Advent 2016 Day 21
The argument from some critics of Christianity seems to settle on this question: did Jesus understand Himself to be God or did the church invent this idea later? Beginning in the Old Testament, the prophet Isaiah in Chapter 9, said that the coming Messiah would have four titles; “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” These titles would be descriptive of this anointed One whom God had promised would come.
For over a millennia before the baby Jesus arrived in Bethlehem, the expectation of the prophets was clearly that this Messiah would, in fact, be God in flesh. Deity. “Mighty God” is a pretty unambiguous title referring to that deity.
In the New Testament, there was already one who was called “the son of God” when Jesus arrived. The Caesar wore that as one of their exalted titles. Caesar Augustus who reigned during Jesus’ days on earth wore that title proudly. For Jesus to self-proclaim Himself “the son of God” would have been, not a theological problem, but a political one. He would have been setting Himself up as a contender for Rome’s throne. That is not why He came.
And so, we don’t hear Jesus saying “I am God’s son” very much. Maybe that insight helps us know why He didn’t. But there are clearly places in the New Testament where He does lay claim to that title.
When Paul wrote the letter to the Philippians in AD 61, he included an early confession of faith… in the form of a song… where the deity of Jesus is clearly spoken of. If we were going to create a conspiracy where we sought to claim deity for a human being, it would be wise of us to wait until the people who knew him or who knew of him personally had died and gone off the scene.
But in less than 30 years from the death of Jesus when many of the witnesses to His life and ministry were still around, Jesus was being celebrated as God come in the flesh! Philippians 2:6-8 celebrates His being “equal with God” and that being something He willingly laid aside as He became flesh. In other words, many who had met Him were still around to ask!
So yes, the prophets were right. Jesus is in fact fully God, fully Deity, but at the same time fully human. “The God man,” St. Augustine called Him. Same nature as God. Same power as God.
And the same love as God… for you and for me.
FOR MEDITATION: And the Word was with God… and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. John 1:1
FOR REFLECTION: Jesus is much more than just a good man… even a good man with the power to work miracles. He was, in every sense of the word… GOD. And as such, deserves all of our adoration.