Summary: There certain fundamental truths that all Christian denominations share, and the first of these is that Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man.
Ash Wednesday was this last week which marked the traditional beginning of Lent. According to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus spent forty days of fasting and preparation in the wilderness before beginning His public ministry. In the wilderness, Jesus was tempted by Satan, but He resisted all temptations. In observance of that time, Lent itself lasts forty day – not including Sundays – and culminates with our celebration of Jesus’ resurrection and triumph over the grave.
The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of believers for that most significant moment in the history of the world. We are called to prepare ourselves through prayer, penance, repentance, giving to the poor, and self-denial. It is my intention to add one more form of preparation; that being “preparation through understanding.”
Our Christian religion is both simple and complex – as witnessed by so many differing denominations. Yet, even in its differences, there are certain fundamental truths which all Christian denominations agree on. It is those truths that I intend addressing over the next five Sundays of Lent.
The first – and most important of all truths is that Jesus Christ is God. Yes, that’s right. He was and is the Creator of all things whose fullness existed in the mortal body of the man which historians call Jesus of Nazareth. He was not someone who “became a god” but is, in fact, the one and only eternal God.
As we reflect on that truth, I’ll be presenting some of the facts of Jesus’ life and his own words as evidence. I’ll also be reviewing the witnesses of His disciples and the arguments of other saints through the ages. It’s impossible for me to present all the evidence. There’s just too much. With that being said, the divine nature of God dwelling in the form of a mortal man is still, in the final analysis, a mystery – a divine mystery which requires our faith to accept. Someone once said, “For those who accept Christ, no evidence is needed, and for those who have rejected Him, no evidence is enough.” But evidence is needed to be heard by the many souls who have not discovered or fully realized the Truth of Jesus.
Two preachers were on the roadside with a sign that read, “The End is Near - turn around now before it’s too late.” A passing driver yelled, “Leave us alone you religious nuts!” Then the preachers heard a loud splash. One said to the other, “Do you think we should have just said ‘Bridge Out’?”
The appearance of Jesus was a sign from God that “The End Is Near”. God does not intend to allow this fallen world to go on forever in its dark and broken condition. He created this world to be a paradise which would reflect His love and glory, and He created man and woman to be in harmony with Him in this paradise. But God did not want puppets. So He also gave us freedom – the freedom to make choices. Being deceived, the inhabitants of Paradise rejected Him. The rest of history, then, is the story of God’s plan to bring us back. His plan has three phases: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
Ironically, the title “Son of God” – which actually proclaims Jesus’ deity – has become a stumbling block for some in accepting His deity. The mere mention of someone’s “son” raises the idea of someone with less authority than their father. Professor Alan Ladd, however, writes, “The most important messianic phrase in the study of the self-disclosure of Jesus is ‘the Son of God’.”
This does not lessen the nature of Jesus. Rather, it explains it. The “Son-of- God” is “God-the-Son”. He is the second person of the triune Godhead. While the term “Son of God” did have other implications in Judaism and our own relationship with God, it is the theological implications that are important here.
The theological meaning can be clearly seen in the Gospel of John chapter one: “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.”
John had no intention of leaving any doubt as to the relationship between God the Father and God the Son. They are one, yet, they appeared to the world as two. This was not because they were separate in their natures, but for our benefit, they fulfilled separate purposes – but only for a brief time. In the Old Testament, God-the-Father is the Creator of life; the giver of the Law; and the “Father-of-Abraham”. He made the Hebrews His Chosen People through whom He would teach His truth to the world.