The One and Only Son

A son is promised (Isaiah 9:6,7)

Isaiah prophesies a time of great rejoicing for God’s people – like the celebration of a bumper harvest or a decisive victory. But this occasion is the birth of a baby. Not just any baby, but one destined to be a great king. His titles are amazing: “Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” This is no ordinary human being, but must be God Himself.

It was 700 years before the prophecy was fulfilled and the birth announcement was made (Luke 2:8-14). The promised Messiah had come at last! But instead of using the standard formula for the Messiah, ‘the Lord’s Anointed’ (Luke 2:26), the angels announced Him as both Messiah (‘anointed’) and Lord – i.e. as God Himself.

The Son is King (Psalm 2)

When God gave David the great promise of an everlasting kingdom, He spoke of an unusually close relationship between Himself and the King: “I will be his father and he shall be My son.” (II Samuel 7:14). Verse 7 is probably referring to this promise. It was spoken by God to Jesus at His baptism (Luke 3:21,22),and repeated at His transfiguration (Luke 9:35). The final proof is His resurrection and ascension (Romans 1:4).

Building on this, the early church applied this whole psalm to Jesus (Acts 4:23-30). Despite mankind’s rebellion, the Messianic Kingdom has been founded by God’s decree. And its Ruler is no ordinary king, but God’s own Son. It will embrace not just the nation of Israel but all the peoples of the world. And this is being actualised in the preaching of the Gospel (Matthew 28:18,19). His enemies will not be able to withstand Him; any power that resists his rule will be broken (Revelation 19:15). Men of earthly rank and power should take note (Psalm 2:10-12): our only hope is to repent (before it is too late) and submit to the King of kings. In order to escape judgement, we must honour and worship Jesus.

The Son is God (Hebrews 1)

God’s revelation has been an ongoing, historical process. Nevertheless, the coming of Jesus has marked a watershed: the end-time has begun. God had sent messengers (prophets) to His people before; but Jesus’ mission was more than that (Mark 12:1-12). The Son brings a greater revelation than any prophet, because the message is not just what He says but who He is: He doesn’t just tell us about God, but He actually is God. In His life (and death) is a complete revelation of God. This is why the Son came “last of all” (Mark 12:6). God has no more to say about Himself, because He has now come ‘in person’ (Luke 10:22; John 1:18).

To know God, therefore, we just need to know Jesus. Children always look like their parents, and Jesus is no exception (John 14:9). He is “the exact representation of Gods being” (Hebrews 1:3) – the glory and nature of God precisely reproduced in human form.

A beloved Son (Mark 9:2-8)

The Transfiguration event has many echoes of Mount Sinai: a mountain (often a place of divine revelation), a manifestation of glory, a cloud (representing the divine presence), and the voice of God. For a few minutes, the veil was drawn back and the three disciples caught a glimpse of Christ’s deity (II Peter 1:16-18).His face shone – not, like Moses’ face, with the reflection of God’s glory, but with His own glory, coming from within. And whereas Moses was able to conceal his reflected glory with a veil (Exodus 34:29-35), Jesus’ glory transformed even His clothes.

God’s words, repeated from Jesus’ baptism (Mark 1:11), associate Him with the promised Prophet (Deuteronomy 18:15), the royal Son (Psalm 2:6,7) and the chosen Servant of the Lord (Isaiah 42:1). But these are more than ‘honorary’ titles. “This is My Son, whom I love.” (Mark 9:7) The love of the Father for His Son (John 3:35; 5:20) is fundamental to our understanding of their relationship. He is “the one and only Son, who is Himself God and is in the closest relationship with the Father.”  (John 1:18)

Another beloved son (Genesis 22:1-19)

Why did God give Abraham such a cruel and heart-rending command, which must have struck him like a bolt from the blue? Child sacrifice was not uncommon at that time, so although it seems repulsive to us, from Abraham’s point of view it was not so obviously unreasonable. But it was a severe test of his love for God: to surrender to Him “your only son, whom you love.” (verse 2) Why was it necessary? Could his faith not have been tested in some other way? And why did he have to make a three-day journey to Moriah (a hill close to Jerusalem) – wouldn’t any other hill have done just as well? We are immediately struck by Abraham’s obedience, but it is easy to overlook Isaac’s role. He was old enough and big enough to struggle, or to run away – but he submitted unhesitatingly to God’s declared will.

This event is presented to us as a test of Abraham’s faith (verses 1,12), but it was also a pointer towards what God Himself would later do with His own dearly beloved Son. Close to that very spot, 2000 years later, God’s only and beloved Son walked up a hill in obedience to His Father, carrying the  wood on which He would be crucified as a sacrifice, yet believing that He would return (verse 5).For Jesus, like Abraham (Hebrews 11:17-19), anticipated a resurrection.

Believe in the Son (John 3:16-18)

Jesus came not to pass judgement on our sins (although He could easily have done that) but to save us from them. Just as Abraham had been prepared to give up his only son Isaac – his most precious possession – out of love for God, so God gave up His one and only Son out of love for the human race. But whereas Isaac, in the end, was not killed, there was no last-minute reprieve for Jesus. He died as a sin offering – so that we could live.

Because of Jesus’ death, we all have the opportunity to enjoy eternal life. But although He made forgiveness and life available to all, not all will accept His gift. In order to escape God’s judgement, we must place our trust in His Son. The Gospel proclaims Jesus as “God’s one and only Son” (verse 18) – if He is not God’s Son, He cannot have the power to save us. And so this is what we must believe.

Worship the Son (Matthew 14:22-33)

After the feeding of the five thousand, the disciples were left in no doubt as to Jesus’ creative powers. Only a few hours later, they were amazed to witness His ability to defy the laws of physics by walking across Lake Galilee. In the light of these miracles, He was obviously no ordinary human being. “Then those who were in the boat worshipped Him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’” (verse 33)

Throughout His life, from His infancy (Matthew 2:11) until after His resurrection (Matthew 28:17), Jesus had this effect on people. They gave Him the worship that is reserved for God alone – and we can do no less.

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