John opens his Gospel with the power of Genesis: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. ESV We know from Genesis that God spoke the universe into existence. I like Phillips translation of John expressing that same notion: At the beginning God expressed himself. Phillips
But what about that all-important phrase: the Word was God? Does that mean that they are one in the same; that Jesus is God, or God is Jesus?
Today’s reading from John adds to the idea with: glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you. ESV Here, not for the first time, Jesus claims the title of Son of God. He took the title of Son of Man early on and used it through most of his ministry; now he is God’s Son.
The result of these kinds of statements is that too many people take away the notion that Jesus lived on earth as God, not as a human. We forget that both Son of Man and Son of God were terms used to describe the Messiah. We forget that Jesus accepted every title associated with the Messiah and that he did all the deeds ascribed to the Messiah. We think that because Jesus was without sin, he must be God.
Thinking Jesus is God makes the same mistake many of the Gnostics make. Jesus was born fully human, lived fully human, and died fully human. Jesus was a man, not God.
He accepted the title of Son of God, while at the same time, he always refused equality with God.
How then can Jesus be human, and yet, Son of God? The Old Testament applies the title to angels, Israel, and Adam. Between the Testaments, the Book of Enoch called the coming Messiah the Son of God. As we know, Jesus fulfilled all the promises of the Messiah.
Jesus referred to God as Father, especially in the Gospel of John. He also taught us to call God Father. We are joined with Jesus when we choose to follow him. Does that mean we are also part of the Sonship?
Yes and no. Jesus made it possible for us to join him in our relationship with God, but he is alone in his Messianic relationship with God. It is easier to think of the Messiah as existing before creation, giving up the Godly characteristics to be born a human, then returning to that unique pre-creation status of Godliness. As William Barclay put it, Jesus Christ is the mystery of God. Jesus as They Saw Him
It is not proper to call Jesus God. It is proper to call the Messiah God. We need to separate the two in our thinking. While reading the Gospels descriptions of Jesus’ actions and words, we must think of Jesus as human. When we consider him on That Special Sunday—as well as after—Jesus is God, in as far as we can understand the mystery.
Be righteous and do good.