Summary: Listening to Jesus’ words about the way He relates to the Father can help us understand the way we’re supposed to relate to the Father, and to Jesus
ding-dong! I went to answer the door. It was a Saturday morning. There on the porch stood a young man carrying some brochures. “Hello. I’m from a group that is concerned about our treatment of the environment. Do you mind if I ask you a couple of questions?” OK. “Are you troubled by the news you hear of global warming, the hole in the ozone layer, and things like that?” Well, those things concern me, but I’m not always sure who’s giving accurate information about them. “Do you see where mankind is wrongfully exploiting our natural resources and are you concerned where this could lead?” Yes, I care about the earth. We ought to take good care of it. “Do you think that the earth could ever be restored to a perfect order of balance and harmony?” Red flag! -- What group do you represent? “We are Jehovah’s Witnesses.”
I don’t know what makes them stand out in your mind, but there are two things that I think of when I think of the practices of this group:
(1) They’re very evangelistic. We could learn some things from them. They’re serious about getting their message out, and they work hard at it. People join their group because they’re asked to.
(2) Their teachings about Jesus. They believe that Jesus was created the son of God; that He isn’t as exalted as the Father -- He’s less. Take a close look at their own attempt to translate the Bible, and you’ll see how they’ve altered it to fit that idea. As a result, His life and death mean less, and He means less to us today.
But that’s just not consistent with honest Bible study, and, most of you who grew up learning about Jesus weren’t taught that. So, we don’t want to even entertain the idea, do we? Is Jesus less than God? Does Jesus come in 2nd place?
It may be because of convictions like that we tend to breeze over parts of the Bible like this one today. We don’t want to wrestle with what it really means. Look what Jesus Himself says:
I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself (v19); By myself I can do nothing (30)
But in this same passage, Jesus talks about His authority; about having the ability to give life, just like the Father; about the plan for Jesus to be honored just as the Father is honored. And the Jews were wanting to kill Him because He was making Himself out to be equal with God.
How can we understand Jesus’ position to be equal with God when He clearly speaks about submitting to Him as well? No book of the Bible records more than John when it comes to Jesus’ deity (the fact that He is God). At the same time, no book of the Bible has more recorded about the humanity of Jesus either!
1:1. Remember how John begins his gospel, talking about Jesus: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
How Jesus can be God and still be the Son is hard. We see everything in linear, human terms. We look at the first in line, The top of the organizational chart, the CEO, the President, and we often relate that to a person’s worth. To begin to understand the Father, the Son, and the HS, we have to put away that very human approach. It may work for establishing a grievance procedure at work or a chain of command in a company, but when it comes to our humble attempts at describing God, we’re going to have to try something else.
Tradition tells us that St. Patrick used a 3-leafed clover to explain how God is one, yet has 3 distinct parts. Someone else has used water - it can be a liquid, solid, or vapor, but it’s still water. All 3 are definitely different from each other, but they’re still H2O. They all 3 do different things, but they’re chemically still the same.
So, Jesus, when He left heaven, remained God, but came to do something different.
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross.
at present we do not see everything subject to Him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
When we look at Jesus on earth, we’re looking at the One Who emptied Himself, Who set aside His equality with God, Who became nothing, Who was a little lower than the angels for a time. That’s how Jesus can be God but still speak of Himself as One Who must follow the Father’s lead while He’s on the earth.