Jesus (Letter 16)

Dangerous, my dear old thing,

The most reverent and humble SMASH to you, sir.

My own understanding of how Jesus’ ‘Son of God,’ status fits in is as follows: the people of Israel knew their God as ‘One’ and worshipped him in awe and wonder (and even sheer fear), largely from a distance. Sure, certain people were called into a closer, more intimate relationship with the Lord (Abraham, Moses, David) and the people knew that God loved them and provided for them, but their understanding of and relationship to God was far more detached than what we now enjoy in Christ. And throughout that whole period, God always seems to be hinting at something else: there’s something further, something deeper, something hidden and secret that is going on in the background. And that ‘something else’ is definitely a person. Think about it: remember the episode where Daniel’s unpronounceable friends get thrown into the fiery furnace? The King looks into the fire and sees a ‘fourth person’ walking about and talking with them, one who ‘looked like a son of God.’ Who is that? An angel? For me, that is too simple. There’s someone else. Or how about Daniel himself when he’s rescued from the Lion’s Den? He tells the king, “God sent his angel to shut the lions’ mouths.” Angel? Maybe? Or maybe there’s someone else here, who keeps popping up in the story. There are other examples: the man who comes to visit Abraham and Sarah in the desert; the ‘man’ with the drawn sword who appears to Joshua; the man who wrestles with Jacob until daybreak. There are countless other examples. The veiled truth that keeps popping up is that there is ‘someone else’ in the story, another player in the saga. And I’m quite happy to believe that this someone else is Jesus. The hidden truth that Israel isn’t shown is that God has a Son. Now, just how this ‘Son’ came about and how this idea fits with God being ‘One’ I do not know. Maybe we’re not meant to: Paul says that even we ‘see through the glass darkly’ and all that. But there does seem to be that sense in which all the Old Testament dudes are straining to find out this hidden truth. Many of the prophets seem to be foretelling that God will send this person and he will sort things (Isaiah’s ‘Suffering Servant’) and alongside all these prophecies about this mysterious saviour is the truth that ‘God himself will come and deliver Israel,’ so the OT prophets seem quite happy to hold together Jesus and God. Also, in that brilliant passage in John 8 (which I know you love), when Jesus is taking apart the Pharisees, he tells them “Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my coming…” which suggests to me that perhaps the likes of Abraham/Moses/David were ‘in on the secret,’ and sensed that God had a Son and that he was going to be sent to Israel and to the world. Who knows?

Maybe you’ll think this too simple, but I believe Jesus’ references to himself as ‘the Son of Man,’ to be to Daniel’s vision when he sees: ‘one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.’ I know you know of these verses, but to me, it’s the same picture as what I’ve been describing above. Daniel sees a vision and realises there is ‘someone else’ in the picture who is given ‘all authority’ by God to rule. So when Jesus calls himself ‘Son of Man,’ he is claiming to be that man.

In the spirit of ‘Mean Manish Boy Theology,’ I fear I have muddied the waters even further. Let me return to developing this idea of a ‘Window into God.’ I loved your point about the calming of the storm. And the disciples had the same reaction: “Who is this man?!” They’re starting to ‘get it’ for the first time: the man in their midst is God. And as I said in my last post, we should probably look into the vision of Jesus in Revelation 1-3. Very different from the Gospel picture. There we have the glorified Jesus, with scary apocalyptic features and a loving, but uncompromisingly righteous view of his churches throughout Asia Minor at the time. It flies nicely in the face of the traditional ‘Jesus, meek and mild’ artistic portrayals we have in pop culture. Another interesting tidbit is the fact that Jesus’ beloved friends didn’t recognise him ‘at first’ when he was resurrected. On more than one occasion, there is this kind of ‘ahhhh it’s really you,’ moment. Is this because Jesus’ identity while he lived on earth as a man was very different, do you think?

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