April 10, 2016: Jesus is not “God, Jr.”

Posted on : Apr 7th, 2016 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

A number of years ago I was temporarily serving another congregation, and one day during the passing of the peace, a member of that church grabbed me and said, “Why do you refuse to call Jesus the “Son of God? He is clearly God’s son. God impregnated Mary which is how he was born. So, he is God’s son!”

That man is not the first person to have reached that conclusion, nor is he the first to say that to me. Each time I hear it, I ask myself, “What have we done to this story of faith?” “How in the world did we get to this place?” Well, actually I have a pretty good idea how we got to this place and it has to do with what “Son of God” means.

In the scriptures, Jesus never claims to be God. And in most of Christian theology, Jesus is never named God. It took three centuries for the early Christian church to clarify that, but they did in the Nicene Creed. The church said, “we know God in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit or Creator, Redeemer and Holy Spirt. They are of one substance but different. The one place where the church crossed this theological line, was in the Rosary prayer of the Catholic tradition, which begins: “Holy Mary, Mother of GOD.” Sorry, but Mary is not the mother of God, she is the mother of Jesus. Big difference!

Part of what confuses this is in Luke’s Gospel Jesus is often referred to as “the Son of God.” In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus is referred to as “the Son of Man.” Both of those were Messianic titles for Jesus. They did not mean progeny (father – son or parental relationship). In Mark’s gospel both titles are used.

In this Sunday’s scripture, Jesus asked the disciples a question: “Who do the people say that I am?” Great question! The disciples had many answers.   Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets. Then Jesus asked them personally, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Peter answered him, ‘You are the Messiah,’ which is a Hebrew term for “the Anointed One.”

These titles for Jesus: “Son of God, Son of Man, Messiah, Anointed One” all had great significance in their time. Their significance is not that Jesus is God, or God, Jr., but human. As human as you and me!

This Sunday I will share with you why I believe it is of ultimate importance to keep focused on the human nature and being of Jesus. Here is an example of why that is so important. About twenty years ago a friend told me this story:

In one of the indigenous Japanese faiths, each of us is given at birth a part of the heart, soul, mind and body of God. At death the heart, soul and mind return to God’s heart and mind, and our body returns to God’s body – creation. Each person carries the potential to become the ‘living’ God – made in the image and likeness thereof.”

When we allow the Christian tradition to make Jesus more divine than human, we lose touch with the heart, mind and soul that is the essence of who God is, and how we are to embody God in our world today.

Easter Blessings to You and those you love, as we seek to become more spiritually alive this Easter,

Dan

 ~ This Sunday’s Scripture ~

Mark 8: 27-38

Jesus asks the disciples:  “Who do people say that I am?

Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that I am?’ And they answered him, ‘John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.’ He asked them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Peter answered him, ‘You are the Messiah.’ And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him.

 Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, ‘Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.’

Jesus called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Human One will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of God with the holy angels.’

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