Who Is Jesus?

June 06th, 2010 Apostle’s Creed Series 06 1 John 5:20

And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. [1]

There are certain things in life that we take for granted. When I tell my children I love them I assume they infuse into that expression the meaning I give it. My wife helps by saying, “I love you to the moon and back.”

God uses language like that. In Psalm 103:12 God says, as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.

In the Apostle’s Creed we confess some things that need explanation. Jesus’ descent into Hell is a good one. Other items seem too obvious for a sermon. When we confess that Jesus is the only Son of God it would seem apparent what is being communicated. We understand the son father relationship through common life experiences so we assume we know what God means.

But when the Father says that Jesus is the Son of God, there are things being communicated that are only available to the spiritually mature and those who honor God by digging deeper.

In truth, labeling Jesus the Son of God is one of the richest titles the Bible gives to Jesus.

Defining what this title means gets a little complicated. Especially when the Bible adds that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God. Most Christians have no idea what these terms mean. We are like 18 month old children who say, “I love you.” We are saying good things, but we could profit from some explanation.

The title Son of God is used twenty-six times in the Gospels alone referring to Jesus. He is called Son of God by Satan (Matt. 4:3, 6; Luke 4:3, 9), by demons (Matt. 8:29; Mark 3:11; Luke 4:41), by John the Baptist (John 1:34), by his followers (Matt. 14:23; John 1:49; 11:27; 20:31), by angels (Luke 1:35), and by a Roman centurion (Matt. 27:54; Mark 15:39).

That Jesus is the Son of God is so significant that God the Father broke through the heavens twice to declare it to the world. In Matthew 3:17 and Matthew 17:5 God thunders from heaven, “and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.

Jesus paid a terrible price for letting this title go public. Jesus was taunted for claiming to be the Son of God. Those who passed by while he was on the cross derided him, asking that he prove He was the Son of God by coming down from the cross (Matt. 27:40). They were joined in their taunts by the most eminent of Jewish religious leaders: chief priests, scribes, and elders (Matt. 27:43; cf. 26:63).

The Jews rightly understood this title to be a claim to full equality with the one true and living God of Israel (John 10:36; 19:7). Most religious people, people just like you and me, wanted to see Jesus crucified for allowing this title to be placed upon Him. In fact, they were so enthusiastic for Jesus’ death that they asked God to lay the death of Jesus at their feet and at the feet of their children.

A blessing or a curse is waiting for all of us as to our acceptance or rejection of this title for Jesus. Matthew 16:13-17 says, Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.

Jesus Christ is eager to confer a blessing on any people who confess that He is the eternal Son of the Father. This confession is the key doctrine for building the church. If we mess this up, if we foul up this doctrine with superficial thinking or fail to understand it’s significance then we miss the Gospel.

What are we saying when we confess that Jesus is the Son of God?

We are confessing that Jesus in His person is eternally connected in a unique way to the Father as the only begotten Son of God; equal in essence, in power, glory and dominion.

Jesus is a Son by right, we are sons and daughters by adoption. Jesus deserves the full inheritance of the Father. He receives it and then uses all the goodness of the Father to bless the covenant family.

(Incidentally, in the late 1600’s a man named John Gill wrote a great dissertation on this topic. I used it extensively for my sermon and I commend it to you.)

If we are to confess this rightly then we must be clear on a number of issues. First let me explain when Jesus became the Son.

Some people think that Jesus became the Son at His birth. This is false. Jesus did not become the Son by taking on human flesh. If we make this argument then according to the conception story in the Gospels, it would be more appropriate to call Jesus the Son of the Holy Spirit since the Spirit worked the creation miracle of flesh into the womb of Mary. You can ponder that more later.

Some people teach that Jesus was the Son temporarily. They invent this conversation between the three persons of the Trinity discussing who was going to play the role of Father, who wanted to be the Son, and who wanted to be the Holy Spirit. Jesus didn’t choose to be the Son anymore than He chose to be Holy. It is who He is in His person. It wasn’t a role for Him, it wasn’t a temporary office. He is the eternal Word made flesh. He is the eternal Son of God.

Jesus did take on temporary relationship dynamics between Him and the Father by the incarnation. Hebrews 5:8 says, Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered. Jesus was eternally the Son. Though He were a Son, but He learned how to be a servant when obeying God. Jesus didn’t learn how to be a Son. He was the Son.

There is a wonderful passage in Romans 1:3-4 which says that Jesus was declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead. In the resurrection the Holy Spirit declares to the world that Jesus is the Firstborn of the new creation as the Son of God. All power and all authority is given to Jesus for what He suffered. The Holy Spirit declared in the resurrection Jesus’ Sonship. The resurrection didn’t make Him the Son. He was never made the Son. He is the Son.

