Begotten: H.C. Question 33

Why is [Jesus] called God’s “only begotten Son” when we also are God’s children?

John 1:1-3 – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

John 1:12, 14, 18 -Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—

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…

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.

Hebrews 1 – In the past, God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.

For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father”?

Or again, “I will be his Father, and he will be my Son”?

And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.”

In speaking of the angels he says, “He makes his angels spirits, and his servants flames of fire.”

But about the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom.  You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.”

He also says, “In the beginning, Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands.  They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will roll them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed.  But you remain the same, and your years will never end.”

To which of the angels did God ever say, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”?

Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?

Romans 8:14-17 – For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

Ephesians 1:5-6 – he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.



Acts 3 – Gospel Message

Read Acts 3

After healing the crippled man, which in an of itself was a testimony to the power that they had received from the Holy Spirit, Peter addresses the crowd that had gathered at the Temple.  They had gone there to worship God but instead found themselves confronted with a much greater reality of God’s love and power in Jesus Christ.

Peter’s message, however, is not new to us.  If you read Acts 2 yesterday you might notice some similar language and themes that are present here.  Why?  Because Peter is presenting the Gospel.

Today, it seems, churches throughout North America are focusing on new ways to reach people with the message of Jesus.  We feel that we need to be flashy and fresh with our message, our music, our building, our mission, and even possibly, our leadership.  People feel the need to fit the Gospel into cultural movements so that it becomes more relevant.

Yet here Peter’s message is consistent.  We aren’t told how many days have passed since Pentecost when Peter addressed the crowd that had gathered.  It is, however, safe to say that some of these people had heard, or heard of Peter on that Pentecost day.  Does that mean that Peter’s felt the need to change the message He preached?  No.

The message of the Gospel needs no assistance in reaching people.  In fact, the Holy Spirit works through the preaching of God’s Word wherever it happens.  Our desires to “dress it up” and “make it new” reflect a rather shallow opinion of what the Holy Spirit can and will do when God’s Word is proclaimed.

Now, this doesn’t give us an excuse to not study God’s Word, but it does remind us of the priority of the Spirit’s work in the spread of the Gospel Message.



Luke 8 – This Little Light of Mine

Read Luke 8

The children’s Bible song “This Little Light of Mine” is certainly memorable and a fun way to help kids learn a piece of Scripture.  I wonder, however, how often we take its message to heart in our lives.

Jesus, talking about the Parable of the Sower speaks specifically about parables and understanding Biblical wisdom, and then specifically directs the disciples in the fact that they need to share this knowledge and wisdom with others, a part of “bearing fruit,” which is a common theme in Jesus’ teaching.

It seems like this would be rather self-evident given what Jesus tells His disciples: some are given to know the “secrets of the Kingdom of God,” while others aren’t.  For those that are, it is imperative that we share what we have seen and heard with those around us.  Yet Jesus knows well that we aren’t given to this sort of thing.  Whether it makes us uncomfortable or it is simply not something that we readily think about, “letting our light shine” is often times the thing we struggle with the most.

Contrast this teaching with the narrative of the demon possessed man later in the chapter.  Once healed, he couldn’t be stopped from telling what Jesus had done for him.  When something miraculous happens like this, it seems natural to tell everyone, but what about the “mundane” everyday faithfulness and blessing that we experience every moment of our lives?  How quick are we to tell others about that?

Sometimes we think that it is those who have stories of dramatic healing and change that warrant being told, yet Jesus says here that it is important for all believers to share their faith and the Word of God so that it is like a lamp on a stand, giving everyone light!



Day 310: John 8-9; Darkness and Light

As we talked about a couple days ago when we began the book of John, one of the things that John masterfully weaves into his writing is the interplay between darkness and light as it pertains to Jesus’ and His incarnation in the world.  John writes in the first chapter:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.  In him was life, and the life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.  He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him.  He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.
The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.  He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him.  He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.  But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

John is also, no doubt, drawing from some of the prophecies that come from Isaiah as well.  There is one in particular, from Isaiah chapter 9, that I can think of right away that contains the theme of darkness and light, one that we is often looked to during the Christmas season, a passage that Matthew also picks up in Chapter 4:

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.

Jesus bears witness to Himself in our reading for today, saying that He is the “Light of the world” and that all who believe in Him will have “Light of life.”  In this small discourse, Jesus relates what He says to His status as the Son, pointing to the fact that it is through Him, and only through Him that we can know the Father.  He also uses the same wording here as yesterday, the I AM “ἐγώ εἰμί statement.  Jesus is the Light, the Truth that sets us free!

