Tag Archives: Son of God

Today’s Scripture – August 31, 2018

John 10:31-39 (NIV)
Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?”
“We are not stoning you for any of these,” replied the Jews, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”
Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are gods’? If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came–and the Scripture cannot be broken–what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’? Do not believe me unless I do what my Father does. But if I do it, even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.” Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp.

Blasphemy was a capital offense in the Jewish justice system. Blasphemy could be speaking against God or cursing His name. But it also included making any kind of false statement about God or encouraging people to worship other gods. To these Jewish scholars, Jesus claim that He and God were one was tantamount to encouraging idolatry. And Jesus did, in fact accept worship – see John 9:37 for a recent example. If He had not been God in the flesh, that would indeed have been worthy of condemnation.

But Jesus was indeed one with God, literally God in the flesh, so His claims were not blasphemy, but truth. God really had sent Him into he world. He had come from God and was returning to God soon.

Jesus pointed to two “witnesses” in His defense. The first was the Scriptures, specifically Psalm 82:6, in which the leaders of the people are called “Elohim,” literally “gods,” but figuratively in this case, referring to their power and authority. Jesus’ point was not about semantics, but about the fact that, if the Scripture referred to those leaders who really were mere men as “gods,” then He, who did such amazing miracles and who spoke on God’s behalf with such authority, was at least as worthy of that title as those who had merited it in the past.

The second witness was the works that Jesus was doing. Miracles had happened in the past, but the miracles that Jesus was doing were unprecedented in their magnitude, their scope, and their sheer numbers, sometimes hundreds in a single day. These leaders could know merely by that that there was an intimacy, a congruence, a positive identity between Jesus and the God they worshiped.

But those leaders’ theology had no room in it for a “Son of God,” let alone for God in the flesh, and they were unwilling to allow for the idea that their theology was incorrect, or at least incomplete. So, they tried to arrest Jesus, but He slipped away from then into the crowd, and then out of the city.

Father, we still have to be careful not to believe that we have ever reached a point where we perfectly understand You or the ways in which You work. That belief will shut our minds and hearts to any further light that You want to show us, and stunt any further spiritual growth. You are infinite, and we will never fully grasp anything about You. And Your divine word, inspired by Your Spirit, allows us only a glimpse into that infinity, and provides a way for Your Spirit to guide us into even deeper understanding. Help me to always keep a growing edge in my theology, so that You can show me (and so that I can accept) more and more of You every day. Amen.

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Today’s Scripture – August 29, 2018

John 10:27-30 (NIV)
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”

The one sign of being one of Jesus sheep, a member of God’s kingdom, is that a person will listen to the voice of Jesus. “Listen to” is a very important term. Many people heard Jesus’ voice, but only those who were truly His sheep actually listened to it, truly hearing what He said, and obeying what He commanded. Those questioning Jesus’ identity heard Jesus’ voice, but there was no place in their hearts for His words to take root and to do their work of transformation.

The benefit to those who were Jesus’ sheep who listened to His voice was that they were able to receive eternal life, a life that differs both quantitatively and qualitatively from the lives of “normal” people. Eternal life does last forever, but it is also a life that is eternal, infinite, in EVERY direction. It is a life full of God’s presence, God’s power, God’s purity, His power and passion, His provision, and His protection. It is an expansive life that has power to transform all that it touches.

This eternal life is secure for those who continue to live in Jesus. None of those who are truly His sheep need to worry that God might drop them or lose track of them, any more than He would drop or lose track of Jesus Himself. For all who follow Jesus’ leading, He is able to keep them safe from the enemy all the way to heaven’s gate.

But the saying that pushed those who were then surrounding Jesus over the edge was the final one: “I and the Father are one.” It is one thing to claim some kind of special relationship with God, or even that you were sent as an emissary by God to be the shepherd of His people. But Jesus’ claim of complete unity with God was tantamount in their eyes of Him claiming to be God Himself. Actually, that was precisely what Jesus was doing. He wasn’t merely claiming to be close to God, or in touch with Him, but to literally be the embodiment of God in the flesh. He restated this reality even more clearly with His disicples at the Last Supper (John 14:9-11). Those who are not part of Jesus’ flock cannot believe this. But for those who have had their eyes opened to the truth, the fact of Jesus’ literal divinity is perfectly evident in all that He teaches and does.

