We’ve begun looking at the names of God and how they help us understand him better. Last time we began with the name ‘Father’. This week I want to look at the fact that God is also referred to as ‘Son’.
The Bible clearly teaches that Jesus is God. And it also clearly teaches that Jesus is the Son of God. For example at his baptism we read that ‘a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”’ (Matthew 3:17).
But what does it mean that Jesus is ‘the Son’? There are many answers to that question, but I’ll give just a few.
Firstly, it means that within the Godhead there are multiple persons and they relate to one another as different persons. Just as I know that I’m different from my son Joshua, so the heavenly Father is different from the heavenly Son.
Yet it also means that they share some things in common. My son and I share many of the same characteristics and, at a minimum, we’re both human. Likewise, the heavenly Father and Son share the same attributes and are both God. The Jews realised this when Jesus called God his Father: ‘For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God’ (John 5:18).
Thirdly, the fact that God is called Son, shows the special relationship that is shared between members of the Godhead. This is no mere acquaintance. The heavenly Father and Son love and care for one another deeply. Even the greatest affection between a human father and son, pales in comparison to their relationship. Jesus speaks of this love between him and the heavenly Father in his high priestly prayer: ‘Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them’ (John 17:25-26).
The name Son also shows the desire to honour one another that is found between the two members of the trinity. An earthly father loves to see his son honoured, whether it be receiving a sticker on the shirt in kindergarten or a degree certificate at a university graduation. So it is not surprising that Jesus mentions the glory that the Father makes of him in the same high priestly prayer: ‘Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world’ (John 17:24). And naturally, a son loves people to pay respect to his father – he may even encourage such respect by a speech at a birthday for his dad. In Matthew we see the heavenly Son praising the heavenly Father in front of others. One example is when Jesus praises God for the revelation of the final judgement: ‘I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure’ (Matthew 11:25-26).
Thus the fact that one member of the godhead is called the ‘Son’ should fill us with wonder and delight about the relationships within God himself. Do you marvel in the knowledge that God is ‘the Son’? Joel Radford