[As we continue in our March Memories post reprints, I’ve become impressed with the necessity of emphasizing the unique person of the Lord Jesus. Islam is resurging, and it views Jesus as just another prophet, important though He may be in their view of things, but nevertheless much inferior to their own prophet. Certainly not God, nor did He die on the Cross. And much of professing Christendom denies His deity and His redemption.]
Most people know of the genealogies of Matthew and Luke. Matthew’s genealogy is condensed and intended to connect Jesus with the great covenants of the Old Testament: the Abrahamic and the Davidic. Matthew’s is the genealogy of Joseph. His is the genealogy of Christ’s royalty, though both genealogies trace Jesus back to King David. Luke’s genealogy is longer, some 75 generations, and goes through a different son of David all the way back to Adam. This is Mary’s genealogy.
That’s two. Where’s the third one? I really hadn’t thought about it quite like this until recently, like this morning. Perhaps in the strictest sense, it isn’t a genealogy, and yet 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, words so simple that beginning Greek students translate them in their first attempts at translation, – in a few words, John expresses truths that 2000 years of Church history haven’t begun to understand.
“Now, wait a minute!” Someone who might knock at your door will say, “That’s not what John meant at all. There’s no “the” in front of God in the Greek, so John was saying that Jesus was ‘a’ God.” They also teach that the “beginning” John wrote about was when God created the Word, or Jesus. He was the beginning, and then He created all the rest. They might take you over to Proverbs, where the writer personifies wisdom and describes its role in creation. “That,” they will 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 the first thing created by God, and 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’s no article – no “the” – in front of God. In the Greek language, there is no indefinite article – “a”, “an” – either. As Martin Luther pointed out centuries ago, and someone probably pointed it out centuries before he did, John couldn’t have written, “The Word was the God,” because then he would have been saying that the Word and the Father were the same, and the Oneness folks, who deny the Trinity, would be right. If John says one thing, it’s that the Word and the Father are distinct from each other. They aren’t just different “manifestations” of the One God.
There’s another difficulty with the idea that Jesus is only “a” god. What kind of “god” is He? How many “gods” are there, or is He the only one?
They answer that by saying that Jesus was an angel, and in the OT, angels are called sons of God, Job 1:6. He is, therefore, rightly called son of God. 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 wrote, …to which of the angels did He ever say, ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You?’ The expected answer is, “There are no angels to whom that was said.” Not as a Jehovah’s Witness once told me, “Jesus is that angel,” and then quoted this verse to me. He completely missed the point of the verse. That is not what the writer was saying. The Father was not speaking to ANY angel in that verse!
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.” The New World Translation (NWT), the JW Bible, has it, “God is your throne forever and ever.”
I’m sorry, but that doesn’t even make sense. Not to be irreverent or anything, but do they believe that Jesus is sitting on God’s lap? The Greek text reads, “The throne of You, the God, into the ages of the ages.” Note the presence of the article with God in this verse: “the God”. The contrast between Jesus and angels couldn’t be clearer. In fact, in v. 6, Hebrews says, Let all the angels of God worship Him. Even older versions of the NWT say that – I have a copy. Granted, in newer editions, it’s changed to “Let all the angels of God do obeisance to Him,” but even then, it 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. A cube is the best one I know.
A cube has length, width and height, all at the same time, but it’s not three cubes. It’s just one cube. The length isn’t the width or the height, the width isn’t the length or the height, and the height isn’t the length or the width. And the cube doesn’t “manifest” itself as height one day, width another day, and length yet another day, as some try to teach that the One God manifests Himself differently at different times.
The cube has three measurements, but they all coexist in the one cube at the same time. Like His creation, God is, if you will, three-dimensional: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Father isn’t the Son or the Spirit. The Spirit isn’t the Father or the Son. The Son isn’t the Father or the Spirit. Three different Persons, for lack of a better word, all different, but all coexisting together as the One God.
The Word was God.
One final thought on this. Some folks say that Jesus never claimed to be God. Funny, but the people who heard Him say in John 8:58, “Before Abraham was, I AM,” understood that was exactly what He was claiming. That’s why they tried to kill Him.
And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us…, John 1:14.
This is the reason for the other two genealogies. The story of Jesus doesn’t start, “Once upon a time….” It’s rooted in and grounded firmly on the history of Israel as revealed in the Old Testament. I know there are those who deny that He ever 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 refer to eternity like that, when the Word did not exist, or that it was not God. There was a time, however, when the Word became flesh. Matthew and Luke gives us a glimpse of that time.
The Word became flesh.
The Word became flesh. Four words. Describing an event which has no parallel in human 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 heaven and in the earth?
The Lord God “humbles” Himself even to look at this speck of dirt off to one side of His creation. What must it have been like for the Lord Jesus 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], but I don’t think we understand even as much about our Lord’s “humiliation,” to use the theological term, as a newborn understands about its mother’s agony in bringing it to birth. How can we?
It’s not for nothing that Paul refers to the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ in 2 Corinthians 8:9, where he continues, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor…. The Lord didn’t come to this world to be feted in Rome, or to live in a place like the White House or Buckingham Palace, although those places would be mere shacks compared to what He was used to. He came to live a relatively minor, troublesome, province of Rome. Except for one incident, He was unknown for nearly thirty years, and in the last three, “fame” was fleeing, and hostility and opposition were lasting and increasing. Even though He rose from the dead, as far as the world is concerned, He might as well still be dead. Indeed, much of the world thinks that He still is. Even if people class Him with the religious leaders of this world, they are 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.
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….
(Originally published March 12, 2013.) edited.