We had a particularly small group today, but we had soooo much fun. The third chapter of Word of Life talks about the divine Sonship of Christ, and let me tell you, that’s a mind-blowing subject. If you ever think you’ve got an entire grasp on it, it’s time to go back and start again, because you don’t.
We talked about what sonship really means, in context to Christology. Most often, in an attempt to stress that Jesus’ sonship does not imply a literal spiritual birthing in eternity past, theology books will define sonship as Jesus’ position of honor and authority before the Father. This is a true and biblical definition — such is the case in Colossians 1:15 where Jesus is called the “Firstborn over all creation,” and in Hebrews 1:2 where He is called “the heir of all things”.
But as we discussed it, the conlcusion we came to is that sonship is foremostly a term of relationship and affection. Yes, this includes the positional honor and authority. Yes, it speaks of Jesus’ prominence over creation. But it also speaks of a deep, enduring, and ageless love that has flowed between the Father and Son since before the foundations of the earth. When Jesus entered into His earthly ministry, the Father’s declaration was not, “This is the greatest prophet ever to set foot on the planet.” It was not, “This is the Man who will bring forth the eschatological promise of God.” Nor was it, “This is the Man who will inherit all of the created order.” The word of God over His life and ministry was, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). The testimony and validation of the Father over the Son was that He was the beloved One, well-pleasing to God.
Try to think about the eternal fellowship and delight of the Trinity in one another since eternity past. Three Persons, acting in complete unity as one God. Go ahead. Really pause and think about it. Then, once your brain circuits stop frying, try to think about one of those Persons taking on a human nature and living on the earth.
I’ll catch up with you in about an hour. 😀
In all seriousness though, this is an astounding concept. There is no exhausting this mystery. It’s impossible to completely search out the depths of this love, this fellowship, this holy design. Jesus is the Son of God. For real. And the implications of that are staggering.
We also talked about how Jesus’ sonship simply is. We as believers are also children of God, but our participation in the family of God is dependent entirely upon the mercy and self-giving love of the Godhead. Jesus, on the other hand, never needed to receive a spirit of adoption. He has eternally been in an infinitely loving relationship with the Father. John 1 states that Jesus Christ is “in the bosom of the Father” (John 1:18), or in other words, in the embrace of God Himself. There is an unfathomable intimacy and profound connection of love between the Father and Son. If it seems like there are a lot of superlatives in this paragraph, you’re right — but they don’t even begin to do justice to the glory of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
It is from this place that Jesus has brought us into fellowship with God. John 1:18 continues to say that Jesus, the One in His Father’s eternal embrace, He has made God known to us. John 1:12 says that whoever receives Christ also receives the right to become a child of God. We’re talking about full, unfettered access into the boundless felllowship of the Trinity. We’re talking about God opening the secrets of His heart to us. The Trinity is not some elite clique that we have to impress in order to be let into the inner circle. Through the work of Christ, we become part of the family of God. Jesus, the original Son, is bringing many sons of God to glory, and is not ashamed to call us brethren (Heb 2:10-11). The Father loves us just as He loved His only-begotten Son (John 17:23). Through Jesus’ unique, intimate Sonship of God, we are truly and fully included in the fellowship of the Godhead.
To quote the ineffable Hal Lindhart: “Put that in your theological pipe and smoke it.”
Another topic we touched on is the voluntary submission of the Son to the will of the Father. It’s important to note that when seeing statements of Christ becoming “less than” the Father, or even “less than Himself” (you will find that statement in the book), it is speaking of His humility in taking on flesh, not in His forfeiting one bit of His divinity. He was just as much God when He hung on the Cross as He was when He formed the world. But He humbled Himself to the absolute lowest place for the sake of love.
We also touched on the topic of kenosis. Kenosis is a Greek word meaning “self-emptying,” which comes into play in Philippians 2 where Christ “made Himself of no reputation.” There is much debate among Christological circles as to what implications this carries. Did Jesus set aside excercise of His divine attributes while He was on the earth? Did He still retain His omniscience, omnipotence, etc.? How do we reconcile a God who needs nothing with a God-Man who got hungry, tired, and ultimately died?
It’s fun to wrestle with these questions, and I believe it is good to do so. Take Philippians 2 and talk to Jesus about it. Ask Him what it was like. Ask Him how an infinite God took on the existance of a human being with human limitations. But I would strongly, strongly advise not to hold onto your theories too tightly. When you look at the Incarnation, it is not our job to dissect it and categorize it. It is our job to put our hand to our mouth, put our mouth to the dust, and worship. If we walk away from the incarnation without some sense of awe, without a heart that has moved at least a little bit in worship of a holy God, it’s time to go back and look again, asking God to soften our hearts to perceive the mystery.
Gosh, I love talking about this stuff. We really did have a blast this afternoon.
Next Week: I will be out of town for two Saturdays. Hopefully I will manage to dash off a couple of blogs along the way, but I am planning on doing some serious chillin’ and I may not be writing too much… I do hope to check in a couple of times, and I would love to hear what you guys are thinking and praying through in the meantime. Just drop a comment on the most recent Word of Life post and I will find it.
So in three weeks, let’s talk about chapter 4. Don’t forget to keep pray-reading; this stuff really only is beneficial if we take it to the place of prayer. Talk to Jesus about Jesus and have a great time doing it. 😀
Until next time!