Reading these two chapters more carefully, we see that John is relating darkness, the slavery to sin, and even physical ailments as being part of the darkness that we are seeing here.  In contrast, Jesus says that He is the light, He is the truth that sets us free from slavery, and He is the one who heals the blind man.  I love the narrative of chapter 9 here, when Jesus heals the blind man and he is hauled before the religious leaders.  They ask him all sorts of questions about his blindness and the man that healed him.  They simply cannot put it together that Jesus could possibly be someone sent from God.  The man’s response?  “Whether he [Jesus] is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light… I was blind but now I see.  Those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has a light shone… The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  Remember that in the past we have talked about God’s dwelling being in darkness.  From the very beginning, when the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters and darkness was over the face of the deep.  Even in the Tabernacle and the Temple we noted that the place that God dwells is in complete darkness.  While this is true, I think that we can see this darkness in a couple of different ways.  First and foremost, darkness is the natural habitat of God and most definitely not for humans.  In the darkness we stumble, we cannot see, we are compelled to sleep, and we are vulnerable.  For us darkness separates, alienates… it is even dangerous.  We are light dwellers.  John’s Jewish readers would have picked up on this almost immediately… the Gentile readers wouldn’t have been far behind.

Yet, in Jesus Christ, those walking in darkness have seen a great light.  Though God has been with us in this dark world, the world that God created but that has been marred with sin.  We are not able to effectively be in relationship with God because of our sin.  It is only in Jesus Christ that our world has been illuminated, that in the presence of God we can now see!  We were blind, lost in darkness, and now we can see.



Day 309: John 6-7; I Am… The Bread of Life

While we didn’t do a great deal to connect yesterday’s reading to the prologue in John 1, today’s Scripture cannot be read outside of that text.  The implications of what Jesus says in John 6, and the subsequent “I AM” statements of the Gospel of John stem directly from John original assertion that Jesus Christ is the Word of God incarnate, the Divine taking on human flesh that has “tabernacled” or “dwelt” among us.  There are other narratives in today’s two chapters of reading, signs of Jesus power over creation and the abundant provision that He offers to so many people.  Jesus’ teaching in several different places and events are also very powerful and could even be called intrusive, at least intrusive to the societal norms of the day.  We see that they elicit two responses: questions about who He is and the teaching that He offers and that of the leaders who send soldiers to arrest Jesus.  All of this though, is linked inextricably to John 1.

I would like to spend a brief amount of time talking about Jesus’ “I AM” statement here in John 6.  To do this though, we need to think back a little bit, all the way to Exodus and the story of Moses’ first encounter with God at the burning bush.  Remember with me that when God first reveals Himself to Moses, calling Him to be the leader of Israel, Moses asks for God’s name in case “the elders of Israel” ask who sent him.  Do you remember God’s answer?

God said to Moses, “I AM who I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I am has sent me to you.’” God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.

This is The Name that is given to God for all time.  It was deemed so Holy that the people of God, out of reverence for God’s Name, chose other words as a substitute for it like “Adonai.”  In any case, the Tetragrammaton, which is another name for the name of God, was extremely Holy and to say it was to dishonor God… at least in that culture.  However, when Jesus is talking about the bread of like says, “I AM the bread of life.”  It is likely that Jesus was speaking in Aramaic here,  but when John translates this into the Greek he uses the words “ἐγώ εἰμί” (pronounced“egō eimi”).  Literally this means “I I am” or more appropriately, (I AM that I AM)… the Greek equivalent for the name of God.  Jesus is communicating here, as God did to Moses so many years prior, that He is the very essence of being… the ontological beginning if you will.  While people are always something (I am hungry, I am tall, I am Jon), Jesus is just I AM…  This phrase, to all who were listening, especially the religious leaders, would have linked and set on the same level Jesus and God.

Now, I understand that Jesus also says “I AM the bread of life.”  He places this caveat on Himself, perhaps linking Himself with Scripture.  Deuteronomy 8, which Jesus also quotes when He is being tempted by the devil, says, “And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”  He is linking Himself also with this Word, THE WORD.  Jesus is the Word of God, the Bread of Life, and it is only through Him that humanity can live at all… physically and spiritually.  Jesus Christ is the great I AM, the Word of God who was and is and is to come.