sermon: The Father-Son Relationship (Part 3)
The Uniqueness of Jesus Christ
John W. Ritenbaugh
Given 16-Jul-05; Sermon #729; 70 minutes
Even though the Father and the Son work as one, they are distinctive Beings with separate functions. The Father is the source of all power, while the Son serves as the sole Mediator and the channel through which we interface with the Father. Through the Son (the Image, reflecting the Father's character and mind), we see the Father's power and wisdom. Jesus Christ is unique, serving as the divine link between God and man, intervening and negotiating on behalf of frail man with the full knowledge of the Father's mind and will. The ultimate goal of humanity is to know the Father and the Son, learning to live as they do. Only Christ has been composed of both divine and human natures, serving as Firstborn (having pre-eminence) of a special creation, one in which we are involved due to our calling. Hebrews 1-9 define His uniqueness as the Mediator (High Priest) between God and man, exalted over the angels, but nevertheless submissive to the Father.
Abundant life Angelic beings Angels Character Christ the mediator Christ as the Son of God Creator Daughters of Jerusalem Demon's testimony Elohim Emmanuel Equality with God Father Firstborn of every creature Genealogy of Christ God of the Old Testament God-kind God with us God of Creation God Humility Image of the Invisible God Immanuel Image Inscrutability of the Father Israel of God Jesus Christ Knowledge of God Logos Light (of the world) Melchizedek Negotiator Only begotten Son Pre-eminence Primacy Prostontheon Satan Pre-existence of God Reconciliation Sacrificing humility Son of God Son of the Living God Son of man Son Submissiveness of Christ Superiority of Christ over the angels Spiritual pre-existence Testimony of demons Uniqueness of Jesus Christ Yahweh
So far in this series we have seen that the Father and Son are two distinct personalities working out distinct responsibilities in the purpose that they are completing. They cooperate so smoothly and effectively it is as if they are one, but they are clearly two, and though they are both God, the Father is the greater of the two.
The Father is shown in the Scriptures as the Source from whom all begins, and He also is the Object toward which all is moving. The Son is the Channel through whom all is being done. He is not only the means of creation itself, but also the Mediator between the Source and mankind. He is the One with whom mankind has always interacted.
In Colossians 1:15, the apostle Paul identified Jesus of Nazareth as the Image of the invisible God. It was He who appeared to and conversed with and gave commands to Adam and Eve, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, and many, many others besides. He did not always appear in the same guise, but rather in the form needful at the time for the Father's purpose.
Regardless of the form in which He dealt with man, He was always God, whether He was known as Yahweh, Lord, El Shaddai, El, El Olam, Jesus, and literally over two hundred other names. He is called Yahweh 7,838 times. He is called God 4,456 times. In all of His representations to mankind He is always the express character Image of the Father, revealing portions of His nature that we might come to know Him. This is necessary to us because to know Him—the Father, the only true God—is eternal life.
We saw in John 1:1 that it is capable of an alternate translation. The one suggested by Knoch is that we think of the Logos as the "expression" of God. This is not because logos (translated into "Word" in the English Bible) is wrong, but rather because "expression" broadens the picture of how Christ reveals God to us.
We also saw in that series of verses that the term "with" in verse 1, in that translation, is misleading. How someone can be "with" himself is beyond comprehension. Besides that, the phrase pros ton Theon, which is the one that is translated into the English preposition "with," is more clearly synonymous with the English words toward, to, into, unto, or even against (meaning somebody that you would face).
The phrase pros ton Theon indicates direction, not association; thus the first verse is telling us that the Word of God points us toward God. Thus the apostle John begins a revelation to Hebrew people familiar with the Old Testament that Jesus of Nazareth is the God, the Lord, of the Old Testament—the long-awaited Messiah, the Anointed Savior.
Now through the Son we see the Father's power, His wisdom, and His flawless character. In Christ's final form as a slave, as a man of the seed of Abraham displayed before the apostles for three and one-half years, we are able to catch a living display of God's affections and His sacrificial, serving nature to the extent that He will go so far as to die for His creation.
