Son. The word brings many emotions and meanings with it. What does it mean to be a ‘son’? To the Jews ‘son’ mean the person was of the same nature and essence as the father. It described a close intimacy, an equality. Jesus, the Son of God, possessed the same attributes as God (John 5:21). He performed the same works (Matthew 9:2-6; John 5:24-29) and claimed equal honor with the Father (John 5:23; 14:1). The title “Son of God” referred to Jesus as total deity.
This name, used 50 times in the Bible, was first used by John the Baptizer (John 1:34). He was so convinced Jesus was God that he was willing to die for that truth. Jesus Himself used this title to refer to Himself as God (disciples (see John 3:13,16; 5:17-31; 6:62; 8:58; 10:30; 14:1,11; Rom 1:3-4; 9:5; Col 2:9; Titus 2:13). Before His birth one of His appearances to man was in the furnace with Daniel’s 3 friends. There he is called a “son of God” (Daniel 3:25). Had he claimed to be the ‘Christ’ (Messiah) the people would have taken that to be presenting Himself as the general who came to lead an army of Jews to bring deliverance from Roman bondage. By using ‘Son of God’ instead there was no mistake that He was claiming to be God. In fact, He was ultimately crucified as a blasphemer for this claim (John 19:7).
This name was used by Gabriel in describing the child she would have (Luke 1:34-35) and by God Himself when Jesus was baptized (Matthew 3:17). Jesus called Himself Son of God (John 10:36), as did the disciples (Matthew 14:33) and even the demons (Matthew 8:29). The centurion at his crucifixion recognized He was God’s Son (God Himself, Matthew 27:54). The resurrection proved Him to indeed be God (Hebrews 1:2; Romans 1:4; Revelation 2:18).
While Son of God affirms Jesus as God, Son of Man identifies Him as a human being, a descendant of Adam. By becoming a man He identified Himself with all humanity. Before His birth He is seen at God’s throne in heaven and is identified as a “son of man” (Daniel 7:13-14). This refers to when He will return in glory as the Son of Man (Matthew 24:30; John 1:51).
This term is used 85 times in the Gospels, and always by Jesus for Himself (Matthew 8:20; Mark 2:10; 10:33; John 3:13; etc.). He wanted to make it clear that He came to be part of the human race, to identify with us in our need. Being recognized as the Son of God brought glory to Him, but being known as the Son of Man who came as our representative to pay for our guilt and shame brings us eternal life!
Jesus is also called Son of Man by Stephen who said he “saw the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:56). This so-called blasphemy motivated the Jews to kill Stephen. When we get to heaven we will see Jesus as God but also as the Son of Man (Revelation 1:13; 14:14) because He left everything to be one of us.
We can summarize by saying that the Son of God left heaven to come to earth and become the Son of Man. Because He did that we, who are sons of man (human beings) can one day be sons of God (believers, brothers and sisters of Jesus Himself, Galatians 3:26; Romans 8:14). He was naturally the Son of God like we are naturally sons of men because we follow in Adam’s race. But in order for us to be a son (child) of God and spend eternity with Him He would have to humble Himself to be a lowly human being like us. As the Son of God we recognize and worship His deity. As the Son of Man we recognize He Who became one of us, Who knows all we go through because He went through it, and Who loved us so much He took our place and as a human went through our eternal punishment. Because the Son of God became the Son of Man we sons of men can become sons of God!
Spend some time thinking about the last sentence above. Praise and thank God for its truth. Think about all the privileges and blessings you have because you are a son (or daughter) of God. How many can you name?
Being the son of royalty has its privileges, but also its obligations. As a child of God, what responsibilities do you have to Him? What does He expect of you in return? How well are you fulfilling the duties that come with your sonship?
BIBLE STUDY ASSIGNMENT
Read 2 Timothy 1:8-12. Continue to think of what questions you might have for Paul. Make sure you look at the context, the verses before and after it, to better understand what it is saying. Write down a list of all the different names used for Jesus in this passage. What is the significance of each particular name? Try to figure out why each particular name was used where it was used? Why that name and not another name instead? This can be a richly rewarding time of study and worship.
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