THE BELOVED SON
As Jesus was being baptized, the Holy Spirit descended on him as if a dove. And a voice came from heaven, assuring: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased” (Luke 3:22). Consequently, bringing to mind the relationship of an offspring to his earthly father.
What are we to make of this? It initially recalls the sage saying, “Like father, like son.” It being supposed that the disposition of the former is carried over with the latter. Thus that which is unknown is made known.
This, in turn, recalls the experience of a Nigerian Christian. He accepted what was commonly believed concerning the existence of the High God, who was by definition inscrutable and unpredictable. While referred to by different names, it was thought to be the one and same deity. It was also thought that there were lesser gods, who were more readily available.
Now the time came when he became seriously ill. His parents employed traditional medication and religious ritual, but to no avail. Since he became increasingly worse. They subsequently heard that there was a man of God making his way through the region. This was not a missionary, as one might suppose, but a priest of the High God. As such, he was similar to Melchizedek, who welcomed Abram (Abraham) upon his return from delivering Lot and those with him from captivity. “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth,” he declared. “And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand” (Gen. 14:19). At which, the patriarch gave him a tithe of that which he had repossessed.
Consequently, the youth’s parents sent for this man of God. Upon his arrival, he prayed for the youth’s recovery. After which, he took a decided turn for the better, and eventually fully recovered. He assumed from this that the High God had some purpose for him, but given his transcendent character, he was at a loss as to what this might be.
Sometime later, he encountered what was referred to as an orange skin. Since his skin resembled that of the inside of an orange. In this instance, a missionary. Now the missionary informed him that “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life” (John 3:16). Accordingly, the youth concluded: “I will now know God’s will for me.” Which eventually led him to become an instructor at the mission compound.
On a certain occasion, Philip said: “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us” (John 14:8). That is, reveal the Father and it will suffice.
“Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time?” Jesus inquired. “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. The words I say to you are not just my own.” Thus to confirm the above line of reasoning.
“Who, being in the very nature God, did not considered equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness” (Phil. 2:6-7). Being in the very nature God; hence, not compromising his character. But setting aside certain prerogatives, so as to take on human likeness. For “we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15).
While uniquely conceived, he was carried in his mother’s womb—as were we. There to experience stress and comfort. Likely without special consideration or comprehensive grasp of the situation.
He was birthed, as were we. “A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world” (John 16:21). As a common experience with the birthing process.
He matured, as did we. He had to crawl before he could walk, and walk before he could run. He was surrounded by seeming giants, who hovered above him. Only gradually did he catch on to what was transpiring, and then to realize that he had much more to learn.
There was an extended time when he drew little public notice. This is sometimes referred to as the silent years. “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men” (Luke 2:52). Hence, in an exemplary fashion.
When about thirty years of age, when thought sufficiently mature to assume a leadership role, he became engaged in an itinerant ministry. Persons marveled that he taught with authority, and unlike those who relied on the precedent of others. His teaching revolved around the kingdom of God. He performed miracles. Crowds gathered about him. Some became his followers. Opposition increasingly arose.
“And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:8). As he had embraced life as a human, he also embraced death. While in keeping with the assertion that there is “a time to be born and a time to die” (Eccles. 3:2). However, as a result of crucifixion, which is an exceedingly painful death—meant to discourage anti-social behavior.
“Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name.” One name among others, and yet most highly regarded. “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Such as inspired the enthusiastic lyrics of Fanny Crosby:
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
Let the people rejoice!
O come to the Father through Jesus the Son,
And give Him the glory—great things He hath done!
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