An article outlining the nature of Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God, and the Son of Man.
By Cristo Rey
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Who was Jesus? Was Jesus The Christ, the Son of God, and the Son of Man? Can we be The Christ?
The purpose of this article is to attempt to answer these questions by a consideration of the self-evident, and self-defining facts of Jesus' life, and of His transformation into the Christ. It is the author's belief that there are currently no adequate definitions to appropriately accept the self-evident fact of Jesus' self-recognition of His role as The Christ. It is the purpose of this article to suggest an alternative consideration of Jesus, The Christ, and of His declarations of His inspired self-recognition as the as The Son of God, and The Son of Man.
It is the reasonable expectations of the author that the readers are familiar with the rendition of the facts of Jesus' life as presented to us by the inspired Word of God in the Scriptures, and for the most part the author will dispense with referencing to them except where emphasis is required.
Who was Jesus?
"Jesus was a salesman," most salespeople have asserted; "Jesus was a leader," most politicians and business leaders tell us; "Jesus was a healer," those in the healing arts assert; "Jesus was a judge and an advocate (lawyer)," people in the justice system tell us; "Jesus was the greatest strategist," military generals and military minds insist; "Jesus was cool," some young minds believe.
But, Jesus was, well, . . . just Jesus. In the most correct and straightforward way of expressing it, Jesus was but a human being, an ordinary human being, and just as a rose is a self-evident fact which provides its own self-definition, i.e. a rose is a rose, so it was with Jesus, that is to say, Jesus was Jesus.
Were it not for His transformation into The Christ, we would have never heard of Jesus, or have become aware of His existence . . .
The lengthy and detailed expositions of Jesus' "virgin birth" and genealogy as given to us by some of the Apostles are considered by this author to be idealized after-the-fact revisions of what must of necessity remain mysteries for us. We should always strive to accept the Truth as revealed by Jesus Himself, and where He is silent on the subject, not be in full unconditional acceptance of the word of others. Of course, this presupposes that the writers quoted His words faithfully, and enough evidence has been offered on this subject to render most of the quotations as congruent in spite of the temporal and geographic differences inherent in their rendition.
Of the Apostle's, John's rendition is probably the most accurate, as he enjoyed a very personal, special, and intimate relation with Jesus, as more than hinted about by one of the principal participants in this relationship in the Scriptures (Jn 13:23, Jn 20:2, Jn 21:7,20-22).
Was Jesus The Christ, the Son of God, and the Son of Man?
The Greek "Christos" is a mistranslation of the Hebrew "Mashiah," or Messiah, and this notwithstanding, it means the "Anointed One." John tells us (Jn 1:1-5), as a way of defining what we call "The Christ" that He was The Word of God, Life, and the Light of men. The Christ is then, "The Word of God" made flesh (Jn 1:14), or more correctly, acquired by or inspired within human flesh, in this case by Jesus.
As a point of fact, Jesus WAS NOT born as "The Christ nor as the Son of God or the Son of Man," but was first anointed and declared as the Son of God upon His baptism by John the Baptist, when the Holy Spirit so declared Him publicly:
But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee,
and comest thou to me?
And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now:
for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness.
Then he suffered him.
And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water:
and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him,
and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:
And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son,
in whom I am well pleased." (Mt 3:13-17).
Understood in this way, then "The Christ" is not a person, but a process by which the individual human being so-anointed becomes the unique possessor of the clear, unaltered and unequivocal Word of God, and becomes as a messenger or "Messiah" of God provided to us to relay that Word. The Word of God in turn is not a single word or a particular set of words, but a compilation of God's way of thinking and judging on matters dealing with any given set of issues.
The Word of God is not inerrant, fixed, or final, as some contend, but rather it just "is" whatever it is at any one time God's thinking and judgments are turned to particular issues, and in full consideration of the ever changing facts about them. This follows from the fact that God cannot be an unchanging, fixed quantity or nature, for if it was so, if He was unchanging and unyielding, then no forgiveness or salvation would be possible under His Reign. Moreover, we know that Jesus the Christ by His example demonstrated that this is not so.