As the Son of God he is equal with the Father in all His person. In Matthew 14:33 Jesus helped Peter walk on the water. When Peter started to sink Jesus pulled Peter into the boat and calmed the sea. And then they that were in the ship came and worshipped Him, saying, Of a truth Thou art the Son of God.

This event didn’t prove to them that Jesus was the Son of God, but they were so over-whelmed with the greatness of the miracle, and so awed by the power and presence of the Lord in their midst, that their hearts and knees bowed down before Him in holy adoration. The truth of the Sonship of Jesus as the eternal God and Savior brought them to their knees and they worshiped the Son of God.

Where else will we go to find our salvation? John 6:68-69 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.

So when did Jesus become the Son of God? Never. He was and is the Son of God. John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. Jesus was the only begotten Son before He was sent. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

So what other meaning might we deride from this title of our Savior?

Romans 8:3-4 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

The promise of the rule book is this, “do right and live!” But for us, the laws of God are not our way into heaven because we cannot obey them all perfectly. There is none righteous, no not one. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. So the laws of God serve only to condemn us.

But the Son of God was not born into sinful flesh. Luke 1:35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. The Son of God was born into flesh unstained by sin. Jesus did what Adam and Eve failed to do. Jesus obeyed God 100% of the time. So for Jesus, the law became a path to eternal life, not eternal death.

Back to the Romans 8 passage, verse one of the same chapter, There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. One of the things we mean when we confess that Jesus is the Son of God is that the curse Adam and Eve brought to God’s children is nullified by the other Son of God who came and won the victory for children of faith.

What else can we understand in this title? Because the Father gave the only begotten Son we have the eternal hope that we shall be given all the rest that God has promised. Romans 8:32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Can words be more expressive? He who did not spare his own Son.

Believing soul! You that desire to know God’s truth for yourself – God loves you so much that He permitted the most precious person He ever loved to exit the heavens and come in the likeness of sinful flesh that by His death He might redeem us sinners back to God. The only claim we have to being children of God is that Jesus, our Head and Elder Brother, was the Son of God.

Jesus said to Mary Magdalene after the resurrection, Go to My brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto My Father and your Father, and to My God and your GodJohn 20:17. Why your Father? Because Jesus was able to say, “My Father.” Why is He our God? Because Jesus was able to say, “My God.”

Galatians 4:6. Because ye are children, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. We are only connected to God through the Sonship of Jesus.

We find our eternal life through the Sonship of Jesus. John 3:35-36 The Father loves the Son, and hath given all things into His hand. He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abides on him. A blessing or a curse hangs before us. Are we willing to confess in fullness what God teaches when He declares Jesus to be the Only Begotten Son of God?

John 3:18 He that believeth not is condemned already, because he bath not believed in the Name of the only-begotten Son of God. We either confess that Jesus is the Son of God or we don’t go to heaven. That is true for all people, of all generations, in the whole earth. No one gets a pass on this requirement for salvation.

Further, by Jesus’ Sonship we learn the depth of the love that is within the Trinity and then given to us. Jesus lifted up His eyes to heaven and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son also may glorify Thee John 17:1. There is no other relationship, no more intimate and eternal tie than being His eternal Son. The tender intimacy, that holy, filial communion with His heavenly Father is the same communion that we are invited into as adopted children.

Our deepest fellowship and companionship with our heavenly Father is our sacred communion with Jesus as sons and daughters of God.

The Sonship of Jesus is at the heart of our good confession.

1 John 5:10-12 for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son. Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. Embracing our life with God through the Sonship of Jesus is that important. The Son of God is the only road that leads to the Father. Jesus is the door, the gate and the light of the world.

In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only-begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins 1 John 4:9-10.

To believe in Jesus as the Son of God and to confess Him as such before men is the distinguishing mark of a Christian. Believing Him to be the Son of God, meaning that we confess that Jesus is equal with God, is the only confession that gets results. The people didn’t kill Jesus because He had broken the Sabbath, but because He said also that God was His Father, making Himself equal with GodJohn 5:18.

What about us this morning? Are we willing to confess that Jesus in His person is eternally connected in a unique way to the Father as the only begotten Son of God; equal in essence, in power, glory and dominion?

I will pray for you that God’s Spirit will enable you to make such a confession. It is the truth that when rightly believed opens the door to eternal fellowship with God. He who has the Son has life. He who does not have the Son does not have life.

May God bless you to receive all that He has for you in the life, death, resurrection and ascension of the only begotten Son of God. Amen.

[1] The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.