Philippians 2:12-15 Wherefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which works in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure. Do all things without murmurings and disputings; that you may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.
In order to get a much stronger more intense effect of this, it really should be seen within the context of the five or six verses preceding it where Jesus is shown to have emptied Himself of equality with God. Paul used the illustration of Him emptying Himself in order to thus set us up for the practical application for you and me that appears beginning in verse 12. As Jesus did, we are to work out our own salvation in humble, sacrificial fear and trembling, that even as the Father worked through Christ, He is also working in us to complete the assignments given us.
Further, since it is God working in us, we have no legitimate reason for all of the griping and grumbling so common to mankind, or arguing amongst ourselves as if God is not overseeing all things pertaining to us. The object of this is to be a light before the world against which no legitimate accusation can be made. They may complain, but if we are doing God's will, any accusation will not be legitimate.
Let us go back to the Old Testament to Isaiah 53 and we are going to touch on a prophecy showing how the Savior—our Lord and our God—would live His life as an example to us. Remember, we are to be living sacrifices. This is especially meaningful whenever we understand that we are talking here about the God of creation.
Isaiah 53:3-10 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him: he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray: we have turned every one to his own way: and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: [No complaint, no grumbling, no murmuring came out of Him.] he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? For he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death: because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him: he has put him to grief: when you shall make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days: and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
Are you following suit?
Let us look at one more Scripture from out of the New Testament in regard to the One who did not think that equality with God was a thing to be grasped.
I Peter 2:20-23 For what glory is it, if when you be buffeted for your faults you shall take it patiently? But if, when you do well, and suffer for it, you take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were you called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example that you should follow His steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth: Who, when He was reviled, reviled not again: when He suffered, He threatened not: but committed Himself to Him that judges righteously.
Here is our example from One who had equality with God, as being of the same kind, and yet He emptied Himself, became a partaker of flesh and blood, and fulfilled His responsibilities flawlessly in the form of a slave. Now compared to this series of sacrifices, what basis do we have for any complaint?
In the first half of this sermon we are going to look into Christ's relationship as being the Mediator between God, the Absolute Deity, and His creation, mankind. In the second half, we will begin looking into Christ as the Son of God. Overall, this message centers on the uniqueness of Jesus Christ.
Turn with me to I Timothy 2. It is always so interesting to see something out of the apostle Paul here that is so revealing.
I Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.
Again, that is very clear. There is no trinity. We are dealing with two distinct Beings occupying distinctly different responsibilities. The uniqueness of Jesus Christ is that He is the divine link between God and man. He is neither the Absolute Deity, nor is He merely human.
Some people will argue either way that He is one or the other, but if we are using Scripture, all those arguments run into limitations. The solution is to admit, upon evidence supplied by Scripture, that He is quite unlike any other personality in the universe. There is nobody like Him!
The following is gathered from five different sources: The verb "mediate," from which mediator is derived, is itself derived from the Latin word medium. Medium means, "middle," thus a mediator is perceived as one who is in the middle between disputing parties working to reconcile them to each other. A mediator is one who intervenes. He intercedes. He is a negotiator. He is a conciliator, always working to help either side know the other and the whys and wherefores of their position better.
His uniqueness, among other things, is that He is derived from two different sources. His Spirit is directly from God from conception in His mother's womb. No other human being has that distinction, but His body, containing life, is purely human and is therefore subject to human frailties, such as mortality.
His consciousness—that is, His awareness of Himself resulting from this combination—is unmatched in that with His mind He is able to communicate directly with the Absolute Deity while at the same time also being acutely aware of the conditions, needs, failings, pains, hopes, fears, and potential of human man. The Father—Absolute Deity—does not possess this combination, nor does any other man. The Christ is absolutely unique.
What this does is add yet another satisfying piece of evidence that we are dealing with two different Beings in a unique relationship. How can they be co-equal when there is a vast difference between the two of them? When Paul says that Jesus is the image of the invisible God there in Colossians 1:15, he is not saying that they are identical, because when we begin to clearly identify the Christ, it becomes apparent that exact likeness with the Father disappears and that Jesus, on His own, though of the God-kind, is neither co-equal nor of one estate within a confusing trinity, but a separate unique Being.
