What do I believe about Jesus? Matthew in his Gospel (1:20-23) says, “an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
22 All this took place to fulfil what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).”
Two observations for me from that text is that “he will save his people from their sins”, and he can do so because in reality he is “God with us.”
We don’t know the day Jesus was born, varying dates were considered by the church fathers, but eventually they settled on the 25th December in the West, with “Western Christians first celebrating the birth of Jesus on December 25 in 336, after Emperor Constantine had declared Christianity the empire’s favoured religion.” But how easy it is to lose sight of the original intention of Christmas and to get caught up in the glitter and tinsel and all the self-interest that accompanies Christmas, and to forget the purpose of the Incarnation, that he had come to save his people from their sins, and he can do that because he is, “God with us.”
In Luke’s Gospel (Luke 2: 8-11) we read, 8 “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” The King James Version describes him as, ‘Christ the Lord’.
That is how the Bible presents Jesus. In “1 Corinthians 8:6 we read, “yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.” Whatever can be said of the Father can be said of Jesus.
In John’s Gospel (1:1-18) we read, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. . . . 14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
15 (John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’”)16 Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.”
And in a letter to the Philippians (2:5-11) the Apostle Paul expresses more fully the purpose of the divine visit to our world when he says:
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
In my previous post, I said there was “a subject dear to my heart, that of the Deity of Jesus. Having come from a direction in life where I treated God with indifference, and even at times with hostility, and ignoring the graciousness of God as described by the Apostle Paul in Philippians 2:5-11. I consider that my attitude was really a truly treasonable posture, a creature’s total disrespect and indifference towards his Creator. . . I have become very sensitive of any suggestion that Jesus Christ is anything less than the Creator, and would always want to say with Thomas, “my Lord and my God,” John 20:28.”
But that is what I read so frequently. It is in the Philippians text that we are informed the God the Son voluntarily became one of us to show Adam need not have sinned in his place of paradise while Jesus resisted temptations in the hostile wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11). Instead he “became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.” There is nothing in Scripture that suggests the subordination among the Trinity, except in Christ’s role as our Saviour coming to planet Earth as both God and Man, to provide the bridge for fallen humankind to come back to God. The Bible says “The Word was God,” and “the Word became flesh” (John 1:1,14). When Jesus became one of us “It was not that he gave up what he was but became what he was not” (John Owen).
In all my reading since my last post, I have read quite extensively on the subject of the deity of Jesus, and I find John Stott’s book Basic Christianity to be one of the most succinct explanations of who Jesus Christ is and the reason for his incarnation. The Amazon review section on that promotion is mostly 5 star, and deservedly so. Millions of this little book has been sold and is well worth the read.
There seems to be such an avalanche of anti-Trinitarianism on the Internet to confuse readers that I see this little book as one of the best to ‘un-confuse’. No Christian objects to the existence and status of God referred to as the Father, but for many the Holy Spirit is merely an expression of the Father and Jesus the Son as Someone brought into existence at some time in eternity by the Father, and is and always was subordinate to the Father. For the Trinitarian this demeans not just the action of Christ on our behalf but demeans our understanding of the Trinity in their distinct roles in the saving of fallen humankind.
Not that we can know everything about the Trinity as we might like; to know everything about God would make us God. Instead, as the very good article on the BBC website makes clear. We cannot know all we want to know about God, but we can just humbly accept we are his creatures (Colossians 1:16).