Father, it is no surprise that this is still a dividing line today. Many can accept Jesus as a good man, a martyr, a great teacher, maybe even a prophet. But they cannot accept Him as God in the flesh as He claimed and proved many times to be. Thus, that is the line between the people of the world and the people of the kingdom. And what we believe about Jesus clearly demonstrates which side of that line we are on. Thank You, Lord, for convicting my heart all those years ago, for opening my eyes so that I could clearly see who I was and who Jesus is, and helping me to move across that line into Your kingdom. Amen.

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Today’s Scripture – August 1, 2018

John 8:39-40 (NIV)
“Abraham is our father,” they answered.
“If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do the things Abraham did. As it is, you are determined to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things.”

The Jewish people prided themselves on being children of Abraham. By that they meant that they shared physical descent and were thus a part of the people who had been chosen by God and taken out of the nations to be His own people.

But Jesus was thinking about much more than mere physical descent. In Hebrew and Aramaic, the term “son of” indicates more than genetics; it indicates likeness. Thus, when Jesus called the Pharisees and teachers of the law a “brood of vipers” (literally sons of snakes) (Matthew 23:33), He was referring to shared character, not shared genes.

And there was even an element of this in His own two titles. The title “Son of man” indicates Jesus’ humanity, the characteristics that He shared with all mankind. His title “Son of God” (often abbreviated by Him to simply “the Son”), in addition to pointing to a literal truth, indicated to the people that heard Him use that terminology that His character, mindset, and actions were the same as God’s.

Thus, when the Jews Jesus was teaching and talking to claimed to be sons of Abraham, Jesus saw a horrible contradiction. The character of those people didn’t resemble Abrahams’s character at all! Abraham was a humble man of high character and deep devotion to God, completely submissive to His will. These people, on the other hand, were rebellious, resisting God’s direction, and rejecting His own Son, His chosen Messiah. Thus, Jesus was exactly right in calling their claim to be children of Abraham bogus. The fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree, but these “children” were far from Abraham in every essential.

Father, this is very interesting, and adds a dimension to our understanding of what the Scripture writers were referring to when they say that we, as Christians, can become “children of God” by faith in in Jesus. It clearly refers to transformation rather than simply status (2 Corinthians 5:17), to re-creation into the image of Jesus (Romans 8:29) so that we actually resemble You just like Jesus did, in character, in holiness, and in our actions. Keep molding and shaping me, Lord, so that I am made worthy to be called a child of God. Amen.

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Today’s Scripture – June 13, 2018

Luke 22:66-71 (NIV) At daybreak the council of the elders of the people, both the chief priests and teachers of the law, met together, and Jesus was led before them. “If you are the Christ,” they said, “tell us.”
Jesus answered, “If I tell you, you will not believe me, and if I asked you, you would not answer. But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.”
They all asked, “Are you then the Son of God?”
He replied, “You are right in saying I am.”
Then they said, “Why do we need any more testimony? We have heard it from his own lips.”

Now that it was daylight, the Sanhedrin could legally meet to decide a capital case. Even though many of those present had been at the “hearing” at the high priest’s house during the night, where Jesus was found guilty in advance of His “official” trial, this trial still had to happen before charges could be brought before governor Pilate.

The Sanhedrin called witnesses, but they could not find any two whose testimony about Jesus’ words or deeds agreed closely enough for a conviction. Finally, in frustration more than out of legal correctness, the high priest (Mark 14:61) asked Jesus directly if He was in fact the Messiah.

Jesus was not going to answer that question directly. First, it would be playing directly into His accusers’ hands. Their view of what the Messiah was supposed to be, an earthly king of David’s line who would take over the throne and oust the Romans, was so far removed from the reality of who He actually was, that if he admitted to the title, they would only hear Him admitting to their picture of the title, not the reality. In addition, they had already rejected Him as their Messiah, so even if He had been what they believed the Messiah to be, they wouldn’t believe Him anyway.

But Jesus would own another title that the leaders were very familiar with: The Son of Man. This term comes from Daniel 7:13-14 and was widely interpreted as not only a term for the Messiah, but also someone who was more than a mere man – a “Son of God”, someone who was actually a personification of the Lord Himself.

The leaders sat bolt upright when Jesus claimed this title for Himself in the court. They apparently could not get Him to call Himself the Messiah, but if they could get Him to admit to being the Son of God just a little more clearly, they could claim blasphemy, a capital offense. So, they asked a direct question: “Are you then the Son of God?”