Because Jesus has the same Spirit, which is to say "the same nature," He indeed was the express Image of the Absolute Deity in terms of character, and that is why He could honestly tell the apostles, "If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father." It is not that they looked alike, but because of the same nature they acted alike.
Turn with me to John 17. This is a great chapter! In this prayer, Jesus said:
John 17:3-4 And this is life eternal, that they [meaning the apostles and us] might know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent. I have glorified You on the earth: I have finished the work which you gave Me to do.
First I want to address what Jesus said in verse 4, in that He said He finished the work that God assigned Him. That work, in its overall sense, was to preach the Gospel, to reveal the Father, and to die for the sins of mankind. I especially want to note that revealing the Father, in relation to verse 3, He stated right there in that verse that knowing the Father and the Son is eternal life. I know that I have tended to overlook that. I have tended to concentrate on "to know God the Father," but Jesus said to know both of them is eternal life. It is knowing the Father and the Son that makes possible for us to have a relationship with them and opens the door to the abundant life that Jesus spoke of in John 10.
I am going to make a statement here that I feel is exceedingly important. That is, that based on what it says here, and actually in a sense encompassed by everything in the Bible, that the knowledge of God and of His Son Jesus Christ is the ultimate goal of human intellect. We have been given intellect somewhat like God's in order to come to the knowledge of them so that we can live like and with them. That is why He said that the knowledge of God and of His Son is eternal life. The knowledge of the Father and the Son is the object of all life and experience.
Now surely you desire an abundant everlasting life, do you not? Well, in one succinct statement, Jesus told us the key. It is to come to the knowledge of the Father and the Son, to know them.
Since the Father is the Source of all that there is, and the Son is the Channel, or the Mediator, through whom He works, a full-blown revelation of the Father comes only through His Word, His expression, His image—His Son. It is in seeing the Son that we behold the Father. As we become acquainted with Christ, we come to know God.
There is a strong tendency to perceive Christ in only one dimension (an important one to be sure), and that is as our Savior who died for our sins. But there is much, much more to Him than that. He is most definitely not a one-dimensional personality.
Now what could be more helpful to life than a serious consideration of the relationship of the two most exalted personalities in the universe? Well, the answer is, "Nothing." The way the Bible presents them is through a series of likenesses and contrasts. They are related to each other, and it is practically impossible to study them apart. On the one hand, if the Son were not like the Father, how could we see the Father through the Son? So He has to be like Him, does He not? On the other hand, if they were not unlike each other, they would be identical, and the Son would be every bit as inscrutable as the Father that He intended to reveal. The Father is inscrutable. We cannot even see Him. We cannot hear Him, and so Christ is not identical.
Being the Mediator demands then that He be both similar and dissimilar to both sides of this as yet completely unreconciled equation. You see, we are on the one side, God is on the other, and Jesus is in between. He is like us in some respects. He is unlike us in some respects. He is like the Father in some respects, but He is unlike the Father. Only He has trod on both sides. He shares similarity with God on the one side, but He is also dissimilar to Him as well, and so He shares similarities with man on the one side, but He also has dissimilarities with man as well.
Here is a simple example: If the Absolute Deity is invisible, then the Son must be visible if He is going to reveal Him. If the Absolute Deity is inaudible, then the Son must be audible if He is to reveal Him to mankind. Yet in both cases, what the Son reveals of Himself must match what the Father would do or say if we could see or hear Him.
Mark 15:34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? Which is, being interpreted, My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?
This is a very clear statement that Jesus had a God, and that God was His Father. Do you understand the implications of that? This was uttered while He was a man dying on the stake, so it might be argued that Jesus cried out to God because He was a man. But that argument begins to lose some of its force when we look at John 20:17, when Mary Magdalene grabbed Him when she recognized who He was there outside the tomb.
John 20:17 Jesus said unto her, Touch Me not: for I am not yet ascended to My Father: but go to My brethren and say unto them, I ascend unto My Father, and your Father: and to My God, and your God.