The title "Son of God" embodies the notion that He who is anointed with the knowledge of the way of God's thinking and judging stands in relation to God as a son to his father, implying that a son would have learned from, and understood more and better about his father's thinking and judging than unrelated others could (Jn 5:19-23). Jesus' self-recognition (Jn 5:25,30,43) as the "Son of God," embodies these concepts. John tells us that as the Word, Life, and Light of men made flesh, Jesus the Christ had the power to help us also to become as sons of God (Jn 1:12), that is to say, to also acquire the father's way of thinking and judging on any particular set of issues, just as He had directly from His Father (Jn 5:30).
The title "Son of Man" embodies the notion that our children exist as a living judgment of our role as parents, in a very real way, their final eventual judgment of us in our parental role towards them and others, has been determined by us and by whatever wisdom we helped them to achieve. We are convicted or not by our own professed and realized ideals, or by our failure in their realization. Jesus' self-recognition (Jn 5:27) as the "Son of Man," embodies these concepts.
Thus Jesus, the ordinary human being, achieved a self-recognition as The Christ, as The Son of God, and as the Son of Man.
Whether this marvelous and mysterious achievement needed reinforcing with accounts of His virgin birth, and genealogy, none of which Jesus claimed for Himself, is problematic and debatable. Indeed, the one Apostle who knew him best, John, does not allude to either of these as fact.
The crucifixion, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus (not of Christ, as Christ is not a human person but a process), is more than detailed in the Gospels, and was also of a self-recognition by Jesus Himself (Jn 12:23-24) as a necessity, not only to atone for our sins, but to bear the fruit of his sowing the Word of God.
Can we be The Christ?
Jesus the Christ Himself answered that question in the positive (Jn 14:12), and extended to us the promise that it would be so, just by our acceptance of and belief in The Christ in Him. What Jesus was alluding to is the fact that if we learned from Him the Word of God to discern and judge upon any particular issues, regardless of time and circumstance, we would then have become as The Christ.
This is not to be achieved by merely believing and accepting of Jesus as the Christ in a single emotionally-laden instance, even though that, He is, but rather by the acquisition through learning of the way of life that He taught (Jn 5:38), and the way of thinking and judging which faithfully mirrors that of God (Jn 1:12).
Food for thought
We need not ponder the veracity or reality of the Gospels' accounts of Jesus' historical existence, any more than that of Alexander the Great or Napoleon, as all of these have been handed down to us as ideas. Only in recent times can we certify or verify the existence of figures such as Hitler or President John F. Kennedy Jr. by having available film or television footage of their person. We don't generally question the probable existence of Alexander the Great or Napoleon, even though conspiracy theory could be invoked to state that they in reality did not exist, but that some historical facts were introduced to convince us of their existence.
None of this is relevant to a consideration of the accounts in the Gospels as to Jesus' self-recognition as the Christ, the Son of God, and the Son of Man. We can accept that Jesus might have existed, but had been for all intents and purposes just a psychotic with delusions of grandeur; Even then, the content of the renditions in the Gospels contain a coherence which teaches a valuable and irreplaceable lesson.
The search for a Historical Jesus is then a futile, irrelevant search . . .
Jesus was a man, a rather ordinary man from humble origins, but He died for us on a cross, after His self-discovery that He was the only-begotten Son of God.
Even if I believed that He was just crazy, a little off, deluded, He did it for me, He did it for you. He took the humiliation, He took the suffering, He took the torture, He endured the pain, He bled, He accepted the death . . . for us.
Even if proven that He was just crazy, I would still want to believe in Him, even more so, because of His willingness to sacrifice Himself for us . . . for me. Even if crazy, such Love for us was in Him.
Were I to ask anyone at random in the street if they were willing to die for my sake in the same manner, I am sure of what their response would be . . . but I also know what His response was . . .
Jesus the Christ
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