Tuesday, December 19, 2017

THE SON OF GOD


The Son of God (a continuation of Jesus For the Layman)

Lots of people who saw Jesus when He walked on this earth did not believe that He was who He said He was, i.e., the Son of God. Obviously, these people had a different picture of Jesus in mind to that revealed in Scripture.

There was, however, a Roman soldier who no doubt was familiar with the blood and gore of war and even the torture of Jesus, believed that Jesus was the Son of God. “And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how He died, he said, ‘Surely this Man was the Son of God!’” Mark 15:39.

It would be too simple if, when the Bible refers to Jesus as the Son of God and the Son of Man, that former referred only to His divinity (as in being God) and the latter referred only to His being a human. For we need to keep in mind that being called the Son of God was not unique to Jesus. For example, the Bible refers to Adam as the Son of God.[1] However, note that Adam was directly created by God using the dust of the earth as the substance for his humanity,[2] and Jesus, the last Adam, the second Man,[3] was also created by God using Mary as the substance for His humanity.[4] But the point here is that the centurion, unlike those who mocked Jesus on the cross, believed that Jesus actually was the Son of God. Likewise, we need to make sure that we are believing in the right Jesus Christ and not some imposter or figment of our imagination.

This centurion had heard Jesus on the cross utter these words, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Mark 15:34. These words are taken from the first verse of Psalm 22, (the Psalm we quoted above). The words express the anguish of Hellish torment that Christ was experiencing at that time in His human body and soul. Jesus was less concerned about being forsaken by family and friends than by being forsaken by God! We need to put on the brakes a wee bit here. Lest we get in trouble with those who are sticklers for making sure that we have the correct Jesus, i.e., the Jesus of the Bible. So let us progress slowly.

Why would Jesus mention being forsaken by God at this point as He hung on the cross? Well, keep in mind that there was a great exchange taking place on that cross. The New Living Translation of the Bible does well explaining what was happening here where it says, “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” Did you get that? The great exchange is that when God sacrificed His Son Jesus He was at the same time reconciling Himself to us and us to Him. Yes, He was also reconciling us to Him. Jesus, the perfect Man, was the only thing that could represent us. Bulls, sheep and goats could never substitute for human beings. And, because Jesus is also God as well as human His human sacrifice is of infinite worth.

Jesus is God and Man in one divine Person forever. He is not two persons, but one person with two distinct natures, the divine and the human. This is where we need to get ready to start talking about God being triune in nature, i.e., Father and Son and Holy Spirit, three Persons, but one God. The question then becomes: Can any Person in the Godhead forsake any of the Other Persons? Can the Father really forsake the Son who said, “My God. My God why have You forsaken Me”?

We must realize that God cannot look upon sin, even my sin and your sin. Scripture says of God, “Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; You cannot tolerate wrongdoing.’ Habakkuk 1:13a. Jesus had become a sin-offering to God on the cross. God had imputed or transferred our sins to Jesus on the cross. Then He poured out His wrath, i.e., hellfire, on His Son consuming all of our sins. It was this wrath of God that killed Jesus as it was poured out upon Him (instead of us).

Do you understand now why Jesus might be feeling forsaken in His human spirit? A few lines from a well-known hymn spell it out for us. But before we go there, let me say that I really appreciate the words attached to this hymn and the other Scottish- or Celtic-sounding tunes and hymns the following hymnist has written. The words and tunes speak to the Celt in me:

How deep the Father’s love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure
How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory
Behold the man upon a cross
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished.[5]

If you were to search the Internet you would discover that the author of this hymn has gotten himself into trouble with other Christians for writing those lines, “How great the pain of searing loss, The Father turns His face away.” We can’t have the Father forsaking the Son! That just won’t do! It might suggest the Jesus is not God the middle Person in the Trinity but merely a human being like the rest of us!

Please don’t balk at the fact that Christians take each other to task over such things. Why? Because this is a good thing! For it helps us to keep the Jesus who is revealed in the Bible before our eyes and not some figment of our own or another’s imagination. You don’t ever want to end up following the wrong Jesus!

So then, what’s wrong with Jesus feeling forsaken even though technically He wasn’t being forsaken by God? Have you ever felt forsaken? Well, apparently so has Jesus! Let’s tease this out a little more.

As God accounted our sins to Jesus as He hung there on the cross, Jesus could feel in His humanity that there was now, for the first time, a barrier between Him and God! He had our sin on His shoulders! That’s why He cried out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” It shows us that He really did have our sins as He represented us. This was the wrath of God being poured out on His Son. It was total torment and absolute agony of soul for Jesus Christ – an excruciating feeling of forsakenness, abandonment. Hell is to be forsaken by God for eternity. And because Jesus is God and Man in one Divine Person forever, His suffering went out into all eternity and has eternal consequences – everlasting life for all who believe in Him.

Now, we really do need to be careful here. God the Father never for an instant stopped loving God the Son. God cannot deny Himself. Therefore, what Jesus was experiencing was a feeling of forsakenness only in His human nature. As God, as it were, turned His face away from Him Jesus experienced agony of soul. Thus, He experienced Hell on the cross. And isn’t Hell utter darkness? Forsakenness? God holocausted our sin as He slew His Son, the sacrificial Lamb, by hanging Him upon the cursed tree, i.e., the cross. God cannot die. Therefore, it was in regard to His human nature, not His divine nature, that Jesus felt forsaken and subsequently died.

I hope that, like the centurion, you really do believe that Jesus is the Son of God.


[1] Luke 3:38.
[2] Genesis 2:7; 1 Corinthians 15:47-48.
[3] 1 Corinthians 15:45;47.
[4] Luke 1:31;35.
[5] How Deep the Father’s Love For Us, Stuart Townend: https://youtu.be/pmzudzkGS-Q

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