There He is, resurrected, and that same One He said in Mark 15 was His God is still His God.
Our Lord—the Mediator between us and the Supreme God—has a God, and that God is the One He revealed.
Brethren, we must see God. We must hear God. But that is literally impossible because of the restraints that God has imposed upon Himself, but we can realize both of these exalted Beings through Jesus Christ, our Mediator. Now we see in Him not only Himself, but also His God, and through His words we hear not His words, but the words of the Father who sent Him. Jesus Himself said that. "These are not My words. They are the words of My Father."
The glory of Jesus Christ lies in His perfect submission to His God. He is not a mere man, or Absolute Deity, but the Mediator between them.
I think that if we understand the Son's mediator role, we will grasp that His mediation is not limited to New Testament times; rather, He has always been in between the Absolute Deity and mankind from the very beginning of man's creation in the Garden of Eden. It has always been Him who has revealed the Supreme God's position on things pertaining to man's relationship with God, whether under the Old Testament or whether under the New, as God's purpose unfolded.
In the Old Testament I do not believe that the title "Son of God" is even once applied to the One who became the Christ. However, it is used for others in a looser more general sense than it is applied to Christ in the New Testament where the term "Son of God" becomes very restricted in its usage. Regardless of which Testament though, it is a term that indicates likeness. That term also carries with it a measure of dignity, and above all, sanctification, or consecration to responsibility.
In the Old Testament its most general sense indicates some measure of likeness, but not necessarily likeness to the extent of exact likeness. You will understand this in a moment.
Let us go to the book of Job. I am still, in a sense, trying to get across this idea of Christ being the Image of God, but yet He is not exactly alike, as we would tend to think.
Job 1:6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them.
Job 38:7 When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
What do we have here? It shows that angels too are sons of God, and from this, knowing that Satan is an angelic being, we can reach a true conclusion regarding Satan, that he too is a son of God.
Are you beginning to get the idea here, that just because Jesus is Son of God, and He is the Image of God, it does not mean that He has to be an exact representation of the Father?
Ezekiel 28:13 You have been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of your tabrets and of your pipes was prepared in you in the day that you were created.
Just tie that to Satan because he is the subject here. He is also a son of God. Satan is an angel, and like all other angels is a created being, and he also qualifies for the title "son of God."
Now would you say that Satan, as a son of God, is exactly like God? Most definitely not! Thus again giving strength to the idea that because One is the Image of God and the Son of God, it does not mean that He has to be exactly like God in every detail.
Throughout the Old Testament both terms—sons and daughters—are used to represent anyone having the characteristics of another without any blood relationship intended. Is that clear? We will expound on that just a little bit. In fact, both "sons" and "daughters" are used to represent both genders when a whole population is described as in the term "the daughters of Jerusalem," which includes both men and women; but God there called them "daughters" because of the overall gender of the context in which it appeared.
Let us go to Luke 3. Here we have the genealogy of Jesus Christ, and the very last verse tells us:
Luke 3:38 Which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God.
Adam is specifically designated as "the son of God" because Adam came directly from God's hands.
From here we are going to go to I Corinthians 15. I am asking you to reason along with me.
I Corinthians 15:45-47 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural, and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven.
Notice this distinction between Adam and Jesus. I think it interesting that he says, "He is the Lord from heaven."
I Corinthians 15:48-49 As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.
There we get the word "image" back into the picture again. Can you see a direct connection between Christ being the Image of God and we being resurrected, and from that point bearing the image of the heavenly? In our bearing the image of the heavenly, will we be co-equal with the Father? Of course not. You should be able to see then that in the Bible's use of "image" it is not necessary for the Son of God to be exactly like the Father in every detail, nor be co-equal either.
We are going to go back into the Old Testament again to Hosea. This is a prophecy.
Hosea 1:10 Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, You are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, You are the sons of the living God.
