Most people are familiar with the genealogies found in Matthew and Luke. Or, at least, they know they are there. Matthew’s genealogy is condensed and intended to connect Jesus with the great covenants of the Old Testament: Abrahamic and Davidic. His is the genealogy of Christ’s royalty. Matthew’s is the genealogy of Joseph. Luke’s genealogy is longer and goes through a different son of David, goes all the way back to Adam, some 75 or so generations. His is the genealogy of Christ’s humanity. It’s the genealogy of Mary. I’ll do a post one of these days on Matthew’s genealogy. There’s a lot of good stuff in there.
Well, that’s two of them. Where’s the third one? I hadn’t really thought about it quite like this until recently, like earlier today. I suppose in the strictest sense it isn’t a genealogy at all, and yet in a real sense it is. It’s contained in two verses, though a few other verses add some explanation. Here it is – you’ll recognize it immediately:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, ….And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us…,” John 1:1, 14.
This is the genealogy, if you will, of Christ’s deity. In a few words, simple words in the Greek original, John expresses truths that 2000 years haven’t completely plumbed.
“Now, wait a minute!” I can hear someone say. “That’s not what John meant at all. There’s no article before ‘God,’ so Jesus was only ‘a god’.” People will knock on your door and tell you that. They also say that the “beginning” John wrote about was the beginning when God created Jesus, that He was “the beginning,” and then Jesus created all the rest. They might take you over to Proverbs, where the writer personifies wisdom and describes its role in creation. “That,” they say, “is Jesus.” They might even tell you that He is really Michael, the archangel, brother of Lucifer.
Is that all John meant in these verses? That Jesus was simply the first thing created by God, and then He created everything else? That He isn’t “God” at all, just “a god?”
It’s true that John didn’t write, “the Word was the God.” There is no article, no “the”, in front of God. There’s no indefinite article – “a”, “an” – in the Greek language, either. However, Martin Luther pointed out centuries ago, and someone probably pointed it out centuries before he did, that John couldn’t have written “the God,” because then he would have been saying that the Word and the Father are the same, and the Oneness folks would be right. If John says one thing, it’s that the Father and the Word are distinct from each other. The One is not just manifesting Himself differently.
There’s another difficulty with the idea that Jesus is only “a god.” What kind of god is He? How many of these “gods” are there, or is He the only one? “Well, in the Old Testament, angels are called ‘sons of God,’ cf. Job 1:6. As an angel, Jesus is rightly called ‘son of God’.” So we might be told. And it’s true that angels are called “sons of God.” Does this then put them and Jesus in the same class?
The writer to the Hebrews anticipated this idea. In 1:5 (NKJV), he asks the question, “…to which of the angels did He ever say, ‘You are my Son, Today I have begotten you’?” The expected answer to that question is, “There are no angels to whom that has ever been said.” Not as a Jehovah’s Witness kindly emailed me once and said, “Jesus is that angel” and then quoted this verse to me. Sorry, that’s not what the writer meant. In fact, after discussing what the Father did not say to the Son, Hebrews goes on in v. 8 with what He did say: “But to the Son He says, ‘Your throne, O God, is forever and ever.” Some translate that verse: “God is your throne forever and ever,”(New World Translation). This doesn’t make sense. Not to be irreverent or anything, but is Jesus sitting on God? The Greek text reads, “The throne of you, the God, into the ages of the ages.” Notice the presence here of the article before “God”: “the God.” The contrast between Jesus and angels could not be clearer. In fact, in v. 6, the writer to the Hebrews says of angels, “Let all the angels of God worship Him.” Even older editions of the NWT say that – I have a copy. Granted, the newer editions say that angels are to do “obeisance” to Him, but even the NWT translates the Gk. word as “worship” when it doesn’t refer to Jesus.
How can two beings both be “God,” in view of all the Scriptures which tell us there is only one God? There are a lot of illustrations of the Trinity, which is what this is really all about. The best one I know is a cube. A cube has length, height and width, all at the same time, but it’s not three cubes, just one. The length isn’t the height or width, the height isn’t the length or width, and the width isn’t the height or length. And the measurements of the cube don’t manifest themselves as length one day, then width another day, then height yet another day, as some try to teach that it’s one God manifesting Himself in different ways at different times. The cube has three measurements, but they all coexist at one time in one cube. Like His creation, God is three-dimensional: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Father isn’t the Son or the Spirit, the Son isn’t the Father or the Spirit and the Spirit isn’t the Father or the Son. Three different Persons, for lack of a better word, all different, but all coexisting at the time as one God. “…the Word was God.”
One final thought on this. Some say that Jesus never claimed to be God. Funny, the people who heard Him tried to kill Him because they understood that was exactly what He was claiming in John 8:58, when He said, “Before Abraham was, I AM.”
“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us…, John 1:14. Here is the reason for the other two genealogies. The story of Jesus doesn’t start, “Once upon a time”; it’s rooted firmly in and grounded on the history of Israel as revealed in the Old Testament. I know there are those who deny that such a man as Jesus ever even existed, but after all the attempts over 2000 years to get rid of Him and He’s still here – must be something “real” about Him.
Notice John’s comparison: “the Word was God” – the Word became flesh.” Nowhere does John or the Bible say that the Word “became,” that is, that it came into existence, or that it became God. In other words, there has never been a time, if we can speak of eternity like that, when the Word did not exist, or that it did not exist as God. There was a time, however, when “the Word became flesh.” Matthew and Luke give us some details of that “becoming.”
“The Word became flesh.” Four words.
“The Word became flesh.” Four words, describing an event which has no parallel in history. Psalm 113:5, 6 says, Who is like the LORD our God, Who dwells on high, Who humbles Himself to behold the things that are in the heavens and in the earth?” The Lord God “humbles” Himself to look at this speck of dirt off to one side of His creation. What must it have been like for the Lord Jesus, not just to “look” at this planet, but to live on it? We think we know so much, with our “Doctors of Theology,” our “books,” our “mega-churches,” etc. [and I’m not opposed to education or “books,” or church] it’s just that I don’t think we know even as much about our Lord’s “humiliation” [to use the theological term] as a babe knows about it’s mother’s agony in birthing it. How can we? The Word became flesh….
It’s not for nothing that Paul refers to the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ in 2 Corinthians 8:9, where he continues, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor…. The Lord didn’t come down to this world to be feted in Rome, or to live in a place like the White House or Buckingham Palace or to be listed among the elite of this world. He came to live in a relatively minor province of Rome, a troublesome province, in a village as the son of a carpenter. He was totally unknown for 18 years of His life, and in the last three three, “fame” was fleeting, and hostility and opposition were lasting and increasing. Even though He rose from the dead, as far as the world is concerned, He may as well still be dead. Even if people class Him with the religious figures of this world, they’re more likely to live by their teachings than His.
So, you see, the third genealogy gives us a more complete idea of Who Jesus of Nazareth really was, and is.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,…and the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us….