Jesus’ answer, “You are right in saying I am,” may seem a bit cagey in translation. But in Greek and Aramaic, it is actually a direct and forceful “yes,” much like the English, “You said it!”

That was all that the Sanhedrin needed. Jesus had admitted to being the Son of God, an equal to God Himself, which they considered blasphemy. And He had shown that He would not directly deny being the Messiah, the rightful Jewish king and therefore a direct rival to Caesar, which would enable them to charge Him with treason against the Emperor, a capital offense under Roman law.

Father, Jesus clearly shows that sometimes it is best to not debate with those who are persecuting us, trying to win the argument. It is better to not play the game when the cards are clearly stacked against us. Instead, we are to rely on Your Spirit to tell us what to say, and when, and even how to say it (Luke 21:12-15). That, of course, doesn’t mean that those words will get us out of any suffering or loss, but it does mean that the words that You give us will strike directly into the hearts of those who hear them, and will have great potential to convict any whose hearts are open to the truth, thus making any suffering that we endure fruitful for the kingdom. Help us, Lord, when the trials come, to put our full weight of trust in You. Amen.

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Today’s Scripture – April 3, 2017

Matthew 23:29-36 (NIV) “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!  You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous.  And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our forefathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’  So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets.  Fill up, then, the measure of the sin of your forefathers!

“You snakes!  You brood of vipers!  How will you escape being condemned to hell?  Therefore I am sending you prophets and wise men and teachers.  Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town.  And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.  I tell you the truth, all this will come upon this generation.”

Jesus’ words and His judgments on these leaders may seem unduly harsh to some, but He is actually passing judgment on them, not for what their ancestors did in the past, but for what they themselves were plotting to do to Him in the present.

The teachers of the law and Pharisees really did proclaim that if they had lived in the days of their forefathers, they would not have persecuted the prophets like their ancestors did.  The prophets, especially during the eras of apostasy, were widely reviled and hated by the leadership of the land, both religious and civil.  This was mostly because they fearlessly preached God’s judgment on the people and their leaders.  So if there was a way to get rid of them, legitimately or illegitimately, they did it.

Even though the leaders in Jesus’ day loudly protested the actions of their forebears, their hearts were dismayingly similar to theirs.  Just as their ancestors had plotted against the prophets, wise men, and teachers that God had sent to them, these men were now plotting to assassinate the Son that He had sent.

Killing God’s prophets is bad enough, but killing the Son of God, orchestrating His death, plotting in secret for months, and continually trying to trip Him up, ultimately bearing false witness against Him to orchestrate His torture and death is infinitely worse.  Instead of simply bearing the guilt that their ancestors bore before God for killing a single righteous prophet like Zechariah, the guilt of these men was going to be as if they had killed every martyr from Abel all the way up to their own day.  It was not a position to be envied.

Jesus’ hope was that these dire predictions would wave these men off the suicidal course that they had already chosen, although He knew in His heart that they were already dead-set on murdering Him, and they weren’t going to change their minds, no matter how much He warned them.  But their blood would now be on their own heads for ignoring His clear warnings.

Father, thank You for Your love and grace, shown even to those who would seem to be best written off.  It was that love that saved me, and that I can pass along to others.  Amen.

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Today’s Scripture – February 7, 2017

Matthew 17:4-8 (NIV) Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here.  If you wish, I will put up three shelters–one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”
While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.  Listen to him!”
When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified.  But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said.  “Don’t be afraid.”  When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.

The disciples were stunned at what they were seeing.  They believed in God, in angels, in the whole spiritual dimension.  But to actually come face to face with it scared them to death.

Peter, rarely without words, began to speak out of fear more than devotion (Mark 9:6).  His suggestion was the he should put up three shelters, one for Jesus, one for Moses, and one for Elijah, so that they could all hang out in comfort for a while.  But before he had time to fully develop that idea, God enveloped the whole group in a bright cloud of His glory, which shut Peter’s mouth instantly.  And when God spoke to them directly out of the cloud, they all fell flat on their faces in terror.

God’s statement was an attempt to redirect their attention.  Moses and Elijah were not the point, or even the most important personages on the mountain that afternoon.  Both of those men, legitimate heroes of the faith from years past, had achieved almost mythic proportions in the minds of faithful Jews, and seeing them face to face had inspired in Peter and company something akin to awe, even worship.

