When I finished The Son of God Part One, I realized that I had not included some material I had planned to include. Therefore, we have Part Two. I want to thank my son Michael, who is my son and my editor, for bringing that omission to my attention. Although he is not yet 21, Michael has all the makings of a good, if not great, writer and editor. He has even started his own blog about writing, about ideas for stories and novels, which is the kind of stuff he wants to write, although he hasn’t quite posted anything on there just yet. Anyway, let’s get back to the topic at hand.
In my previous post, I mentioned that it is only in the Gospel of John that Jesus claims divine status. In the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) Jesus refers to himself As the Son of Man. I have already done an article on that title (link here). But I do want to add one more tidbit to my commentary and I will do it here.
The Hebrew word for man is adama, the name God gives to the first man in the Old Testament. That is translated into English as Adam. It is rather strange that the translators of the Bible would translate adama one way in the New Testament while translating it a different way in the Old Testament. If we use the Old Testament translation in the New Testament, then Jesus is claiming to be the son of Adam. But then, aren’t we all sons of Adam? Is Jesus reinforcing the fact that he is human and not divine by calling himself the son of Adam? I think so, but I suspect a lot of Christians have real issues with that. Oh well, I am sure that the first century Hebrews, especially the more fundamentalist ones, had some serious issues with Jesus even as purely human. Apocryphal or not, I suspect the stories about the opposition of the Pharisees, the Sanhedrin, and that High Priest reflects the attitude of many first century Jews to Jesus. A lot of them, like the probably apocryphal Barabbas, wanted armed revolt against the Romans. I think Jesus understood that such a revolt would end in disaster. He predicted the destruction of the Temple, which came true in 70 A.D. when Vespasian, then a Roman general and later Emperor, crushed a Jewish uprising and destroyed The Temple, leaving not one stone standing as Jesus had prophesied.
It is his status as prophet that makes Jesus so significant. I consider Jesus a prophet in the tradition of Jeremiah. Like Jeremiah, Jesus wanted the Jews to stop being such legalists and instead embrace the spirit of the Mosaic Law. Both Jesus and Jeremiah preached a theology of the heart. Too many Christians, especially the more fundamentalist ones, put an over-emphasis on interpreting and following God’s Laws, rather than encouraging a change of heart among the faithful. After all, and I can cite examples from my own life where I did this, it is possible to follow the letter of the law without believing in your heart that the law is what is right. That is what Jesus was referring to when he said that he had come not to destroy the Law but to fulfill it. Jesus followed Mosaic Law not out of fear of punishment or some other form of retribution, but rather, because he felt that he should always do what is good and not what is evil. Sometimes, as Jesus so poignantly pointed out in the Gospels, obeying the letter of the law is not always the good thing to do. Consider the story of the adulterous that the law said should be stoned. “Let those among you without sin cast the first stone.” Words many Christians today need to take to heart. “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” Words to live by, if I ever heard any!
The question then becomes: is Jesus divine or human? Or maybe both divine and human? This was the question the early church had to answer. The final decision was that Jesus was both divine and human. That debate over the two natures of Christ raged in the second century and led to the definition of two more heresies. More on those in my next post.