shown that the Bible, in spite of its diverse authorship is still able to communicate to people living in our day and age. This is what is known as the divine inspiration of the text. Inspiration implying, in theological terms, that God was able to speak his words and communicate to his people over time through the words of the writers of the books. Troublesome as this might seem, it has helped many people over history to learn something about the divine. Not only has this feat been accomplished, it has also helped unravel the nature of YHWH/Ha-Shem (The Name) to men.

This nature of God is that of justice. Oftentimes, we see his justice play out in a manner that seems odd and not so contemporary to what we already know and see today in our legal systems. This too should not be an area of concern for as peculiar as it might be, people living thousands of years before us had specific concerns and expectations regarding their deities. These desires often manifested as the need for the deity to show his/her might in certain situations. Sometimes, this would mean that the gods would truly be seen as powerful if they reigned over more elemental forces. This seems to be a common thought in most world mythologies, of which Egypt had Re the Sun God. And in an interesting turn of events was fused with Amun to become even greater, Amun Re!

Now here’s where the Old Testament gets real interesting. Although many are familiar with the Biblical story of creation, we often get entangled in finding the meaning behind the message of the narrative. Although the pursuit is in itself noble, it is important to note that Genesis 1 for instance, is said to not merely talk about creation from the scientific point of view but from a theological perspective. It is said that the manner in which it is written is similar to that of a craftsman [living at that time] building a temple, with the last day of creation being the day when he constructed images/likenesses of the god/gods to dwell in the inner sanctuary of his/her presence. For Christian theologians, it might be even more interesting to suggest that perhaps God’s creation of Adam and Eve and letting them dwell in his presence in the Garden of Eden is a clear reflection of God’s original intent for mankind; to be right by his side always.

Back to the point though, Adam and Eve are those images in whom now the God of the Bible breathes his spirit into and they become, not clay/stone puppets, but living breathing beings like their Maker. This creation in his image and likeness, demonstrating the life-giving power of YHWH is the treasure carried by his worshipers. This explains YHWH’s ‘jealousy’ when his people pursued ‘lifeless no-gods (lo elohim)’. And that’s where the tragedy is made clear that God is trying to restore man into his (God’s) image in the world. This takes place through the most interesting drama ever to be witnessed; rape, murder, coups, prophetic messages, adultery, incest and lies just to name a few.

How bad do we really think we are? Isn’t God able to make us a part of his story today?

Shalom!

“God: Why do you eat of the fruit of the tree that I forbade you to eat?”

Adam: The woman YOU gave me to eat and I ate it”

-God’s good character first denied by man to his Maker in the first cosmic trial to ever be held