Here we have a statement regarding Israel's future when they are regathered. They will be called "the sons of God." In this case though it is indicating a special place of dignity and sovereignty among the nations. We will get a little bit more of that by going back all the way to Exodus 4. In this context God is giving Moses his marching orders. He is just about set to leave his family and return to Egypt, and God is telling him what to say to Pharaoh.
Exodus 4:22 And you shall say unto Pharaoh, Thus says the Lord, Israel is My son, even My firstborn.
Moses was instructed to designate Israel as God's firstborn son. This is a very great honor among nations. It is never applied to any other nation. If things had fallen correctly, and they had submitted to God, they would have had the characteristics of God as human beings.
Now we are going to go all the way back to the New Testament again, to Romans 8 where the term "sons of God" appears once again. This time it is talking about us.
Romans 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
Those begotten by God and led by the Spirit of God are "the sons of God" by faith, and these have become the "Israel of God" in God's spiritual creation. We should be able to grasp then that the term "son of God" all by itself does not indicate Absolute Deity. It is a figure of speech derived from human relationships.
Now we are going to take this off at an angle because we are going to see that Jesus' uniqueness fits right in here once again.
Let us go to the book of Colossians. It was in Colossians 1:15 that Paul called Jesus "the image of God." He is our Mediator. He is the Image of God.
Colossians 1:9-16 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that you might be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding: That you might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God: Strengthened with all might according to His glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness, giving thanks unto the Father, which has made us meet [fit] to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light; who has delivered us from the power of darkness and has translated [transferred] us into the kingdom of His dear Son: In whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature. For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and for Him.
God called Israel His firstborn, but they were the firstborn of that creation. Now we see Jesus designated as "the firstborn of every creature." That word "creature" could also be translated "creation." In order to understand this you have to see it in its entire context, because "firstborn" here does not mean that He was born first. It is talking about primacy, preeminence. He is preeminent in all of creation, except of course for the Father. He is preeminent especially in terms of a special creation.
There were many sons of God before Jesus' emptying of Himself and coming in the form of a slave, but He is indeed first in reference to that special creation of which Paul writes. I think you grasp that the special creation of which I speak is that creation in which we are now involved as a result of God's calling. In addition to being "firstborn" (having preeminence) in that special creation, He is the only begotten Son of God.
We are going to add pieces to this as we go along.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Here again we see a notation by an apostle, who lived with Him for three and one-half years, of Jesus' uniqueness.
Jesus of Nazareth is the only human ever generated in the way He was, thus showing a unique relationship between Him and God—a relationship that nobody else ever born will ever have. We are born by generation of a human father and a human mother. We become children of God by receipt of His Spirit. He was the only Son by generation directly from God, thus having the nature of God from birth, and besides that, He had a spiritual pre-existence nobody else ever had. He is absolutely unique.
Turn now to John 3:31-35. John the Baptist is the speaker here.
John 3:31-35 He that comes from above is above all: [Who could that possibly be? Did He have a pre-existence? Absolutely! He emptied Himself so that He could be generated in a human female. So He came from above.] He that is of the earth is earthly, and speaks of the earth: He that comes from heaven is above all. [That is His preeminence.] And what He has seen and heard, that He testifies; and no man receives His testimony. He that has received His testimony has set to his seal that God is true. For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God: for God gives not the Spirit by measure unto Him. The Father loves the Son [in a way that He does not love others. There is an intensity there as well as a relationship that nobody else will ever have with the Father. He is absolutely unique.], and has given all things into His hand.
I am going to read that series of verses to you from the Philips Translation, and maybe it will be a little clearer to you.
John 3:31-35 [The Philips Translation] "The One who comes from above is naturally above everybody. [Preeminence] The one who arises from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks from the earth. The One who comes from heaven is above all others [Preeminence], and He bears witness to what He has seen and heard; yet no one is accepting His testimony. Yet if a man does accept it, he is acknowledging the fact that God is true, for One whom God sent speaks the authentic words of God, and there can be no measuring of the spirit given to Him. The Father loves the Son, and has put everything into His hand."
All of this is emphasizing Jesus' uniqueness. There is nobody in the universe like Him. This in no way diminishes Him at all.
