The Second Title – The Son of God
Home Church Devotional 7/5/2020
These devotionals were written during the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic when area churches were not allowed to meet for fear of spreading the coronavirus. They were used in place of a full sermon as my family and I gathered for worship and communion.
“This is He on behalf of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’ I did not recognize Him, but so that He might be manifested to Israel, I came baptizing in water.” John testified saying, “I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him. I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.’ I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.” John 1:30-34 (NASB)
I am the first born, the oldest of five siblings; I am also the first-born son. Growing up, many people could look at me, and say, “Yep, that’s Dave’s son.” Family resemblances are strong in all families and mine is no exception. All three of the boys in my family all have strong family characteristics, whether it is the hair, eyes, forehead or some other distinctive trait found in the men of our heritage. Being the first born, however, gave me “special” recognition. I was the “first” to…well, you can fill in the blank. Being the oldest meant I had to make a few sacrifices to be able to enjoy the privilege of being the first-born. Not that the sacrifices were that difficult, it just meant the younger brothers and sisters did not have to repeat my performance.
Jesus was also the first born of five, for we read in Matthew 13:55 of four brothers (no mention of sisters by name or how many) named James, the writer of the epistle by the same name, Joseph, Simon and Judas. These brothers seemed to be typical brothers, interacting and behaving as any other brothers would act with one another. There is one major difference with the brothers of Jesus, however. In John 7 we find that the brothers are trying to force Jesus to show Himself to the world through His works; the reason John tells us is they do not believe in Him. The things Jesus did in His sacrificial love were far more difficult, and important, than the small insignificant sacrifices I made as Dave’s son.
In our passage today, John the Baptist makes an astonishing confession after claiming that Jesus is the Lamb of God, the One who takes away the sin of the world. John tells his disciples that he did not recognize Jesus but the One who sent him to preach of the coming Messiah, made Him know to John. Okay, wait just a minute here…John and Jesus were cousins. How could John the Baptist not recognize his own cousin? Come on, really? Certainly John and Jesus had played as children; gone to the synagogue together and had family meals together, right? So, what in the world could John mean when he says, “I did not recognize Him?”
What John is talking about is recognizing Jesus as the Son of God. Yes, John knew Jesus as his cousin, but he did not know Him as the Son of God. That is, until Jesus came to be baptized by John and John was witness to the Spirit descending upon Jesus in the form of a dove, landing and remaining upon Jesus. Only then were John’s spiritual eyes opened to recognize Jesus as the Son of God. Can you imagine yourself as John? Preaching the coming of God’s kingdom, acknowledging the presence of One who existed before he did, One he could not even stoop to remove His sandals, and here, it is his cousin, Jesus the entire time!
The prophesied King in the line of David was God’s own Son and the messianic King is uniquely the Son of God. No other person can fit this description or fulfill the prophecy. The title “Son of God” goes beyond the idea of obedience and messianic King to that of Jesus’ essential nature. This title, “Son of God,” is primarily used to affirm the deity of Jesus witnessed in His person and His works, the nature and characteristics of being God’s only begotten Son. This is the title applied to Jesus of Nazareth as the one, unique Son of God.
John uses the title “Son of God” as the centerpiece of Jesus’ identity throughout his gospel account. In fact, John boldly states that Jesus is THE Son of God, not A Son of God. He is the ONLY Son; the only BEGOTTEN Son who has come from the side of the Father, from His very bosom, the deepest, most intimate place – the most honorable fellowship of God. Notice I said, of God, not with God. We, as believers, have fellowship WITH God in our fallen humanity, but Jesus has come FROM God and the fellowship OF God. This means that Jesus is the same nature as the Father.
Jesus understood His relationship as the Son of God through statements found throughout Johns gospel account; in John 10:30, Jesus claims, “The Father and I are one;” and in 10:38 He declares, “the Father is in Me and I in the Father,” and He frequently refers to God as , “My Father…” Nowhere, in John’s gospel, is the title “Son of God” ever applied to believers, we are children; “Son of God” is reserved exclusively for Jesus throughout his gospel account. Jesus is the first born, unique and only Son of God. As the first born, Jesus uniquely showed and shared His family traits with those around Him.
In John’s gospel alone we learn that all things were created through Jesus (v.3); in Him was life and this life is the light for all people (v.4); He is the true light and darkness cannot overtake Him (v.9); He was in the world, among those He created and He was rejected by His own kind (v.10-11); He gave those who believe in Him the right to become children of God (v.12); he became flesh – that is, He put on humanity – to live among those he created (v. 14); He is the only one to see God (v.18); He is the Lamb of God who came to take our sin upon Himself (v.29). All of this in the first chapter of John’s gospel account.
Throughout the rest of His gospel we learn that Jesus is the Bread of Life (6:36); the Light of the World (8:12); the Door (10:7&9); the Good Shepherd (10:11&14); the Resurrection and the Life (11:25); the Way, and the Truth and the Life (14:6) and the True Vine (15:1&5). John also provides ample evidence that Jesus is the Son of God by recording seven miracles of Jesus. Turning water to wine (Chapter 2); healing the royal officials son (Chapter4); healing the lame man at Bethesda (Chapter 5); feeding 5,000 (Chapter 6); walking on the water (Chapter 6); restoring the sight of the blind man (Chapter 9); and raising Lazarus from the dead (Chapter 11).
As the Son of God, Jesus did all of this BEFORE He turned to face the cross of Calvary. At Calvary He took the sin – past, present and future – for each and every individual, including you and I, and placed them upon Himself, the One who knew no sin became sin; He became the only sacrifice found acceptable to God the Father. In this single, mighty act, He defeated sin, breaking it chains of bondage forever; he defeated the fear and sting of death; He defeated the works of Satan, landing a mighty blow to the enemy of our souls; and with His resurrection he defeated the grave, freeing all those who believe in Him as the Son of God from death and granting them eternal life.
The momentary and light sacrifices I made as the first born son pale in comparison to the sacrifices of Christ Jesus, the One who has taken a life headed for an eternity separated from God, washing that life to make it snow white and pure before God the Father, moving me from darkness into His glorious light! My life has been turned upside down by this wonderful Savior, the One who has created me for fellowship with the Father and the Holy Spirit, granting me eternal life at the end of this journey.
And what about you? Have you found the One who died in your place? The One who has been found acceptable by the Father? In a world that continues to fall further and further away from God, spinning out of control as the mind of humans becomes increasing sinful, do you find yourself longing for peace, security and a sense of purpose? Do you find the material goods and money you once found comfort and pleasure in has turned sour and empty? Turn today to Christ Jesus, he alone can meet and satisfy your needs. He is the Light of a darkened world and in Him is life, light, hope and love. To the glory of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Amen.