But the point was that Jesus, the one with whom they had developed such familiarity over the previous three years, was someone so overwhelmingly superior to either Moses or Elijah that He was worthy of their worship, and of the careful attention and absolute obedience of those who claimed the title of disciple.  He was nothing less than the very Son of God in the flesh, a fact that they had barely glimpsed previously, and didn’t understand at all.

The sound of God’s voice speaking directly to them terrified them to the point that they were barely breathing (cf. Exodus 20:18-190.  They clamped their eyes tightly shut against the light, and were aware of nothing more until they felt the hand of Jesus on their shoulders, and heard Him say gently, “Get up.  Don’t be afraid.”

When they looked up, there was Jesus, looking just as they had always known Him.  Moses, Elijah, and the glory of God were gone.  But as they looked at Jesus, they couldn’t help but see past the familiar exterior to the glory that they had seen in Him moments before.  And that moment would ever color their perception of Him.

Father, we all have various pictures of Jesus in our minds, from the baby in the manger, to the teacher walking along the road, to the gentle Jesus surrounded by children, to the dying Savior hanging bloodied and battered on the cross.  But I think that very few of us have the correct picture of Jesus in our hearts:  the glorified Son of God that Peter, James and John got a glimpse of on the mountain, and that John later saw in the revelation he received (Revelation 1:12-16).  But how much more natural it would be to be faithful to Jesus, to serve Him steadfastly and wholeheartedly, and to never let earthly priorities usurp His priorities for our lives, if we were to keep our focus on Him as He truly is.  It is much easier to sidestep and ignore the gentle Jesus who plays with children, or the almost feminine Jesus who knocks gently at the door of our hearts, than to treat carelessly the radiant Son of God, the mighty King of kings and Lord of lords, whose commands are given in a voice like a trumpet!  Help me, Lord, to always see Jesus as He truly is, and to serve Him as He truly deserves.  Amen.

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Today’s Scripture

Matthew 11:20-24 (NIV) Then Jesus began to denounce the cities in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent. “Woe to you, Korazin!  Woe to you, Bethsaida!  If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.  But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you.  And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies?  No, you will go down to the depths. If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day.  But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.”

More light demands greater responsibility.  That is an old saying, but its truth was never more evident than in people’s response to Jesus.

Jesus did mighty miracles everywhere He went as a sign of the presence of God’s kingdom.  The concept was that anyone could say that God’s kingdom had arrived, and some people would follow them.  But when concrete evidence of God’s kingdom is present, the people will be held accountable if they do not believe and repent.

Jesus had spent a lot of time in both Korazin and Bethsaida, doing miracles and teaching clearly about God’s kingdom.  But, despite the evidence, the people were slow to respond.  They appreciated the miracles, but they would not acknowledge the truth of the kingdom that Jesus was preaching, and they would not turn away from their sins.  Their preferred scenario was for Jesus to keep visiting and keep doing miracles, and then go away and let them get on with their lives the way they preferred them.

The same attitude was even more prevalent in Capernaum.  Jesus used it as a home base for a couple of years.  Every time Jesus returned, the streets to His residence quickly filled up with the sick and demonized looking for help.  But when Jesus went away, the people just went on with their lives as if nothing special had happened.

Many of the people in these cities saw themselves as good people – at least as good as most people, and better than some.  But that self-view missed the point entirely.  If they had eyes that could see, they would have seen that it was none other than Holy One of Israel walking down their streets, staying across town, and touching their lives with healing.  Such knowledge would have prevented them from comparing themselves to others, and to simply see themselves in the light of Jesus. Such a clear view would have driven them to their knees.

But their eyes were glazed over with their own thoughts and opinions, and turned inward to their own needs, so they couldn’t clearly see, and thus they would not repent.  The doom pronounced by Jesus on these places is terrifying.  To be condemned as a community worse than Tyre and Sidon, gentile towns that had rejected God in spite of His earlier judgment on them, was mind boggling.  To be considered worse than Sodom was inconceivable.  But to refuse to repent in the very presence of the Son of God is to close one’s eyes to the biggest light imaginable, and to bring judgment on oneself.

Father, we all enjoy receiving from You and having You meet our needs. But after we have received, how can we simply go back to our own lives unchanged?  Forgive us for not being always so conscious of You and what You are doing in us and for us that we immediately renounce our old way of life, and exchange it for a life lived in You.  Amen.

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