Revelation 3:14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write: These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God.
I think that we all have puzzled over this verse, because without a better background of what John wrote, right here it appears to say that Christ was created from the very beginning. If that is so, how can the Bible also say that Christ was with the Father from the beginning, and that the creation was done through Him, thus saying that He is uncreated? He is uncreated. He is not the Father's first creation, and then came everything and everybody else, as some say, but this verse is agreeing with what Paul wrote in Colossians 1. He is the firstborn from the dead, having primacy and preeminence over all who follow Him in this special spiritual creation. But none of this eliminates the fact that the Bible clearly shows that He had a pre-existence as God.
If He was not God, how could Paul honestly write under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that Jesus did not think that equality with God a thing to be held on to for dear life, but emptied Himself, taking on the form of a slave? That is so clear, I do not see how it can honestly be denied. Jesus went from the top to the bottom in one giant step by being born as a man, thus beginning to show man His sacrificing humility.
Let us go back again to John 17 again.
John 17:3-5 And this is life eternal, that they might know You, the only true God and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have glorified You on the earth: I have finished the work which You gave Me to do. And now, O Father, glorify you Me with Your own self with the glory which I had with You before the world was. (emphasis added)
Jesus is giving clear evidence of His pre-existence before the creation. This ties directly into John 1:1-5. Let us read that again just to be reminded.
John 1:1-5 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
That clearly states that Jesus was God at the beginning; but as we have seen in other places, He was a distinctly different personage from the Supreme God, and subject to Him; but He was still the God of creation.
When He took the form of a man He was still in His nature, in His Spirit, un-created God. He is not a super man, nor a super angel. He is divine. He is God, and that is what the angel told Joseph in Matthew 1. The angel said, "You shall call Him Immanuel," which means, "God with us." Why would it say that if He is not God, if He was not God before?
Matthew 16:13-16 When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that you are John the Baptist; some, Elias; and others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets. He said unto them: But whom say you that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.
What is being done here? Jesus is being identified as to His reality by Peter, not in the form that He appeared in to those to whom He had not been revealed. The most they would think of Him was that He was a reincarnation of some great human personage from Israel's past. However, Peter identifies Him correctly: "You are the Son of the living God"—the only begotten Son.
Connect this again with what you know from John 1 in which the apostle John identifies Jesus of Nazareth as the God of the Old Testament. The answer that Peter gives is a parallel of what the apostle John said in John 1, but actually it is more specific.
Let us take some evidence from some demons as to Jesus' identity. Let us go to Matthew 4—at the arch-demon of all.
Matthew 4:3 And when the tempter came to Him, he said, If you be the Son of God command that these stones be made bread.
Satan knew full well who Jesus was. This was a cynical challenge in an attempt to trick Him into sinning. If there was anybody who knew of Jesus' pre-existence, it was Satan.
Matthew 8:29 And behold, they [demons who came out of the man here] cried out, saying, What have we to do with you, Jesus, you Son of God? Are you come hither to torment us before the time?
They knew who He was, and they knew what God's plan was, and they knew the time was coming when they were going to be, at the very least, in prison for all time, and to be tormented in their binding. They knew that He was the Channel through whom God has been working all of these ages.
Let us go to Mark 3. This is an interesting one.
Mark 3:11 And unclean spirits, when they saw Him, fell down before Him and cried, saying, You are the Son of God.
When it says that they fell down before Him, that is literally what the Greek says. They were actually prostrating themselves in subservience before their Creator.
Luke 4:41 And demons also came out of many, crying out, and saying, You are Christ the Son of God. And He rebuking them suffered [permitted] them not to speak: for they knew that He was Christ.
So here the demons acknowledge what the apostle John states in John 1. Jesus of Nazareth was the God of the Old Testament and the promised Messiah. The demons knew that He had a history behind Him as their Creator, that He was the One John names as the God of the Old Testament who appeared to men, and always represented the Supreme God before mankind.
The apostle Paul marks Jesus' special place in a different way, but the way he does it also marks Jesus' uniqueness.
Colossians 1:13 Who has delivered us from the power of darkness, and has translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son.
It literally says in the Greek, "the Son of His love." It is pointing out a unique relationship that He has with no other person—the Son of His love.
We have already seen that there have been many sons of God from angels and from mankind, beginning with Adam, but not a single one of them is ever noted as the "Son of His love." This is actually repeated in other places that I know that you are familiar with, but we will look at them anyway to make sure that you have your notes on them.
Mark 1:11-13 And there came a voice from heaven, saying, You are My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. And immediately the spirit drove Him into the wilderness. And He was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan: and was with the wild beasts, and the angels ministered unto Him.
He is the beloved Son in whom God is well pleased.
Mark 9:2, 7 And after six days Jesus took with Him Peter, and James, and John, and led them up into a high mountain apart by themselves: and He was transfigured before them. . . . And there was a cloud that overshadowed them: and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is My beloved Son: hear Him.
I want you especially now to turn to Hebrews 1. It is good to understand that Paul's point in the whole book of Hebrews is to show the superiority of Christ and of His message to anything that has ever been offered to mankind by anybody at any time; that Christ is superior, that His message is superior, that the covenant is superior, that His death is superior, that He in Himself was superior, and on and on it goes. Nothing can compare to what He is and what He has done.
Hebrews 1:1-9 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spoke in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken unto us by His Son whom He has appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds: Who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high: Being made so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For unto which of the angels said He at any time, You are My son, this day have I begotten you? And again, I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to me a Son? And again, when He brings in the first begotten into the world He says, And let all the angels of God worship Him. And of the angels He said, Who makes His angels spirits, and His ministers a flame of fire. But unto the Son He said, Your throne, O God, is forever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom. You have loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness above your fellows.
Hebrews 1:13 But to which of the angels said He at any time, Sit on My right hand until I make your enemies Your footstool?
I want you to note in that series of verses that the following are the things God says about Jesus.
In verse 2: He is the heir of all things. The worlds were made through Him.
In verse 3: He is the express image of His person.
In verse 4: He is better than the angels, so He is not some exalted angel. He has a more excellent name than they.
In verse 5: He is the begotten Son.
In verse 6: The angels worship Him; therefore He is nothing less than of the God-kind. Angels are merely servants.
In verse 8: He has a throne and rulership.
In verse 9: He is directly called "God" by God, the Supreme Deity.
In verse 13: He sits at the right hand of God.
There are at least ten distinctive descriptors of Him named just in these eight verses.
There is one more in the book of Hebrews that maybe you never thought of this way.
Hebrews 7:3 Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abides a priest continually.
In this context Paul is using Melchizedek as an illustration showing the superiority of Jesus Christ. Now why would Paul say this about Melchizedek? If you go back to the book of Genesis you will find that Melchizedek appears on the scene in the Bible just "Bang!" with no introduction. He is just there. No genealogy is given for Him. There is no note of His death made either. Paul is saying that the same description fits Jesus Christ: no beginning of days, no end of life, but He abides a Priest continually.
Paul is again showing how superior to the created angels Jesus Christ is. Do angels have a beginning of days? Yes. They are created. Paul is saying that as God, Jesus Christ has no beginning of days nor end of life, but abides a Priest continually. The mention of Priest is in reference to His mediation between God and man. He has always been the Mediator between God and man right from Genesis 1.
It is interesting that in Genesis 1 it brings to mind the term Elohim. It is a plural noun and literally means "Gods." Genesis 1:26 says, "Gods said, Let Us make man in our image." "Let Us" is a plural pronoun. So right from the very beginning the Bible is showing that there are two of the God-kind.
The Godhead only consists of One. It is not a trinity. It is not ditheism, which is two Gods in the Godhead. There is only one God. The Bible makes that very clear. Jesus is unique. Even though He is of the God-kind, He is not the God. He has a God, and that God is the Supreme Deity. That God is His Father, and the Son is submissive to Him in every respect. He was sent by Him. He speaks His words. He said, "Not My will, but Yours be done."
God willing, I will continue this the next time I speak because there is yet much more.